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Crater ejecta scaling laws: Fundamental forms based on dimensional analysis


  • K. R. Housen,

  • R. M. Schmidt,

  • K. A. Holsapple


A model of crater ejecta is constructed using dimensional analysis and a recently developed theory of energy and momentum coupling in cratering events. General relations are derived that provide a rationale for scaling laboratory measurements of ejecta to larger events. Specific expressions are presented for ejection velocities and ejecta blanket profiles in two limiting regimes of crater formation : the so-called gravity and strength regimes. In the gravity regime, ejecta velocities at geometrically similar launch points within craters vary as the square root of the product of crater radius and gravity. This relation implies geometric similarity of ejecta blankets. That is, the thickness of an ejecta blanket as a function of distance from the crater center is the same for all sizes of craters if the thickness and range are expressed in terms of crater radii. In the strength regime, ejecta velocities are independent of crater size. Consequently, ejecta blankets are not geometrically similar in this regime. For points away from the crater rim the expressions for ejecta velocities and thickness take the form of power laws. The exponents in these power laws are functions of an exponent, α, that appears in crater radius scaling relations. Thus experimental studies of the dependence of crater radius on impact conditions determine scaling relations for ejecta. Predicted ejection velocities and ejecta-blanket profiles, based on measured values of α, are compared to existing measurements of velocities and debris profiles.

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