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Formation of Complex Crater Structures Considering Ries Crater as an Example

Wednesday, November 3, 2004
Wuenneman (UA Lunar & Planetary Lab)

Although impact cratering is widely accepted as a major process shaping the surface of all planetary bodies the mechanics controlling the cratering process are still not fully understood. Using numerical modelling great progress has been achieved since models have become more sophisticated and complex over the years and we now are able to apply much more realistic boundary conditions accounting for different target properties. Furthermore it is possible to compare not only the surface structure of model results with observations but also the subsurface modifications due to an impact event like fracturing of the rocks and stratigraphic uplift. By means of numerical modelling examples with varying target properties in comparison to observations on crater structures on Earth and Moon the formation mechanism of complex crater morphology will be discussed. In this respect the Ries crater in southern Germany serves as a good example where the problem of how to determine crater size and how to explain the formation becomes particularly obvious. Both a numerical model of the formation process and geophysical exploration data will be presented in order to discuss the surface and subsurface structure of Ries crater.

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