Boulder Tracks

Lunar Boulder Tracks

boulder-trails-header.jpg

What are they?

Boulder tracks occur when a boulder rolls on the surface of the Moon. The typical size of the boulder and track is about 7 meters (diameter) and 5 meters respectively. Boulders up to 23 meters and down to 1.3 meters have been identified. Boulder rolls, and their subsequent related boulder tracks, are hypothesized to be the result of lunar seismic activity or thermal cycling.
Note:
Boulder Tracks should not be confused with Crater Chains!

Why are these boulder tracks useful?

Because it is possible to deduce surface properties (bearing strength, density) without having to land a spacecraft there. This would enable operational planning of landers and rovers.

Limitations of existing data

Although most of the present images showing boulder tracks exist in Lunar Orbiter photographs, less than 1% of the lunar surface was imaged at the high resolution necessary to resolve these tracks. Typically, 1-5m resolution is needed to obtain useful data. High resolution coverage by the upcoming Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will enable more tracks to be identified.
2017... after exploring lots of High-Resolution NAC photographs from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (online in the ACT-REACT QUICK MAP of the LROC site), we could say that the number of boulder tracks on the lunar surface is ENORMOUS!!!

Locations/data


[Consolidated list of these tracks, with position on image and estimate of latitude/longitude, size estimates, other derived data.]

The list shown below is for the older Lunar Orbiter imagery. However, recent images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have also shown boulder tracks. Image nacl00000e09.tif (LRO image with boulder tracks) shows a large number of such tracks at a resolution of 1.62 m/pixel. A download of the file will enable contrast enhancement to see >50 tracks near column 1370/row 17491 (image is 5064 by 52224).

It is desired to eventually replace the "Image Center" latitude and longitude with the track latitude and longitude. The supplementary data for the lunar orbiter images provide the frame vertex coordinates, so with the track pixel position, this should be derivable.

No Lunar Orbiter sourcebook has been found correlating the framelet number with high resolution frame code number (i.e. H1, H2 or H3). This data can only be obtained upon obtaining and viewing the high resolution frames.

The "Track Distance From Edge of Image" was originally referenced to 40 cm wide prints. The start point of the measurement is the edge of the Lunar Orbiter film with the framelet numbers. It was never defined exactly where the start point is (i.e. the very edge of the film or the edge of the visible image). Nevertheless, this data is very helpful in locating these "tiny" tracks in the large images.

Two sources of images have been useful for reviewing these tracks. These include the Lunar and Planetary Institute and the USGS Astrogeology Research Program. When reviewing images for features such as tracks, realize that it is preferable to use film and that scans may not have the quality to see some tracks, especially ones with short length.

The ID numbers are unique codes assigned to each track listed in the table. For tracks discovered on lunar orbiter images the code is LOnfffHix where LO (for Lunar Orbiter) and H (for High Resolution Camera) are fixed, n is the Lunar Orbiter mission number [1..5], fff is the three-digit frame number, i is the high-resolution subframe number [1..3], and x is a sequential capital letter [A..Z] assigned to the tracks discovered in a particular subframe, in the order of discovery.





Distance From
Image Center
Number

ID
Spacecraft
Frame #
Framelet #
Edge (cm)
Latitude
Longitude
of Tracks
References
LO2020H3A
LO-II
20H3
991
21.1
4.1°
38°
1
4
LO2027H3A
LO-II
27H3
921
21.2
3.8°
36.6°
1
1,4,5
LO2050H3A
LO-II
50H3
932
10.6
4.6°
21.8°
1
4
LO2055H3A
LO-II
55H3
597
8.1
4.3°
21.1°
1
4
LO2065H1A
LO-II
65H1
986
9.5
4.5°
15.8°
1
4
LO2071H3A
LO-II
71H2-H3
710
(712?,
713?)
20.8
(27.8?)
2.8°
2.5°
1
2,4
LO2076H2A
LO-II
76H2-H3
364
13
1.3°
23.7°
1
1,5
LO2106H3A
LO-II
106H3
292
9.5
2.2°
2.1°
1
4,5
LO2122H1A
LO-II
122H1
464
?
0.32°
-1.32°
1
1
LO2123H1A
LO-II
123H1
595
(594?)
2.6
-1.3°

1
1,2,4
LO2149H3A
LO-II
149H3
924
5.6
3.8°
-27.2°
1
4
LO2150H2A
LO-II
150H2
81
13.1
3.8°
-27.1°
1
4
LO2159H3A
LO-II
159
315
38.9
2.9°
-26.9°
1
4
LO2160H2A
LO-II
160H2-H3
386
26.4
3.2°
-26.8°
1
4
LO2163H2A
LO-II
163H2
783
25.1
0.3°
-20.2°
1
4
LO2164H2A
LO-II
164H2
915
9.5
0.3°
-20.1°
1
4
LO2166H3A
LO-II
166H3
150
13.8
-0.4°
-19.7°
1
2,4
LO2179H3A
LO-II
179H3
847
19.5
2.6°
-34.5°
1
4
LO2179H2A
LO-II
179H2
884
38.9
2.4°
-34.5°
1
4
LO2189H3A
LO-II
189H3
166
6.3
2.1°
-34.5°
1
4
LO2190H2A
LO-II
190H2
323
2.8

-34.1°
1
4
LO2195H2A
LO-II
195H2-H3
975
19.2
2.9°
-42.7°
1
4
LO2198H2A
LO-II
198H2
397
39.1
1.9°
-42°
1
4
LO2211H3A
LO-II
211H3
49
26.5
1.6°
-41.3°
1
4,5
LO3026H1A
LO-III
26H1
293-295
2(2.9)
-.4
42.1
1
4,5
LO3035H3A
LO-III
35H3
395-396
26
-1.1
42.8
1
1,4,5
LO3044H2A
LO-III
44H2
594
30.8
.69
27.1
1
5
LO3044H2B
LO-III
44H2
596
31.4
.69
27.1
1
5
LO3044H2C
LO-III
44H2
597
30.2
.69
27.1
1
5
LO3046H1A
LO-III
46H1
890
34.5
.69
27.1
1
5
LO3046H1B
LO-III
46H1
892
36.5
.69
27.1
1
5
LO3052H1A
LO-III
52H1
676-679
20.5
.4
24.1
1
4
LO3068H3A
LO-III
68H3
732-734
20.5
.9
-.9
1
4
LO3096H3A
LO-III
96H3
379
20.3
.83
-1.4
1
5
LO3100H3A
LO-III
100H3
910
10.4
.9
-1
1
4,5
LO3103H?A
LO-III
103H?
342
22.5
.93
-6.2
1
5
LO3107H2A
LO-III
107H2
868
2.1(2.6)
-.3
-5.7
1
1,4,5
LO3107H2B
LO-III
107H2
870-871
1
-.3
-5.7
12
4,5
LO3111H2A
LO-III
111H2
364
28.6
-4.9
4.8
4
1,5
LO3111H2B
LO-III
111H2
373
39.2(38.9)
-4.9
4.8
1
1,4,5
LO3111H3A
LO-III
111H3
382
39.2
-4.9
4.8
1
5
LO3118H2A
LO-III
118H2
305-307
31.5
-3.4
-3.4
1
4,5
LO3125H3A
LO-III
125H3
204
6.8(7)
-.6
-20
1
1,5
LO3125H3B
LO-III
125H3
204
7.5
-.6
-20
1
1
LO3125H3C
LO-III
125H3
204
7.6
-.6
-20
1
1
LO3125H3D
LO-III
125H3
204,205
5.3(5.6)
-.6
-20
1
1,5
LO3125H3E
LO-III
125H3
206
6.4(6.5)
-.6
-20
1
1,5
LO3125H3F
LO-III
125H3
206
8.7
-.6
-20
4
4
LO3130H3A
LO-III
130H3
895-898
9.6
-.9
-20
2
4
LO3132H2A
LO-III
132H2
142
14.7
-3.2
-18
1
5
LO3143H3A
LO-III
143H3
562
10.5
-3.3
-23
1
5
LO3146H3A
LO-III
146H3
935
5.1
-2.4
-23
1
5
LO3146H3B
LO-III
146H3
935
2.7
-2.4
-23
2
4
LO3147H1A
LO-III
147H1
134
29.8
-2.8
-23
1
5
LO3149H1A
LO-III
149H1
409
28.3
-3
-23
1
5
LO3151H1A
LO-III
151H1
656
15.8
-3.2
-23
1
5
LO3151H1B
LO-III
151H1
678
33.7
-3.2
-23
1
4
LO3153H1A
LO-III
153H1
944
30.5
-3
-24
1
5
LO3155H1A
LO-III
155H1
209
6.6
-3.1
-23
1
5
LO3157H3A
LO-III
157H3
387
34.2
-3.2
-23
1
5
LO3158H2A
LO-III
158H2
541-543
39.2
-3.1
-23
1
4,5
LO3159H3A
LO-III
159H3
659
22.2
-3.3
-23
1
5
LO3159H2A
LO-III
159H2
674
3.1
-3.3
-23
1
5
LO3163H1A
LO-III
163H1
249
39
1.77
-42
1
5
LO3164H2A
LO-III
164H2
340-346
7.5
1.8
-42
1
4
LO3167H2A
LO-III
167H2
723
11.1
1.55
-42
1
5
LO3173H1A
LO-III
173H1
557
15.2
-3.3
-37
1
5
LO3178H1A
LO-III
178H1
221
7.8
-3.5
-37
1
5
LO3181H2A
LO-III
181H2
567
28.4
-2.1
-44
1
1
LO3186H2A
LO-III
186H2
231
8(8.2)
-2.1
-45
2
4,5
LO3186H3A
LO-III
186H3
193
28.4
-2.1
-45
1
4
LO3189H2A
LO-III
189H2
615
7.7
-2.4
-44
1
1
LO3189H2B
LO-III
189H2
617
9.1
-2.4
-44
1
1,5
LO3189H2C
LO-III
189H2
618
.5
-2.4
-44
1
5
LO3189H2D
LO-III
189H2
626
8.5
-2.4
-44
1
5
LO3189H2E
LO-III
189H2
628
7.4
-2.4
-44
1
5
LO3197H1A
LO-III
197H1
707
13.6
-2.9
-43
1
5
LO3200H1A
LO-III
200H1
101-103
6.4
-3.2
-43
1
4
LO3203H3A
LO-III
203H3
419
5.6
-3.3
-43
1
5
LO3203H2A
LO-III
203H2
469
16.5
-3.3
-43
1
5
LO3204H3A
LO-III
204H3
564
24.3
-3.1
-43
1
5
LO3204H1A
LO-III
204H1
601,602
11.5
-3.1
-43
1
4
LO5034H3A
LO-V
34H3
880
17.6
-25.7°
60.6°
1
1,5
LO5034H3B
LO-V
34H3
891
29.9
-25.7°
60.6°
4?
1,5
LO5034H2A
LO-V
34H2
916
5.3
-25.7
60.6
1
5
LO5034H2B
LO-V
34H2
922
7.0
-25.7
60.6
2
5
LO5035H1A
LO-V
35H1
76
33.3
-25.2
60.6
1+
5
LO5035H2A
LO-V
35H2
051
25.6
-25.2°
60.6°
6+?
5
LO5035H2B
LO-V
35H2
064
28.5
-25.2°
60.6°
1
5
LO5036H3A
LO-V
36H3
144
21.5
-24.8°
60.7°
1
3,5
LO5036H3B
LO-V
36H3
167
4.05
-24.8°
60.7°
1
5
LO5047H3A
LO-V
47H3
611
24.25
-.5
43.2
1
5
LO5047H3B
LO-V
47H3
613
31.3
-.5
43.2
1
5
LO5049H2A
LO-V
49H2
908
1
-.8
41.4
1
5
LO5049H3A
LO-V
49H3
867
1
-.8
41.4
1
5
LO5062H2A
LO-V
62H2
605
18.3
3.2
33.0
1
5
LO5063H2A
LO-V
63H2
738
14.7
-.2
31.0
4+
5
LO5086H1A
LO-V
86H1
787
7.1
37.7
13.4
1
5
LO5088H2A
LO-V
88H2
10
22.7
38.6
13.5
1
1,5
LO5095H1A
LO-V
95H1
956
16.0
7.6
5.9
1
1,5
LO5095H1B
LO-V
95H1
957
16.4
7.6
5.9
1
1,5
LO5095H1C
LO-V
95H1
958
16.0
7.6
5.9
1
1,5
LO5095H1D
LO-V
95H1
959
16.1
7.6
5.9
1
1,5
LO5095H1E
LO-V
95H1
960
14.6
7.6
5.9
1
1,5
LO5095H1F
LO-V
95H1
962
16.7
7.6
5.9
1
1,5
LO5095H1G
LO-V
95H1
965
23.9
7.6
5.9
1
1,5
LO5095H1H
LO-V
95H1
967
25.2
7.6
5.9
1
1,5
LO5095H1I
LO-V
95H1
968
25.3
7.6
5.9
1
1,5
LO5095H1J
LO-V
95H1
970
24.6
7.6
5.9
1
1,5
LO5095H1K
LO-V
95H1
978
25.2
7.6
5.9
1
1,5


[Data for Lunar Orbiter III and V and Apollo orbital and surface images to be added.]

Images

BoulderRolls-SWofMaunderB.jpg
Boulder rolls off a massif within the northern sector of the Orientale Basin - some 40 km southwest of Maunder B (for more, zoom in at this LROC map position).- JohnMoore2 JohnMoore2
BoulderRolls-SEofWernerD.jpg
Boulder rolls - southeast of Werner D- DannyCaes DannyCaes Sep 12, 2016

[Existing scanned Lunar Orbiter images have adequate quality to resolve images for reference inclusion here. In the preceding table, when an image is readily available, the ID numbers are linked to pages displaying them.]

Apollo 17 - boulder tracks on the mountains surrounding the Taurus-Littrow Valley

  • Boulder tracks were also photographed during the last manned lunar excursion of Apollo 17 in december 1972. See image/bibliography info in the page North Massif.
  • One of the boulder tracks on Apollo 17's North Massif is also mentioned and depicted in NASA SP-362 APOLLO OVER THE MOON; A View From Orbit, Chapter 3: The Terrae - Part 1; Figures 40 and 41.
  • More photographs of the boulder tracks on the slopes of both the North Massif and South Massif were included in NASA's APOLLO 17 PRELIMINARY SCIENCE REPORT.
  • See also page 297 of the article Exploring Taurus-Littrow by Harrison H. Schmitt (National Geographic september 1973).

Vitello

  • The most well-known orbital photograph of boulder tracks on the lunar surface (at the slopes of the central peak in Vitello) was included on page 236 of the article Awesome Views of the Forbidding Moonscape (a nine-page portfolio) in the National Geographic of february 1969.

Ludek Pesek


Peculiar boulder track

The area to the northwest of Koval'skiy (farside crater) is the location of an unnamed high-albedo raycraterlet (probably the remains of an oblique impact), see photographic version of LAC 100 (page 200) in the Clementine Atlas (a broad white spot almost at centre of LAC 100). Immediately east-northeast of this bright raycraterlet is the location of a peculiar looking track south of a 20 or 25 meter sized boulder. This peculiar appearance (the track) was independently discovered by Danny Caes via the LRO's ACT-REACT Quick Map. The pinpoint coordinates of the boulder and its weird looking track are: Longitude 100.155 Latitude -21.045
Now, why are there no tracks behind the other boulders in the neighborhood?

The hook-shaped tracks of the boulders on Werner D's ejectablanket

It's interesting to explore the LRO's NAC close-ups of the ejectablanket around Werner D. The location of the bright crater Werner D is on the northern inner slope of Werner itself. The tracks of almost each one of the ejected boulders (from Werner D) look remarkably "hook-shaped", because they rolled down the slope, southward.

LPOD Articles

A Long Trail, Follow the Bouncing Boulder (boulder tracks in Tsiolkowskij).

LROC Articles (the numbered posts)

http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/79 (Bright Boulder Trail) (Moore F)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/80 (Bouncing, Bounding Boulders!) (southwest Rowland)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/82 (Small Crater on the Wall of Metius B)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/178 (Hole in One!) (Henry Freres)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/221 (Central Peak / Mare Boundary) (Tsiolkovskiy)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/256 (Boulder Trails in Menelaus)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/258 (Gassendi's Central Peak)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/381 (Sampling Schrodinger)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/416 (A Gathering in Lacus Mortis)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/495 (A Recent Journey) (in Schiller T on the floor of Schiller)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/509 (Rolling Rolling Rolling) (Pikel'ner S)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/524 (Boulder Tales) (Schrodinger)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/532 (Sampling a Central Peak) (Moretus)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/544 (Rock Slide in Rima Hyginus)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/557 (Weaving Boulder Trails on the Moon) (Tsiolkovskiy)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/619 (Bounce, Roll, and Stop) (Shuckburgh E)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/633 (Lazy Boulders in Scaliger)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/703 (Northeastward!) (northeast Van Gent U)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/757 (Bowl of Boulders in Steno Q)
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/759 (Station 6 - Apollo 17)

Bibliography


Lists of boulder locations are given in:
  • 1) Hovland, H. John; Mitchell, James K. 1973. Boulder Tracks and Nature of Lunar Soil. The Moon, Volume 6, Issue 1-2, pp. 164-175. - lists 69 tracks
  • 2) Arant, W. H.; Eggleston, J. M.; Patteson, A. W.; Spooner, D. L.; Throop, J. E. 1968. Lunar "rolling stones." (Lunar Orbiter 2 spacecraft high resolution photographs used to study rolling boulders on moon, noting tracks on crater walls). Photogrammetric Engineering, Vol. 34, P. 246-255. - lists 4 tracks
  • 3) Moore. H.J., Vischer, W.A., Martin, G.L. 1972. Boulder Tracks on the Moon and Earth, Geological Survey Research 1972 Chapter B, Geological Survey professional Paper 800-B, pg. B163-174. - lists 14 tracks
  • 4) Moore, H.J. 1970. "Interagency Report: Astrogeology 22, Estimates of the Mechanical Properties of Lunar Surface Using Tracks and Secondary Impact Craters Produced by Blocks and Boulders", July 1970, - lists 48 tracks
  • 5) Grolier, M.J., Moore, H.J., Martin, G.L. 1968. "A Preliminary Geologic Evaluation of Areas Photographed by Lunar Orbiter V Including an Apollo Landing Analysis of One of the Areas, Appendix A, Lunar Block Tracks", Langley/Lunar Orbiter Photo Data Screening Group, Langley Working Paper: 506, February 1968. - lists "at least 290 tracks".

Miscellaneous

Terrestrial boulder tracks and snow rollers

EPOD (Earth Science Picture of the Day)
The mysterious Moving Rocks:
http://epod.usra.edu/blog/2002/03/the-mysterious-moving-rocks.html
Snow Roller:
http://epod.usra.edu/blog/2017/02/archive-snow-roller.html
Gravity driven Snow Roller:
http://epod.usra.edu/blog/2007/04/gravity-driven-snow-roller.html

Boulder tracks on Mars?



This page has been edited 60 times. The last modification was made by - DannyCaes DannyCaes on Sep 5, 2017 3:41 am