The role of substrate characteristics in producing anomalously young crater retention ages in volcanic deposits on the Moon:Morphology, topography, subresolution roughness and mode of emplacement of the Sosigenes lunar irregular mare patch

Qiao, Le and Head, James and Xiao, Long and Wilson, Lionel and Dufek, Joseph (2018) The role of substrate characteristics in producing anomalously young crater retention ages in volcanic deposits on the Moon:Morphology, topography, subresolution roughness and mode of emplacement of the Sosigenes lunar irregular mare patch. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 53 (4). pp. 778-812. ISSN 1086-9379

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Abstract

Lunar irregular mare patches (IMPs) comprise dozens of small, distinctive, and enigmatic lunar mare features. Characterized by their irregular shapes, well-preserved state of relief, apparent optical immaturity, and few superposed impact craters, IMPs are interpreted to have been formed or modified geologically very recently (<~ 100 Ma; Braden et al. 2014). However, their apparent relatively recent formation/modification dates and emplacement mechanisms are debated. We focus in detail on one of the major IMPs, Sosigenes, located in western Mare Tranquillitatis, and dated by Braden et al. (2014) at ~ 18 Ma. The Sosigenes IMP occurs on the floor of an elongate pit crater interpreted to represent the surface manifestation of magmatic dike propagation from the lunar mantle during the mare basalt emplacement era billions of years ago. The floor of the pit crater is characterized by three morphologic units typical of several other IMPs, i.e., (1) bulbous mounds 5– 10 m higher than the adjacent floor units, with unusually young crater retention ages, meters thick regolith, and slightly smaller subresolution roughness than typical mature lunar regolith; (2) a lower hummocky unit mantled by a very thin regolith and significantly smaller subresolution roughness; and (3) a lower blocky unit composed of fresh boulder fields with individual meter-scale boulders and rough subresolution surface texture. Using new volcanological interpretations for the ascent and eruption of magma in dikes, and dike degassing and extrusion behavior in the final stages of dike closure, we interpret the three units to be related to the late-stage behavior of an ancient dike emplacement event. Following the initial dike emplacement and collapse of the pit crater, the floor of the pit crater was flooded by the latest-stage magma. The low rise rate of the magma in the terminal stages of the dike emplacement event favored flooding of the pit crater floor to form a lava lake, and CO gas bubble coalescence initiated a strombolian phase disrupting the cooling lava lake surface. This phase produced a very rough and highly porous (with both vesicularity and macroporosity) lava lake surface as the lake surface cooled. In the terminal stage of the eruption, dike closure with no addition of magma from depth caused the last magma reaching shallow levels to produce viscous magmatic foam due to H2 O gas exsolution. This magmatic foam was extruded through cracks in the lava lake crust to produce the bulbous mounds. We interpret all of these activities to have taken place in the terminal stages of the dike emplacement event billions of years ago. We attribute the unusual physical properties of the mounds and floor units (anomalously young ages, unusual morphology, relative immaturity, and blockiness) to be due to the unusual physical properties of the substrate produced during the waning stages of a dike emplacement event in a pit crater. The unique physical properties of the mounds (magmatic foams) and hummocky units (small vesicles and large void space) altered the nature of subsequent impact cratering, regolith development, and landscape evolution, inhibiting the typical formation and evolution of superposed impact craters, and maintaining the morphologic crispness and optical immaturity. Accounting for the effects of the reduced diameter of craters formed in magmatic foams results in a shift of the crater size– frequency distribution age from < 100 Myr to billions of years, contemporaneous with the surrounding ancient mare basalts. We conclude that extremely young mare basalt eruptions, and resulting modification of lunar thermal evolution models to account for the apparent young ages of the IMPs, are not required. We suggest that other IMP occurrences, both those associated with pit craters atop dikes and those linked to fissure eruptions in the lunar maria, may have had similar ancient origins.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Meteoritics and Planetary Science
Additional Information:
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Qiao, L. , Head, J. W., Xiao, L. , Wilson, L. and Dufek, J. D. (2018), The role of substrate characteristics in producing anomalously young crater retention ages in volcanic deposits on the Moon: Morphology, topography, subresolution roughness, and mode of emplacement of the Sosigenes lunar irregular mare patch. Meteorit Planet Sci, 53: 778-812. doi:10.1111/maps.13003 which has been published in final form at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/maps.13003/abstract This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1900/1912
Subjects:
ID Code:
124642
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
25 Apr 2018 08:18
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
30 Sep 2020 07:43