InSight Constraints on the Global Character of the Martian Crust


Analyses of seismic data from the InSight mission have provided the first in situ constraints on the thickness of the crust of Mars. These crustal thickness constraints are currently limited to beneath the lander that is located in the northern lowlands, and we use gravity and topography data to construct global crustal thickness models that satisfy the seismic data. These models consider a range of possible mantle and core density profiles, a range of crustal densities, a low-density surface layer, and the possibility that the crustal density of the northern lowlands is greater than that of the southern highlands. Using the preferred InSight three-layer seismic model of the crust, the average crustal thickness of the planet is found to lie between 30 and 72 km. Depending on the choice of the upper mantle density, the maximum permissible density of the northern lowlands and southern highlands crust is constrained to be between 2,850 and 3,100 kg m(-3). These crustal densities are lower than typical Martian basaltic materials and are consistent with a crust that is on average more felsic than the materials found at the surface. We argue that a substantial portion of the crust of Mars is a primary crust that formed during the initial differentiation of the planet. Various hypotheses for the origin of the observed intracrustal seisimic layers are assessed, with our preferred interpretation including thick volcanic deposits, ejecta from the Utopia basin, porosity closure, and differentiation products of a Borealis impact melt sheet.



mars, crust, crustal composition, gravity, seismology