Young lunar mare basalts in the Chang’e-5 sample return region, northern Oceanus Procellarum

1,2Yuqi Qian,1,3Long Xiao,2James W.Head,4Carolyn H.van der Bogert,4Harald Hiesinger,5Lionel Wilson
Earth and Planetary Science Letters 555, 116702 Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116702]
1State Key Laboratory of Geological Processes and Mineral Resources, School of Earth Sciences, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, 430074, China
2Departmental of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences, Brown University, Providence, 02912, USA
3Center for Excellence in Comparative Planetology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hefei, 230026, China
4Institut für Planetologie, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Münster, 48149, Germany
5Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK
Copyright Elsevier

Chang’e-5, China’s first lunar sample return mission, is targeted to land in northern Oceanus Procellarum, within a region selected on the basis of 1) its location away from the Apollo-Luna sampling region, 2) the presence of the Procellarum KREEP Terrane (PKT), 3) the occurrence of one of the youngest lunar mare basalts (Em4), and 4) its association with Rima Sharp. In order to provide context for returned sample analyses, we conducted a comprehensive study of the regional and global settings, geomorphology, composition, mineralogy, and chronology of the Em4 mare basalts. Superposed on Imbrian-aged low-Ti basalts, Em4 covers 37,000 km2 and is composed of Eratosthenian-aged (∼1.53 Ga), high-Ti basalts with a mean thickness of ∼51 m and a volume between ∼1450 and 2350 km3. Minor variations in TiO2 and FeO abundance occur within the unit and the thorium content averages ∼6.7 ppm, typical of PKT mare basaltic regolith. No specific source vents (e.g., fissures, cones, domes) were found within the unit. We show that Rima Sharp is actually composed of three major rilles, whose source vents are located outside of, and which flow into, and merge in Em4, suggesting that they may be among the sources for Em4. Regolith thickness averages ∼7 m and there is abundant evidence for vertical and lateral mixing; the most likely sources of distal ejecta are Aristarchus, Harpalus, and Sharp B craters. Returned samples from local and distant materials delivered by impact will thus provide significant new insights into lunar geochronology, inner Solar System impact fluxes, the age of very young mare basalts, the role of the PKT in the generation of mare basalts, the role of sinuous rilles in lava flow emplacement, and the thermal evolution of the Moon.

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