Can Fractional Crystallization of a Lunar Magma Ocean Produce the Lunar Crust.

images[7]New techniques enable the study of Apollo samples and lunar meteorites in unprecedented detail, and recent orbital spectral data reveal more about the lunar farside than ever before, raising new questions about the supposed simplicity of lunar geology. Nevertheless, crystallization of a global-scale magma ocean remains the best model to account for known lunar lithologies. Crystallization of a lunar magma ocean (LMO) is modeled to proceed by two end-member processes – fractional crystallization from (mostly) the bottom up, or initial equilibrium crystallization as the magma is vigorously convecting and crystals remain entrained, followed by crystal settling and a final period of fractional crystallization (1). Physical models of magma viscosity and convection at this scale suggest that both processes are possible. We have been carrying out high-fidelity experimental simulations of LMO crystallization using two bulk compositions that can be regarded as end-members in the likely relevant range: Taylor Whole Moon (TWM) (2) and Lunar Primitive Upper Mantle (LPUM) (3). TWM is enriched in refractory elements by 1.5 times relative to Earth, whereas LPUM is similar to the terrestrial primitive upper mantle, with adjustments made for the depletion of volatile alkalis observed on the Moon. Here we extend our earlier equilibrium-crystallization experiments (4) with runs simulating full fractional crystallization.
Personal Author D. S. Draper J. F. Rapp For more info go to: or call NTIS 800-553-6847 Mon – Fri 8am to 5pm est.

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