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Abstract

Abstract

Small craters (less than one kilometer diameter) can be primary craters produced by impact of interplanetary debris, or they can be secondary craters produced by fallback of high-velocity ejecta blocks from much larger but infrequent primary impacts. The prevalent assumption over recent decades has been that primaries are most abundant, so most small craters are independent random events and can be used for dating. However, recent results from Europa and Mars support the early theory that distant secondaries globally dominate the number of small lunar craters; this would invalidate part of production functions that have been widely used for age dating. Crater excavation results in higher mean ejection velocities for smaller fragments, resulting in a steeper size-frequency distribution for secondary craters than is produced by the same size-frequency distribution of interplanetary debris. This review also discusses how small craters can sometimes be used to derive meaningful age constraints.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.earth.34.031405.125018
2006-05-30
2024-04-16
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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