The Surface Roughness of Large Craters on Mercury

Hannah C. M. Susorney, Olivier S. Barnouin, Carolyn M Ernst, Angela M. Stickle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
355 Downloads (Pure)


This study investigates how individual large craters on Mercury (diameters of 25–200 km) can produce surface roughness over a range of baselines (the spatial horizontal scale) from 0.5 to 250 km. Surface roughness is a statistical measure of change in surface height over a baseline usually after topography has been detrended. We use root mean square deviation as our measure of surface roughness. Observations of large craters on Mercury at baselines of 0.5–10 km found higher surface roughness values at the central uplifts, rims, and exteriors of craters, while the crater floors exhibit the lowest roughness values. At baselines <10 km, the regions exterior to large craters with diameters >80 km have the highest surface roughness values. These regions, which include the ejecta and secondary fields, are the main contributors to the increased surface roughness observed in high‐crater density regions. For baselines larger than 10 km, the crater cavity itself is the main contributor to surface roughness. We used a suite of numerical models, utilizing the measured surface roughness obtained in the study, to model the cumulative effect of adding large craters to a surface. The results indicate that not all of the surface roughness on Mercury is due to fresh large craters but that impact craters likely contribute to the Hurst exponent from baselines of 0.5–1.5 km and the shape of the deviogram. The simulations show that the surface roughness varied around an asymptote at the baselines studied before the surface was covered in impact craters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1581-1595
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number7
Early online date5 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Mercury
  • surface roughness
  • impact craters


Dive into the research topics of 'The Surface Roughness of Large Craters on Mercury'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this