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Keywords:

  • intrusion;
  • floor fractured craters;
  • Moon;
  • magma;
  • gravity current

Lunar floor-fractured craters are a class of craters modified by post-impact mechanisms. They are defined by distinctive shallow floors that are convex or plate-like, sometimes with a wide floor moat bordering the wall region. Radial, concentric, and polygonal floor fractures suggest an endogenous process of modification. Two mechanisms have been proposed to account for such deformations: viscous relaxation and spreading of a magma intrusion at depth below the crater. To test the second assumption and bring more constraints on the intrusion process, we develop a model for the dynamics of magma spreading below an elastic overlying layer with a crater-like topography. As predicted in earlier more qualitative studies, the increase in lithostatic pressure at the crater wall zone prevents the intrusion from spreading laterally, leading to the thickening of the intrusion. Additionally, our model shows that the final crater floor appearance after the uplift, which can be convex or flat, with or without a circular moat bordering the wall zone, depends on the elastic thickness of the layer overlying the intrusion and on the crater size. Our model provides a simple formula to derive the elastic thickness of the overlying layer hence a minimum estimate for the intrusion depth. Finally, our model suggests that crust redistribution by cratering must have controlled magma ascent below most of these craters.