Tempe Terra

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Tempe Terra as seen in MOLA colorized image. Red areas show highest elevations; blue, lowest. Acidalia Planitia is the blue area at extreme right. The immense outflow channels of Kasei Valles is in the lower right.

Tempe Terra is a heavily cratered highland region in the northern hemisphere of the planet Mars. Located at the northeastern edge of the Tharsis volcanic province, Tempe Terra is notable for its high degree of crustal fracturing and deformation. The region also contains a large number of small shield volcanoes, lava flows, and other volcanic structures.

The region is named after the albedo feature Tempe, first used by astronomer E.M. Antoniadi in 1930 to describe a bright patch of terrain centered near 40°N, 70°W. The name comes from the Vale of Tempe, a valley located south of Mount Olympus and celebrated by the ancient Greeks for its beauty. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) formally designated the region Tempe Terra in 1979. Terra (pl. terrae) is a Latin descriptor term used in planetary geology for continent-like highland regions (i.e., extensive land masses) on other planets.[1]

Location and description[edit]

Location and topographic map of central Tempe Terra region.

Tempe Terra is located in the eastern half of the Arcadia quadrangle (MC-03) and the western edge of the Mare Acidalium quadrangle (MC-04) in Mars' western hemisphere. It is centered at 39°42′N 289°00′E / 39.7°N 289°E / 39.7; 289Coordinates: 39°42′N 289°00′E / 39.7°N 289°E / 39.7; 289 and spans about 2,700 km at its broadest extent.[1] The region extends from about 30° to 54°N and from 265° to 310°E, covering approximately 2.1 million km2,[2] or an area roughly equivalent to that of Saudi Arabia. It is bordered to the east by Chryse and Acidalia Planitiae, to the north by the low-lying plains of Arcadia and Vastitas Borealis, and to the south by the huge outflow channel system of Kasei Valles.


Tempe Terra occupies a transition zone between the old, heavily cratered highlands of the Martian south and the geologically younger, lowland terrain of the north. Tempe Terra contains the northernmost exposures of ancient highland crust on the planet.[3] The region is transected by large numbers of linear to curvilinear normal faults and grabens with ages that span much of Mars' geologic history. Research on extension, or rifts in the crust, has suggested Tempa Terra may be the most highly strained geologic region on Mars[4] with a lot of low shield volcanoes.


  1. ^ a b Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov.
  2. ^ Neesemann, A.; van Gasselt, S; Hauber, E; Neukum, G. (2010) Insights to the Evolution of the Tempe Terra Region, Mars: Refinements of Geologic and Tectonic Units. 41st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; LPI:Houston, TX, Abstract #2685. http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2010/pdf/2685.pdf.
  3. ^ Frey, H.V.; Grant, T.D. 1990. Resurfacing History of Tempe Terra and Surroundings. J. Geophys. Res., 95(B9), 14,249–14,263.
  4. ^ Golombek, M.P.; Tanaka, K.L.; Franklin, B.J. (1996). "Extension across Tempe Terra, Mars, from measurements of fault-scarp widths and deformed craters". JGR-Planets 101 (E11).