Subsurface structure of Planum Boreum from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Shallow Radar soundings

Nathaniel E. Putzig, Roger J. Phillips, Bruce A. Campbell, John W. Holt, Jeffrey J. Plaut, Lynn M. Carter, Anthony F. Egan, Fabrizio Bernardini, Ali Safaeinili, Roberto Seu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

78 Scopus citations

Abstract

We map the subsurface structure of Planum Boreum using sounding data from the Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Radar coverage throughout the 1,000,000-km2 area reveals widespread reflections from basal and internal interfaces of the north polar layered deposits (NPLD). A dome-shaped zone of diffuse reflectivity up to 12 μs (∼1-km thick) underlies two-thirds of the NPLD, predominantly in the main lobe but also extending into the Gemina Lingula lobe across Chasma Boreale. We equate this zone with a basal unit identified in image data as Amazonian sand-rich layered deposits [Byrne, S., Murray, B.C., 2002. J. Geophys. Res. 107, 5044, 12 pp. doi:10.1029/2001JE001615; Fishbaugh, K.E., Head, J.W., 2005. Icarus 174, 444-474; Tanaka, K.L., Rodriguez, J.A.P., Skinner, J.A., Bourke, M.C., Fortezzo, C.M., Herkenhoff, K.E., Kolb, E.J., Okubo, C.H., 2008. Icarus 196, 318-358]. Elsewhere, the NPLD base is remarkably flat-lying and co-planar with the exposed surface of the surrounding Vastitas Borealis materials. Within the NPLD, we delineate and map four units based on the radar-layer packets of Phillips et al. [Phillips, R.J., and 26 colleagues, 2008. Science 320, 1182-1185] that extend throughout the deposits and a fifth unit confined to eastern Gemina Lingula. We estimate the volume of each internal unit and of the entire NPLD stack (821,000 km3), exclusive of the basal unit. Correlation of these units to models of insolation cycles and polar deposition [Laskar, J., Levrard, B., Mustard, J.F., 2002. Nature 419, 375-377; Levrard, B., Forget, F., Montmessin, F., Laskar, J., 2007. J. Geophys. Res. 112, E06012, 18 pp. doi:10.1029/2006JE002772] is consistent with the 4.2-Ma age of the oldest preserved NPLD obtained by Levrard et al. [Levrard, B., Forget, F., Montmessin, F., Laskar, J., 2007. J. Geophys. Res. 112, E06012, 18 pp. doi:10.1029/2006JE002772]. We suggest a dominant layering mechanism of dust-content variation during accumulation rather than one of lag production during periods of sublimation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-457
Number of pages15
JournalIcarus
Volume204
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Mars
  • Mars, Polar caps
  • Mars, Polar geology
  • Radar observations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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    Putzig, N. E., Phillips, R. J., Campbell, B. A., Holt, J. W., Plaut, J. J., Carter, L. M., Egan, A. F., Bernardini, F., Safaeinili, A., & Seu, R. (2009). Subsurface structure of Planum Boreum from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Shallow Radar soundings. Icarus, 204(2), 443-457. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2009.07.034