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The Bruce Murray Space Image Library

Mercury's northern volcanic plains

Mercury's northern volcanic plains

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NASA / JHUAPL / CIW

Mercury's northern volcanic plains
Mercury's northern region is dominated by expansive smooth plains, created by huge amounts of volcanic material flooding across Mercury's surface in the past. The volcanic lava flows buried craters, leaving only traces of their rims visible. Such craters are called ghost craters, and there are many visible in this image, including a large one near the center. Wrinkle ridges cross this scene and small troughs are visible regionally within ghost craters, formed as a result of the lava cooling. The northern plains are often described as smooth since their surface has fewer impact craters and thus has been less battered by such events. This indicates that these volcanic plains are younger than Mercury's rougher surfaces.

Most NASA images are in the public domain. Reuse of this image is governed by NASA's image use policy.

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