Jani Radebaugh, Geological Sciences
In this proposal, we proposed to: (1) undertake a global study of peak heights and slopes of mountains on Titan to determine the relative importance of tectonism and erosion, and thereby gain a better understanding of the timing of mountain formation and subsequent evolution by erosion. We also proposed to: (2) complete general global and detailed regional structure maps to investigate the orientation of forces required to build the selected mountains. We will investigate the role of liquids in the lithosphere in fault propagation and mountain formation, similar to Critical Wedge Theory, explored extensively on Earth. Finally, we planned to: (3) map the six major mountain types at the south polar and equatorial regions to determine the relative ages of mountainous features and distribution of processes across Titan. Such a study will provide us with a better understanding of mountains, which are a major landform on Titan and are important for the geologic history. A study of mountains on Titan will also lead to increased knowledge of mountain formation and evolution on other planets.
Over the past year, this research has been undertaken by PI Radebaugh and by Brigham Young University geological sciences graduate student Zac Yung-Chun Liu, assisted by undergraduate student David Mackay.
Graduate student Zac Liu analyzed the formation of mountains on Titan through creation of an analytical model utilizing lateral forces integrated with subsurface fluids. His paper on the topic, written by him as first author, went for review to the tier-one journals Nature and Nature Geoscience, twice for the second journal. In the end, the paper was rejected by both journals, which is not unusual for these venues. We are revising to resubmit to Planetary and Space Science at the beginning of the year. Zac presented his work at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston in March 2014, and at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco in December 2014.
Under Zac’s mentoring (and mine), undergraduate student David Mackay has been mapping different kinds of mountains across Titan. His work will contribute to another publication under work by Zac on mountain distributions. Both of these papers by Zac are offshoots of his MS thesis, completed in August this year. Zac is now in a PhD program at Arizona State University, and David is continuing his analyses of mountains as a mentored student.
- Liu, Z.Y.C., J. Radebaugh, R. Harris and E.H Christiansen. Liquid hydrocarbons and fluid overpressures explain contractional structures on Titan. Planetary and Space Science, in prep.
- Liu, Z.Y.C., J. Radebaugh, R. Harris and E.H Christiansen. Distribution of Mountains on Titan. Icarus, in prep.
- Liu, Z.Y.C. 2013. Mountain formation on Titan. Titan workshop, Boston, MA, August 2013.
- Liu, Z.Y.C., J. Radebaugh, R. Harris and E.H Christiansen 2013. Liquid hydrocarbons and fluid overpressures explain contractional structures on Titan. LPS XLIV Abstract 1851.
- Liu, Z.Y.C., J. Radebaugh, R. Harris and E.H Christiansen 2013. Mountain formation and distribution on Titan. AGU Abstracts with programs, Annual Meeting.
- Liu, Z.Y.C., J. Radebaugh, R. Harris and E.H Christiansen, C.D. Neish, R.L. Kirk, R.D. Lorenz and the Cassini RADAR Team 2014. Global Structural mapping and elevation of Titan’s mountain ridge belts: Implications for tectonic evolution. LPS XLV Abstracts.
- Liu, Z.Y.C., J. Radebaugh, R. Harris and E.H Christiansen 2014. Role of Fluids and Atmosphere in the Tectonic Evolution of Titan. AGU Abstracts with programs, Annual Meeting.