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Major lunar crustal terranes: Surface expressions and crust-mantle origins

by Bradley L. Jolliff, Jeffrey J. Gillis, Larry A. Haskin, Randy L. Korotev, Mark A. Wieczorek
Journal of Geophysical Research ()

Abstract

In light of global remotely sensed data, the igneous crust of the Moon can no longer be viewed as a simple, globally stratified cumulus structure, composed of a flotation upper crust of anorthosite underlain by progressively more mafic rocks and a residual-melt (KREEP) sandwich horizon near the base of the lower crust. Instead, global geochemical information derived from Clementine multispectral data and Lunar Prospector gamma-ray data reveals at least three distinct provinces whose geochemistry and petrologic history make them geologically unique: (1) the Procellarum KREEP Terrane (PKT), (2) the Feldspathic High-lands Terrane (FHT), and (3) the South Pole-Aitken Terrane (SPAT). The PKT is a mafic province, coincident with the largely resurfaced area in the Procellarum-Imbrium region whose petrogenesis relates to the early differentiation of the Moon. Here, some 40% of the Th in the Moon's crust is concentrated into a region that constitutes only about 10% of the crustal volume. This concentration of Th (average ∼5 ppm), and by implication the other heat producing elements, U and K, led to a fundamentally different thermal and igneous evolution within this region compared to other parts of the lunar crust. Lower-crustal materials within the PKT likely interacted with underlying mantle materials to produce hybrid magmatism, leading to the magnesian suite of lunar rocks and possibly KREEP basalt. Although rare in the Apollo sample collection, widespread mare volcanic rocks having substantial Th enrichment are indicated by the remote data and may reflect further interaction between enriched crustal residues and mantle sources. The FHT is characterized by a central anorthositic region that constitutes the remnant of an anorthositic craton resulting from early lunar differentiation. Basin impacts into this region do not excavate significantly more mafic material, suggesting a thickness of tens of kilometers of anorthositic crust. The feldspathic lunar meteorites may represent samples from the anorthositic central region of the FHT. Ejecta from deep-penetrating basin impacts outside of the central anorthositic region, however, indicate an increasingly mafic composition with depth. The SPAT, a mafic anomaly of great magnitude, may include material of the upper mantle as well as lower crust; thus it is designated a separate terrane. Whether the SPA basin impact simply uncovered lower crust such as we infer for the FHT remains to be determined.

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