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Ring-Moat Dome Structures (RMDSs) in the Lunar Maria: Statistical, Compositional, and Morphological Characterization and Assessment of Theories of Origin

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E-pub ahead of print
  • F. Zhang
  • J.W. Head
  • C. Wöhler
  • R. Bugiolacchi
  • L. Wilson
  • A.T. Basilevsky
  • A. Grumpe
  • Y.L. Zou
Article numbere2019JE005967
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/04/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number7
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date30/04/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Ring-moat dome structures (RMDSs) are positive morphologic features found clustered across many mare regions on the Moon, of which only a few isolated examples have been previously reported. Our continuing survey has expanded the known locations of the RMDSs from ~2,600 to over 8,000, indicating that RMDSs are more common geological features than previously thought. This work presents a detailed geomorphological analysis of 532 RMDSs identified in several mare basins. The combination of detailed elemental mapping, morphological and morphometric analyses, spatial distribution relationships with other geologic structures, and comparison with terrestrial analogs lead us to conclude that (1) RMDSs represent low circular mounds with diameters of a few hundred meters (average about 200 m) and a mean height of 3.5 m. The mounds are surrounded by moats ranging from tens to over 100 m in width and up to several meters in depth; (2) there is a wide variation of titanium abundances, although RMDSs are more commonly found in mare regions of moderate-to-high titanium content (>3 wt% TiO2); (3) RMDSs are found to occur on or around fractures, graben, and volcanic edifices (small shields and cones); (4) a spatial association between RMDSs and Irregular Mare Patches (see Braden et al., 2014, https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2252) is observed, suggesting that both may form from related lava flows; (5) comparisons between RMDSs and lava inflationary structures on Earth support an inflation-related extrusive nature and a genetic relationship with host lava flow processes; and (6) RMDS embayment relationships with craters of different degradation ages superposed on the host mare, and regolith development models, produces conflicting age relationships and divide theories of RMDS origin into two categories, (1) synchronous with the emplacement and cooling of the host lava flows ~3–4 Ga and (2) emplaced substantially after the host mare lava unit, in the period ~0–3 Ga. We outline the evidence supporting this age conundrum and implications for the different theories of origin and describe future research avenues to help resolve these outstanding questions. ©2020. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.