Beagle Rupes – evidence for a basal decollement of regional extent in Mercury's lithosphere

Rothery, D. A. and Massironi, M. (2010). Beagle Rupes – evidence for a basal decollement of regional extent in Mercury's lithosphere. Icarus, 209(1) pp. 256–261.



Thanks to its location at low latitude and close to the terminator in the outbound view of Mercury obtained during MESSENGER's first flyby, the Beagle Rupes lobate scarp on Mercury has been particularly clearly imaged. This enables us to interpret it as a component of a linked fault system, consisting of a frontal scarp terminated by transpressive lateral ramps. The terrain bounded by these surface manifestations of faulting is the hanging-wall block of a thrust sheet and must be underlain by a basal decollement (a detachment horizon) constituting the fault zone at depth. The decollement must extend a minimum of 150 km eastwards from the frontal scarp, and at least 400 km if displacement is transferred to features interpreted as out-of-sequence thrusts and offset lateral ramps that appear to continue the linked fault system to the east. The depth of the basal decollement could be controlled by crustal stratigraphy or by rheological change within, or at the base of, the lithosphere. Previous interpretations of mercurian lobate scarps regard their thrusts as uniformly dipping and dying out at depth, lacking lateral ramps and any extensive detachment horizon. Anticipated improvements in image resolution and lighting geometry should make it possible to document what percentage of lobate scarps share the Beagle Rupes style of tectonics.

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