, Volume 15, Issue 3-4, pp 241-273

Floor-fractured lunar craters

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Abstract

Numerous lunar craters (206 examples, mean diameter = 40km) contain pronounced floor rilles (fractures) and evidence for volcanic processes. Seven morphologic classes have been defined according to floor depth and the appearance of the floor, wall, and rim zones. Such craters containing central peaks exhibit peak heights (approximately 1km) comparable to those within well-preserved impact craters but exhibit smaller rim-peak elevation differences (generally 0–1.5km) than those (2.4km) within impact craters. In addition, the morphology, spatial distribution, and floor elevation data reveal a probable genetic association with the maria and suggest that a large number of floor-fractured craters represent pre-mare impact craters whose floors have been lifted tectonically and modified volcanically during the epochs of mare flooding. Floor uplift is envisioned as floating on an intruded sill, and estimates of the buoyed floor thickness are consistent with the inferred depth of brecciation beneath impact craters, a zone interpreted as a trap for the intruding magma. The derived model of crater modification accounts for (1) the large differences in affected crater size and age; (2) the small peak-rim elevation differences; (3) remnant central peaks within mare-flooded craters and ringed plains; (4) ridged and flat-topped rim profiles of heavily modified craters and ringed plains; and (5) the absence of positive gravity anomalies in most floor-fractured craters and some large mare-filled craters. One of the seven morphologic classes, however, displays a significantly smaller mean size, larger distances from the maria, and distinctive morphology relative to the other six classes. The distinctive morphology is attributed, in part, to the relatively small size of the affected crater, but certain members of this class represent a style of volcanism unrelated to the maria - perhaps triggered by the last major basin-forming impacts.