UE 7 – Physiography and geological evolution of planetary bodies

The objective of this course is to provide a general knowledge of planetary geology compared to the Earth by addressing the main mechanisms that build and shape the surface of planets, such as volcanism, tectonics and impact craters. The course will also address fundamental methods for planetary geology such as dating using impact crater. The teaching unit takes into account various aspects of Earth science (geology, geophysics, geodynamics) and more planet-specific aspects (impact craters). In each session, students will be asked to read and discuss a scientific article dealing with the topic covered.

N.B. The water cycle on Mars will be covered in the module “Climate Systems and Evolution of Planetary Atmospheres”.

1 – General physiography of planetary bodies

  • Overview of space missions
  • The Earth and the Moon
  • The telluric planets
  • The icy satellites
  • Comparative evolution of the bodies

2 – Topography of planets

  • Geoid, ellipsoid, altitude and cartography
  • Measurement of topography (radar, laser, stereoscopy, photo-clinometry)
  • Hypsometry

3 – Geodynamics and thermal evolution of planets

  • Isostasy and crustal thickness
  • Gravity anomaly
  • Comparative thermal evolution of telluric planets

4 – Volcanism

  • Geodynamic contexts of volcanism
  • Comparative volcanism of the telluric planets (including Io)

5- Tectonics of telluric bodies

  • Compressive and extensive deformations
  • Comparative tectonics of the Earth, Venus and Mars
  • Case of Valles Marineris (Mars)

6 – Icy satellites

  • Processes of icy surfaces (tectonics, cryovolcanism)
  • The Galilean satellites of Saturn, Uranus and Neptune

7 – Impact craters and geological methods of dating planetary surfaces

  • The formation of impact craters
  • Impact craters on Earth
  • Use of craters as geological markers
  • Use of craters as chronological markers
  • Geological mapping on planets

Contact :

Frédéric SCHMIDT, Departement des Sciences de la Terre, GEOPS, Universite Paris-Saclay, Bat. 504-509, 91405 Orsay Cedex Tel : 33 (0)1 69 15 61 52- E-mail : frederic.schmidt[@robas]universite-paris-saclay.fr