GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 110-1
Presentation Time: 8:05 AM


MCCORD, Thomas B., Bear Fight Institute, P.O. Box 667, 22 Fiddler's Rd, Winthrop, WA 98862 and CASTILLO-ROGEZ, Julie C., Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109,

Observations of Ceres before Dawn indicated that it contains ~25 wt% water, and thermodynamic modeling indicated Ceres probably had experienced the same process of differentiation due to melting of the original ice after accretion as experienced by large icy moons. Consistent with that was a surface of altered mineralogy like clays suggesting aqueous alteration of the original chondritic silicates. Dawn has revealed some concentration of mass toward the center, specific aqueously altered mineralogies, a stiff surface with weaker material beneath, and extrusions and protrusions suggesting recent subsurface activity, including exposures of water ice that must be very recent. This wealth of new information from Dawn enables selection of more specific evolution models that best match the vastly improved Dawn observations. In this new study we propose one possibility is that Ceres accreted as an ice and silicate mixture after short-lived radionuclides in CAIs had significantly decayed, i.e. nearer 5 my after CAIs, and thus differentiated less completely than for hotter models. On the other hand, the presence of heavily aqueously altered mineralogies, including probably salts, suggests extensive mixing of water and silicates, which might normally be associated with more complete differentiation. Geologically recent activity, perhaps even to the present time, seems evident from several young landforms, including protrusions consistent with diapirism and recent exposures of water ice. This suggests recent flexing of the subsurface and rising of less dense interior material, including salts and ice. The presence of ammoniated minerals and what appear to be salt deposits suggest a major lowering of subsurface water ice melting temperature, enhancing the duration of water-silicate contact, and perhaps accelerating the mineralization processes and slowing or halting differentiation of water and silicates. Thus, Ceres is becoming known as the first body outward from the Sun that has had its evolution controlled by water-driven processes. Investigations of its interior and geology enable by Dawn’s observations will in turn help to better understand other ice-rich bodies.