Widespread impact-generated porosity in early planetary crustsOPEN ACCESS 

Sean E. Wiggins, Brandon C. Johnson, Gareth S. Collins, H. Jay Melosh & Simone Marchi

Nature Communications, Volume 13, Article number: 4817
Published: 16 August 2022


“NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft revealed the crust of the Moon is highly porous, with ~4% porosity at 20 km deep. The deep lying porosity discovered by GRAIL has been difficult to explain, with most current models only able to explain high porosity near the lunar surface (first few kilometers) or inside complex craters. Using hydrocode routines we simulated fracturing and generation of porosity by large impacts in lunar, martian, and Earth crust. Our simulations indicate impacts that produce 100–1000 km scale basins alone are capable of producing all observed porosity within the lunar crust. Simulations under the higher surface gravity of Mars and Earth suggest basin forming impacts can be a primary source of porosity and fracturing of ancient planetary crusts. Thus, we show that impacts could have supported widespread crustal fluid circulation, with important implications for subsurface habitable environments on early Earth and Mars.”