Constructional Volcanic Edifices on Mercury: Candidates and Hypotheses of Formation

Wright, Jack; Rothery, David A.; Balme, Matthew R. and Conway, Susan J. (2018). Constructional Volcanic Edifices on Mercury: Candidates and Hypotheses of Formation. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 123(4) pp. 952–971.



Mercury, a planet with a predominantly volcanic crust, has perplexingly few, if any, constructional volcanic edifices, despite their common occurrence on other solar system bodies with volcanic histories. Using image and topographical data from the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft, we describe two small (< 15 km‐diameter) prominences with shallow summit depressions associated with volcanically flooded impact features. We offer both volcanic and impact‐related interpretations for their formation, and then compare these landforms with volcanic features on Earth and the Moon. Though we cannot definitively conclude that these landforms are volcanic, the paucity of constructional volcanic edifices on Mercury is intriguing in itself. We suggest that this lack is because volcanic eruptions with sufficiently low eruption volumes, rates, and flow lengths, suitable for edifice construction, were highly spatiotemporally restricted during Mercury's geological history. We suggest that volcanic edifices may preferentially occur in association with late‐stage, post‐impact effusive volcanic deposits. The ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission to Mercury will be able to investigate further our candidate volcanic edifices, search for other, as‐yet unrecognized edifices beneath the detection limits of MESSENGER data, and test our hypothesis that edifice construction is favored by late‐stage, low‐volume effusive eruptions.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions