Matching Items (2)

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Ponds, flows, and ejecta of impact cratering and volcanism: a remote sensing perspective of a dynamic Moon

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Both volcanism and impact cratering produce ejecta and associated deposits incorporating a molten rock component. While the heat sources are different (exogenous vs. endogenous), the end results are landforms with

Both volcanism and impact cratering produce ejecta and associated deposits incorporating a molten rock component. While the heat sources are different (exogenous vs. endogenous), the end results are landforms with similar morphologies including ponds and flows of impact melt and lava around the central crater. Ejecta from both impact and volcanic craters can also include a high percentage of melted rock. Using Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera Narrow Angle Camera (LROC NAC) images, crucial details of these landforms are finally revealed, suggesting a much more dynamic Moon than is generally appreciated. Impact melt ponds and flows at craters as small as several hundred meters in diameter provide empirical evidence of abundant melting during the impact cratering process (much more than was previously thought), and this melt is mobile on the lunar surface for a significant time before solidifying. Enhanced melt deposit occurrences in the lunar highlands (compared to the mare) suggest that porosity, target composition, and pre-existing topography influence melt production and distribution. Comparatively deep impact craters formed in young melt deposits connote a relatively rapid evolution of materials on the lunar surface. On the other end of the spectrum, volcanic eruptions have produced the vast, plains-style mare basalts. However, little was previously known about the details of small-area eruptions and proximal volcanic deposits due to a lack of resolution. High-resolution images reveal key insights into small volcanic cones (0.5-3 km in diameter) that resemble terrestrial cinder cones. The cones comprise inter-layered materials, spatter deposits, and lava flow breaches. The widespread occurrence of the cones in most nearside mare suggests that basaltic eruptions occur from multiple sources in each basin and/or that rootless eruptions are relatively common. Morphologies of small-area volcanic deposits indicate diversity in eruption behavior of lunar basaltic eruptions driven by magmatic volatiles. Finally, models of polar volatile behavior during impact-heating suggest that chemical alteration of minerals in the presence of liquid water is one possible outcome that was previously not thought possible on the Moon.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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Impact-related processes on Mercury and the Moon

Description

Impact craters are ubiquitous throughout the Solar System, formed by one of the principal processes responsible for surface modification of terrestrial planets and solid bodies (i.e., asteroids, icy moons). The

Impact craters are ubiquitous throughout the Solar System, formed by one of the principal processes responsible for surface modification of terrestrial planets and solid bodies (i.e., asteroids, icy moons). The impact cratering process is well studied, particularly on the Moon and Mercury, where the results remain uncomplicated by atmospheric effects, plate tectonics, or interactions with water and ices. Crater measurements, used to determine relative and absolute ages for geologic units by relating the cumulative crater frequency per unit area to radiometrically-determined ages from returned samples, are sensitive to the solar incidence angle of images used for counts. Earlier work is quantitatively improved by investigating this important effect and showing that absolute model ages are most accurately determined using images with incidence angles between 65° and 80°, and equilibrium crater diameter estimates are most accurate at ~80° incidence angle. A statistical method is developed using crater size-frequencies to distinguish lunar mare age units in the absence of spectral differences. Applied to the Moon, the resulting areal crater densities confidently identify expansive units with >300–500 my age differences, distinguish non-obvious secondaries, and determine that an area >1×104 km2 provides statistically robust crater measurements. This areal crater density method is also applied to the spectrally-homogeneous volcanic northern smooth plains (NSP) on Mercury. Although crater counts and observations of embayed craters indicate that the NSP experienced at least two resurfacing episodes, no observable age units are observed using areal crater density measurements, so smooth plains emplacement occurred over a relatively short timescale (<500 my). For the first time, the distribution of impact melt on Mercury and the Moon are compared at high resolution. Mercurian craters with diameters ≥30 km have a greater areal extent of interior melt deposits than similarly sized lunar craters, a result consistent with melt-generation model predictions. The effects of shaking on compositional sorting within a granular regolith are experimentally tested, demonstrating the possibility of mechanical segregation of particles in the lunar regolith. These results provide at least one explanation toward understanding the inconsistencies between lunar remote sensing datasets and are important for future spacecraft sample return missions.

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Date Created
  • 2013