Phosphorus as a lunar volatile

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Phosphorus is an important minor element on the Moon. It is moderately volatile and is found as both phosphates and phosphides in lunar material. The phosphides, such as schreibersite, are common to impact breccias at all Apollo sites. The origin of this schreibersite has been proposed to be a meteoritic contaminant, or alternatively produced in situ by reduction on the lunar surface. I propose that schreibersite and other siderophilic P phases have an origin from impact volatilization of phosphates at the lunar oxygen fugacity, followed by reaction of P gases with metal to form metal phosphides. This pathway is broadly consistent with the composition and structure of metal grains, as well as the native oxygen fugacity of the lunar surface. Additionally, this pathway suggests schreibersite is widespread across the lunar surface and likely on other planetary bodies, and hence may serve as a good P source for in situ resource utilization.




Pasek, M. A. (2015). Phosphorus as a lunar volatile. Icarus, 255, 18–23.

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