Lunar basin formation and highland stratigraphy

Reviews of Geophysics and Space Physics
By: , and 



Multiring impact basins, formed after solidification of the lunar crust, account for most or all premare regional deposits and structures expressed in the lunar landscape and for major topographic and gravity variations. A fresh basin has two or more concentric mountain rings, a lineated ejecta blanket, and secondary impact craters. Crackled material on the floor may be impact melt. The ejecta blanket was emplaced at least partly as a ground‐hugging flow and was probably hot. A suggested model of basin formation is that the center lifts up and the rings form by inward collapse during evisceration. The resulting basin is shallow and has a central uplift of the mantle. This results in a central gravity high and a ring low. Later flooding by mare basalt has since modified most near side basins. Highland deposits of plains, furrowed and pitted terrain, and various hills, domes, and craters that were interpreted before the Apollo missions as being volcanic can now be interpreted as being basin related. A province map of the whole moon shows that the relatively young Orientale and Imbrium basins imprinted and rejuvenated much of the moon's surface; older basins must have also. The most primitive cratered surface remaining is mostly on the far side, distant from Imbrium and Orientale and other large relatively young basins. All five lunar landings in the highlands sampled stratigraphic units probably related to basins. Several nearly obliterated basins have been discovered recently, including a deep one on the far side that is as wide as the moon's radius. The presence of these ancient basins suggests that the surface is effectively saturated by basins and that many others were completely destroyed by later impacts. Basin impacts may have churned the lunar crust to large depths.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Lunar basin formation and highland stratigraphy
Series title Reviews of Geophysics and Space Physics
DOI 10.1029/RG012i003p00309
Volume 12
Issue 3
Year Published 1974
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 19 p.
First page 309
Last page 327
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