case western reserve university



Evolution of Mercury

Steve Hauck (Case)

Mercury's geologic and internal evolution presents an interesting question: what are the conditions that both allow for apparently limited radial contraction (as recorded in the lobate scarps observed by Mariner 10) over the last 4 billion years and yet permit the core to cool at a sufficiently rapid rate to drive the present-day internal magnetic field? By simulating the coupled thermal, magmatic, and tectonic evolution of the planet we can explore the range of conditions (e.g, composition, rheology) consistent with these two constraints. Future measurements of Mercury via Earth-based radar and spacecraft such as the forthcoming MESSENGER mission are crucial for constraining further the evolution of the innermost planet.