A compositional study of the lunar global megaregolith using clementine orbiter data

PhD Thesis

Jackson, Noel William. 2005. A compositional study of the lunar global megaregolith using clementine orbiter data. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.

A compositional study of the lunar global megaregolith using clementine orbiter data

TypePhD Thesis
AuthorJackson, Noel William
SupervisorCarter, Brad
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages1077

This thesis presents new information about the global megaregolith of the Moon, using 2059 craters (5 to 50 km diameter) as natural probes. Iron (FeO) and titanium (TiO2) concentrations were obtained from crater ejecta blanket data over an area between 600 North to 600 South latitude derived from the 1994 Clementine mission. The average iron and titanium weight percentages for lunar crater ejecta were calculated using the US Geological Survey's ISIS software, and used to determine the variation with depth of iron (FeO) and titanium (TiO2) in the highlands, mare areas and the South Pole Aitken basin. In addition, megaregolith compositional Iron (FeO) and Titanium (TiO2) Maps and compositional Province Maps were generated, and studied in detail. The Lunar Megaregolith Iron Province Map divides the Highland areas into 2 distinct provinces of low-iron Highland I (0-3.7 FeO weight percentage) and low-medium level iron Highland II (3.8-6.4%), and the Mare and South Pole Aitken Basin each into 3 distinct provinces (6.5-9.7%, 9.8-13.6%, and 13.7-18.3%). Similarly, a Titanium Megaregolith Province Map divides the Moon globally into 5 provinces based on weight percentages of TiO2. A new finding is the Highland II Province of elevated iron concentration which surrounds basins. These elevated iron levels may be explained in terms of an 'Intrusion Model'. In this model, basin formation fractures the surrounding anorthositic bedrock, and the middle level anorthositic crust allows mafic (basaltic?) magma to intrude. This intrusion into the megaregolith is in the form of sills and dykes from deep mafic sources but generally does not intrude into the surface regolith. In some places however, the mafic (basaltic?) lava may have extruded onto the surface, such as near Crater 846 (15.6N 92.2W). The megaregolith, which consists of large volume breccia, would have voids and vacancies in this structure into which mafic or basaltic material could intrude. 'Islands' of Highland I Province material surrounded by Highland II Province indicate this intrusion was non-uniform. Another possible explanation for the Highland II Province iron levels comes from the 'Thrust Block' model, where deep mafic material has been broken into large blocks by the basin-forming events, and 'thrusted' or uplifted to displace most of the overlying anorthosite bedrock, thereby mechanically mixing with the megaregolith to provide the additional iron input. However, this does entirely fit comfortably with the data in this study. A third explanation for the Highland II Province arises from the 'Basin Impact Ejecta Model' such as the Imbrium Impact described by Haskin (1998). The Basin Impact Ejecta model describes the effect of basin impacts around 4.0 billion to 3.8 billion years ago in the Moon's history (Ryder, 1990; Taylor, 2001)). This model implies that basin material was ejected and deposited on a global or similar scale. However, the results of this study place severe limitations on the feasibility of the 'Basin Impact Ejecta' model to explain any significant mafic input from such ejecta in forming the Highland II megaregolith material. These Province Maps provide a new dimension to the study of the Moon's crustal development and reveal a highly complex history, providing a basis for future study.

Keywordslunar global megaregolith, clementine orbiter, basin impact ejecta model, south pole aitken basin
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020370507. Planetary geology
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