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GRAIL Gravity Observations of the Transition from Complex Crater to Peak-Ring Basin on the Moon: Implications for Crustal Structure and Impact Basin FormationHigh-resolution gravity data from the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission provide the opportunity to analyze the detailed gravity and crustal structure of impact features in the morphological transition from complex craters to peak-ring basins on the Moon. We calculate average radial profiles for free-air anomalies and Bouguer anomalies for peak-ring basins, proto-basins, and the largest complex craters. Complex craters and proto-basins have free-air anomalies that are positively correlated with surface topography, unlike the prominent lunar mascons (positive free-air anomalies in areas of low elevation) associated with large basins. The Bouguer gravity anomaly profiles of complex craters are highly irregular, with central positive anomalies that are generally absent or not clearly tied to interior morphology. In contrast, gravity profiles for peak-ring basins (approx. 200 km to 580 km) are much more regular and are highly correlated with surface morphology. A central positive Bouguer anomaly is confined within the peak ring and a negative Bouguer anomaly annulus extends from the edge of the positive anomaly outward to about the rim crest. A number of degraded basins lacking interior peak rings have diameters and gravity patterns similar to those of well-preserved peak-ring basins. If these structures represent degraded peak-ring basins, the number of peak-ring basins on the Moon would increase by more than a factor of two to 34. The gravity anomalies within basins are interpreted to be due to uplift of the mantle confined within the peak ring and an annulus of thickened crust between the peak ring and rim crest. We hypothesize that mantle uplift is influenced by interaction between the transient cavity and the mantle. Further, mascon formation is generally disconnected from the number of basin rings formed and occurs over a wide range of basin sizes. These observations have important implications for models of basin and mascon formation on the Moon and other planetary bodies.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Baker, David M. H. (Universities Space Research Association Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Head, James W. (Brown Univ. Providence, RI, United States)
Phillips, Roger J. (Washington Univ. Saint Louis, MO, United States)
Neumann, Gregory A. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Bierson, Carver J. (California Univ. Santa Cruz, CA, United States)
Smith, David E. (Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. Cambridge, MA, United States)
Zuber, Maria T. (Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. Cambridge, MA, United States)
Date Acquired
April 20, 2017
Publication Date
March 22, 2017
Publication Information
Publication: ICARUS
Volume: 292
ISSN: 0019-1035
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
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