Recent Landslides on Ceres display Ice Content

Types I, II, and III (left to right) of landslide photographed on Ceres’ surface

A series of landslides on Ceres’ surface has been photographed last week, displaying solid evidence for frozen water comprising a sizable portion of its composition.

Images displayed three different types of landslide classifications. Type I landslides are relatively round and large, similar to rock glaciers and landslides found on Earth. These landslides are found at higher altitudes on Ceres, where the most ice is thought to residue directly underneath the surface. Type II landslides, the most common type found on Ceres, are thinner and longer than Type I landslides, and more closely represent post-avalanche landslides found on Earth. Finally, Type III landslides are most closely associated with large impact craters. These landslides most likely form from the subsequent heat of impact melting the subsurface ice layers, leaving a resultant mud-like flow before refreezing.

Due to the formations found, strong evidence exists for a consistent subsurface layer of mixed ice and rock, with a thicker layer near the poles. Based on the prevalence and shape of the landslides, it can be estimated that between 10 to 50 percent of Ceres’ icy top layer is comprised of frozen water.

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