, Volume 69, Issue 2, pp 141-172

Criteria for the detection of lunar cryptomaria

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Abstract

Cryptomaria are mare basalt deposits hidden or obscured by superposed higher albedo material or variations in albedo. They represent a record of the earliest mare volcanism, and may be a significant volumetric contribution to the volcanic and magmatic history of the Moon. In order to assess their global distribution and significance, criteria for the identification of cryptomaria are developed and techniques for locating them are described. These criteria and techniques include the presence of dark halo craters, identification by spectral mixing analysis, identification by geochemical evidence, association with light plains units, location within basin topography, proximity to known mare, relation to mascons indicated by gravity anomalies, and identification of the source of an obscuring agent, such as crater ejecta. On the basis of these criteria and techniques, several types of cryptomare are recognized, depending on the nature of ejecta and mare materials. Cryptomaria may be formed when maria are obscured by coverings of proximal or distal basin ejecta, or by crater ejecta dusting, or when ejecta covers over basalts which lack a distinctive 1µm absorption band. Using these concepts we outline three case studies: 1) the Schiller-Schickard region adjacent to the Orientale basin, classified as a basin-ejecta cryptomare and grading from distal to proximal, with possible crater-ejecta covering occurring in the southwestern portion of the region, 2) the Balmer basin, classified as a crater-ejecta-dusting cryptomare, and 3) the Australe basin, in which two types of cryptomare were identified: a) crater-ejecta-dusting on old mare patches and b) possible distal-basin-ejecta covering even older mare material. These case studies provide criteria for the further global identification and classification of cryptomaria and stress the need for utilization of multiple criteria and data sets.