Journal article Open Access

Magnetic lineations in the ancient crust of Mars

Mh, Acuna; Pj, Wasilewski; Nf, Ness; Reme, H.; Mazelle, C.; Vignes, D.; Rp, Lin; Dl, Mitchell; Pa, Cloutier; Connerney, J. E. P.

The Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, in a highly elliptical polar orbit, obtained vector magnetic field measurements above the surface of Mars (altitudes >100 kilometers). Crustal magnetization, mainly confined to the most ancient, heavily cratered martian highlands, is frequently organized in east-west-trending linear features, the longest extending over 2000 kilometers. Crustal remanent magnetization exceeds that of terrestrial crust by more than an order of magnitude. Groups of quasi-parallel linear features of alternating magnetic polarity were found. They are reminiscent of similar magnetic features associated with sea floor spreading and crustal genesis on Earth but with a much larger spatial scale. They may be a relic of an era of plate tectonics on Mars.

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