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Viscous relaxation of impact craters on icy planetary surfaces - Determination of viscosity variation with depthSpacecraft images show that the icy Galilean satellites have surfaces with very low topographic relief. Impact craters on Ganymede and Callisto are anomalously shallow and are characterized by sharp well-defined rims and domed floors. These morphological characteristics can be explained by viscous relaxation of topography on an icy crust in which the viscosity is uniform or decreases with depth. Under these conditions, large craters relax more rapidly than small craters, therefore explaining a possible underabundance of large craters. Viscous relaxation on an icy crust that is thin compared to the crater diameter or on a thick icy crust in which viscosity increases with depth could not produce this crater morphology and would result in the more rapid relaxation of small craters rather than large craters. The results of this study suggest that more detailed analysis of relaxing impact crater morphology may resolve the rate of viscosity decrease with depth and so provide evidence on the interior thermal evolution of icy planetary bodies.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Parmentier, E. M.
(Brown Univ. Providence, RI, United States)
Head, J. W.
(Brown University Providence, RI, United States)
Date Acquired
August 10, 2013
Publication Date
July 1, 1981
Publication Information
Publication: Icarus
Volume: 47
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Exploration
Accession Number
Funding Number(s)
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