The University of Arizona

Impact microcrater morphology on Australasian microtektites

M. S. Prasad, V. D. Khedekar


Scanning electron microscopy of 137 Australasian microtektites and fragments from 4 sediment cores in the Central Indian Ocean reveals more than 2000 impact-generated features in the size range of 0.3 to 600 &mum. Three distinct impact types are recognized: destructive, erosive, and accretionery. A large variation in impact energy is seen in terms of catastrophic destruction demonstrated by fragmented microtektites through erosive impacts comprising glass-lined pit craters, stylus pit craters, pitless craters, and a small number of accretionery features as well. The size range of observed microtektites is from 180 to 2320 ?m, and not only are the smaller microtektites seen to have the largest number of impacts, but most of these impacts are also of the erosive category, indicating that target temperature is an important factor for retaining impact-generated features. Further, microcratering due to collisions in impact-generated plumes seems to exist on a larger and more violent scale than previously known. Although the microcraters are produced in a terrestrially generated impact plume, they resemble lunar microcraters in many ways: 1) the size range of impacts and crater morphology variation with increasing size; 2) dominant crater number densities in ?m and sub-?m sizes. Therefore, tektite-producing impacts can lead to the generation of microcraters that mimic those found on lunar surface materials, and for the lunar rocks to qualify as reliable cosmic dust flux detectors, their tumbling histories and lunar surface orientations have to be known precisely.


Lunar gardening;Microimpacts;Tektites;Moon

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