IMPACT CRATERS: Formation of the Orientale lunar multiring basin

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Abstract

Multiring basins, large impact craters characterized by multiple concentric topographic rings, dominate the stratigraphy, tectonics, and crustal structure of the Moon. Using a hydrocode, we simulated the formation of the Orientale multiring basin, producing a subsurface structure consistent with high-resolution gravity data from the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft. The simulated impact produced a transient crater, ˜390 kilometers in diameter, that was not maintained because of subsequent gravitational collapse. Our simulations indicate that the flow of warm weak material at depth was crucial to the formation of the basin's outer rings, which are large normal faults that formed at different times during the collapse stage. The key parameters controlling ring location and spacing are impactor diameter and lunar thermal gradients.

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