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Thorium Enrichment within the Procellarum KREEP Terrane: The Record in Surface Deposits and Significance for Thermal EvolutionThe nearside-farside structural and compositional asymmetry of the Moon was recognized during the early days of Apollo and the suggestion was made that the migration of mantle melts to the nearside would have been favored by early Earth-Moon orbital dynamics and nonuniform planetesimal bombardment. Recent global geochemical mapping by Lunar Prospector has provided additional data, particularly in the Th distribution, that strongly supports the notion of global, preferential melt migration, which led in part to the development of the Procellarum KREEP Terrane (PKT) [2-5]. The surface distribution of Th was then reshaped by basin-forming impacts into the PKT, especially the Imbrium impact, which was the last and largest to strike in that region. The Imbrium event probably excavated material from a partially molten zone deep in the crust and delivered Th-rich ejecta Moon-wide. A fundamentally important but poorly understood aspect of the global Th distribution is the concentration of Th in the subsurface rocks of the PKT crustal section. For example, depending on what assumptions are made, the PKT crustal section, which is about 12% of the crust and only about 1.2% of the whole Moon, may contain as much as 40% of the Moon's entire Th budget. Such a distribution of Th and related heat-producing elements would have had a profound effect on melting, mixing, and the thermal evolution of the PKT and the underlying mantle. In this abstract, we examine the compositions of terra formations within the PKT and relate them to some of the Th-bearing rock types known from the Apollo samples. It appears that the existence of the PKT may be a unifying concept for a number of petrologic and geochemical observations. From the initial Lunar Prospector gamma-ray spectrometer data(-about 5 deg. resolution) and from the preliminary low-orbit data, there appears to be a number of relatively hotter "spots" within the PKT in terms of Th concentration. Some of the hotter spots correspond to intermediate-sized craters that penetrated volcanic flows and excavated Th-rich, submare material, such as Aristarchus, Aristillus, and Kepler. Other spots, however, correspond to surficial formations that constitute mainly rough topography associated with Imbrium ejecta or circum-Imbrium ring mountains and do not necessarily imply the presence of exposed KREEP basalts. The Fra Mauro Formation south of Copernicus toward the Apollo 14 site and regions of the Alpes Formation southwest of Copernicus in the vicinity of Reinhold lie within the most prominent hotspot; here them concentration is consistent with that found in the Apollo 14 soils (about 12-13 ppm) when the proportions of Fra Mauro Formation and mare basalt are considered. The area between Copernicus and Kepler and northwest of Copernicus in terra extending to the Carpathians is similarly enriched in Th. The Apennines from Eratosthenes toward the Apollo 15 site contain elevated Th concentrations, as does the northwestern quadrant of circum-Imbrium terra, especially between (but not including) La Condamine and Plato, and in the region northwest of the Jura mountains extending southward past Mairan to the Gruithuisen-Domes region. Within the main topographic rim of Imbrium, the Apennine Bench formation south of Archimedes appears to have relatively elevated Th concentration. Comparing the map of Th distribution to a digital-elevation map derived from Clementine altimetry, it appears that most of the areas richest in Th occur where the surface is elevated relative to the majority of PKT volcanic plains. Not all rough topography within the PKT has such elevated Th, however. Based on an analysis of the 5 deg. data, and using the calibration of, the mean Th concentrations for mainly volcanic-resurfaced terrain and rugged terrain are similar (about 5.5 ppm). This occurs in part because craters that penetrated mare basalt excavated Th-rich material. Even so, there appear to be extensive areas of volcanic resurfacing that have no obvious extrinsic source of Th-rich material, suggesting that the basalts, themselves, may contain as much as 5-6 ppm Th. High-FeO concentrations (18 to >20 wt%) indicate that these are not KREEP basalts but mare basalts. If so, this is surprising because most of the Apollo-sampled mare basalts have very low-Th (typically <2 ppm). A variety of Th-rich materials occur in the sample collection, particularly in the samples from the Apollo 12,14, and 15 sites. The most abundant Th-rich rock types are the mafic impact-melt breccias, which although found at all sites, are most abundant at Apollo 14, where they dominate the rock samples and make up some 40% of the rock particles in the soil. These have Th concentrations ranging up to about 30 ppm and averaging about 18 ppm. The Apollo 14 soils contain about 13 ppm Th, reflecting the high abundance of this melt-breccia component. At the nearby Apollo 12 site, the rocks consist mainly of mare basalts, and these have low-Th concentrations, mostly <1 ppm. Among the nonmare rocks, however, a few such as complex breccia 12013 contain a variety of evolved lithologies and represent potential sources of Th-rich components ranging from 17 to 50 ppm. A single fragment of KREEP basalt from the Apollo 12 soil contains about 50 ppm Th. Despite the identification of highly Th-enriched lithologic components at the Apollo 12 site, the soils there vary linearly in composition so as to extrapolate to a moderate Th KREEP-basalt component or a composition like that of the Fra Mauro formation as reflected by Apollo 14 soil (14 ppm Th at 10 wt% FeO). The nearby Lansberg Crater (39-km diameter) is a likely candidate to have delivered submare material such as buried Fra Mauro or Alpes material to the Apollo 12 site. Additional information contained in the original.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Jolliff, B. L.
(Washington Univ. Saint Louis, MO United States)
Gillis, J. J.
(Washington Univ. Saint Louis, MO United States)
Haskin, L. A.
(Washington Univ. Saint Louis, MO United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1999
Publication Information
Publication: Workshop on New Views of the Moon 2: Understanding the Moon Through the Integration of Diverse Datasets
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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