NASA Logo, External Link
Facebook icon, External Link to NASA STI page on Facebook Twitter icon, External Link to NASA STI on Twitter YouTube icon, External Link to NASA STI Channel on YouTube RSS icon, External Link to New NASA STI RSS Feed AddThis share icon

Record Details

Record 19 of 4325
Lunar Meteorites and Implications for Compositional Remote Sensing of the Lunar Surface
Author and Affiliation:
Korotev, R. L.(Washington Univ., Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Saint Louis, MO United States)
Abstract: Lunar meteorites (LMs) are rocks found on Earth that were ejected from the Moon by impact of an asteroidal meteoroid. Three factors make the LMs important to remote-sensing studies: (1) Most are breccias composed of regolith or fragmental material; (2) all are rocks that resided (or breccias composed of material that resided) in the upper few meters of the Moon prior to launch and (3) most apparently come from areas distant from the Apollo sites. How Many Lunar Locations? At this writing (June 1999), there are 18 known lunar meteorite specimens. When unambiguous cases of terrestrial pairing are considered, the number of actual LMs reduces to 13. (Terrestrial pairing is when a single piece of lunar rock entered Earth's atmosphere, but multiple fragments were produced because the meteoroid broke apart on entry, upon hitting the ground or ice, or while being transported through the ice.) We have no reason to believe that LMs preferentially derive from any specific region(s) of the Moon; i.e., we believe that they are samples from random locations. However, we do not know how many different locations are represented by the LMs; mathematically, it could be as few as 1 or as many as 13. The actual maximum is < 13 because in some cases a single impact appears to have yielded more than one LM. Yamato 793169 and Asuka 881757 are considered "source-crater paired" or "launch paired" because they are compositionally and petrographically similar to each other and distinct from the others, and both have similar cosmic-ray exposure (CRE) histories. The same can be said of QUE 94281 and Y 793274. Thus the 13 meteorites probably represent a maximum of 11 locations on the Moon. The minimum number of likely source craters is debated and in flux as new data for different isotopic systems are obtained. Conservatively, considering CRE data only, a minimum of about 5 impacts is required. Compositional and petrographic data offer only probabilistic constraints. An extreme, but not unreasonable viewpoint, is that such data offer no constraint. For example, if one were to cut up the Apollo 17 landing site (which was selected for its diversity) into softball-sized pieces, some of those pieces (e.g., sample 70135) would be crystalline mare basalts like Y 793169 whereas others (e.g., sample 73131 would be feldspathic regolith breccias like MAC 88104/ 88105. However, nature is not so devious. Warren argues that LMs come from craters of only a few kilometers in diameter. If so, even though CRE data allow, for example, that ALHA 81005 and Y 791197) were launched simultaneously from the same crater, the probability is nevertheless low because the two meteorites are compositionally and mineralogically distinct. Thus, within the allowed range (5-11) for the number of locations represented by the LMs, values at the high end of the range are probably more likely. Mare Meteorites: Three LMs consist almost entirely of mare basalt. Two, Y 793169 and Asuka 881757, are unbrecciated, low-Ti, crystalline rocks that are compositionally and mineralogically similar (but not identical) to each other; they probably derive from a single lunar-mare location. The third, EET 87521/96008, is a fragmental breccia consisting predominantly of VLT mare basalt. Thus, these LMs probably represent only two lunar mare locations. The basaltic LMs have mineral and bulk compositions distinct from Apollo mare basalts. The petrography of Calcalong Creek has not been described in detail, but compositionally it is unique in that it corresponds to a mixture (breccia) of about one-half feldspathic material (i.e., the mean composition of the feldspathic lunar meteorites, below), one-fourth KREEP norite, one-fourth VLT mare basalt (like EET 87521), and 1% CI chondrite. With 4 micro g/g Th and correspondingly high concentrations of other incompatible elements, it is the only lunar meteorite that is likely to have come from within the Procellarum KREEP Terrane (PKT). Yamato 793274 and QUE 94281 are together distinct in being fragmental breccias containing subequal parts of feldspathic highland material and VLT mare basalt. Jolliff et al. estimate a mare to highland ratio of 54:46 for QUE 94281 and 62:38 for Y 793274; this difference is well within the range observed for soils collected only centimeters apart (in cores) at interface site like Apollo 15 and 17 [11]. Although the two meteorites were found on opposite sides of Antarctica, they are probably launch-paired. The strongest evidence is that the pyroclastic glass spherules that occur in both are of two compositional groups and the two groups are essentially the same in both meteorites. Yamato 791197 is nominally a feldspathic lunar meteorite (below), but among FLMs, it probably contains the highest abundance of clasts and glasses of mare derivation. As a consequence, its composition is at the high-Fe, low-Mg end of the range for FLMs and is not included in the FLM average of Table 1. Its composition is consistent with about 10% mare-derived material. Similarly, the two small (Y 82) pieces of Y 82192/82193186032 are more mafic than the large (Y 86) piece, probably as a result of about 7% mare-derived material. All Apollo missions went to areas in or near the PKT, and, consequently, all Apollo regolith samples are contaminated with Th-rich material from the PKT. At the nominally "typical" highland site, Apollo 16, about 30% of the regolith (<1-mm fines) is Th-rich ejecta from the Imbrium impact and about 6% is mare material probably derived from mare basins. Thus Apollo 16 regolith is not typical of the highlands. Among Apollo rocks, the compositions of the FLMs correspond most closely to the feldspathic granulitic breccias of Apollo 16 and 17. (Additional information is contained in original)
Publication Date: Jan 01, 1999
Document ID:
(Acquired May 26, 2000)
Document Type: Conference Paper
Publication Information: Workshop on New Views of the Moon 2: Understanding the Moon Through the Integration of Diverse Datasets; 36-38; (LPI-Contrib-980); (SEE 20000040479)
Contract/Grant/Task Num: NAG5-4172
Financial Sponsor: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Greenbelt, MD United States
Organization Source: Washington Univ.; Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences; Saint Louis, MO United States
Description: 3p; In English
Distribution Limits: Unclassified; Publicly available; Unlimited
Rights: No Copyright
Availability Notes: Abstract Only; Available from STI Support Services only as part of the entire parent document
› Back to Top
Find Similar Records
NASA Logo, External Link
NASA Official: Gerald Steeman
Site Curator: STI Program
Last Modified: May 08, 2015
Contact Us