Numerical Modeling of the Formation and Structure of the Orientale Impact Basin

Ross W.K. Potter1, David A. Kring1, Gareth S. Collins2, Walter S. Kiefer1, and Patrick J. McGovern1

1Lunar and Planetary Institute, 2Imperial College

J. Geophys. Res. 118, doi:10.1002/jgre.20080, 2013.

Abstract: The Orientale impact basin is the youngest and best-preserved lunar multi-ring basin, and has, thus, been the focus of studies investigating basin-forming processes and final structures. A consensus about how multiring basins form, however, remains elusive. Here, we numerically model the Orientale basin-forming impact with the aim of resolving some of the uncertainties associated with this basin. By using two thermal profiles estimating lunar conditions at the time of Orientale's formation, and constraining the numerical models with crustal structures inferred from gravity data, we provide estimates for Orientale's impact energy (2-9x1025 J), impactor size (50-80 km diameter), transient crater size (~320-480 km), excavation depth (40-55 km) and impact melt volume (~106 km3). We also analyze the distribution and deformation of target material and compare our model results and Orientale observations with the Chicxulub crater to investigate similarities between these two impact structures.

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Walter S. Kiefer,