Potassium isotopic composition of the Moon

1Zhen Tian,1Bradley L.Jolliff,1Randy L.Korotev,1Bruce FegleyJr,1Katharina Lodders,2James M.D.Day,1,3Heng Chen,1KunWang(王昆)
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2020.04.021]
1Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
2Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, 92093 USA
3Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA
Copyright Elsevier

The Moon is depleted in water and other volatiles compared to Earth and the bulk solar composition. Such depletion of volatile elements and the stable isotope fractionations of these elements can be used to better understand the origin and early differentiation history of the Moon. In this study, we focus on the moderately volatile element, potassium, and we report the K elemental abundances and isotopic compositions (δ41K relative to NIST SRM 3141a) for nineteen Apollo lunar rocks and lunar meteorites (twenty-two subsamples), spanning all major geochemical and petrologic types of lunar materials. The K isotopic compositions of low-Ti and high-Ti basalts are indistinguishable, providing a lunar basalt average δ41K of –0.07 ± 0.09‰ (2SD), which we also consider to be the best estimate of the lunar mantle and the bulk silicate Moon. The significant enrichment of K in its heavier isotopes in the bulk silicate Moon, compared with the bulk silicate Earth (δ41K = –0.48 ± 0.03‰), is consistent with previous analyses of K isotopes and other moderately volatile elements (e.g., Cl, Cu, Zn, Ga, and Rb). We also report the first analyses of K isotopes for lunar nonmare samples, which show large variations of K isotopic ratios compared to lunar basalts. We interpret this large K isotopic fractionation as the result of late-stage magma ocean degassing during urKREEP formation, which is also coupled with Cl isotope fractionation. UrKREEP degassing likely triggered redistribution of K isotopes in the Moon, enriching the urKREEP reservoir in heavy K isotopes while implanting the light K isotopic signatures onto the lunar surface. This scenario suggests a heterogeneous distribution of K isotopes in the Moon as a consequence of its magmatic evolution.


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