Merging spatial and spectral datasets to place olivine in stratigraphic context at Arruntia crater, a rare window into Vesta’s northern hemispheric crust

Icarus (in Press) Link to Article []
1Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-2421, USA
Copyright Elsevier

A major goal of the Dawn mission to Vesta was to test and refine current models of the asteroid’s formation by characterizing the distribution of mineral components on its surface. Detection of the mineral olivine by the Visible and Infrared Mapping spectrometer (VIR) and the Framing Camera (FC) onboard Dawn was a key milestone in this effort, and was expected to help resolve a debate regarding the dominant mode of Vesta’s petrologic evolution (i.e., magma ocean vs. serial magmatism). However, the subtleties of the olivine spectral signature combined with the small size of individual olivine-rich exposures (tens of meters) prohibits detailed mapping of this petrologically significant mineral component when the data from either instrument are evaluated independently. As a result, the particular role of these olivine exposures in Vesta’s geologic history remains largely unresolved.
Here, we fully characterize the type locality of Vesta’s olivine-rich materials, the northern hemisphere craters Bellicia and Arruntia, using a novel data fusion approach for linking the VIR and FC datasets. Specifically, we have leveraged a spectral mixture analysis framework to create a new dataset that maps, or “extrapolates”, full resolution spectra, derived from VIR data, onto the higher spatial resolution of FC. When used as an exploratory tool in conjunction with the original FC and VIR data, the new “extrapolated” dataset reveals important new details about the distribution of olivine around Bellicia and Arruntia craters.
There are clear compositional distinctions between the exposures at the two craters, with a much stronger olivine component in the walls of Bellicia than Arruntia. The proximal Arruntia ejecta appear more consistent with high proportions of an evolved high‑calcium pyroxene (as in eucrites) than with an enhanced olivine component. Examples of diogenite-rich howardite also occur in the region. Further, we leverage Arruntia’s role as the freshest large crater in the northern hemisphere, and thus a rare window into the Vesta’s northern hemispheric crust, to suggest an overall stratigraphy for the region: a thin veneer of howardite overlies a sequence of diogenite-rich (near surface), olivine-rich (intermediate), and eucrite-rich materials (at depth). The manner of exposure of these various components in a marked stratification point to a plutonic model for emplacing these mineralogically unique components in the near surface of Vesta.


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