The transition from simple to complex crater morphology in impact craters with increase in crater size has been modelled and observed in planetary bodies across the Solar System. The transition diameter depends upon the strength and gravity of the planetary body. On the Moon, this transition takes place over a diameter range of several kilometers. This range spans a diversity of crater morphologies including simple, transitional and complex craters. The diameter range of 15–20 km falls within the lunar simple-to-complex transition. All other impactor properties held constant, the 15–20 km range corresponds to a factor of three in the magnitude of impact kinetic energy. I conducted detailed geologic investigation of 244 well-preserved craters in this diameter range to elucidate the root causes of morphological variations. I used panchromatic data for observing crater and surface morphology, Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) for evaluating crater morphometry and topographic variation of pre-impact terrain, near-infrared (NIR) bands for determining the composition of crater cavity and surrounding terrain, thermal infrared bands for examining rock abundance, and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data for detecting impact melt deposits. The results of my investigation indicate that the morphological differences are primarily governed by target properties. Simple craters are confined to the highlands, and the mare are more abundant in complex craters. The mare are composed of solidified basaltic lava flows interlayered with regolith. The layering creates vertical strength heterogeneities that drive the destabilization of the transient cavity and its collapse, causing the transition to complex craters at smaller diameters in the mare. The non-layered highlands are more vertically homogeneous in strength and therefore favor simple crater formation.
|Commitee:||Kramer, Georgiana, Larsen, Jessica, Dehn, Jonathan|
|School:||University of Alaska Fairbanks|
|School Location:||United States -- Alaska|
|Source:||DAI-B 81/6(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Complex, Impact crater, Moon, Simple|
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