The University of Arizona

Magnetic fields of lunar multi-ring impact basins

J. S. Halekas, R. P. Lin, D. L. Mitchell


We survey the magnetic fields of lunar multi-ring impact basins using data from the electron reflectometer instrument on the Lunar Prospector spacecraft. As for smaller lunar craters, the primary signature is a magnetic low that extends to ~1.5-2 basin radii, suggesting shock demagnetization of relatively soft crustal magnetization. A secondary signature, as for large terrestrial basins, is the presence of central magnetic anomalies, which may be due to thermal remanence in impact melt rocks and/or shock remanence in the central uplift. The radial extent of the anomalies may argue for the former possibility, but the latter or a combination of the two are also possible. Central anomaly fields are absent for the oldest pre-Nectarian basins, increase to a peak in early Nectarian basins, and decrease to a low level for Imbrian basins. If basin-associated anomalies provide a good indication of ambient magnetic fields when the basins formed, this suggests the existence of a "magnetic era" (possibly due to a lunar core dynamo) similar to that implied by paleointensity results from returned lunar samples. However, the central basin anomalies suggest that the fields peaked in early Nectarian times and were low in Imbrian times, while samples provide evidence for high fields in Nectarian and early Imbrian times.


magnetic fields;Moon;Crustal magnetization;Lunar Prospector spacecraft;Impact basin

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