Journal article Open Access

Distribution, formation mechanisms, and significance of lunar pits

Wagner, Robert V.; Robinson, Mark S.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera images reveal the presence of steep-walled pits in mare basalt (n=8), impact melt deposits (n=221), and highland terrain (n=2). Pits represent evidence of subsurface voids of unknown extents. By analogy with terrestrial counterparts, the voids associated with mare pits may extend for hundreds of meters to kilometers in length, thereby providing extensive potential habitats and access to subsurface geology. Because of their small sizes relative to the local equilibrium crater diameters, the mare pits are likely to be post-flow features rather than volcanic skylights. The impact melt pits are indirect evidence both of extensive subsurface movement of impact melt and of exploitable sublunarean voids. Due to the small sizes of pits (mare, highland, and impact melt) and the absolute ages of their host materials, it is likely that most pits formed as secondary features.
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