• Magnetic fields of lunar multi-ring impact basins

      Halekas, J. S.; Lin, R. P.; Mitchell, D. L. (The Meteoritical Society, 2003-01-01)
      We survey the magnetic fields of lunar multi-ring impact basins using data from the electron reflectometer instrument on the Lunar Prospector spacecraft. As for smaller lunar craters, the primary signature is a magnetic low that extends to ~1.5-2 basin radii, suggesting shock demagnetization of relatively soft crustal magnetization. A secondary signature, as for large terrestrial basins, is the presence of central magnetic anomalies, which may be due to thermal remanence in impact melt rocks and/or shock remanence in the central uplift. The radial extent of the anomalies may argue for the former possibility, but the latter or a combination of the two are also possible. Central anomaly fields are absent for the oldest pre-Nectarian basins, increase to a peak in early Nectarian basins, and decrease to a low level for Imbrian basins. If basin-associated anomalies provide a good indication of ambient magnetic fields when the basins formed, this suggests the existence of a "magnetic era" (possibly due to a lunar core dynamo) similar to that implied by paleointensity results from returned lunar samples. However, the central basin anomalies suggest that the fields peaked in early Nectarian times and were low in Imbrian times, while samples provide evidence for high fields in Nectarian and early Imbrian times.
    • Megaregolith evolution and cratering cataclysm models-—Lunar cataclysm as a misconception (28 years later)

      Hartmann, W. K. (The Meteoritical Society, 2003-01-01)
      The hypothesis of a lunar cataclysmic cratering episode between 3.8 and 3.9 Gyr ago lacks proof. Its strongest form proposes no cratering before about 4.0 Gyr, followed by catastrophic formation of most lunar craters and basins in 200 Myr. The premise that "zero impact melts implies zero impacts" is disproved by data from asteroids, on which early collisions clearly occurred, but from which early impact melts are scarce. Plausible cataclysm models imply that any cataclysm should have affected the whole inner solar system, but among available lunar and asteroid impact melt and impact age resetting data, a narrow, strong 3.8-3.9 Gyr spike in ages is seen only in the region sampled by Apollo/Luna. Reported lunar meteorite data do not show the spike. Asteroid data show a broader, milder peak, spreading from about 4.2 to 3.5 Gyr. These data suggest either that the spike in Apollo impact melt ages is associated with unique lunar front side events, or that the lunar meteorites data represent different kinds of events than the Apollo/Luna data. Here, we develop an alternate "megaregolith evolution" hypothesis to explain these data. In this hypothesis, early impact melts are absent not because there were no impacts, but because the high rate of early impacts led to their pulverization. The model estimates survival halflives of most lunar impact melts prior to 4.1 Gyr at <100 Myr. After a certain time, Tcritical ~4.0 Gyr, impact melts began to survive to the present. The age distribution differences among impact melts and plutonic rocks are controlled by, and hold clues to, the history of regolith evolution and the relative depths of sequestration of impact melts versus plutonic rocks, both among lunar and asteroidal samples. Both the "zero cratering, then cataclysm" hypothesis and the "megaregolith evolution" hypothesis require further testing, especially with lunar meteorite impact melt studies.
    • Northwest Africa 773: Lunar origin and iron-enrichment trend

      Fagan, T. J.; Taylor, G. J.; Keil, K.; Hicks, T. L.; Killgore, M.; Bunch, T. E.; Wittke, J. H.; Mittlefehldt, D. W.; Clayton, R. N.; Mayeda, T. K.; et al. (The Meteoritical Society, 2003-01-01)
      The meteorite Northwest Africa 773 (NWA 773) is a lunar sample with implications for the evolution of mafic magmas on the moon. A combination of key parameters including whole-rock oxygen isotopic composition, Fe/Mn ratios in mafic silicates, noble gas concentrations, a KREEP-like rare earth element pattern, and the presence of regolith agglutinate fragments indicate a lunar origin for NWA 773. Partial maskelynitization of feldspar and occasional twinning of pyroxene are attributed to shock deformation. Terrestrial weathering has caused fracturing and precipitation of Carich carbonates and sulfates in the fractures, but lunar minerals appear fresh and unoxidized. The meteorite is composed of two distinct lithologies: a two-pyroxene olivine gabbro with cumulate texture, and a polymict, fragmental regolith breccia. The olivine gabbro is dominated by cumulate olivine with pigeonite, augite, and interstitial plagioclase feldspar. The breccia consists of several types of clasts but is dominated by clasts from the gabbro and more FeO-rich derivatives. Variations in clast mineral assemblage and pyroxene Mg/(Mg + Fe) and Ti/(Ti + Cr) record an igneous Fe-enrichment trend that culminated in crystallization of fayalite + silica + hedenbergitebearing symplectites. The Fe-enrichment trend and cumulate textures observed in NWA 773 are similar to features of terrestrial ponded lava flows and shallow-level mafic intrusives, indicating that NWA 773 may be from a layered mafic intrusion or a thick, differentiated lava flow. NWA 773 and several other mafic lunar meteorites have LREE-enriched patters distinct from Apollo and Luna mare basalts, which tend to be LREE-depleted. This is somewhat surprising in light of remote sensing data that indicates that the Apollo and Luna missions sampled a portion of the moon that was enriched in incompatible heatproducing elements.
    • Solar wind and other gases in the regoliths of the Pesyanoe parent object and the moon

      Mathew, K. J.; Marti, K. (The Meteoritical Society, 2003-01-01)
      We report new data from Pesyanoe-90,1 (dark lithology) on the isotopic signature of solar wind (SW) Xe as recorded in this enstatite achondrite which represents a soil-breccia of an asteroidal regolith. The low temperature (less than or equal to 800 degrees C) steps define the Pesyanoe-S xenon component, which is isotopically consistent with SW Xe reported for the lunar regolith. This implies that the SW Xe isotopic signature was the same at two distinct solar system locations and, importantly, also at different times of solar irradiation. Further, we compare the calculated average solar wind "SW-Xe" signature to Chass-S Xe, the indigenous Xe observed in SNC (Mars) meteorites. Again, a close agreement between these compositions is observed, which implies that a mass-dependent differential fractionation of Xe between SW-Xe and Chass-S Xe is <1.5 ppm per amu. We also observe fractionated (Pesyanoe-F) Xe and Ar components in higher temperature steps and we document a fission component due to extinct 244Pu. Interestingly, the Pesyanoe-F Xe component is revealed only at the highest temperatures (>1200 degrees C). The Pesyanoe-F gas reveals Xe isotopic signatures that are consistent with lunar solar energetic particles (SEP) data and may indicate a distinct solar energetic particle radiation as was inferred for the moon. However, we cannot rule out fractionation processes due to parent body processes. We note that ratios 36Ar/38Ar less than or equal to 5 are also consistent with SEP data. Calculated abundances of the fission component correlate well with radiogenic 40Ar concentrations, revealing rather constant 244Pu/K ratios in Pesyanoe, and separates thereof, and indicate that both components were retained. We identify a nitrogen component (delta-15N = 44 ppm) of non-solar origin with an isotopic signature distinct from indigenous N (delta-15N = -33 ppm). While large excesses at 128Xe and 129Xe are observed in the lunar regolith samples, these excesses in Pesyanoe are small. On the other hand, significant 126Xe isotopic excesses, comparable to relative excesses observed in lunar soils and breccias, are prominent in the intermediate temperature steps of Pesyanoe-90,1.