Remote sensing and geologic studies of the Balmer-Kapteyn region of the Moon

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Abstract

[1] The Balmer-Kapteyn (B-K) region is located just east of Mare Fecunditatis on the east limb of the Moon. It is centered on the Balmer-Kapteyn basin, a pre-Nectarian impact structure that exhibits two rings, approximately 225 km and 450 km in diameter. Clementine multispectral images and Lunar Prospector (LP) gamma-ray spectrometer (GRS) data were used to investigate the composition, age, and origin of geologic units in the region. A major expanse of cryptomare was mapped within the B-K basin. Spectral and chemical data obtained for dark-haloed craters (DHCs) established that these impact craters excavated mare basalt from beneath higher-albedo, highland-rich surface units. The buried basalts exposed by DHCs in the region are dominated by low-titanium mare basalts. The fresh DHC FeO values (15.0–15.7 wt.%) that best represent those of buried mare basalts are well within the range of values exhibited by high-alumina mare basalts. While most cryptomare deposits occur beneath surfaces that range in age from Imbrian to Nectarian, it is possible that some mare flows were emplaced during pre-Nectarian time. Most cryptomare deposits in the B-K region were formed by the contamination of mare surfaces by highland-rich distal ejecta from surrounding impact craters. These Balmer-type cryptomare deposits are usually associated with light plains units. Major LP-GRS FeO enhancements are associated with cryptomaria in the Balmer-Kapteyn, Lomonosov-Fleming, Schiller-Schickard, and Mendel-Rydberg regions.

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