• Investigating The Retention Of Bright And Dark Ejecta From Small Rayed Craters On Mars

      Calef, Fred J., Iii; Herrick, Robert R. (2010)
      Impact cratering is one of the principal geologic processes operating throughout the solar system. On Mars, small rayed impact craters (SRC) form continuously and randomly on the surface. Ejecta retention, the timespan and ability of excavated ejecta to remain in place around a crater rim, records a lineage of recent surface processes. However, the timescales under which small rayed craters are produced and their origin, whether terrestrial or cosmic, plays an important role in further investigating surface processes and possible recent climate variations. By examining thousands of randomly chosen panchromatic images from the Mars Orbiter Camera Narrow Angle (MOCNA) camera, a population of 630 SRC was catalogued across three equatorial and two polar regions on Mars. The survey of MOCNA images also revealed intriguing Enigmatic Linear Features (ELFs) in the northern hemisphere of Mars, which a short side study revealed to be a unique form of dust-devil track. From statistically examining several physical parameters, dust deposition and periglacial erosion were found to be the major factors affecting ejecta retention for the SRC. SRC morphology revealed ejecta retention sequences that followed four stages of ejecta retention from the initial impact to eventual erasure from the surface. By reconstructing the current cratering rate from estimates of atmospheric filtering, it was possible to calculate the ejecta retention age across Mars. In general, SRC ejecta are retained on the surface for <100 ka. Based on ejecta morphology and retention age estimates, a possible shift from depositional to erosional processes just south of the Martian equator is suspected to have occurred within this timeframe.