Origin of strong lunar magnetic anomalies: Further mapping and examinations of LROC imagery in regions antipodal to young large impact basins

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Abstract

[1] The existence of magnetization signatures and landform modification antipodal to young lunar impact basins is investigated further by (a) producing more detailed regional crustal magnetic field maps at low altitudes using Lunar Prospector magnetometer data; and (b) examining Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Wide Angle Camera imagery. Of the eight youngest lunar basins, five are found to have concentrations of relatively strong magnetic anomalies centered within 10° of their antipodes. This includes the polar Schrödinger basin, which is one of the three youngest basins and has not previously been investigated in this context. Unusual terrain is also extensively present near the antipodes of the two largest basins (Orientale and Imbrium) while less pronounced manifestations of this terrain may be present near the antipodes of Serenitatis and Schrödinger. The area near the Imbrium antipode is characterized by enhanced surface thorium abundances, which may be a consequence of antipodal deposition of ejecta from Imbrium. The remaining three basins either have antipodal regions that have been heavily modified by later events (Hertzsprung and Bailly) or are not clearly recognized to be a true basin (Sikorsky-Rittenhouse). The most probable source of the Descartes anomaly, which is the strongest isolated magnetic anomaly, is the hilly and furrowed Descartes terrain near the Apollo 16 landing site, which has been inferred to consist of basin ejecta, probably from Imbrium according to one recent sample study. A model for the origin of both the modified landforms and the magnetization signatures near lunar basin antipodes involving shock effects of converging ejecta impacts is discussed.

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