The University of Arizona

"New" lunar meteorites: Implications for composition of the global lunar surface, lunar crust, and the bulk Moon

Paul H. Warren


New data for lunar meteorites and a synthesis of literature data have significant implications for the interpretation of global Th data and for the Moons bulk composition. As presently calibrated (Prettyman et al. 2002), the Lunar Prospector gamma-ray data imply that the average global surface Th = 1.58 μg/g. However, that calibration yields implausibly high concentrations for the three most Th-poor documented sampling sites, it extrapolates to a nonzero Lunar Prospector Th, ~0.7 μg/g, at zero sample Th, and it results in a misfit toward too-high Th when compared with the global regolith Th spectrum as constrained using mainly lunaite regolith breccias. Another problem is manifested by Th versus K systematics. Ground truth data plot consistently to the high-Th/K side of the Prospector data trend, offset by a factor of 1.2. A new calibration is proposed that represents a compromise between the Th levels indicated by ground truth constraints and the Prettyman et al. (2002) calibration. Conservatively assuming that the Th versus K issue is mostly a K problem, the average global surface Th is estimated to be ~1.35 μg/g. The Moons remarkable global asymmetry in KREEP abundance is even more pronounced than previously supposed. The surface Th concentration ratio between the hemisphere antipodal to the Procellarum basin and the hemisphere centered on Procellarum is reduced to 0.24 in the new calibration. This extreme disparity is most simply interpreted as a consequence of Procellarums origin at a time when the Moon still contained at least a thin residual layer of a global magma ocean. Allowing for diminution of Th with depth, the extrapolated bulk crustal Th is ~0.73 μg/g. Further extrapolation to bulk Moon Th yields ~0.07 μg/g, which is nearly identical to the consensus estimate for Earths primitive mantle. Assuming chondritic proportionality among refractory lithophile elements implies Al2O3 of approximately 3.8 wt%. The Moons bulk mantle mg ratio is only weakly constrained by seismic and mare-basaltic data. KREEPand mare-free lunaite regolith samples, other thoroughly polymict lunar meteorites, and a few KREEP-free Apollo highland samples manifest a remarkable anticorrelation on a plot of Al2O3 versus mg. This trend implies that an important component of the Moon is highly magnesian. The bulk Moon is inferred to have an Earth-like oxide mg ratio of ~87-88 mol%. The close resemblance between the bulk Moon and Earths primitive mantle extends to moderately volatile elements, most clearly Mn. Unless major proportions of Cr and V are sequestered into deep mantle spinel, remarkably Earth-like depletions (versus chondrites) are also inferred for bulk Moon Cr and V.


Lunar highlands;Los Angeles 001 martian meteorite;Moon

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