The morphology of small fresh craters on Mars and the Moon

Ingrid J. Daubar, C. Atwood-Stone, S. Byrne, A. S. McEwen, P. S. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


The depth/diameter ratio for new meter- to decameter-scale Martian craters formed in the last ~20-years averages 0.23, only slightly deeper than that expected for simple primary craters on rocky surfaces. Large variations in depth/diameter (d/D) between impact sites indicate that differences between the sites such as target material properties, impact velocity, angle, and physical state of the bolide(s) are important in determining the depth of small craters in the strength regime. On the Moon, the d/D of random fresh small craters with similar diameters averages only 0.10, indicating that either the majority of them are unrecognized secondaries or some proportion are degraded primaries. Older craters such as these may be shallower due to erosional infilling, which is probably not linear over time but more effective over recently disturbed and steeper surfaces, processes that are not yet acting on the new Martian craters. Brand new meter- to decameter-scale craters such as the Martian ones studied here are statistically easily distinguishable as primaries, but the origins of older craters of the same size, such as the lunar ones in this study, are ambiguous. Key Points Depth/diameter ratio for new, dated, meter-scale craters on Mars averages 0.23Fresh-appearing lunar craters of similar size have d/D ~ 0.10New meter-scale craters are recognizable as primaries from their d/D ratios

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2620-2639
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2014


  • craters
  • depth/diameter
  • Mars
  • Moon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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