Planetary Sciences Editors' Highlights

Comparing Craters

An analysis suggests that craters degrade faster on Mercury than the Moon, raising questions about landscape evolution on different planetary bodies.

Source: Geophysical Research Letters


Fassett et al. [2017] present a detailed analysis of simple crater topography on Mercury that suggests more rapid landform evolution on Mercury than on the Moon (i.e., crater degradation). The analysis uses depth to diameter measurements of impact craters and state-of-the-art diffusion models to investigate degradation states of these craters. The demonstration that landscape evolution on both bodies occurs at substantially different rates has broad implications. Are the dominant processes at work different on each body? Are individual weathering processes enhanced or subdued on each? How do these differing rates affect crater counting and our understanding of surface ages? Overall, the measurement results and analysis of degradation rates suggest more work is needed to understand why the degradation rate on Mercury is faster, how it scales with crater size, and other factors that may have significant implications for understanding the landscape evolution of these bodies.

Citation: Fassett, C. I., M. C. Crowley, C. Leight, M. D. Dyar, D. A. Minton, M. Hirabayashi, B. J. Thomson, and W. A. Watters [2017], Evidence for rapid topographic evolution and crater degradation on Mercury from simple crater morphometry, Geophysical Research Letters, 44, 5326–5335,

—Andrew Dombard, Editor, Geophysical Research Letters

© 2017. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0