Burial Depths of Extensive Shallow Cryptomaria in the Lunar Schiller–Schickard Region

A. M. Bramson, L. M. Carter, G. W. Patterson, M. M. Sori, G. A. Morgan, L. M. Jozwiak, C. A. Nypaver, J. T.S. Cahill

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5 Scopus citations


Quantifying the volumes and geologic nature of lunar volcanic eruptions is important for constraining the thermal and geologic evolution of the Moon. Cryptomaria are effusive, basaltic lava flows on the Moon that were subsequently buried, and therefore hidden, by higher-albedo basin and crater ejecta. Radar offers the ability to probe the subsurface for geologic units not otherwise apparent at the surface. We use Arecibo/Green Bank Observatory and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mini-RF radar data sets to characterize maria and cryptomaria within the Schiller–Schickard region. We find significant variability in the radar backscatter across the region that does not correspond to previously mapped boundaries of maria and cryptomaria in the literature. We use the characteristic low backscatter (due to the attenuating nature in radio waves of some basaltic minerals) to analyze the distribution of cryptomaria. We use the reduction in radar backscatter to estimate burial depths of cryptomaria across the area. We present a new map of Schiller–Schickard cryptomaria and the local variability in the thicknesses of the light plains that bury the basalts. We find burial depths ranging from >100 m in the deepest areas to just a few to tens of meters in areas with shallow cryptomaria (particularly prominent in the southeast). These areas are generally contiguous with maria, allowing us to track mare lava flow units into the subsurface at mare/highland margins. We propose that ∼67% of the region contains surface or buried basaltic volcanism, which represents over twice (2.7× increase) the areal extent of cryptomaria reported in previous studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number216
JournalPlanetary Science Journal
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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