Relative Crater Production Rates on Planets
Abstract
Dynamical histories of planetesimals in specified orbits, calculated by Wetherill (1975) and others, have estimates of relative numbers of impacts on different planets. These impact rates, F, are converted to crater production rates, F, by means of tables developed in this paper. Conversions are dependent on impact velocity and surface gravity. Crater retention ages can then be derived from (crater density)/(crater production rate). Such calculations of impact rates and their histories give the only basis, independent of sample dating, for establishing absolute geologic histories of the planets, contrary to published implications that this can be done by comparison of photos alone. A survey of the results, from orbits of interplanetary objects studied to date, indicates that the terrestial planets have crater production rates within a factor ten of each other, and that planet's crater retention ages can probably be determined with a factor of ±3. Further calculations of orbital histories of additional interplanetary bodies are suggested to put photogeologic analyses from spacecraft imagery on a firmer basis. Applications to Mars, as an example, using leastsquares fits to cratercount data, suggest an average age of 0.3 to 3 b.y. for two types of channels. The Tharsis volcanics are found to be slightly younger than the channels (strongly confirmed by photomorphology since they are not cut by channels) and Olympus Mons is about 0.06 to 0.6 b.y. old, contrary to recent assertions that Olympus Mons is 2.5 b.y. old and most Martian volcanic provinces older than 3 b.y. Data strongly support the hypothesis that Martian channels formed in a fluvial climate that persisted on Mars until the Tharsis volcanism caused a change in the Martian obliquity state, as outlined by Toon, Ward, and Burns (1977).
 Publication:

Icarus
 Pub Date:
 June 1977
 DOI:
 10.1016/00191035(77)900379
 Bibcode:
 1977Icar...31..260H
 Keywords:

 Chronology;
 Meteorite Craters;
 Planetary Surfaces;
 Planetology;
 Asteroids;
 Collision Rates;
 Comets;
 Conversion Tables;
 Density (Mass/Volume);
 Mars Surface;
 Monte Carlo Method;
 Orbit Calculation;
 Orbital Velocity