The Tsiolkovskiy crater landslide, the moon: An LROC view

Joseph M. Boyce, Peter Mouginis-Mark, Mark Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Evidence suggests that the lobate flow feature that extends ~72 km outward from the western rim of Tsiolkovskiy crater is a long runout landslide. This landslide exhibits three (possibly four) morphologically different parts, likely caused by local conditions. All of these, plus the ejecta of Tsiolkovskiy crater, and its mare fill are approximately of the same crater model age, i.e., ~3.55 ± 0.1 Ga. The enormous size of this landslide is unique on the Moon and is a result of a combination of several geometric factors (e.g., its location relative to Fermi crater), and that Tsiolkovskiy crater was an oblique impact that produced an ejecta forbidden zone on its western side (Schultz, 1976). The landslide formed in this ejecta free zone as the rim of Tsiolkovskiy collapsed and its debris flowed across the relatively smooth, flat floor of Fermi crater. In this location, it could be easily identified as a landslide and not ejecta. Its mobility and coefficient of friction are similar to landslides in Valles Marineris on Mars, but less than wet or even dry terrestrial natural flows. This suggests that the Mars landslides may have been emplaced dry. The high density of small craters on the landslide is likely an illusion caused by the effects of age related differences in regolith thickness on crater morphology, and the presence of the abundant young, circular secondary craters produce by debris ejected from distant fresh craters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113464
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Geological processes
  • Impact processes
  • Landslides
  • Moon surface
  • Terrestrial planets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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