Craters on the Moon from Galileo to Wegener: A short history of the impacthypothesis, and implications for the study of terrestrial impact craters

Authors
Citation
C. Koeberl, Craters on the Moon from Galileo to Wegener: A short history of the impacthypothesis, and implications for the study of terrestrial impact craters, EARTH MOON, 85-6, 2001, pp. 209-224
Citations number
27
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Article
Categorie Soggetti
Space Sciences
Journal title
EARTH MOON AND PLANETS
ISSN journal
0167-9295 → ACNP
Volume
85-6
Year of publication
2001
Pages
209 - 224
Database
ISI
SICI code
0167-9295(2001)85-6:<209:COTMFG>2.0.ZU;2-X
Abstract
The origin of lunar craters has been discussed for centuries, since they we re discovered by Galilei in 1609. The majority of researchers were of the o pinion that they are volcanic structures, but a variety of "exotic'' explan ations that included tidal forces, circular glaciers, and coral atolls was also considered. The meteorite impact hypothesis had been discussed a few t imes, starting with Hooke in 1665, and formulated in more detail by Proctor in 1873 and Gilbert in 1893. However, this theory only gained momentum ear ly in the 20th century, after the identification of Meteor Crater in Arizon a as an impact structure, and after specific and plausible physical models for impact craters formation were devised by Opik in 1916, Ives in 1919, an d Gifford in 1924. Nevertheless, despite growing evidence for the interpret ation that most craters formed by impact, proponents of the volcanic theory impact were still vociferous as late as 1965, just four years before the f irst samples were brought back from the moon. Important lessons could have been learned for the study of impact craters on the Earth, especially in vi ew of evidence that large impact events had some influence on the geologic and biologic evolution of the Earth.