Thickness and structure of the martian crust from InSight seismic data – Science Magazine

Single seismometer structure

Because of the lack of direct seismic observations, the interior structure of Mars has been a mystery. Khan et al., Knapmeyer-Endrun et al., and Sthler et al. used recently detected marsquakes from the seismometer deployed during the InSight mission to map the interior of Mars (see the Perspective by Cottaar and Koelemeijer). Mars likely has a 24- to 72-kilometer-thick crust with a very deep lithosphere close to 500 kilometers. Similar to the Earth, a low-velocity layer probably exists beneath the lithosphere. The crust of Mars is likely highly enriched in radioactive elements that help to heat this layer at the expense of the interior. The core of Mars is liquid and large, 1830 kilometers, which means that the mantle has only one rocky layer rather than two like the Earth has. These results provide a preliminary structure of Mars that helps to constrain the different theories explaining the chemistry and internal dynamics of the planet.

Science, abf2966, abf8966, abi7730, this issue p. 434, p. 438, p. 443 see also abj8914, p. 388

A planets crust bears witness to the history of planetary formation and evolution, but for Mars, no absolute measurement of crustal thickness has been available. Here, we determine the structure of the crust beneath the InSight landing site on Mars using both marsquake recordings and the ambient wavefield. By analyzing seismic phases that are reflected and converted at subsurface interfaces, we find that the observations are consistent with models with at least two and possibly three interfaces. If the second interface is the boundary of the crust, the thickness is 20 5 kilometers, whereas if the third interface is the boundary, the thickness is 39 8 kilometers. Global maps of gravity and topography allow extrapolation of this point measurement to the whole planet, showing that the average thickness of the martian crust lies between 24 and 72 kilometers. Independent bulk composition and geodynamic constraints show that the thicker model is consistent with the abundances of crustal heat-producing elements observed for the shallow surface, whereas the thinner model requires greater concentration at depth.

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Thickness and structure of the martian crust from InSight seismic data - Science Magazine

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