Eruption of magmatic foams on the moon:formation in the waning stages of dike emplacement events as an explanation of “irregular mare patches”

Wilson, Lionel and Head, James W. (2017) Eruption of magmatic foams on the moon:formation in the waning stages of dike emplacement events as an explanation of “irregular mare patches”. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 335. pp. 113-127. ISSN 0377-0273

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Volcanic eruptions on the Moon take place in conditions of low gravity and negligible atmospheric pressure, very different from those on Earth. These differences lead to characteristic lunar versions of Hawaiian and strombolian explosive activity, and to the production of unusual eruption products neither predicted nor observed on Earth in the terminal stages of eruptions. These include the unusual mounds and rough (hummocky, blocky) floors of some small-shield summit pit crater floors, elongate depressions and mare flows (similar to those named “irregular mare patches”, IMPs, by Braden et al., 2014). We examine the ascent and eruption of magma in the waning stages of the eruptive process in small-shield summit pit crater floors and show that many IMP characteristics can be plausibly explained by basaltic magma behavior as the rise rate of the ascending magma slows to zero, volatiles exsolve in the dike and lava lake to form a very vesicular foam, and the dike begins to close. Stresses in the very vesicular and porous lava lake crust produce fractures through which the foam extrudes at a rate determined by its non-Newtonian rheology. Waning-stage extrusion of viscous magmatic foams to the surface produces convex mounds whose physical properties inhibit typical impact crater formation and regolith development, creating an artificially young crater retention age. This mechanism for the production and extrusion of very vesicular magmatic foams is also applicable to waning-stage dike closure associated with pit craters atop dikes, and fissure eruptions in the lunar maria, providing an explanation for many irregular mare patches. This mechanism implies that IMPs and associated mare structures (small shields, pit craters and fissure flows) formed synchronously billions of years ago, in contrast to very young ages (less than ~ 100 million years) proposed for IMPs by some workers.

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Journal Article
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Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 335, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2017.02.009
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09 Feb 2017 16:48
Last Modified:
22 Sep 2023 00:31