Examining the compositions of impactors striking the Moon using Apollo impact melt coats and anorthositic regolith breccia meteorites

1Eleanor C.McIntosh,1James M.D.Day,2Yang Liu,1Courtney Jiskoot
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2020.01.051]
1Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
2Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
Copyright Elsevier

Impactors striking the Moon since the formation of its crust have left an indelible imprint on the lunar surface, in the guise of craters and associated impact rocks. The lunar crust has low intrinsic abundances of the highly siderophile elements (HSE: Re, Os, Ir, Ru, Pt, Rh, Pd, Au), at greater than 3000 times lower than in chondrite meteorites. Consequently, during impact, bolides with chondritic or differentiated iron-rich compositions should impart elevated HSE signatures to the lunar crust. Here we examine glassy lunar impact melt coats (IMC) from the outside rims of Apollo 16 cataclastic anorthosites (60015, 65325) and breccias (65035), as well as both fragments and powders of Antarctic anorthositic regolith breccia (ARB) meteorites (Miller Range 090034/36/70/75 and MacAlpine Hills 88105) for their petrography, mineral chemistry and bulk-rock compositions. The HSE concentrations for IMC range from ∼0.001 to 0.1 × CI chondrite, with measured 187Os/188Os between 0.1189 and 0.1366. Anorthositic regolith breccia meteorites, which have components with 2.6-4.1 Ga ages, have similar HSE concentrations to IMC, but typically have lower 187Os/188Os (0.1164-0.1284). These latter Os ratios are generally less radiogenic than those measured in ∼3.8-3.9 Ga Apollo impact melt breccias. The Apollo 16 IMC are not well-dated, but their KREEPy trace-element signatures and associated ages of 3.7 to 3.8 Ga for Apollo 16 glasses might imply, at least in part, an origin from the Imbrium or Serenitatis basin-forming impacts. Within the IMC, metal-schreibersite-troilite assemblages record significant inter-element HSE fractionation which is also reflected in bulk HSE patterns for both IMC and ARB meteorites. Variations in relative and absolute HSE compositions directly reflect the control of metal and sulfide segregation within and between impact melt and breccia lithologies. Collectively, IMC and ARB meteorites exhibit approximately 50% of the variation in Ru/Ir and 187Os/188Os observed in lunar impact melt breccias. These results imply that significant variations in inter-element compositions can occur during impact brecciation and melting and so some impact melt rock HSE compositions may not record the compositions of impactors that struck the Moon with fidelity. Nonetheless, the generally low 187Re/188Os of lunar impact melt rocks means that osmium isotope ratios provide evidence for impact composition, and a change from ordinary to carbonaceous-like impactors either with time – or location – striking the Moon.

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