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Open letter to science editors
THE ORIGIN OF LUNAR SINUOUS RILLES
Of the Moon and Mars
Ralph E. Juergens
Mr. Juergens is an
associate editor of Pensée. This is the first part of a two-part
to Velikovsky's collation of ancient historical accounts, the most recent
period of turmoil in the solar system ended less than 2700 years ago
Territorial disputes that continued for nearly a full century brought Venus,
Mars, the earth, and the moon into repeated conflicts, scarring all of them
to varying degrees. And since all this happened so very recently in
geologic time, most of these battle scars should still be prominent and
kind of surface markings might be distinctively attributable to close
encounters between planets?
historical, and literary texts describing the battles of the planetary gods
are fraught with references to cosmic lightnings and thunderbolts. The
implication, emphasized by Velikovsky in numerous writings, is that electric
discharges took place between the planetary bodies during their close
approaches. Furthermore, such discharges were evidently of such magnitude
as to be visible from earth even when they did not actually terminate on
earth. They must therefore have involved enormous exchanges of energy and
have produced scars of commensurate proportions.
In this and
in a sequel article, I intend to suggest that electrical scars of vast
proportions are indeed in evidence, particularly on the surfaces of Mars and
the moon. I will emphasize that it is just such markings that constitute
the most recent features of these bodies.
quotes Pliny's description of a cosmic thunderbolt: "Heavenly fire is spit
forth by the planet as crackling charcoal flies from a burning log"
This homely simile seems congruent with ancient artistic tradition; early
Greek sculptors portraying Zeus, for example, poised him like a quarterback
about to launch a football-shaped thunderbolt (3). The impression gained
from both these lines of evidence is that the thunderbolts thus referred to
and depicted were not luminous streamers akin to atmospheric lightning, but
luminous "objects" of missile-like proportions.
If so, it
seems likely that such thunderbolts were of the nature of the plasmoids
described some years ago by Winston Bostick of Stevens Institute of
Technology (4). These objects—"pieces of plasma" with "unexpected capacity
for maintaining their identity"—were fired from the electrodes of a "plasma
emerged from the gun in doughnut form, then expanded axially to form long
cylinders. When fired into a thin gas, they bent themselves double and
twisted into forms resembling screws. This suggests, if we are correct in
equating plasmoids and cosmic thunderbolts, that the early Greek sculptors
may have detailed the thunderbolts of Zeus with screwlike twists at each end
on the basis of accurate descriptions passed down by their ancestors.
such plasmoids are created in the laboratory by an electric discharge at
the "muzzle" of a plasma gun, they are not transporters of electric
charge; their plasma consists of essentially equal numbers of electrons
and positive ions. The same could well be true of a cosmic thunderbolt,
and its impact site, though impressive, might be indistinguishable from
an explosion crater produced by the impact of a meteoroid (5). Thus,
finding an explosion crater less than 3000 years old, though it would
upset a number of theories now current among scientists, would be of
little help in solving the problem we have posed.
seek is some fairly unequivocal evidence of electrical
scarring—evidence suggesting that electric charges actually were
exchanged, with one body serving as the cathode ("negative electrode")
and the other as the anode ("positive electrode"). In such an exchange,
the scarring sustained by one body would be different from that
sustained by the other.
there are four bodies under consideration. Which two make a pair
offering the best prospects for the present inquiry?
Homer has passed along a useful clue: The Greeks attributed the forging
of thunderbolts to Hephaistos. Homer further recounts that Hephaistos
forged a net, "fine as gossamer but quite unbreakable," which he used to
entangle his wife, unfaithful Aphrodite (the moon) and her tempestuous
lover, Ares (the planet Mars), and bind them together long enough for
several other gods to come by and make sport of them (6).
this net have been another of Hephaistos' electrical artifacts?
question occurred to me one day as I was leafing through a newly
purchased paperback with the rather unexciting title Gaseous
Conductors—Theory and Engineering Applications (7). There on page
189 was a photograph of two spheres with sparks streaming between them.
The photo caption and accompanying text described the phenomenon as the
"formative stages of sphere-gap breakdown . . ." with "well-defined
spark channels being propagated from anode to cathode. In addition,
there is evidence of a glow discharge throughout the gap." My mind's
eye saw Mars and the moon struggling to part from one another in the
skies of the eighth century.
conceivable that Mars and the moon could have been intimately
bound—presumably orbiting one another at close range—by gravitational
and electromagnetic forces and joined by electrical streamers for so
long a period-hours? days?—as to give rise to Homer's outrageous tale?
pointedly, could sparks have reached out and bridged empty space between
two planets orbiting at a distance great enough to spare them
across an affirmative answer to this last question in Leonard Loeb's
Fundamentals of Electricity and Magnetism (8). Discussing vacuum
sparks, Loeb relates an anecdote to show that, while theory might
suggest that sparks—gas-breakdown phenomena—are impossible in a
vacuum, industrial experience shows them to be not only possible, but
all too frequent and troublesome. He explains that "somehow the spark
must create its own gas." The mechanism involves the emission of
electrons by solids in the presence of strong electric fields. These
electrons, literally "pulled out" of the solid materials, shoot across
the vacuum gap to the anode, where they liberate gas and ionize it.
Positive ions thus formed then "thread" their way back to the electron
source as luminous streamers. Upon striking the cathode, the ions often
fuse its surface and form a crater at the point of impact. If the
electrodes have not been carefully out-gassed in advance, enough gas may
be generated to lead to a general breakdown in the gap, and a power arc
even more destructive to the cathode may be ignited in the gap.
sparks can thus be produced in laboratory and industrial vacua, it seems
within reason to suppose that the same thing can happen in the
near-vacuum of interplanetary space.
question remains as to just how Mars and the moon might have been so
long detained as to give rise to the love-affair story. Clearly there
are many factors to be considered: electrostatic, electromagnetic, and
gravitational forces between the two bodies during approach, congress,
and separation; influences of the nearby earth on both the participants;
influences of Venus, which was in and out of these celestial battles;
and whatever effects the sun itself may have had. But this is a problem
outside the boundaries of the present inquiry.
Electrical Scars on the Moon
moon, with no atmosphere and therefore no weather to alter its features,
seems the logical place to look first for scars of electrical origin.
Immediately we face a problem, however. Seeming evidence of violent
electrical activity on the moon is so abundant that we are hard-put to
decide which scars to examine first.
example, British amateur astronomer Brian J. Ford published a paper some
years ago in which he presented a strong case for the idea that most
of the craters on the moon are marks left by electrical discharges
on a cosmic scale (9). He backed up his arguments with a report on
laboratory experiments in which he had used spark-machining apparatus to
reproduce in miniature such otherwise-mysterious features of the moon as
craters with central peaks, small craters preferentially perched on the
high rims of larger craters, and craters strung out in long chains.
Then there are
the rayed craters, which from all appearances are the freshest craters
on the moon. Velikovsky is on record (10) as believing them to be
discharge craters, as distinct from others without rays-for which he
favors a gas-bubble origin (11). But rayed craters, though relatively
few in number among all lunar craters, are still so abundant as to be
And there is more evidence to be sifted.
all of the lunar remanent magnetism-such a surprise to science when the
first moon rocks were returned to earth, although it had been urgently
predicted by Velikovsky (13)-could be due to cosmic electrical
discharges. It is no secret that terrestrial lightning strokes to rocky
surfaces, while sometimes fusing materials to form glassy fulgurites,
also magnetize surrounding rocks without melting them.
these lunar phenomena will bear intense study. For now, however, I
would call the reader's attention to yet another type of sear on the
face of the moon.
Lunar Sinuous Rilles
areas on the near side of the moon are gouged with peculiar valleys, or
clefts, now widely referred to as rilles. Many such rilles cut nearly
straight lines between points of no apparent significance and appear to
follow crustal faults that pierce high and low ground alike. Some are
gently arcuate, paralleling the "shores" of lunar maria, as if to
suggest that tensile forces rifting the moon's surface formations were
responsible for them. Others, upon close inspection, are seen to be
strings of closely spaced craters that could be volcanoes, subsidence
features, or as Ford suggests, discharge effects.
degree or another, all these lunar rilles seem to have counterparts in
familiar terrestrial features.
there are still others—the sinuous rilles—that come so
tantalizingly close, yet finally fail to measure up to suggested similar
features on earth, that they have become a subject of great
controversy. I believe that the sinuous rilles may be part of the
evidence we seek—evidence of the Moon-Mars encounters of only a few
thousand years ago.
rilles meander across the landscape of the moon for distances as great
as 300 kilometers. Schroeter's Valley, largest and most conspicuous of
these tortuous excavations, has been recognized since 1788, but for more
than a century it was dismissed as just another "crack"
At the turn of the twentieth century, however, W. H. Pickering announced
that, from a favored vantage point high in the thin air of the Peruvian
Andes, he had observed scores of sinuous rilles on the moon. He
described them as "a new kind of rill" and confidently pronounced them
to be "riverbeds" (15).
Pickering attributed these special characteristics to his "riverbeds":
(i) they "are always wider at one end than at the other;" (ii) the "wide
end always terminates in a pear-shaped craterlet;" (iii) "their length
is composed almost entirely of curves of very short radius;" and (iv)
"one end [the broader end] is nearly always perceptibly higher than the
last characteristic prompted him to remark: "But here we come to a very
marked distinction from terrestrial rivers, for in the lunar rill the
apparent mouth is always higher than the source. What this means, of
course, is that if formed by the action of water, as seems from their
appearance probable, the lake flowed into a river, and not the river
into a lake" (16).
few astronomers were disposed to believe that water could flow on an
airless (and probably waterless) planet like the moon, Pickering's
identification of the sinuous rilles as riverbeds met with considerable
ridicule and helped to earn him a reputation among his colleagues as
something of a crank (17).
late 1960's, however, Pickering's idea won the support of Harold Urey.
Lunar-Orbiter photographs had revealed hundreds of sinuous rilles, and
some of them certainly resembled erosion channels. But one problem that
had always plagued the riverbed theory, aside from that of providing
water on the moon, was that, with one or two questionable exceptions,
the imaginary lunar rivers had left no delta deposits or other evidence
of outwash materials unloaded at their lower ends. Urey, seizing upon
Thomas Gold's suggestion that the lunar maria might be underlain by a
permafrost layer of "plastic ice" (18), argued that riverbeds carved in
ice would yield detritus consisting mostly of ice, and such material
would wash out at the foot of the stream and melt, evaporate, and
eventually escape into space, leaving no evidence behind (19).
John A. O'Keefe, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, countered by
showing, among other things, that the viscosity of ice is such that
craters more than one kilometer in diameter, blasted in permafrost,
would quickly be destroyed by gravitational action; similarly,
Schroeter's Valley, if cut in ice, "would disappear within a year, even
if the ice were protected from melting by an overburden of soil"
O'Keefe suggested that the missing-delta problem was best solved by
supposing that dense flows of volcanic ash had carved the sinuous rilles
and then had dispersed over the surface as dust-laden gas clouds—an
idea he had published some years earlier in collaboration with E. W.
before that, O'Keefe's Goddard colleague, Winifred S. Cameron, had
proposed that the sinuous rilles were excavated by the lunar equivalent
of a terrestrial nuée ardente-a dense cloud of hot gas and ash
that explodes from the side of a volcano and rolls down the
Mountainside, cutting a new valley as it goes (22). In support of this
hypothesis, attention was directed to the known self-cohesive powers of
nuées ardentes and to their demonstrated ability to flow great
distances on extremely gradual slopes. But this theory, too, failed to
account for the material gouged out of sinuous-rille channels.
spite of O'Keefe's arguments based on the impermanence of features
carved in permafrost, the idea of ice on the moon persisted right up to
the time of the first Apollo landing in July 1969.
Lunar-Orbiter revelations that Schroeter's Valley and another nearby
rille, Rima Prinz I, contain secondary meandering channels in their
bottoms inspired Richard E. Lingenfelter, Stanton J. Peale, and Gerald
Schubert of the University of California, Los Angeles, to propose an
elaboration of Urey's hypothesis (23). The abstract of their report
summarizes their main arguments: "Mature meanders in lunar sinuous rills
strongly suggests [sic] that the rills are features of surface erosion
by water. Such erosion could occur under a pressurizing ice cover in
the absence of a lunar atmosphere. Water, outgassed from the lunar
interior and trapped beneath a layer of permafrost, could be released by
a meteoritic impact and overflow the crater to form an ice-covered
river. A sinuous rill could be eroded in about 100 years."
UCLA authors also argued that, since rilles are typically of great width
relative to the equilibrium thickness of the required ice blanket, "we
would not expect the ice to restrict the river's course or hinder the
development of meanders. . . ." Furthermore, "because there is no abrupt
change in gradient at the end of the rills, we would expect deposition
of the stream load to be relatively thin and to cover a larger area."
M. Adler and J. W. Salisbury of Air Force Cambridge Research
Laboratories, "intrigued by the novel suggestion by Lingenfelter et
al. . . ." undertook to model the process in a vacuum chamber. They
found that in their vacuum tests ice formed, and "water continued to
flow under the ice ... but it did not necessarily flow downhill.
Instead, it percolated through the soil following the greatest pressure
gradient, breaking through to the surface first in one place and then in
another." Eventually the entire test area became covered with ice. But
after this ice was sublimed away, they found that, "although there had
been some downslope movement of the soil,... no stream channels were
ever developed" (24).
University Professors S. A. Schumm (geology) and D. B. Simons (civil
engineering) attacked the riverbed hypothesis on the grounds that "it is
our opinion, based on experience with terrestrial rivers, that the
differences between lunar channels and terrestrial rivers are
significant." They emphasized a number of specific points:
1. Rima Prinz I, instead of continuing, river-fashion, down a slope it has
been following, makes a 90-degree bend and proceeds on a course
"parallel to regional contours."
2. Rima Prinz II crosses a ridge that should have turned it aside, were it
being cut by flowing water.
3. The sinuous rille in the bottom of Schroeter's Valley passes through the
valley wall and at least two ridges before it tails out and disappears.
4. "The 'Pseudo-meanders' associated with the lunar channels do not
resemble the meander pattern of terrestrial rivers."
and Simons then argued that "the emission of gas along fractures, which
control the courses of channels near Prinz Crater and in Schroeter's
Valley, would have formed chains of circular and elongate craters, which
upon coalescence could have become the lunar channels" (25).
followed this up with some experiments of his own. Forcing air through
holes and slots in the top of a duct buried under a mixture of dust and
sand, he claimed to have simulated such lunar features as explosion
craters, crater chains, and sinuous rilles; this, he said, leaves
"little doubt that some crater chains, crater clusters, and sinuous
rilles are the result of endogenic processes and probably are the result
of fluidization of lunar regolith [soil] by gases venting from fractures
in the lunar crust" (26).
it had been decided by NASA that Hadley Rille (Rima Hadley) at the base
of the Apennine Mountains would be visited by the Apollo 15 astronauts,
Ronald Greeley of Ames Research Center undertook a detailed analysis of
the Orbiter photographs of that region. He concluded that Hadley Rille
is a collapsed lava tube (27).
time (1971), astronauts had already completed several trips to the moon
and back, and it was well-established that no layer of permafrost
existed near the lunar surface. Therefore Greeley could insist that the
absence of outwash deposits disposed of the riverbed theory, at least
with respect to Hadley Rille. To clinch the argument, he emphasized
"The rille narrows 'downstream,' rather than widens as is normal for
2. "The rille is discontinuous, a situation not possible for fluvial
channels, but quite common in lava tubes and channels."
3. "The average mare regolith thickness [is]... much less than the several
hundred meters required by water erosion of short duration."
4. "Hadley Rille is situated on the crest of a topographic high ... It is
unlikely that any erosive agent, whether ash or water, could have cut a
channel along the top of a ridge" (28).
then suggested that a lava stream could produce a ridge and a channel
simultaneously by overflowing its banks to form levees. He conceded
that outgassing processes, such as those proposed by Schumm, could also
produce lateral levees, but he cited as practically insurmountable the
difficulty of imagining a crustal fracture as sinuous as Hadley Rille.
round out the lava-tube hypothesis, Greeley suggested that the
(then-apparent) discontinuities in Hadley Rille are bridges -remnants of
the lava-tube roof not yet broken down by meteoritic bombardment.
Earlier, G. P. Kuiper, R. G. Strom, and R. S. LePoole had reported that
sinuous rilles tend to have leveed banks and bridges along their
courses, and on this basis had suggested that the rilles might be
lava-drainage channels (29). But Schubert, Lingenfelter, and Peale had
rejected the idea for these reasons:
1. Terrestrial lava tubes and channels do not exhibit meanders, goosenecks,
central meander channels, or the lengths of lunar sinuous rilles.
2. "The distinguishing features of terrestrial lava channels, namely
discontinuities (bridges) and raised rims, are not found in the lunar
sinuous rilles, contrary to the earth-based observations of Kuiper et
Apollo 15 mission to the moon closed the door on several of these
theories, although this was not emphasized in the preliminary report of
the Apollo Lunar Geology Investigation Team (31).
Photographs taken from lunar orbit by Astronaut Alfred M. Worden showed
conclusively that Hadley Rille is not discontinuous; what had been
mistaken in the Orbiter photo-mosaics for breaks in the channel are
actually "shallow septa," or low ridges, between "coalescing elongate
mission established that "subtle raised rims are locally present along
the rille," and that rim-height and mare-elevation differences from one
side of the rille to the other occur at sharp bends in the channel. The
latter point was taken as a possible indication that lava flowing in the
channel might have overtopped the rim at such bends (32).
bends referred to, though "sharp" in relation to other bends in the
Hadley Rille channel, are in no way of such short radius as to cause
flowing water to top the banks, much less sluggish lava. A crude
scaling of the photograph indicates that the sharpest bend in Hadley
Rille has a radius of the order of half a kilometer.
Apollo photographs of Hadley Rille fail to show anything at its lower
end that could be convincingly described as an outwash deposit, either
of water-borne materials or of lava. Yet, by Greeley's estimate, the
volume of the rille is 2.8 x 1011 cubic meters-a significant quantity of
material to be accounted for (33). The only such accounting attempted
by the same author, however, is found in a speculation that "multiple
surges of lava from the vent, or possibly multiple eruptions over a long
period of time resulted in overflow of lava from the main channel
through distributary channels and tubes ... to build a topographic high
along the rille axis" (34). Greeley offers no suggestion as to how a
valley 400 meters deep might have emptied itself completely by
Terrestrial lava tubes form within active lava flows, and they represent
hollows left behind in cooling, already-viscous lava when hotter,
less-viscous material in the core of the stream continues to flow on
ahead. The stratification observed and photographed in the walls of
Hadley Rille by the Apollo 15 astronauts in no way fits the idea that
the rille formed as a lava tube (35); "there is no obvious way that lava
could cut cleanly through an entire series of layers [rock formations]"
University of Pittsburgh scientists Bruce Hapke and Benn Greenspan,
using Lunar-Orbiter photographs, counted craters in the vicinities of
four sinuous rilles and announced some significant findings that were
largely ignored (37).
general assumption is that the more heavily cratered a lunar surface is,
the older it must be, having been subjected to meteoritic infall for a
longer time than a less-heavily cratered area nearby. A sinuous rille
cut into a mare surface is obviously younger than the mare. But Hapke
and Greenspan found that in three out of four cases, crater densities
were significantly greater on the floors of the rilles than on adjacent
mare surfaces. In the fourth case, densities were greater on the
surrounding mare, but the region "appears to have been heavily cratered
by secondary ejecta from Aristarchus," one of the freshest-looking
craters on the moon.
and Greenspan interpreted their findings as an indication that at least
some of the rille-floor craters are not impact craters, and indeed must
have something to do with the formation of the rille. They concluded
that their results argue "against those hypotheses for the origin of
sinuous rilles by simple down-cutting by a moving fluid."
fluid-erosion theorists from Pickering on down have chosen to ignore a
matter first emphasized by Pickering himself and re-emphasized by
Greeley: The "apparent mouth" of the "stream" is on high ground, and the
narrowest part of the channel is on lower ground. The situation should
be exactly reversed. As an erosion channel lengthens, more and more
spoil must be carried by the eroding fluid, and the channel must grow
wider to accommodate the load.
the mistaken assumption in all this is that the flow responsible for
sinuous rilles on the moon was in response to gravity. Is it entirely
beyond reason to ask whether some sort of reversed, or "uphill," flow
might have been involved?
looking for evidence of recent electrical disturbances on the
moon-disturbances that might be related to the dalliance of the moon
with Mars only a few thousand years ago. So let us be forthright and
frame the inquiry in appropriate terms.
the stage, let us assume, without too much amplification here, that the
following conditions would prevail during a Mars-Moon encounter:
1. Before the encounter, both Mars and the moon would be more or less in
electrical equilibrium with the local interplanetary plasma. Their
surface potentials, if not precisely equal, would be similar. But Mars,
being almost twice the size of the moon, would have to carry roughly
twice the negative charge of the moon to have the same surface
2. Elsewhere (38) I have attempted to explain why electrical forces between
planets would probably not come into play until the bodies approached so
closely that their space-charge sheaths made contact. The moon and
Mars, at least in our day, appear to have sheaths of such
limited dimensions that it is difficult to imagine an electrical
exchange under any condition short of direct, bodily collision. So it
seems that we must suppose both of them to have been inside the earth's
sheath-the extensive magneto-tail of our planet-at the moment when the
hypothetical charge exchange was initiated. (This also puts the action
in its early phases in the night sky, an ideal placement for observation
by peoples on earth.)
3. Considerable difficulty arises when we try to imagine precisely what
might take place between three electrified bodies in such close
proximity. For now, I suggest that we consider the moon and Mars to
have been sufficiently far from the earth during this incident that the
earth's influence can be neglected in a preliminary analysis.
anticipation of various lines of evidence to be brought out in what
follows, I beg the reader's indulgence in permitting me to postulate yet
another condition: Mars, although it enters the fray with greater net
negative charge than the moon, suffers a drastic redistribution of its
charges as the encounter develops, so that when discharging is
initiated, a limited area on the surface of Mars actually assumes the
anode role. How this might come about is a matter I intend to discuss
after the evidence has been presented.
already noted a condition to be fulfilled in igniting a discharge in
vacuum: the electric field between anode and cathode must build to an
intensity great enough to "pull" electrons from the cathode by sheer
force. This is difficult enough when the cathode is made of metal;
tearing electrons from non-conducting lunar crustal materials and in
numbers sufficient to trigger an interplanetary discharge must involve
birth throes of considerable violence.
moon, then, as Mars approaches, we may visualize an external electric
field that is intensified here and there by local surface elevations.
(For the present, we consider only phenomena taking place on the
relatively flat maria, or lowland regions of the moon.) Electrons in
local rock formations strain at their bonds and attempt to move toward
one or another point of field concentration, but they are prevented from
doing so because of their bonds. As a result, a radial electric field
is set up around each center of intense stress.
simplify matters, consider what follows in just one such locality. The
radial field beckons equally in all directions, insofar as topography
and lunar materials are alike in all directions. But no electron-flow
of any consequence can start until, at some point or some few points,
electrical breakdown is initiated (39).
continues to approach, the field intensifies—globally and locally.
Finally, some small underground area of weakness succumbs to the
electrical stress, and breakdown starts. Instantly, all hell breaks
1. Everywhere else the radial ground field weakens as lines of force
concentrate at the outer tip of the breakdown zone.
a flash, the tiny breakdown point becomes a breakdown path propagating
itself outward from the starting point, turning this way and that as the
intense field at its tip probes for weaknesses in the rock strata.
3. Heat generated by the breakdown process liberates gases and generates
plasmas that blast upward through overlying formations and excavate a
vast trench. The exploding trench, propagating as fast as the
underground breakdown channel, tears hundreds of kilometers across the
lunar surface at lightning speed.
4. The initial surge of electrons, upon reaching the local high point where
the breakdown started, blasts out a large, irregular crater as it
surfaces and launches itself into space in response to the external
5. Electrons from more distant parts of the breakdown channel find the
external field at various points along the developing explosion channel
stronger than that directed along their underground path, and they blast
upward short of the main terminus, creating on-channel craters at
of course, is all conjecture. But it can be argued that an underground
breakdown channel, if not too deep to begin with, should show the
salient features of a lunar sinuous rille: (i) a sinuous course,
trending generally uphill toward a local high point, but straying
occasionally along topographic contour lines and even plowing through an
intermediate ridge or two on occasion; (ii) a narrowing toward the
downslope end; (iii) gently leveed banks, due to some upthrusting of
adjacent strata as well as to a concentration of ejecta on the trench
rims; (iv) a lack of "outwash" deposits beyond the downhill end; (v)
occasional or even coalescing on-line craters; and (vi) a prominent
explosion crater or irregular basin at the higher end.
this type of sinuous rille is not unknown on earth:
E. Viemeister points out that lightning has been known to dig "a
furrow-like trench" and even leave "a strange trail of holes in the
more impressive, however, is a photograph reproduced in the National
Geographic Magazine for June 1950. The caption of the picture
informs us that "Lightning Gouged This 40-foot Trench," and the text
further informs us that "three baseball players were killed when a bolt
furrowed the infield during a game at Baker, Florida, in 1949 ...
Ground's resistance to current 'blew' the earth like a fuse."
photo shows a zigzag excavation roughly 18 inches across and about 6
inches or so deep. The debris from the explosion is spread to both
sides of the trench, perhaps six feet each way, and it is so thinly
deposited that blades of infield grass can be seen poking through it.
Vaguely visible is a marking in the trench bottom that suggests that the
hottest part of the current channel meandered even more than the gross
outlines of the trench itself.
just as one example of the excavating prowess of electricity, A. W.
Grabau cites this occurrence: "In Fetlar, one of the Shetland Islands, a
solid mass of rock 105 feet long, 10 feet broad, and in some places more
than 4 feet high, was in an instant torn from its bed by lightning and
broken into three large and several small fragments ... [One fragment],
28 feet long, 17 feet broad, and 5 feet in thickness, was hurled across
a high point of rock to a distance of 50 yards. Another broken mass,
about 40 feet long, was thrown still farther, but in the same direction,
and quite into the sea . . ." (41).
the moon, we find further evidence that similar forces were at work, at
least in the creation of Hadley Rille. The Apollo 15 astronauts noticed
that some of the rock formations exposed at the edge of the rille "slope
gently away from the rille, which suggests that the strata dip outward a
few degrees" (42). This,
An "Earth rille" This trench was blasted out of
of course, helps to account for Greeley's
obser- a baseball diamond by a lightning
vation that Hadley Rille appears to ride the crest
of a ridge. But
the dipping strata are not lava deposits from an overflowing lava tube;
they are, instead, stratified mare formations. Their inclinations at
the rim of the rille suggest that they got that way in an explosion
throwing material up and out of the rille.
TABLE 1: Competence of Various Theories to Explain Sinuous-Rille Characteristics
Proposed Rille-Origin Theory
Erosion Erosion Formation Formation Eruption
by by by of
Gaseous Lava-Tube Breakdown
Outburst Collapse Channel
1. Width greater at
higher end C C
O B A
C O C A
3. Irregular crater at
upper end B B
O B A
4. Ends of rille at
different elevations A
A O A A
5. Outwash deposits
lacking at lower end C-X B A C-X A
6. "Bridges" lacking
along channel A A
O B-C A
7. On-channel cratering
frequent O O
A O A
8. Channel may traverse
high ground X X
B X B
9. Channel may stray from
dip of surface C-X C-X
B C-X B
10. Channel may follow
crest of ridge X X
A B A
11. Channel may expose
numerous strata B B
A C-X A-B
12. Surface strata
upturned at rille margins X X
A X A
13. Clustering of
C B-C B-C A-B
14. Young rilles may
cross older rilles C-X C-X
A-O C-X B
15. Secondary rilles in
rille bottoms B C
C C B
Symbols: A. Predictable
on basis of theory; B. Permissible in terms of theory;
C. Permissible, but difficult to explain; O. Apparently
irrelevant in terms of theory; X. Evidence precludes
bit of a case can, perhaps, be made for the electrical-eruption
hypothesis on the grounds that rilles of apparently similar ages do not
intersect one another. The strong charges transiently assembled in
rilles by the breakdown mechanism could be expected to make them repel
one another. The magnetic fields of the coursing currents, on the other
hand, could be expected to align adjacent streams and pull them
seems to be a hint of such attraction-repulsion effects having played a
role in steering the rilles near Prinz Crater. Rima Prinz II starts out
on a course that, were it continued, would cross that of Rima Prinz I.
Before that can happen, however, Rima Prinz II makes a sharp right turn,
as viewed in the downhill direction. In the meantime, perhaps itself
influenced by another rille reaching out from the direction of
Aristarchus, Rima Prinz I makes a similar right turn of its own. The
two keep their distance, but Rima Prinz II, perhaps further influenced
by another, smaller rille to its right, is forced to traverse a ridge of
effects, of course, presuppose that all the rilles involved are
simultaneously in the act of propagation. And whether such territorial
give and take is real or imaginary, it is only of tangential interest to
the basic hypothesis of rille formation.
of different ages might well intersect one another's paths. Lunar
Orbiter 4's High-Resolution Frame 137 shows an area northeast of
Gassendi Crater—an area particularly prone to rille-formation.
Schubert, Lingenfelter, and Peale reproduce this frame and claim that it
shows a confluence of two rules (43). In my opinion, however, it shows,
not a confluence of rilles, but a crossing of a later rille over the
line of an earlier one. At the point of crossing, and for some distance
each way from that point, the older rille is indistinct, although not
indistinguishable, as if it has been partially submerged under a blanket
of lateral ejecta from the rille that crosses it.
summarizes the known characteristics of lunar sinuous rilles and
indicates what I believe to be the competence of all the recent theories
offered to explain them. Admittedly, a measure of subjectivity is
involved in any such attempt to rate rival theories. Nevertheless, I
suggest that the evidence against erosion theories is overwhelming. The
gaseous-outburst theory of Schumm fares better, but it suffers from
irrelevance at a number of critical points. To my mind, the
electrical-eruption theory offers logical answers to each of the
mysteries that have plagued the other theories.
Green Glass from Hadley Rille
electric current flowing through an underground breakdown channel on a
waterless planet like the moon would necessarily be flowing in molten
rock. The breakdown mechanism is dielectric breakdown,
and more specifically, thermal breakdown, the
peculiarities of which are discussed in some detail by Whitehead
I mention this here only to establish that, in order to flow, the
electric current must first melt the rock. And as a consequence of
this, one would expect evidence of such melting to be present in the ejecta blanket spread over the rille surroundings.
15 was the only lunar-landing mission in the Apollo series to collect
soil specimens from a rille region. The report of the Apollo 15
Preliminary Examination Team is in one place most intriguing (45):
particle types in the Apollo 15 soils are similar to those in the soils
from the previous missions in most respects. The major difference is
the presence of green glass spheres ... different from any
glass component previously observed in lunar soils [emphasis
added-R.E.J.]. They are remarkably homogeneous and nonvesicular and are
identical to the green glass found in sample 15426 . . ." Sample 15426,
"an unusual green material" from the rim of Hadley Rille, is a breccia
"consisting of more than 50 percent green glass occurring as spheres and
fragments of spheres . . ."
these green glass spheres be derived from an underground stratum melted
by breakdown currents that produced Hadley Rille?
Laboratory analysis of the Apollo 15 green glass produced puzzlement,
and the perplexity increased when the crew of Apollo 17 brought back
some strange black glass.
brought out at the Fourth Lunar Science Conference in Houston (March
1973) that "both the Apollo 15 and 17 glasses have markedly similar
features that are distinct from other lunar glasses. These include: ...
pits formed while the glass was hot and soft . . different from
micrometeoroid pits in hard glass that are typically larger and always
produce a spalling or shattering [and] splashes on the glass host sphere
of material of the same composition, as if the partly molten glass
pieces in a flying cloud were colliding." Experiments conducted on the
Apollo 17 glass indicated that "cooling rates of faster than 1,000F/sec.
were necessary to form the glass. Such cooling rates are virtually
impossible in volcanic eruptions . . . but are expected in meteorite
impacts." But in the same conference it was noted that "impact glasses
tend to be non-uniform, since they are a product of an explosive process
that mixes a diverse group of surface and subsurface rocks"
uniform, clear green glass from the Apollo 15 site derived from a
single, rather homogeneous formation melted in situ by dielectric
breakdown, its uniformity and non-vesicular structure would be no
mystery. It might be instructive to determine the relative breakdown
strengths of various lunar rocks and to investigate the possibilities of
duplicating the green glass by subjecting a few Apollo 15 rock samples
to dielectric breakdown.
Distribution of sinuous rilles based on the Lunar Orbiter 4 high-resolution
Schubert, Lingenfelter and Peele, "The Morphology, Distribution, and Origin
of Lunar Sinuous Rilles," Review of Geophysics and Sapce-Physics, Vol
8, no. 1, February, 1970, p. 207)
Schubert, Lingenfelter, and Peale have prepared a map showing the
distribution of lunar sinuous rilles (47). They remark: "The nonrandom
distribution of the sinuous rilles is immediately obvious. The rilles
are clearly associated with the mare material and are conspicuously
absent from the highlands. The tendency of the rilles to occur in
groups is also evident."
tendency to occur in groups is something of an understatement.
What strikes me about this map is the dense concentration of sinuous
rilles in the neighborhood of the crater Aristarchus. Dots marking
rille locations in this region frequently overlap, making it difficult
to count them. A quick count nevertheless indicates that more than 40
of these features are within 300 kilometers of Aristarchus, and upwards
of 70 are within 500 kilometers.
crater Aristarchus has become well-known as the center of a small area
on the moon that occasionally emits visible light (48). In 1967 Barbara Middlehurst of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary
Laboratory published "An Analysis of Lunar Events"—color changes,
glows, and other signs of lunar "activity"—reported over the last four
centuries (49). Of some 400 such events, she noted that "the most
active region is certainly around the crater Aristarchus, the
neighboring Schroeter's Valley and the Cobrahead [the "pear-shaped
crater" at the upper end of Schroeter's Valley]."
Aristarchus region has also been identified by gamma-ray spectrometers
flown in lunar orbit during the Apollo 15 and 16 missions as one of
three localities on the moon showing enhanced radioactivity (50). Even
more compelling is the finding of Apollo 15's alpha-particle
spectrometer, "designed to detect alpha particles from radon decay and
to locate regions with unusual activity on the moon": "The region
containing the highest count rate is approximately centered on the
crater Aristarchus but also includes Schroeter's Valley and nearby
authors who reported the alpha-particle results, Paul Gorenstein and
Paul Bjorkholm, both of American Science and Engineering, point out that
"the excess ... Rn at Aristarchus is at least a factor of 4 higher than
the lunar average"; "the size of the Aristarchus feature that can be
seen above the background [count] is at most 150 km in extent"; and,
since the Apollo 15 gamma-ray spectrometer indicated at most a
50-percent increase in uranium concentration in this region, relative to
adjoining areas, "the increase of "'Rn activity in the region of
Aristarchus must be caused primarily by a local increase in the rate of
[radon-gas] emanation." Their report concludes: ". . . it is not
unreasonable to conjecture that the observed radon emanation from
Aristarchus ... is associated with the same internal processes that will
on occasion emit volatiles in sufficient quantity to produce observable
this seems to suggest that something happened quite recently at
Aristarchus, at least on a geologic time scale. Could it be that this
crater—actually the brightest spot on the face of the moon today—was
created by a discharge from Mars in the eighth century, B.C.?
Earlier, we speculated that electrons responding to local ground fields
might have assembled at a number of points on the lunar cathode
simultaneously. It is quite conceivable, then, that breakdown would
occur at many of these locations at practically the same instant, and
that the initial surge of electrons headed for Mars would be a complex
of individual streams.
it be likely, in such a set of circumstances, that the resulting
mainstroke discharge (to borrow a term from the nomenclature of
lightning phenomena), or discharges, would be limited to one, or a very
few, streamer channels?
Presumably we would have to suppose that some merging of electron
streams would take place during the passage to Mars, and indeed close to
the surface of the moon, so that all electrons from a single cluster of
rilles traveled a single, fairly well-defined path to the surface of
Mars. H. Raether, one of the first investigators to concentrate on and
finally understand the streamer mechanism, or Kanalaufbau, tells
us that the German term was chosen "to characterize the fact that the
primary avalanche [of electrons from the cathode] transforms directly
into the channel which is later the spark channel" (52). So, without
some merging of electron streams leaving the moon, the main "stroke"
could be expected to consist of as many channels as there were rilles
yielding primary electrons.
also pertinent to ask whether the motions of the two planets,
particularly differential rotational motion between the opposing faces
of Mars and the moon, might distort discharge channels and displace
their termini appreciably.
speed of propagation of avalanching electrons is of the order of 107
cm/sec (53). And the return streamer travels (propagates) at a speed of
about 108 cm/sec (54).
only guess how far apart Mars and the moon may have been during the
consummation of their love affair. Something less than several
thousands of kilometers might have brought gravitational disruption to
one or both of them. So let us suppose that they approached to within,
say, 5,000 kilometers, or 5 x 108 centimeters, before
breakdown occurred on the moon. From the figures given above, it is
apparent that the Kanalaufbau mechanism then could have bridged
the gap between the two planets within approximately one minute after
the onset of rille eruption.
follows that relative motions between the opposing planetary surfaces
could have only negligible effect on streamer-touchdown points.
clustering of lunar sinuous rilles on the map prepared by the University
of California scientists is hardly so well-defined as one might wish.
Even the concentration of points near Aristarchus is splotchy, and
isolated points are scattered over nearly all mare surfaces on the near
side of the moon. Less spectacular concentrations than that about
Aristarchus might be associated with the rayed craters Eratosthenes,
Eudoxus, Aristillus, etc., many of which are larger than Aristarchus.
But the concentration of sinuous rilles in the neighborhood of
Aristarchus is so impressive that we are almost compelled to focus
attention on that area, particularly since other lines of evidence seem
to converge there, too.
evidence that the Aristarchus region suffered the most rille eruptions
of any such concentrated area on the moon, and supposing that in a rough
sort of way rille numbers can be correlated with numbers of electrons
contributed to the establishment of discharge channels between Mars and
the moon, we seem justified in theorizing that this same region would
receive the hardest blow from a main stroke. And the crater Aristarchus
must be the result of that blow.
implication of such a chain of deduction is that Aristarchus was not in
existence when the local sinuous rilles were formed; that it is
younger-if only by a matter of a minute or so-than the eruption features
check this out, let us re-examine photographs of the area.
mapping camera aboard the Apollo 15 command module obtained a superb
shot of this complex terrain (55). The view, from the north, shows Schroeter's Valley originating on a rise that is clearly older than both
Aristarchus and nearby Herodotus, since both craters cut into the flanks
of the rise. Herodotus, in turn, is older than Aristarchus
(56). Small rilles are fairly numerous in the scene, but any of them that approaches
within about 80 or so kilometers of Aristarchus seems to have its
outlines softened, as if material ejected from that crater had partly
buried it. No rille in the area originates on high ground or
traverses high ground that can be identified as an
elevation produced in the Aristarchus event.
same conclusions can be drawn from Lunar Orbiter 4's High-Resolution
Frame 150-1 (57).
How Old Is
date, no mission to the moon, manned or unmanned, has returned lunar
samples from the Aristarchus region. We may anticipate, however, that
when and if such samples are secured, they will be pronounced to be
three or four billion years old. Accepted dating techniques based on
radioactive decay will be applied, and that will be that. It will be
concluded, therefore, that the Aristarchus explosion took place, not
three, but millions of millennia ago.
Velikovsky (58) has already offered a number of valid reasons why such
dating methods should be suspect: (i) "uncorrected" potassium-argon ages
of lunar materials make some of them older than the inferred age of the
universe itself; (ii) lunar materials are strikingly deficient in
certain volatile elements, a fact which casts strong doubt on the
credibility of uranium-lead, thorium-lead, and rubidium-strontium age
determinations; and (iii) no account is taken of the possible effects of
electrical discharges on lunar materials.
Velikovsky pointedly asks: "When we measure the age of the universe, why
do we assume that at creation the heavy elements like uranium
predominated and not the simplest ones, hydrogen and helium? It is
philosophically simpler to assume that all started—if there ever was a
start —with the most elementary elements. A catastrophic event or many
such events were necessary to build uranium from hydrogen. Although the
radioactive clock cannot be disturbed by heating or hitting, it can be
disturbed by discharges of interplanetary potentials. . ."
cosmologist will, of course, reply: "We do assume that the heavy
elements have been built from the lighter ones, starting with hydrogen;
it starts in stars like the sun, and the ultimate creation of the
heaviest elements takes place in supernova explosions." But
Velikovsky's point -and it's a good one—is that no theorist stops to
consider the atomic-fusion possibilities of the electric discharge; the
uranium-lead ratios found in the rocky materials of the universe may
just as easily reflect a partial conversion of lead to uranium as a
decay of uranium to lead. But of course the stumbling block here is the
continuing resistance of theorists to the idea that electrical
discharges have taken place, or ever could take place, on a cosmic
one, would predict with some confidence that, once the curtains of
thermonuclear theory are drawn aside, electrical engineers will quickly
discover that the controlled-fusion reactions they have been seeking in
vain for a quarter of a century have actually been within their grasp
for at least twice that long—that a relatively small throughput of
electrical energy will release the pent-up power of matter on a scale
far beyond the most fanciful prediction of the late 1940's.)
of the credibility gulf surrounding the entire premise of radioactive
dating and the attendant assumptions that deny the moon any kind of
history for the last three billion years, it seems reasonable to look to
other kinds of evidence in an effort to determine the age of the crater
Aristarchus. And of these other kinds of evidence, we have already
noted the appearance, the stratigraphic relationships, the intense
radioactivity, and the luminous emissions from this site. Everything
that is known about this crater argues in favor of its youth.
would be an exercise in futility at this time to attempt to pin down the
exact moment when Aristarchus first appeared as a scar on the face of
the moon. Perhaps future generations will develop both the curiosity
and the means to attack this problem and will finally be able to assure
us that this crater was or was not born in the eighth century.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
(1) I. Velikovsky,
Worlds in Collision (New York: Macmillan, 1950), Part II, "Mars."
(2) Ibid., p. 272.
(3) W. Schwabacher, "The Olympian Zeus before Phidias,"
Archaeology 14 (June, 1961): 104-9.
(4) W. Bostick,
Scientific American 16 (October, 1957): 87-94.
(5) Plasmoids, though uncharged, are carriers of concentrated
electric and magnetic energy. The impact of a cosmic plasmoid could
produce an earth-shaking—perhaps even orbit-changing-explosion.
According to Bostick, plasmoid velocities in his vacuum experiments were
"Comparable to the speed of stars in galaxies and of flares shooting out
from the sun"—which is to say, fast enough to travel from Jupiter to
the orbit of Venus in the space of a month or so, but not so fast as to
blur the form and surface details of such an object.
(7) J. D. Cobine, Gaseous Conductors—Theory and Engineering
Applications (New York: Dover, 1958). Cobine taught electrical
engineering at Harvard University before moving on to be a physicist at
the General Electric Research Laboratory. Though I have never
corresponded with him, he can rightly be held responsible, through this
volume, for turning me on as an electrical-discharge fanatic.
(8) L. Loeb,
Fundamentals of Electricity and Magnetism (New York: Dover,
1951), p. 501.
(9) B. J. Ford,
Spaceflight 7 (January, 1965): 13-17.
(10) New York Times,
early city edition, July 21, 1969.
(11) Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, "The Moon and Its
Craters," pp. 360-2. I am afraid I find this concept difficult to
accept; particularly, the problem of getting molten rock to hold
together as a membrane of thousands of square kilometers while gas
pressure elevates it from below seems insurmountable, and I have to go
along with Baldwin (The Measure of the Moon !Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1963 p. 392), who finds this mechanism for
dome-formation "completely impossible physically."
(12) This, of course, in no way excludes the rayed craters from
consideration in the present inquiry. Indeed, to my way of thinking the
rays are strong evidence that the craters associated with them are
electric-discharge touchdown points. The rays appear to be Lichtenberg
figures—starlike patterns produced on dielectric surfaces by electric
sparks. They have no discernible depth on the lunar surface—a point
consistent with the idea that they are purely superficial markings
produced by avalanching electrons. The pity is that Lichtenberg, who
discovered this phenomenon almost 200 years ago, has had his name
attached to a small lunar crater of no particular prominence and
apparently lacking rays.
(13) I. Velikovsky,
Memorandum to Space Science Board, National Academy of Sciences, May
19, 1969, published in Pensée 2 (fall, 1972): 29; see also R.
Treash, Pensée 2 (May, 1972): 21.
(14) F. R. Moulton,
An Introduction to Astronomy (New York: Macmillan, 1910),
(15) W. H. Pickering,
The Moon (New York: Doubleday, Page and Co., 1903).
(16) Quotations from Pickering in these last two paragraphs are from
V. A. Firsoff's Strange World of the Moon (New York:
Science Editions, Inc., 1962), p. 159.
(17) Ibid., p. 160.
(18) The Nature of the Lunar Surface, ed. W. N. Hess, D. H.
Menzel, and J. A. O'keefe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1966), pp.
(19) H. Urey,
Nature 216 (1967): 1094.
(20) J. A. O'Keefe,
Science 163 (1969): 669.
(21) J. A. O'Keefe and E. W. Adams, Journal of Geophysical
Research 70 (1965): 3819.
(22) W. S. Cameron, Astronomical Journal 68 (1963): 275.
(23) R. E. Lingenfelter, S. J. Peale, and G. Schubert, Science 161 (19 July
(24) J. E. M. Adler
and J. W. Salisbury, Science 164 (2 May 1969): 589.
(25) S. A. Schumm and
D. B. Simons, Science 165 (11 July 1969): 201.
American 223 (November, 1970), "Science and the Citizen."
(27) R. Greeley,
Science 172 (14 May 1971): 722-5.
(28) Lunar Orbiter 5 photographed a "unique ridge-rille" northwest of
Gruithuisen Crater. This rille appears to be a chain of oval craterlets
joined by short imperfectly aligned rille sections. See Sky and
Telescope for March, 1971, p. 172.
(29) Ranger 8 and
9, JPL Technical Report 32-800, Part II (1966), p. 35.
(30) G. Schubert, R. E. Lingenfelter, and S. J. Peale, Reviews of
Geophysics and Space Physics 8 (February, 1970): 199-224.
175 (28 January 1972): 407-15.
(32) Ibid., p. 409.
(33) R. Greeley,
Science 172 (14 May 1971): p. 722
(34) Ibid., p. 724.
175 (28 January 1972): p. 409.
American 224 (September 1971), "Science and the Citizen."
(37) B. Hapke and B. Greenspan, EOS Transactions, American
Geophysical Union 51 (1970): 346.
(38) The electric-field-confining capabilities of space-charge
sheaths are discussed in Pensée 2 (Fall, 1972): 6-12.
(39) H. G. Booker writes: "For each dielectric there is a maximum
strength of electric field that the dielectric will sustain. If the
electric field is too strong, the distortion of atoms . . . becomes so
great that electrons begin to part company from their atoms. The
insulating properties of the dielectric then 'break down,' and there is
a temporary discharge of the system through the dielectric ... The
maximum electric field strength that a dielectric will sustain without
breaking down is known as its dielectric strength and depends upon the
molecular structure of the dielectric ... In designing capacitors it is
desirable to avoid sharp points and sharp edges that would produce
locally high electric fields and encourage breakdown of the dielectric .
. ." (An Approach to Electrical Science [New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1959], p. 70).
(40) P. E. Viemeister, The Lightning Book (New York:
Doubleday, 1961), p. 137.
(41) A. W. Graubau, Principles of Stratigraphy, vol. 1 (A. G.
Seiler, 1924; New York: Dover,1960), p. 72.
(42) Apollo Lunar Geology Investigation Team, "Geologic Setting of
the Apollo 15 Samples," Science 175 (28 January 1972): 411.
(43) G. Schubert, R. E. Lingenfelter, and S. J. Peale, Reviews of
Geophysics and Space Physics 8 (February 1970): 204, figure
(44) S. Whitehead,
Dielectric Breakdown of Solids (Oxford: 1951)
(45) "The Apollo 15 Lunar Samples: A Preliminary Description,"
Science 175 (28 January 1972): 363-75.
(46) W. H. Gregory,
Aviation Week & Space Technology (17 April 1973): 38-42.
(47) G. Schubert, R. E. Lingenfelter, and S. J. Peale, Reviews of
Geophysics and Space Physics 8 (February, 1970): 207.
(48) CL J. A. Greenacre, Sky and Telescope 26 (December, 1963): 316.
(49) B. Middlehurst,
Reviews of Geophysics 5 (May, 1967): 173-89.
(50) Science 179 (23
February 1973): 800-3.
(51) Ibid., pp. 792-94.
(52) H. Raether, Electron Avalanches and Breakdown in Gases
(Washington, D.C.: Butterworths, 1964), p. 113.
(53) L. Loeb, Fundamentals, p. 493.
(54) H. Raether,
Electron Avalanches, p. 125.
(55) This photograph is
reproduced on p. 200 of Sky and Telescope for October, 1971.
(56) This age difference between Herodotus and Aristarchus is generally
accepted, since light-colored ejecta from Aristarchus can be seen inside the
rim of Herodotus.
(57) Reproduced by Schubert, Lingenfelter, and Peale, Reviews of
Geophysics and Space Physics 8 (February, 1970): p. 200. Hadley
Rille, at the Apollo 15 landing site, does not appear to be one of a cluster
of rilles, nor does it appear to be overrun to any significant degree by
ejecta from a return-stroke crater. Perhaps we might look to nearby craters
Aratus and Hadley A as touchdown scars of a multiple or branching streamer
to this area. "Aratus and Hadley A are extremely enhanced in the 3.8-and
70-cm radar [images] and in infrared [observations], are bright in full-moon
photographs [a typical rayed-crater phenomenon], and also appear fresh,
blocky, and sharp in the high-resolution Lunar Orbiter photographs. There
appears, therefore, to be an extensive field of decimeter- and meter-sized
rocks surrounding these craters [to judge from the radar results] and
extending out to about 10 km from each of these craters. These features
suggest that Aratus and Hadley A are very young.... (S. H. Zisk, et al.,
Science 173 [27 August 1971]: 808-12)." Both Aratus and Hadley A are
several tens of kilometers from Hadley Rille, and their ejecta blankets do
not reach that far.
(58) I. Velikovsky, "When Was the Lunar Surface Last Molten?" Pensée
2 (May, 1972): 19-21.
added in proof: Loeb (Electrical Coronas,
Berkeley, Univ. of
California Press, 1965, p. 69) refers to "Raether's proof of
convergent avalanches initiating breakdown streamers." This appears
to be at least partial confirmation of the surmise expressed here.
PENSEE Journal IX