Impact melt channel

Impact melt channel 2.5 km from the rim of Petavius B crater. Down-slope is to the bottom, image width is 1.02 km, Sun is from right, M115937523R, image center latitude 20.350°S, longitude 57.371°E [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

Impact melt, rock that is melted by the tremendous energy released during an impact cratering event, results in fascinating morphologies visible in many NAC images. Most melt stays inside the crater, freezing into melt-ponds, but some is thrown out of the crater and flows down the exterior ejecta blanket until it is completely solidified by surface cooling.

Today's Featured Image explores a fantastic impact melt deposit on the southern rim slope of Petavius B, about 2.5 km away from the rim. The flat floored arc-shaped area at the bottom of this image was likely a pool of melt that drained out of the channel at the top. The shadows highlight the depth and steep banks of the channel.

LRO WAC monochrome mosaic around Petavius B crater (image center latitude 19.932°S, longitude 57.041°E). Blue box and white arrow indicate the NAC frame and the location of today's Featured Image [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

Similar morphologies are found within terrestrial lava flows, but the terrestrial examples often have distinctive cracks as lava backs up beneath a crust forming tumuli or pressure ridges. Why do we not see similar structures on the Moon? This is a mystery, but perhaps the impact melts have lower viscosities or different cooling processes than the lava on Earth!

Explore the full NAC frame and find more fascinating impact melt features by yourself! 

Related posts:

On the Floor of ThalesHerigonius K Impact Melt FlowLichtenberg B FlowOutside of Giordano BrunoChannelized impact melt

Published by Hiroyuki Sato on 14 February 2012