Geochemistry of Apollo 15 Basalt 15555 and Soil 15531

Science  28 Jan 1972:
Vol. 175, Issue 4020, pp. 426-428
DOI: 10.1126/science.175.4020.426


Major and trace element concentrations have been determined by atomic absorption spectrophotometry, colorimetry, and isotope dilution in Apollo 15 mare basalt 15555 from the Hadley Rille area; trace element concentrations have also been determined in plagioclase and pyroxene separates from basalt 15555 and in soil 15531 from the same area. Basalt 15555 most closely resembles in composition the Apollo 12 olivine-rich basalts. The concentrations of lithium, potassium, rubidium, barium, rare-earth elements, and zirconium in basalt 15555 are the lowest, and the negative europium anomaly is the smallest, reported for lunar basalts; this basalt might be the least differentiated material yet returned from the moon. Crystallization and removal of about 6 percent of plagioclase similar to that contained in the basalt would account for the observed europium anomaly; if plagioclase is not on the liquidus of this basalt, a multistage origin is indicated. Mineral data indicate that plagioclase and pyroxene approached quasi-equilibrium. Most of the chemical differences between basalt 15555 and soil 15531 would be accounted for if the soil were a mixture of 88 percent basalt, 6 percent KREEP (a component, identified in other Apollo soils, rich in potassium, rare-earth elements, and phosphorus) and 6 percent plagioclase (anorthosite?).