Mg-spinel lithology: A new rock type on the lunar farside
Article first published online: 22 APR 2011
Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets (1991–2012)
Volume 116, Issue E6, June 2011
How to Cite
2011), Mg-spinel lithology: A new rock type on the lunar farside, J. Geophys. Res., 116, E00G08, doi:10.1029/2010JE003727., et al. (
- Issue published online: 22 APR 2011
- Article first published online: 22 APR 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 8 FEB 2011
- Manuscript Revised: 27 JAN 2011
- Manuscript Received: 30 AUG 2010
- lunar rock types;
- spectroscopic identification
 High-resolution compositional data from Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) for the Moscoviense region on the lunar farside reveal three unusual, but distinctive, rock types along the inner basin ring. These are designated “OOS” since they are dominated by high concentrations of orthopyroxene, olivine, and Mg-rich spinel, respectively. The OOS occur as small areas, each a few kilometers in size, that are widely separated within the highly feldspathic setting of the basin rim. Although the abundance of plagioclase is not well constrained within the OOS, the mafic mineral content is exceptionally high, and two of the rock types could approach pyroxenite and harzburgite in composition. The third is a new rock type identified on the Moon that is dominated by Mg-rich spinel with no other mafic minerals detectable (<5% pyroxene, olivine). All OOS surfaces are old and undisturbed since basin formation. They are effectively invisible in image data and are only recognized by their distinctive composition identified spectroscopically. The origin of these unusual lithologies appears to be linked to one or more magmatic intrusions into the lower crust, perhaps near the crust-mantle interface. Processes such as fractional crystallization and gravity settling within such intrusions may provide a mechanism for concentrating the mafic components within zones several kilometers in dimension. The OOS are embedded within highly anorthositic material from the lunar crust; they may thus be near contemporaneous with crustal products from the cooling magma ocean.