Testing extraterrestrial craters and candidate terrestrial analogs for morphologic similitude is treated as a problem in numerical taxonomy. According to a principal-components solution and a cluster analysis, 402 representative craters on the Earth, the Moon, and Mars divide into two major classes of contrasting shapes and modes of origin. Craters of net accumulation of material (cratered lunar domes, Martian "calderas," and all terrestrial volcanoes except maars and tuff rings) group apart from craters of excavation (terrestrial meteorite impact and experimental explosion craters, typical Martian craters, and all other lunar craters). Maars and tuff rings belong to neither group but are transitional. The classification criteria are four independent attributes of topographic geometry derived from seven descriptive variables by the principal-components transformation. Morphometric differences between crater bowl and raised rim constitute the strongest of the four components. Although single topographic variables cannot confidently predict the genesis of individual extraterrestrial craters, multivariate statistical models constructed from several variables can distinguish consistently between large impact craters and volcanoes. ?? 1974.
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Craters on Earth, Moon, and Mars: Multivariate classification and mode of origin