The Moon: Sources of the Crustal Magnetic Anomalies

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Science  06 Apr 1979:
Vol. 204, Issue 4388, pp. 53-57
DOI: 10.1126/science.204.4388.53


Previously unmapped Apollo 16 subsatellite magnetometer data collected at low altitudes over the lunar near side are presented. Medium-amplitude magnetic anomalies exist over the Fra Mauro and Cayley Formations (primary and secondary basin ejecta emplaced 3.8 to 4.0 billion years ago) but are nearly absent over the maria and over the craters Copernicus, Kepler, and Reiner and their encircling ejecta mantles. The largest observed anomaly (radial component ∼21 gammas at an altitude of 20 kilometers) is exactly correlated with a conspicuous light-colored deposit on western Oceanus Procellarum known as Reiner γ. Assuming that the Reiner γ deposit is the source body and estimating its maximum average thickness as 10 meters, a minimum mean magnetization level of 5.2 ± 2.4 x 10–2 electromagnetic units per gram, or ∼500 times the stable magnetization component of the most magnetic returned sample, is calculated. An age for its emplacement of ≤ 2.9 billion years is inferred from photogeologic evidence, implying that magnetization of lunar crustal materials must have continued for a period exceeding 1 billion years.

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