, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 231-252

Small impact craters in the lunar regolith — Their morphologies, relative ages, and rates of formation

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Abstract

Apparently, there are two types of size-frequency distributions of small lunar craters (≃1–100 m across): (1) crater production distributions for which the cumulative frequency of craters is an inverse function of diameter to power near 2.8, and (2) steady-state distributions for which the cumulative frequency of craters is inversely proportional to the square of their diameters. According to theory, cumulative frequencies of craters in each morphologic category within the steady-state should also be an inverse function of the square of their diameters. Some data on frequency distribution of craters by morphologic types are approximately consistent with theory, whereas other data are inconsistent with theory.

A flux of crater producing objects can be inferred from size-frequency distributions of small craters on the flanks and ejecta of craters of known age. Crater frequency distributions and data on the craters Tycho, North Ray, Cone, and South Ray, when compared with the flux of objects measured by the Apollo Passive Seismometer, suggest that the flux of objects has been relatively constant over the last 100 m.y. (within 1/3 to 3 times of the flux estimated for Tycho).

Steady-state frequency distributions for craters in several morphologic categories formed the basis for estimating the relative ages of craters and surfaces in a system used during the Apollo landing site mapping program of the U.S. Geological Survey. The relative ages in this system are converted to model absolute ages that have a rather broad range of values. The range of values of the absolute ages are between about 1/3 to 3 times the assigned model absolute age.