World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000865944
Reproduction Date:

Title: Rille  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Planetary science, Geyser (Mars), Sinus Medii, Campanus (crater), Prinz (crater)
Collection: Geological Features on the Moon, Planetary Geology, Valleys and Canyons on Mars, Volcanic Landforms
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Rimae on the floor of the lunar crater Gassendi, from Apollo 16.
Mamers Valles rille on Mars.
Rima Ariadaeus is categorized as a straight and branching rille and is over 300 km in length.
A full shot of Hadley Rille.[1]
Hadley Rille is a sinuous rille for which NASA says that they don't have a (final and definite) conclusion on how it formed.[1]

Rille (German for 'groove') is typically used to describe any of the long, narrow depressions in the lunar surface that resemble channels. The Latin term is rima, plural rimae. Typically a rille can be up to several kilometers wide and hundreds of kilometers in length. However, the term has also been used loosely to describe similar structures on a number of planets in the Solar System, including Mars, Venus, and on a number of moons. All bear a structural resemblance to each other.


  • Structures 1
  • Formation 2
    • Sinuous rilles 2.1
  • See also 3
  • References 4


Three types of rille are found on the lunar surface:

  • Sinuous rilles meander in a curved path like a mature river, and are commonly thought to be the remains of collapsed lava tubes or extinct lava flows. They usually begin at an extinct volcano, then meander and sometimes split as they are followed across the surface. Vallis Schröteri in Oceanus Procellarum is the largest sinuous rille.
  • Arcuate rilles have a smooth curve and are found on the edges of the dark lunar maria. They are believed to form when the lava flows that created a mare cool, contract, and sink. These are found all over the moon, examples can be seen near the south-western border of Mare Tranquillitatis and on the south-eastern border of Mare Humorum.
  • Straight rilles follow long, linear paths and are believed to be grabens, sections of the crust that have sunk between two parallel faults. These can be readily identified when they pass through craters or mountain ranges. Vallis Alpes is by far the largest graben rille, indeed it is regarded as too large to be called a rille and is itself bisected by a straight rille; Rupes Recta in Mare Nubium is a clearer example.

Rilles which show more than one structure are termed hybrid rilles. Rima Hyginus in Sinus Medii is an example, initially formed through a fault and subsequently subject to volcanic activity.


Precise formation mechanisms of rilles have yet to be determined. It is likely that different types formed by different processes. Common features shared by lunar rilles and similar structures on other bodies suggest that common causative mechanisms operate widely in the solar system. Leading theories include lava channels, collapsed lava tubes, near-surface dike intrusion, nuée ardente (pyroclastic cloud), subsidence of lava-covered basin and crater floors, and tectonic extension. On-site examination would be necessary to clarify exact methods.

Sinuous rilles

NASA says: The origin of lunar sinuous rilles remains controversial.[1]

NASA also says about the Hadley Rille: The rille is 1.5 km wide and over 300 m deep. It is thought to be a giant conduit that carried lava from an eruptive vent far south of this scene. Topographic information obtained from the Apollo 15 photographs supports this possibility; however, many puzzles about the rille remain.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d
  • Ewen A. Whitaker, Mapping and Naming the Moon, Cambridge University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-521-62248-4.
  • American Astronomers Report: What Formed the Moon's Sinuous Rilles?, Sky & Telescope, Vol. XXVI, No. 1, July, 1963.
  • Atlas of Lunar Sinuous Rilles
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.