2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (1922 October 2014)
Paper No. 84-6
Presentation Time: 2:20 PM-2:35 PM


MALASKA, Michael J.1, RADEBAUGH, Jani2, LOPES, Rosaly M.C.3, MITCHELL, Karl L.4, HAYES, Alexander G.5, LE GALL, Alice6, TURTLE, Elizabeth7, SOLOMONIDOU, Anezina4, and LORENZ, Ralph8, (1) Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, Mail Stop 183-301, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109, michael.j.malaska@jpl.nasa.gov, (2) Department of Geological Sciences, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, (3) Jet Propulsion Laboratory/NASA, Caltech, Pasadena, CA 91109, (4) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Mail Stop 183-601, 4800 Oak Grove Dr, Pasadena, CA 91109, (5) Astronomy, Cornell University, 412 Space Science Building, Ithaca, NY 14853-6801, (6) Laboratoire Atmospheres, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (LATMOS), Universite Versailles Saint-Quentim (UVSQ), 11 bd d'Alembert, Guyancourt, 78 280, France, (7) Applied Physical Laboratory, John Hopkins University, Laurel, MD 20723, (8) Applied Physics Lab, Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, MD 20723

Saturn’s moon Titan has a thick atmosphere that supports a meteorological cycle of liquid hydrocarbons. We have identified a highly dissected terrain unit on Titan called Labyrinthic terrain. This unit covers less than 5% of the surface area of Titan, but may reveal much about the geological history of that world. This terrain type consists of dissected plateaux and remnant ridges with a high relative valley density when compared to other terrains on Titan observed at a spatial resolution of about 350 m (the maximum spatial resolution for the Cassini Synthetic Aperture Radar mode). These terrains have a medium to low radar backscatter when compared to other units on Titan. Radiometric data from the same instrument suggests materials that are not consistent with water ice.

Labyrinthic terrain units are consistently locally elevated compared to the rest of Titan’s terrain units. This suggests that these units are either ancient terrains that survived regional deflation, or that they have been uplifted and dissected by erosion, likely fluvial. The Labyrinthic terrain units are always associated with Titan’s undifferentiated plain units. The plains units form the valley fill, and are at the margins of Labyrinthic terrains where valleys debouch out onto the plain. While Labyrinthic terrains could be the source for some of the plains material, some type of modification needs to occur in order to explain the spectral properties. Inside several of the Labyrinthic terrain units, closed valleys can be discerned, consistent with mass removal by some process, possibly by dissolution and/or suffosion. The various Titan Labyrinthic terrain units all have strong morphological similarity to terrestrial karst terrains. We suggest that Titan’s Labyrinthic terrain is a type of terrain unit that has been subjected to chemical dissolution and physical erosion to then produce the materials that are deposited onto surrounding plains, forming the plains unit. Since water ice is not expected to be dissolved by hydrocarbon solvents, we further suggest that the Labyrinthic terrain unit is composed of an uplifted organic sedimentary deposit that can be partially dissolved. We propose that Labyrinthic terrain is a part of the organic sedimentary cycle on Titan.

2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (1922 October 2014)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 84
Ice in the Solar System: Mars to Pluto and Icy Worlds in Between
Vancouver Convention Centre-West: 301
1:00 PM-5:00 PM, Sunday, 19 October 2014

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