Complex Crater (Low Gravity)

Living reference work entry


Complex crater on low-gravity bodies characterized by broad central structures and bowl-shaped cavity.

Description and Regional Variations

These craters exhibit both the bowl-shaped cavity of simple craters and the central structure and slump features of complex craters, making them transitional between simple and complex craters. These craters mostly occur only on large asteroids (Vesta) or smaller icy satellites (e.g., Hyperion) where gravity is weak but internal strength is large enough to keep the body’s material together without disintegrating.

The nearly bowl-shaped cavity is significantly shallower than the similar-sized simple craters on other bodies. The elevated conical central structure may be well developed in larger basins, for example, Rheasilvia (Schenk et al. 2013), but less developed in smaller craters, which show irregular, broad intracrater mounds that may be putative central peaks (Schenk et al. 2013) or slump features (Transitional Crater).


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Central Structure Central Uplift Crater Floor Slump Feature Basin Relief 
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  1. O’Brien DP, Marchi P, Schenk P, Mittlefehldt DW, Jaumann R et al (2012) The impact history of Vesta: new views from the dawn mission. Early solar system impact bombardment II #4031Google Scholar
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  3. Schenk P, Vincent J-B, Marchi S, O’Brien DP, Gaskell R, Preusker F, Raymond CA, Russell CT (2013) Impact crater morphologies on Vesta in solar system context. 44th LPSC #2039Google Scholar
  4. Thomas PC (2010) Sizes, shapes, and derived properties of the saturnian satellites after the Cassini nominal mission. Icarus 208(1):395–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Planetary Science Research GroupEötvös Loránd University, Institute of Geography and Earth SciencesBudapestHungary