Craddock, Robert A. and Golombek, Matthew P. 2016. "Characteristics Of Terrestrial Basaltic Rock Populations: Implications For Mars Lander And Rover Science And Safety." Icarus 274:50-72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2016.02.042
We analyzed the morphometry of basaltic rock populations that have been emplaced or affected by a variety of geologic processes, including explosive volcanic eruptions (as a proxy for impact cratering), catastrophic flooding, frost shattering, salt weathering, alluvial deposition, and chemical weathering. Morphometric indices for these rock populations were compared to an unmodified population of rocks that had broken off a solidified lava flow to understand how different geologic processes change rock shape. We found that a majority of rocks have an sphericity described as either a disc or sphere in the Zingg 1935] classification system and posit that this is a function of cooling fractures in the basalt. Angularity (roundness) is the most diagnostic morphometric index, but the Corey Shape Factor (CSF), Oblate-Prolate Index (OPI) and deviation from compactness (D) also sometimes distinguished weathering processes. Comparison of our results to prior analyses of rock populations found at the Mars Pathfinder, Spirit, and Curiosity landing sites support previous conclusions. The observation that the size-frequency distribution of terrestrial rock populations follow exponential functions similar to lander and orbital measurements of rocks on Mars, which is expected from fracture and fragmentation theory, indicates that these distributions are being dominantly controlled by the initial fracture and fragmentation of the basalt.