Thickness of orthopyroxene-rich materials of ejecta deposits from the south pole-Aitken basin

1,2Xunyu Zhang,3Minggang Xie,4,1,2,5Zhiyong Xiao
Icarus (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2020.114214]
1State Key Laboratory of Lunar and Planetary Sciences, Macau University of Science and Technology, Macau, PR China
2CNSA Macau Center for Space Exploration and Science, Macau, PR China
3College of Science, Guilin University of Technology, Guilin 541006, PR China
4School of Atmospheric Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai 519082, PR China
5CAS Center for Excellence in Comparative Planetology, Hefei 230026, PR China
Copyright Elsevier

The South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin is the largest impact structure on the Moon and is believed to have excavated the orthopyroxene (Opx)-rich lower crust and/or upper mantle materials. For the complex craters outside of the SPA transient cavity, the origin of the Opx-rich central peaks is possibly from either the Opx-rich materials of the SPA ejecta deposits or the unexcavated lower crust and/or upper mantle. To estimate the thickness of the Opx-rich materials of the SPA ejecta deposits, this study investigated large complex craters (dozens of kilometers) that have penetrated the Opx-rich materials and exposed deeper mafic-poor crustal material based on spectra extracted from small fresh craters (sub-kilometer scale). The amount of foreign material introduced to these large complex craters by other lunar impact events was estimated to guarantee the least influence on the compositional analysis. The study results suggest that a 56 km-diameter crater at ~640 km northwest of the SPA center is large enough to penetrate the Opx-rich materials of the SPA ejecta deposits, which are thinner than ~4.7 km at this location. This result also indicates that the intense bombardment history of the large craters and basins outside of the SPA transient cavity excavated and redistributed a large amount of crustal material across the basin, possibly resulting in the heterogeneous distribution of mafic-rich and mafic-poor materials on the SPA surface.

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