Gravity constraints on the subsurface structure of the Marius Hills: The magmatic plumbing of the largest lunar volcanic dome complex



[1] The Marius Hills, the Moon's largest volcanic dome field, has more than 250 basaltic domes and cones in an area 200 × 250 km across. It is a major free-air gravity anomaly, 236 mGal in the north and 150 mGal in the south. In the northern half of the structure, the topography can only explain about half of the gravity anomaly, and in the south, there is virtually no topographic relief associated with the gravity anomaly. High-density material must be present at depth, most likely as mare basalt intruded into the underlying porous feldspathic highland crust. The gravity anomaly is modeled using two spherical caps. The northern cap is 160–180 km in diameter and at least 3.0 km thick. The southern cap is 100–140 km in diameter and at least 6.2 km thick. The intruded basalt may have served as the magma chambers that fed the overlying surface volcanism. Magma crystallization within these chambers provided a source of crystal-rich, high viscosity lava that fed the volcanic domes. The volume of intruded basalt is 1.6 × 104 km3. The total volcanic volume, including both intruded and extruded material, is 2.6 × 104 km3, indicating that the Marius Hills is a major volcanic center. Intrusion of hot magma may cause thermal annealing of the porous feldspathic host rock, significantly reducing the host rock porosity. This would allow a large volume of magma to be intruded into the crust with little change in overall crustal volume.