Lunar floor-fractured craters as magmatic intrusions:geometry, modes of emplacement, associated tectonic and volcanic features, and implications for gravity anomalies

Jozwiak, Lauren and Head, James and Wilson, Lionel (2015) Lunar floor-fractured craters as magmatic intrusions:geometry, modes of emplacement, associated tectonic and volcanic features, and implications for gravity anomalies. Icarus, 248. pp. 424-447. ISSN 0019-1035

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Lunar floor-fractured craters are a class of 170 lunar craters with anomalously shallow, fractured floors. Two end-member processes have been proposed for the floor formation: viscous relaxation, and subcrater magmatic intrusion and sill formation. Recent morphometric analysis with new Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) and image (LROC) data supports an origin related to shallow magmatic intrusion and uplift. We find that the distribution and characteristics of the FFC population correlates strongly with crustal thickness and the predicted frequency distribution of overpressurization values of magmatic dikes. For a typical nearside lunar crustal thickness, dikes with high overpressurization values favor surface effusive eruptions, medium values favor intrusion and sill formation, and low values favor formation of solidified dikes concentrated lower in the crust. We develop a model for this process, make predictions for the morphologic, morphometric, volcanic, and geophysical consequences of the process and then compare these predictions with the population of observed floor-fractured craters. In our model, the process of magmatic intrusion and sill formation begins when a dike propagates vertically towards the surface; as the dike encounters the underdense brecciated region beneath the crater, the magmatic driving pressure is insufficient to continue vertical propagation, but pressure in the stalled dike exceeds the local lithostatic pressure. The dike then begins to propagate laterally forming a sill which does not propagate past the crater floor region because increased overburden pressure from the crater wall and rim crest pinch off the dike at this boundary; the sill then continues to inflate, further raising and fracturing the brittle crater floor. When the intrusion diameter to intrusion depth ratio is smaller than a critical value, the intrusion assumes a laccolith shape with a domed central region. When the ratio exceeds a critical value, the intrusion concentrates bending primarily at the periphery, resulting in a flat, tabular intrusion. We predict that this process will result in concentric fractures over the region of greatest bending. This location is close to the crater wall in large, flat-floored craters, as observed in the crater Humboldt, and interior to the crater over the domed floor in smaller craters, as observed in the crater Vitello. A variety of volcanic features are predicted to be associated with the solidification and degassing of the intrusion; these include: (1) surface lava flows associated with concentric fractures (e.g., in the crater Humboldt); (2) vents with no associated pyroclastic material, from the deflation of under-pressurized magmatic foam (e.g., the crater Damoiseau); and (3) vents with associated pyroclastic deposits from vulcanian eruptions of highly pressurized magmatic foam (e.g., the crater Alphonsus). The intrusion of basaltic magma beneath the crater is predicted to contribute a positive component to the Bouguer gravity anomaly; we assess the predicted Bouguer anomalies associated with FFCs and outline a process for their future interpretation. We conclude that our proposed mechanism serves as a viable formation process for FFCs and accurately predicts numerous morphologic, morphometric, and geophysical features associated with FFCs. These predictions can be further tested using GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) data.

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18 Jun 2015 05:36
Last Modified:
18 Sep 2023 00:51