Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

The development of central peaks in lunar craters


From a consideration of equations describing the supersonic impact of a solid body on to a solid target, the difference between final crater depth and distance vertically below the original impact at which the rarefaction wave front, resulting from the reflection of the backward propagating shock wave in the meteorite, first intersects the forward travelling shock wave front in the target has been determined. A correlation between this difference and the height of central peak features in the majority of fresh lunar craters has been established. On the basis of this, it is proposed that the intersection of these two wave fronts locally inhibits the ejection of material from behind the shock front during the excavation phase of crater formation, leading to the appearance of a centrally located peak of uplifted material. Subsequent post-impact development of the interior morphological features has been shown to be consistent with the size-scale of development of complex crater features on the lunar and other planetary surfaces. By considering only craters which exhibit this correlation, a scaling between peak height and impact energy has been derived.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Ahrens, T. J. and O'Keefe, J. D.: 1972,The Moon 5, 214.

  2. Andriankin, E. I.: 1978,Sol. Syst. Res. 12, 1.

  3. Baldwin, R. B.: 1971,Phys. Earth Planet. Int. 4, 167.

  4. Carr, M. H., Crumpler, L. S., Cutts, J. A., Greeley, R., Guest, J. E., and Masursky, H.: 1977,J. Geophys. Res. 82, 4055.

  5. Cintala, M. J., Wood, C. A., and Head, J. W.: 1977,Proc. Lunar Sci. Conf. 8th. 3409–3425.

  6. Gault, D. E., Quaide, W. L., and Oberbeck, V. R.: 1968, in B. M. French, N. M. Short (eds.),Shock Metamorphism of Natural Materials, Mono Book Corp., Baltimore, pp. 87–99.

  7. Gault, D. E., Guest, J. E., Murray, J. B., Dzurisin, D., and Malin, M. C.: 1975,J. Geophys. Res. 80, 2444.

  8. Grieve, R. A. F., Dence, M. R. and Robertson, P. B.: 1977, in D. J. Roddy, R. O. Pepin and R. O. Merrill, (eds.),Impact and Explosion Cratering, Pergamon, New York, pp. 791–814.

  9. Guest, J. E., Butterworth, P., Murray, J. B., and O'Donnell, W.: 1980,Planetary Geology, David and Charles, Newton Abbot.

  10. Hartmann, W. K.: 1972,Icarus 17, 707.

  11. Hartmann, W. K.: 1977,Scientific American 236, 84.

  12. Hartmann, W. K. and Hartmann, A. C.: 1968,Icarus 8, 361.

  13. Head, J. W.: 1976,Proc. 7th Lunar Sci. Conf., 2913–2929.

  14. Howard, K. A., Offield, T. W., and Wilshire, H. G.: 1972,Geol. Soc.. Amer. Bull. 83, 2397.

  15. Malin, M. C. and Dzurisin, D.: 1978,J. Geophys. Res. 83, 233.

  16. McKinnon, W. B.: 1978,Proc. 9th Lunar Planet Sci. Conf. 3965–3973.

  17. Melosh, H. J.: 1977, in D. J. Roddy, R. O. Pepin, and R. B. Merrill (eds.),Impact and Explosion Cratering, Pergamon, New York, pp. 1245–1266.

  18. Milton, D. J., Barlow, B. C., Brett, R., Brown, A. R., Glikson, A. Y., Manwaring, F. A., Moss, F. J., Sedmik, E. C. E., Van Son, J., and Young, G. H., 1972,Science 175, 1199.

  19. Pike, R. J.: 1975,Mod. Geol. 5, 169.

  20. Pike, R. J.: 1980,Icarus 43, 1.

  21. Pike, R. J.: 1977, in D. J. Roddy, R. O. Pepin, and R. B. Merrill (eds.),Impact and Explosion Cratering, Pergamon, New York, pp. 489–509.

  22. Quaide, W. L., Gault, D. E., and Schmidt, R. A.: 1965,Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 123, 563.

  23. Roddy, D. J.: 1977, in D. J. Roddy, R. O. Pepin, and R. B. Merrill, (eds.),Impact and Explosion Cratering, Pergamon, New York, pp. 185–246.

  24. Roddy, D. J.: 1979,Proc. Lunar Planet. Sci. Conf. 10th. 2519–2534.

  25. Schultz, P. H.: 1978,Moon Morphology, Univ. of Texas Press, Texas.

  26. Settle, M. and Head, J. W.: 1979,J. Geophys. Res. 84, 3081.

  27. Smith, E. I. and Sanchez, A. G.: 1973,Mod. Geol. 4, 51.

  28. Smith, E. I. and Hartnell, J. A.: 1978,Moon and Planets 19, 479.

  29. Smith, B. A., Soderblom, L. A., Johnson, T. V., Ingersoll, A. P., Collins, S. A., Shoemaker, E. M., Hunt, G. E., Masursky, H., Carr, M. H., Davies, M. E., Cook, A. F., 11, Boyce, J., Danielson, G. E., Owen, T., Sagan, C., Beele, R. F., Veverka, J., Strom, R. G., McCauley, J. F., Morrison, D., Briggs, G. A., and Suomi, V. E.: 1979,Science 204, 951.

  30. Sutton, C.: 1980,New Scientist 88, 491.

  31. Ullrich, G. W., Roddy, D. J., and Simmons, G.: 1977, in D. J. Roddy, R. O. Pepin, R. B. Merrill (eds.),Impact and Explosion Cratering, Pergamon, New York, pp. 959–982.

  32. Wetherill, G. W.: 1974,Proc. Soviet-American Conf. on Cosmochemistry of Moon and Planets, NASA, Washington, pp. 553–571.

  33. Wood, C. A.: 1968,Commun. L.P.L. 7, 157.

  34. Wood, C. A.: 1973,Icarus 20, 503.

  35. Wood, C. A. and Andersson, L.: 1978,Proc. Lunar Planet. Sci. Conf. 9th. 3669–3709.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bond, J.W. The development of central peaks in lunar craters. The Moon and the Planets 25, 465–476 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00919080

Download citation


  • Shock Wave
  • Wave Front
  • Shock Front
  • Rarefaction Wave
  • Central Peak