GRAIL gravity constraints on the vertical and lateral density structure of the lunar crust

Jonathan Besserer, Francis Nimmo, Mark A. Wieczorek, Renee C. Weber, Walter S. Kiefer, Patrick J. McGovern, Jeffrey C. Andrews-Hanna, David E. Smith, Maria T. Zuber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


We analyzed data from the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission using a localized admittance approach to map out spatial variations in the vertical density structure of the lunar crust. Mare regions are characterized by a distinct decrease in density with depth, while the farside is characterized by an increase in density with depth at an average gradient of ~35 kg m-3 km-1 and typical surface porosities of at least 20%. The Apollo 12 and 14 landing site region has a similar density structure to the farside, permitting a comparison with seismic velocity profiles. The interior of the South Pole-Aitken (SP-A) impact basin appears distinct with a near-surface low-density (porous) layer 2-3 times thinner than the rest of the farside. This result suggests that redistribution of material during the large SP-A impact likely played a major role in sculpting the lunar crust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5771-5777
Number of pages7
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 28 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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