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Characterization and analysis of lunar landslides using Mini-RF radar data.

Presentation #207.08 in the session Moon & Earth II (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Characterization and analysis of lunar landslides using Mini-RF radar data.

Landslides affect the surfaces of planetary bodies across the Solar System. However, what triggers a landslide to occur, what properties affect its final geomorphology, and how processes vary across different environments and planetary conditions are still not well understood. Additionally, different classification systems have been used to interpret landslides (e.g., rockfalls, long–runout, and rock/debris slides). Here, we map and characterize landslides on the Moon by comparing different classification schemes (Varnes, 1978 & Xiao et al., 2013), and measuring relevant properties in remote sensing data to inform their unique formation histories.

Using high­–resolution visible LROC-NAC images from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), we map landslide events by geologic setting (complex/simple craters, and tectonic settings) and compare our interpretations to previous studies. At each site, we also collect measurements of slope (based on LOLA altimetry+Kaguya DEM), rock abundance (based on data from the Diviner radiometer), X-band and S-band radar backscatter (from the LRO Mini-RF instrument) and note the geologic age attributed to the location. Radar data are sensitive to composition, roughness, and blockiness of the surface and shallow subsurface. Rock abundance data are sensitive to surface rock populations. Combining our remote sensing measurements with our morphologic mapping will allow us to investigate the dominant debris size and environment of each site to constrain which parameters are contributing to the formation and susceptibility of landslides on the Moon.

We will present our catalog and interpretation of lunar landslides. So far, we have observed rockslides, long–runout landslides, and rockfalls, and observed morphological differences such as the presence of boulder tracks, finger deposits, size, and the travel distance of the mass movement. Preliminary results suggest that landslides on simple craters present a larger range of rock abundances compared to complex craters and tectonics settings. We also observe that landslides in tectonic settings cover more area (tending to be 2–3x wider than their length) and may exhibit higher dielectric permittivity than landslides at cratered sites.

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