Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Planetary Landforms

pp 1-11

Date: Latest Version


  • Henrik HargitaiAffiliated withPlanetary Science Research Group, Eövös Loránd University, Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences Email author 
  • , Paul K. ByrneAffiliated withLunar and Planetary Institute, Universities Space Research Association
  • , Jarmo KorteniemiAffiliated withEarth and Space Physics, Department of Physics, University of Oulu


Any surface along which material cohesion is lost. The term is commonly used for discontinuities of any kind, both tectonic and non-tectonic. The term fracture is also selectively applied to the smallest of tectonic displacement types, e.g., smaller than a fissure or a graben on Venus, or smaller than a ridge or a band on Europa, or as a synonym of joint (Singhal and Gupta 2010), where very little or no visible displacement is observed (International Society for Rock Mechanics 1977). Those fractures that show a distinct separation and that are associated with volcanic processes are often called fissures.


Break; Crack; Discontinuity (International Society for Rock Mechanics 1977)

Related Terms



It is a descriptive term for a planar or curviplanar feature that separates a material body into two or more parts.


Fractures can be characterized in several different ways, for example, by their number of sets, orientation (strike and dip), spacing (dist ...

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