Mars Crater Database: A participative project for the classification of the morphological characteristics of large Martian craters

A. Lagain*, S. Bouley, D. Baratoux, C. Marmo, F. Costard, O. Delaa, A. Pio Rossi, M. Minin, G. K. Benedix, M. Ciocco, B. Bedos, A. Guimpier, E. Dehouck, D. Loizeau, A. Bouquety, J. Zhao, A. Vialatte, M. Cormau, E. Le Conte des Floris, F. SchmidtP. Thollot, J. Champion, M. Martinot, J. Gargani, P. Beck, J. Boisson, N. Paulien, A. Séjourné, K. Pasquon, N. Christoff, I. Belgacem, F. Landais, B. Rousseau, L. Dupeyrat, M. Franco, F. Andrieu, B. Cecconi, S. Erard, B. Jabaud, V. Malarewicz, G. Beggiato, G. Janez, L. Elbaz, C. Ourliac, M. Catheline, M. Fries, A. Karamoko, J. Rodier, R. Sarian, A. Gillet, S. Girard, M. Pottier, S. Strauss, C. Chanon, P. Lavaud, A. Boutaric, M. Savourat, E. Garret, E. Leroy, M. C. Geffray, L. Parquet, M. A. Delagoutte, O. Gamblin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The most recent comprehensive database of Martian impact craters was the result of the work of impact crater scientists (S.J. Robbins and B.M. Hynek) who carefully examined the available high-resolution imagery of Mars. Building on this previous work, we present the result of an alternative approach involving 56 planetary scientists and trained students. A web platform was designed for this purpose. All impact craters larger than 1 km in diameter were classified according to a simplified classification scheme, recording the primary or secondary nature of the crater, and the morphology of the ejecta (single, double, or multiple layered ejecta rampart sinuous [LERS], or low-aspect-ratio layer ejecta [LARLE]). In total, 8445 LERS craters, 24,530 partially buried craters, 55,309 secondary craters, and 288,155 craters in the category “standard” were identified. Our assessment differs for 8145 entries in the original database compiled by Robbins and Hynek, which are not considered to be impact structures. In this work, ~39,000 secondary craters have been associated with 108 primary craters. Coupled to the existing database, the database we propose here offers a complementary way to investigate the geological history of Mars. More specifically, the completion of layered ejecta crater morphologies down to 1 km and the connection established between secondary and primary impact crater sources will allow the implementation of statistical studies to reveal the spatial and temporal evolution of the impacted material characteristics. Thanks to the simplified classification we performed here, this version of the database can be easily used as a training data set for crater identification algorithms based on machine-learning techniques with the aim to identify smaller impact craters and to automatically define their morphological characteristics. Since it is not possible to confirm an impact structure from remote-sensing data alone, any Martian impact database at this stage remains subjective, and its assessment must be facilitated. The interface we developed for this participative project can be directly used for this purpose and for continuous updates and improvements of this work, in particular, with the latest high-resolution imagery releases such as the CTX global mosaic by J.L. Dickson and others, but also as a platform for building specific databases of craters or any other structures located in a particular region of interest.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpecial Paper of the Geological Society of America
PublisherGeological Society of America
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780813795508
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2021

Publication series

NameSpecial Paper of the Geological Society of America
ISSN (Print)0072-1077

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We declare no conflict of interest. We thank Joan Florsheim for the editorial handling of this manuscript, as well as C. Koerbel for helpful comments that improved this manuscript. We also appreciate the valued reviews from G. Michael, which benefited this presentation. We are also grateful to C. Fassett, N. Barlow, S. Robbins, and two anonymous reviewers for reviews of an earlier version of this manuscript. This research was funded by the GEOPS laboratory and the Domaine d’Intérêt Majeur pour l’Astrophysique et les Conditions d’Apparition de la Vie (DIM ACAV), the Australian Research Council (FT170100024), and Curtin University (Perth, Western Australia, Australia). The Europlanet-2020 and Europlanet-2024 Research Infrastructure projects have received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreements 654208 and 871149. This work made use of the U.S. Geological Survey Web Map Service, http://planetarymaps The catalog used for analyses in this paper is available at The EPN-TAP data service is installed and maintained at Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany. The interface used for the crater classification, for which the link is mentioned in the main text, is usable on the latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors.


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