Thrust faults and the global contraction of Mercury

Thomas R. Watters*, Mark S. Robinson, Craig R. Bina, Paul D. Spudis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Lobate scarps on Mercury are the surface expression of thrust faults and are generally thought to be the result of global contraction. Our analysis indicates that these thrust faults are not uniformly distributed and exhibit non-random patterns on the imaged hemisphere. The greatest area normalized cumulative length of the faults occurs in the southern hemisphere, below 50°S. The thrust faults in this region dip to the north, indicating a broad zone where the crust has been displaced to the south. Widespread thrust faulting may not have initiated before the emplacement of Calorian smooth plains, well after the emplacement of pre-Tolstojan intercrater plains. Our observations suggest that regional-scale tectonic stresses on Mercury dominated over stresses resulting from global contraction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L04701 1-5
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 28 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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