Encyclopedia of Planetary Landforms

2015 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Hargitai, Ákos Kereszturi


Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-3134-3_71


A circular depression (IAU Gazetteer 2011) or a circular or subcircular depression generally bounded by a raised rim (Wilhelms 1987, p. 3).


  1. (1)
    Explosive crater
    1. (1.1)

      Primary  impact structure produced by shock waves resulting from a hypervelocity impact. The term “crater” usually refers to smaller (approx. <300 km on the Moon) impact craters ( simple crater,  complex crater); larger craters, usually with inner and external rings are termed  basins.

    2. (1.2)

      Secondary impact crater ( secondary crater).

    3. (1.3)

      Volcanic crater ( caldera [explosive],  pit crater, crater of a  composite volcano).

  2. (2)
    Nonexplosive “crater” (only informally called craters)
    1. (2.1)

      Collapsed  tumulus

    2. (2.2)

      Collapsed  pingo

    3. (2.3)

      Collapse  caldera

    4. (2.4)
       Pit: rimless depression of any origin
      1. (2.4.1)

        Pit crater: generally refers to volcanic, magmatic, or tectonic pits.

      2. (2.4.2)

         Penetration pit: the depression produced without shock waves by a low-velocity impact.

      3. (2.4.3)


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  1. Greeley R, Gault DRE (1979) Endogenic craters on basaltic lava flows: size frequency distribution. Lunar Planet Sci Conf 10:2919–2933Google Scholar
  2. IAU (1962) Commission Pour L’etude Physique des Planetes et des Satellites In: Sadler DH (Ed) Proceedings of the eleventh general assembly (Berkeley 1961) transactions of the IAU, vol XIB. Academic, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. IAU Gazetteer (2011) Gazetter of planetary nomenclature. International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/
  4. Wilhelms DE (1987) The geologic history of the moon. USGS Professional paper 1348Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NASA Ames Research Center/NPPMoffett FieldUSA