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MEMIN - Experimental Impact Research


Impact cratering is a fundamental geologic process throughout the solar system. Understanding this process requires multi- and interdisciplinary research that includes studies of natural craters, laboratory experiments, and numerical simulations. In this general context a Multidisciplinary Experimental and Modeling Impact Research Network (MEMIN Forschergruppe) was established as a DFG financed Research Unit (Forschergruppe) comprising geoscientists, physicists, and engineers.

An experimentally formed impact crater in sandstone
An experimentally formed impact crater in sandstone

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Central to MEMIN is a newly designed two-stage light gas accelerator capable of producing craters in the decimeter-range in solid rocks, a size previously not achieved at the laboratory scale that enables detailed spatial analyses. The proposed cratering experiments on sandstone targets comprise a parametric study of the role of water, porosity, target layering, and impact velocity on cratering mechanics, shock effects, and projectile distribution during cratering.

The work program includes (i) complete mineralogical-petrophysical, and mechanical characterization of the target prior to and after the experiment using, for example, state-of-the-art geophysical tools for meso-scale tomography and microstructural analyses at the nano-scale, (ii) stringent control of the impact experiment itself with newly developed in-situ real-time measurements of fracture propagation, stresses, crater growth and ejecta dynamics, and (iii) numerical modeling of the complete process.

MEMIN is designed to yield a solid data base for validation and refining of numerical cratering models that will allow scaling of meso-scale observations to the size of natural craters. MEMIN will further our understanding of impact damaging of rocks and, hence, the nature of geophysical signatures of terrestrial craters.