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Thickness and structure of the martian crust from InSight seismic data

Knapmeyer-Endrun, Brigitte and Panning, Mark P. and Bissig, Felix and Joshi, Rakshit and Khan, Amir and Kim, Doyeon and Lekić, Vedran and Tauzin, Benoit and Tharimena, Saikiran and Plasman, Matthieu and Compaire, Nicolas and Garcia, Raphaël F. and Margerin, Ludovic and Schimmel, Martin and Stutzmann, Éléonore and Schmerr, Nicholas and Bozdağ, Ebru and Plesa, Ana-Catalina and Wieczorek, Mark A. and Broquet, Adrien and Antonangeli, Daniele and McLennan, Scott M. and Samuel, Henri and Michaut, Chloé and Pan, Lu and Smrekar, Suzanne E. and Johnson, Catherine L. and Brinkman, Nienke and Mittelholz, Anna and Rivoldini, Attilio and Davis, Paul M. and Lognonné, Philippe and Pinot, Baptiste and Scholz, John-Robert and Stähler, Simon and Knapmeyer, Martin and van Driel, Martin and Giardini, Domenico and Banerdt, William Bruce Thickness and structure of the martian crust from InSight seismic data. (2021) Science, 373 (6553). 438-443. ISSN 0036-8075

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1126/SCIENCE.ABF8966


A planet’s crust bears witness to the history of planetary formation and evolution, but for Mars, no absolute measurement of crustal thickness has been available. Here, we determine the structure of the crust beneath the InSight landing site on Mars using both marsquake recordings and the ambient wavefield. By analyzing seismic phases that are reflected and converted at subsurface interfaces, we find that the observations are consistent with models with at least two and possibly three interfaces. If the second interface is the boundary of the crust, the thickness is 20 ± 5 kilometers, whereas if the third interface is the boundary, the thickness is 39 ± 8 kilometers. Global maps of gravity and topography allow extrapolation of this point measurement to the whole planet, showing that the average thickness of the martian crust lies between 24 and 72 kilometers. Independent bulk composition and geodynamic constraints show that the thicker model is consistent with the abundances of crustal heat-producing elements observed for the shallow surface, whereas the thinner model requires greater concentration at depth.

Item Type:Article
Audience (journal):International peer-reviewed journal
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Deposited On:12 Jan 2022 09:10

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