The last type of landslide the team discovered is Type III, which forms when ice is melted during impact events and occurs at low altitudes from large craters.
“Landslides cover more area in the poles than at the equator, but most surface processes generally don’t care about latitude,” Schmidt said in a press release. “That’s one reason why we think it’s ice affecting the flow processes. There’s no other good way to explain why the poles have huge, thick landslides; mid-latitudes have a mixture of sheeted and thick landslides; and low latitudes have just a few.”
Besides finding the different types of landslides, the study also revealed that about 20 to 30 percent of craters more than six miles (10 kilometers) wide end up with some type of landslide. Researchers also estimated that the upper layers of Ceres could be from 10 to 50 percent ice by volume just based on the shape of Ceres and the distributions of landslides.
“It’s just kind of fun that we see features on this small planet that remind us of those on the big planets, like Earth and Mars,” Schmidt said. “It seems more and more that Ceres is our innermost icy world.”