ArticlesSpecial Mineral Studies

Petrogenesis of Lunar Basalts and the Internal Constitution and Origin of the Moon

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Science  30 Jan 1970:
Vol. 167, Issue 3918, pp. 607-610
DOI: 10.1126/science.167.3918.607


Petrographic and electron-microprobe studies combined with high pressure-temperature investigations of phase relationships in average Apollo 11 basalt and possible source material show that the lower parts of maria may be composed of eclogite (density 3.74 grams per cubic centimeter), thus explaining the existence of mascons. The Apollo 11 basalt was probably formed at depths of 200 to 400 kilometers by a small degree of partial melting from pyroxenitic source material [FeO/(FeO + MgO) = 0.25, A12O3 4 percent, CaO 3 percent]. This composition may be representative of the lunar interior and yields the observed mean lunar density and moment of inertia. Present data are in conflict with fission, binary planet, and capture hypotheses of lunar origin but are consistent with Ringwood's (1966) precipitation hypothesis.

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