Shallow subsurface basalt layer along Cerberus Fossae, Mars: Insights from SHARAD, HiRISE, and CRISM analysis

Harish, K. B. Kimi, S. Tuhi, S. Baliyan, N. Mangold, S. Vijayan, M. R. El-Maarry

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We surveyed the subsurface structure along Cerberus Fossae using data from SHAllow RADar (SHARAD), High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), and Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The subsurface structure along the Cerberus Fossae is fundamental to understanding the depositional history of the region. We identified meter-scale stratigraphy using HiRISE images and digital terrain models (DTMs) and found three distinct vertical units 1) ∼3 to 5 m thick regolith cover, 2) ∼30 m thickly layered unit, and 3) ∼260 m thick massive unit dominated by boulders. Using SHARAD radargrams, we identified a subsurface reflector at the interface between units 2 and 3, located ∼34 m deep. Our analysis suggests a real dielectric permittivity of 9.34 ± 1.01 (1σ), and a mean loss tangent of 0.027 ± 0.01 for the shallow subsurface material, thus indicating thick, dense shergottite-type basaltic material along the Cerberus Fossae. Using the dielectric permittivity mixing law, we found that the porosity of the shergottite-type basalt is ∼4%. CRISM analysis aids in further constraining the nature of the shergottite-type basalt and suggests the presence of Fe-rich olivine along the Cerberus Fossae, thus, referred as olivine-bearing shergottite-type basalt in this study. We derived the age of subsurface material using the crater size-frequency distribution and estimated the crater retention age of ∼4 Ma. Overall, this study suggests a ∼ 30 m thick dense and layered olivine-bearing shergottite-type basalt along the Cerberus Fossae, which is older than 4 Ma. The results of this study are incompatible with the hypothesis of a sea of frozen water in the shallow subsurface (up to 35 m) along the Cerberus Fossae.

Original languageBritish English
Article number115343
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • Cerberus Fossae
  • HiRISE
  • Mars


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