skip to main content


Title: Subsurface failure in spherical bodies. A formation scenario for linear troughs on Vesta’s surface

Many asteroids in the Solar System exhibit unusual, linear features on their surface. The Dawn mission recently observed two sets of linear features on the surface of the asteroid 4 Vesta. Geologic observations indicate that these features are related to the two large impact basins at the south pole of Vesta, though no specific mechanism of origin has been determined. Furthermore, the orientation of the features is offset from the center of the basins. Experimental and numerical results reveal that the offset angle is a natural consequence of oblique impacts into a spherical target. We demonstrate that a set of shear planes develops in the subsurface of the body opposite to the point of first contact. Moreover, these subsurface failure zones then propagate to the surface under combined tensile-shear stress fields after the impact to create sets of approximately linear faults on the surface. Comparison between the orientation of damage structures in the laboratory and failure regions within Vesta can be used to constrain impact parameters (e.g., the approximate impact point and likely impact trajectory).
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Brown Univ., Providence, RI (United States)
  2. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0019-1035; PII: S0019103514005302
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 247; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0019-1035
Research Org:
Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States
79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; asteroid vesta; impact processes; cratering
OSTI Identifier: