1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methods
  5. Discussion
  6. Conclusions
  7. Acknowledgments
  8. References
  9. Supporting Information

Abstract– The feldspathic lunar meteorites contain rare fragments of crystalline basalts. We analyzed 16 basalt fragments from four feldspathic lunar meteorites (Allan Hills [ALHA] 81005, MacAlpine Hills [MAC] 88104/88105, Queen Alexandra Range [QUE] 93069, Miller Range [MIL] 07006) and utilized literature data for another (Dhofar [Dho] 1180). We compositionally classify basalt fragments according to their magma’s estimated TiO2 contents, which we derive for crystalline basalts from pyroxene TiO2 and the mineral-melt Ti distribution coefficient. Overall, most of the basalt fragments are low-Ti basalts (1–6% TiO2), with a significant proportion of very-low-Ti basalts (<1% TiO2). Only a few basalt clasts were high-Ti or intermediate Ti types (>10% TiO2 and 6–10% TiO2, respectively). This distribution of basalt TiO2 abundances is nearly identical to that obtained from orbital remote sensing of the moon (both UV-Vis from Clementine, and gamma ray from Lunar Prospector). However, the distribution of TiO2 abundances is unlike those of the Apollo and Luna returned samples: we observe a paucity of high-Ti basalts. The compositional types of basalt differs from meteorite to meteorite, which implies that all basalt subtypes are not randomly distributed on the Moon, i.e., the basalt fragments in each meteorite probably represent basalts in the neighborhood of the meteorite launch site. These differences in basalt chemistry and classifications may be useful in identifying the source regions of some feldspathic meteorites. Some of the basalt fragments probably originate from ancient cryptomaria, and so may hold clues to the petrogenesis of the Moon’s oldest volcanism.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methods
  5. Discussion
  6. Conclusions
  7. Acknowledgments
  8. References
  9. Supporting Information

Lunar meteorites are samples of rock and regolith that originate from random sites on the lunar surface (Korotev 2005). As such, they provide data on lunar petrology, chronology, and geochemistry from regions distant from the Apollo and Luna mission sample return sites. The lunar meteorites also provide a global data set of lithologies and compositions for calibration of remotely sensed chemical and mineralogical inferences (Warren 2005; Lucey et al. 2006; Prettyman et al. 2006; Swinyard et al. 2009). Thus, lunar meteorites offer crucial links between the local perspective of sampling sites and the global perspective provided by orbital remote sensing.

The types of lunar meteorites generally reflect the major lithologies of the lunar surface, which is divided broadly into two terrains: the light-toned, heavily cratered feldspathic highlands (or terrae), and the dark-toned, relatively uncratered basaltic maria. The highlands, approximately 80% of the Moon’s surface, are composed mostly of feldspathic rock, most of which is thought to have formed originally as flotation cumulates on a global lunar magma ocean shortly after the Moon formed (Shearer et al. [2006] and references therein). The highlands include the oldest lunar rocks, with formation ages as old as 4.51 Ga (e.g., sample 60025; Stöffler et al. 2006).

The feldspathic lunar meteorites are breccias composed mostly of mineral and lithic fragments derived from other anorthosites or more mafic feldspathic samples (e.g., anorthosititc norite). These samples are feldspathic and aluminous (bulk rock Al2O3 of 26–31 wt%), and contain little KREEP (i.e., Th < 1 ppm; Korotev 2005; where KREEP is a geochemical component of lunar rocks, highly enriched in potassium [K], rare earth elements [REE], and phosphorus [P]). Compositions of the feldspathic lunar meteorites (notably, their low KREEP, FeO, and TiO2 abundances) suggest that some were ejected from the lunar farside Feldspathic Highlands Terrane and the Outer Feldspathic Highlands Terrane (Palme et al. 1991; Korotev et al. 2003; Korotev 2005; Lucey et al. 2006). The feldspathic meteorites contain a variety of anorthositic and granulitic rock clasts (ferroan and magnesian), plutonic rocks, and impact melt clasts, and show that the highlands' primary crust is both chemically and lithologically diverse (Korotev et al. 2006; Nyquist et al. 2006; Takeda et al. 2006; Arai et al. 2008; Joy et al. 2010b). Many of the feldspathic regolith breccias also contain small proportions of mare basalt fragments, poorly characterized in most cases. These basaltic fragments are important as they are our most direct source of data on basaltic volcanism from regions that were not sampled by the Apollo and Luna missions.

Mare Basalts

Basalts form 17% of the Moon’s surface, and predominantly occur on the nearside (Head and Wilson 1992; Hiesinger and Head 2006) in topographical lows created by impact craters. These basalts and associated pyroclastic deposits represent partial melts from the lunar mantle, variably fractionated during their ascent to the surface (Grove and Krawczynski 2009). As evidenced by their low crater densities relative to the heavily cratered lunar highlands, most mare basalts are significantly younger than the highlands in which they are usually located. In fact, mare basalts returned by the Apollo and Luna missions erupted between 3.0 and 3.9 Ga (Stöffler et al. 2006), but others may have erupted as recently as 1 to 2 Ga (Spudis and Hood 1992; Hiesinger et al. 2003).

However, some lunar basalts must be older than or contemporaneous with the heavy bombardment recorded in the lunar highlands, i.e., older than approximately 4 Ga. These lava flows, called cryptomaria (Head and Wilson 1992), are recognized as fields of dark-haloed craters in the highlands. These craters form when impactors penetrate through the overlying light-toned feldspathic regolith covering and eject dark basaltic material from beneath (Schultz and Spudis 1979, 1983; Hawke and Bell 1981). Some lunar meteorites, based on their crystallization ages, are postulated to be fragments of cryptomare basalts. Examples include the Kalahari 009 lunar basalt that crystallized at approximately 4.35 Ga (Terada et al. 2007; Sokol et al. 2008), and perhaps the Y/A/M/M group (Arai et al. 2010) of meteorites (Yamato-793169, Asuka-881757, Miller Range 05035, and Meteorite Hills 01210) that crystallized at approximately 3.85 Ga (Terada et al. 2007).

The Apollo and Luna missions returned mare basalts with a wide range of compositions. Lunar basalts are classified primarily by their Ti abundance, and there are several different classification schemes (see Taylor et al. 1991; Neal and Taylor 1992). These schemes differ primarily on how to classify basalts with 6–10% TiO2, which are rare in the Apollo and Luna collections. Here, we separate those basalts out, and use these categories: very low Ti (TiO< 1%), low Ti (1% < TiO< 6%), intermediate Ti (6–10% TiO2), and high Ti (>10% TiO2).

Few Apollo and Luna basalts contain intermediate 6–10 wt% TiO2, so a distribution of their Ti contents is bimodal, with the larger peak at approximately 2.5 wt% TiO2 and the smaller peak near 13 wt% TiO2 (Giguere et al. [2000] and references therein). On the other hand, Neal and Taylor (1992) classify basalts with 6–10 wt% TiO2 as high Ti.

The returned Apollo and Luna samples have been shown to be unrepresentative of the total diversity of TiO2 in mare basalts. The global TiO2 contents of basalts have been derived from orbital remote sensing data, both from Clementine UV/VIS data (Blewett et al. 1997; Lucey et al. 1998, 2000; Giguere et al. 2000; Gillis et al. 2003) and from Lunar Prospector gamma ray spectrometry (Prettyman et al. 2002, 2006). Both of those data sets show a complete continuum of basalt compositions, from VLT to high Ti; where the distribution of Ti contents is unimodal (single peak at 2–3 wt% TiO2) and approximately log-normal, with no gap between low and high Ti basalts (Giguere et al. 2000; Gillis et al. 2003). While there is generally good agreement between the range of TiO2 abundances returned by the two remote sensing techniques (Elphic et al. 1998; Lawrence et al. 2002; Prettyman et al. 2002), the data provide information at very different spatial scales: e.g., Clementine has a high spatial resolution down to 100 m per pixel, whereas Lunar Prospector TiO2 data is binned to either 60 km per pixel (Prettyman et al. 2002) or up to 150 km per pixel (Prettyman et al. 2006). TiO2 abundances from the Lunar Prospector, being direct analyses of Ti, are thought to be more accurate and more precise than those inferred by the Clementine UV/VIS techniques (Lucey et al. 2006). However, the much higher spatial resolution data from Clementine (often 100 m per pixel rather than >60 km per pixel) has made it much more useful for localized geological studies of the lunar surface than the LP data. Figure 1 depicts the breakdown of VLT, low-Ti, intermediate-Ti, and high-Ti basaltic regoliths (see definition above) as mapped at 100 m per pixel by the Clementine mission (see caption for details). High-Ti and intermediate-Ti basalts outcrop in Mare Tranquillitatis (as sampled by the Apollo 11 mission), and Oceanus Procellarum. Intermediate-Ti basalts also outcrop in localized areas in Mare Fecunditatis, Orientale, Crisium, Nubrium, and Sinus Aestuum. VLT basalts outcrop to the north in Mare Frigoris, the northern regions of Mare Imbrium, and some additional regions within the South Pole–Aitken basin. Most other basaltic outcrops are low Ti in composition.


Figure 1.  TiO2 abundances in lunar mare basaltic regoliths where FeO is >15 wt%, from Clementine UV-Vis remote sensing data (Gillis et al. 2003): yellow = VLT, red = low-Ti, blue = intermediate-Ti and green = high-Ti compositions (as defined above; and after Neal and Taylor 1992). Polar regions are excluded to limit topographic shading effects.

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Scope of Study

Here, we focus on compositionally classifying lunar basalt clasts in feldspathic meteorites, specifically basaltic clasts in the highly feldspathic meteorites Allan Hills (ALHA) 81005, MacAlpine Hills (MAC) 88104/88105, Queen Alexandra Range (QUE) 93069, Miller Range (MIL) 07006, and the somewhat more mafic meteorite Dhofar (Dho) 1180. A few basaltic clasts from these meteorites have been noted or described previously. We analyzed 16 basaltic fragments from the first four of these meteorites, and include literature data for Dhofar 1180 (Zhang and Hsu 2009). We measured a range of pyroxene compositions in each basaltic fragment and used the most magnesian composition (assumed to be the first crystallized) to calculate the Ti contents of their parent magmas. The magma compositions inferred for these clasts span nearly the full range of mare basalt compositions seen in Apollo and Luna samples—very low Ti, low Ti, and high Ti. A histogram of inferred TiO2 contents of their parent magmas is much like that derived from global remote sensing, and unlike the distribution of TiO2 contents of returned nearside mare basalts.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methods
  5. Discussion
  6. Conclusions
  7. Acknowledgments
  8. References
  9. Supporting Information

Chemical analyses for minerals and glasses in the meteorites ALHA81005, QUE 93069, and MAC 88105 (sections 83 and 164) were obtained at Johnson Space Center-ARES on their Cameca SX-100 electron microprobe (EMP) using wavelength-dispersive spectrometry, an accelerating potential of 15 kV and a beam current of 20 nA. We analyzed Na and K first to reduce losses through volatility. Count times on peak were 20–30 s for most elements, but 60 s for Ti and Cr. Standards were well-characterized natural minerals and synthetic oxides. Raw data were reduced using Cameca PAP software, and further processed with Microsoft Excel. Some images in backscattered electron (BSE) mode were obtained with the JEOL 6340f field-emission gun scanning electron microscope (SEM) at JSC-ARES.

Chemical analyses for minerals in the samples MAC 88104,47 and MAC 88105,158 were obtained at the Natural History Museum London (NHM) using their Cameca SX-50, using wavelength dispersive spectrometry, using the standards (synthetic glasses and oxides, and pure mineral standards) and analytical conditions (1 μm beam size, 20 nA beam current, 20 KeV accelerating voltage) of Joy et al. (2006, 2008). Thin section MIL 07006,12 was also analyzed at the NHM using their Cameca SX-100 with an accelerating potential of 20 kV and a beam current of 20 nA. Count times on peak for Na were 10 s and all other element peaks were counted for 20 s. For these thin sections, BSE images were collected using a JEOL 5900LV SEM at the NHM.

In mineral chemical analyses, our main emphasis was on pyroxenes (Table 1, Appendix S1), which are good recorders of magma compositions and are relatively resistant to postigneous equilibration. In particular, we tried to analyze the most magnesian pyroxenes, which should provide the best estimates of bulk magma composition. We used optical microscopy and BSE images to locate theses magnesian mineral cores. In crystalline clasts, we also obtained some analyses of olivine and plagioclase. Analyses of a few fragments of basaltic glass were obtained under the same conditions.

Table 1.   EMPA analyses of the most magnesian pyroxene in each basalt fragment we measured. VLT, low-Ti, and high-Ti basalts are all represented.
SampleALHA81005,9ALHA81005,9ALHA81005,9ALHA81005,8ALHA81005,8QUE 93069,36MIL 07006,12MIL 07006,12MIL 07006,12
ClastLB2 LB4 LB5LBALBELB1Basalt 1Basalt 2Basalt 3
K2Ob.d. b.d. b.d.0.04b.d.n.m.n.m.b.d.0.03
NiOn.m. n.m. n.m.0.020.03n.m.n.m.n.m.n.m.
Normalization to 4 cations
 Calculated bulk TiO21.
  1. Notes: b.d. = below detection limit; n.d. = not detected; n.m. = not measured; Mg* = molar Mg/(Mg+Fe); Fe* = molar Fe/(Fe+Mg); Ti* = molar Ti/(Ti+Cr); ALHA = Allan Hills; QUE = Queen Alexandra Range; MIL = Miller Range; MAC = MacAlpine Hills.

SampleMAC 88104,47MAC 88104,47MAC 88104,47MAC 88105,83MAC 88105,158MAC 88105,164MAC 88105,164
Normalization to 4 cations
Calculated bulk TiO22.

Sample Petrography and Classification

We studied four feldspathic meteorites that were known to contain clasts of basalt: ALHA81005, MAC 88104/5, QUE 93069, and MIL 07006 (Treiman and Drake 1983; Jolliff et al. 1991; Koeberl et al. 1991, 1996; Takeda et al. 1991; Joy et al. 2010a).

In this section, we provide background data on our criteria for recognizing basalt clasts (Fig. 2) in highlands meteorites, and for classifying them. We also provide overview descriptions of the meteorites and clasts studied here. Meteorite descriptions are from the literature and our own observations. Summary data on the basalt clasts, their pyroxene compositions (Table 1), and their TiO2 classifications (Fig. 3) follow; for each basaltic clast, Appendix S1 contains an image, a brief petrographic description, and representative electron microprobe analyses of its pyroxenes.


Figure 2.  Representative SEM images of crystalline basalt fragments in lunar highland regolith breccias. Dark gray is plagioclase, lighter gray is pyroxene, and white is ilmenite or another high Z phase. Note the subophitic to ophitic textures and zoning in the pyroxenes. a) VLT basalt ALHA81005 LB2. b) High-Ti basalt MAC 88105 LB2. c) Low-Ti basalt QUE 93069 LB1. Darkest gray phase is silica. d) Low-Ti basalt MAC 88105 LB3. e) Low-Ti basalt ALHA81005. f) VLT MIL 07006 Basalt 2. Note the large size of this clast. See Table 1 and- Appendix S1 for pyroxene analyses.

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Figure 3.  Fe* versus Ti* plots for pyroxenes in lunar highlands meteorites, compared with trends for classes of Apollo and Luna basalts (Nielsen and Drake 1978): high-titanium (Hi-Ti), low-titanium (Lo-Ti), and very-low-titanium (VLT). Fields from data in Bence and Papike (1972), Dymek et al. (1975), and Vaniman and Papike (1977). a) Pyroxenes from basaltic clasts in ALHA81005. The VLT basalt (green “X”) is that reported by Treiman and Drake (1983). Other basaltic clasts cluster between the low-Ti and high-Ti fields. b) Pyroxenes from MAC 88104/88105; points are our analyses, lines connect pairs of analyses on clasts reported elsewhere (Jolliff et al. 1991; Koeberl et al. 1991; Takeda et al. 1991). From the variety of compositions, basaltic clasts in MAC 88104/5 appear to span the full range Ti range of mare basalts. c) Pyroxenes in basaltic clasts in MIL 07006 and QUE 93069. The VLT basalt clasts in MIL07006, like that in ALHA81005, have lower Ti* at a given Fe* than the Apollo and Luna VLTs.

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Meteorites and Basaltic Clasts

The feldspathic regolith breccias contain clasts of many different types of melt rocks, of igneous and impact origins. We selected igneous (derived from partial melting of the lunar interior) basalt clasts, as those with approximately equal proportions of pyroxenes and plagioclase, ophitic or subophitic textures, and chemically zoned (unequilibrated) pyroxenes. We excluded clasts that were partially melted, contained xenoliths, or were very fine grained (sizes < 10 μm) as likely being impact melts. Among glasses, we selected only those of basaltic composition (45–55 wt% SiO2, 8–18 wt% Al2O3, and with CIPW norms of approximately 50% pyroxene and 50% plagioclase).

Basalts Classified by Pyroxene Compositions

To classify the basalt clasts, we follow Nielsen and Drake (1978) and Arai et al. (1996) in graphing Fe* [molar Fe/(Mg+Fe)] versus Ti* [molar Ti/(Cr+Ti)] (Fig. 3). The bulk composition of the parent magma determines the trend of pyroxene crystallization; typically, the first pyroxenes to crystallize from a melt have the lowest Fe* values, with subsequent pyroxenes having increasing Fe* and Ti* until an Fe-Ti oxide phase begins to crystallize. At that point, Ti content is buffered by the oxide phase and Cr is low, so that Ti* stays high and approximately constant (Fig. 3). In the high-Ti basalts, ilmenite and other Fe-Ti-bearing oxides are at or near the liquidus (Ringwood and Essene 1970; Green et al. 1975; Grove and Beaty 1980) so that their pyroxenes achieve high and constant Ti* at relatively low Fe* (Fig. 3).

Allan Hills 81005

Allan Hills 81005 is an anorthositic regolith breccia (Marvin 1983). Rare basalt fragments have been reported in thin sections (Ryder and Ostertag 1983; Simon et al. 1983; Treiman and Drake 1983). We obtained and examined thin sections ALHA81005,8 and –,9; Treiman and Drake (1983) reported a VLT basalt clast in the latter section (their clast G), which we reanalyzed (as LB2; see also Fig. 2a). We also located two other basalt fragments (LB4 and LB5) in section –,9. In section –,8 we found two basalt fragments (LBA, LBE), for a total of five basalt fragments analyzed in two sections of ALHA81005.

We confirm that the clast found by Treiman and Drake (1983) is VLT basalt. Pyroxenes in the other basalt clasts in ALHA81005 are consistent with low-, and high-Ti basalts, and are quite distinct from those of LB2 (Fig. 3a). These clasts may represent two or three different varieties of basalt (Ryder and Ostertag 1983); their pyroxene compositions range from the low-Ti* edge of the low Ti field to nearly the high-Ti field. Delano (1990) reported a high-Ti basaltic glass in section 8, but we did not locate it. Marvin (1983) reported a low-Ti (4.79 wt% TiO2) basaltic glass in section –,22, which we did not analyze.

MacAlpine Hills 88104/5

MacAlpine Hills 88105 and its paired stone, MAC 88104, are feldspathic regolith breccias. Basaltic fragments have been reported in both stones (Jolliff et al. 1991; Neal et al. 1991; Takeda et al. 1991). We studied the thin sections MAC 88105,164, –,83, and –,158, and MAC 88104,47. We identified seven basalt fragments in four thin sections of MAC 88105: one in section –,83, two in section –,164, three in MAC 88104,47, and one in MAC 88105,158.

MacAlpine Hills 88104/5 has basalt clasts with pyroxenes characteristic of several distinct basalt types: VLT (BA1, C24), transitional from VLT to low Ti (BA2, LB5, C13), low Ti (LB3), and high Ti (LB2) (Figs. 2b and 2d; Fig. 3b). Thus, MAC 88104/5 appears to contain clasts that cover nearly the entire range of basalt Ti compositions.

Miller Range 07006

Miller Range 07006 is a feldspathic regolith breccia meteorite (Korotev et al. 2009; Liu et al. 2009; Joy et al. 2010a), possibly paired with Yamato-791197 (Yanai and Kojima 1984; Lindstrom et al. 1986; Goodrich and Keil 1987) on the basis of bulk composition and sample texture. Korotev et al. (2009) suggest on the basis of sample major element composition that the MIL 07006 meteorite contains approximately 8–10% basaltic clasts. We found three basalt fragments in MIL 07006,12 (Fig. 3c; see also Joy et al. 2010a). One clast is a high-Ti basalt, while the other two clasts are VLT basalts (Fig. 3c). The two VLT clasts have lower Ti* than the VLT basalts from A17 and L24, but have Ti* values similar to those of the VLT basalt clast LB2 in ALHA81005 (Fig. 3a).

Queen Alexandra Range 93069

Queen Alexandra Range 93069 is a feldspathic regolith breccia with abundant glass (Lindstrom et al. 1995; Bischoff 1996; Koeberl et al. 1996; Korotev et al. 1996). Basalt fragments had not been reported in this thin section specifically, but Koeberl et al. (1996) found a basalt clast in subsample 18. We found and analyzed one basalt fragment in QUE 93069,36; its pyroxenes plot between the VLT and low-Ti fields (Figs. 2c and 3c). Koeberl et al. (1996) also report three glasses of basaltic composition in a thin section we did not analyze.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methods
  5. Discussion
  6. Conclusions
  7. Acknowledgments
  8. References
  9. Supporting Information

Parent Magma Compositions

For our basaltic clasts, we cannot determine parent magma TiO2 directly by bulk chemical analyses because the crystalline clasts are too small to provide representative proportions of major and trace minerals. However, we can calculate the parent magma TiO2 from the chemical compositions of the first-formed (e.g., the most magnesian in the zoning trend) pyroxene in each clast, using mineral/melt partition coefficients. We can then compare the calculated parent magma (e.g., lava-flow) TiO2 with global TiO2 abundance data derived from remote sensing measurements.

The partitioning of Ti between pyroxenes and basalt magma, D(TiO2) (px/bas) in weight percent, has been determined experimentally in many systems (Duke 1976; Lindstrom 1983; McKay et al. 1986; Jones 1995; van Kan Parker et al. 2010). From these sources, values of D(TiO2) (px/bas) range from 0.06 to 0.35 (see (Fig. 4), McKay et al. 1986; Lindstrom 1983; van Kan Parker et al. 2010). This spread, a factor of six from smallest to largest, would not allow calculation of useful estimates of magma TiO2 content. Fortunately, much of the variation in D(TiO2)(px/bas) seems to be a simple linear function of the Ca content of the pyroxenes (Fig. 4), comparable to the effect of Ca content on REE partition coefficients (McKay et al. 1986).


Figure 4.  Distribution of TiO2 between pyroxenes and lunar basaltic magmas. D(TiO2) = (wt% TiO2 in pyroxene)/(wt% TiO2 in magma); data from literature. “Magma” analyses are bulk rocks or glasses. See text for regression line and calculation of D(TiO2). LAP 02224 and pairs data from Zeigler et al. (2005); Day et al. (2006); Righter et al. (2005); Anand et al. (2005). Apollo and Luna data from Grove and Vaniman (1978); Walker et al. (1977); Grove and Beaty (1980); Elkins et al. (2000).

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To quantify the dependence of D(TiO2) on the Ca content of the pyroxene (CaOpyx), we performed a linear regression of the data (as in Fig. 4): pyroxene analyses from the unbrecciated lunar meteorite LaPaz 02205 and pairs (Anand et al. 2005, Righter et al. 2005; Zeigler et al. 2005; Day et al. 2006; Joy et al. 2006), and pyroxene data from low-pressure experiments carried out by other workers on VLT lunar basalt compositions (Grove and Vaniman 1978), on low-Ti lunar basalt and pyroclastic glass compositions (Walker et al. 1977; Grove and Vaniman 1978; Elkins et al. 2000), and high-Ti (Grove and Beaty 1980) basalts. This regressed equation is shown in Equation 1.

  • image(1)

To test if this parameterization of D(TiO2) yields reasonable bulk compositions from basalt pyroxenes, we applied it to a case where one has both bulk compositions of basalt clasts, and mineral compositions of basaltic pyroxenes: the Apollo 16 regolith. The Apollo 16 regolith breccia samples have been studied extensively, and contain a small but significant proportion of crystalline mare basalt clasts. Several of these clasts have been large enough to obtain representative bulk chemical analyses (Dowty et al. 1974; Murali et al. 1976; Simon and Papike 1987; Zeigler et al. 2006). Our test is to compare the range and distribution of bulk TiO2 contents analyzed in basaltic clasts, with bulk TiO2 contents calculated from pyroxene compositions and our parameterization. Figure 5 shows a histogram of TiO2 contents of both the bulk compositions of the basalt clasts in the Apollo 16 materials, and those calculated from the most magnesian pyroxenes in Apollo 16 basalt clasts (using data reported by Dowty et al. 1974; Delano 1975; Murali et al. 1976; Vaniman et al. 1978; Simon and Papike 1987; Zeigler et al. 2006). The two distributions are similar, in showing both the presence and abundances of intermediate-Ti basalts (TiO2 near 8 wt%), and the presence of both high- and low-Ti basalts. The distributions of TiO2 contents from bulk measurements and inferred from pyroxenes do not match exactly (Fig. 5), but the sample sizes are small and our parameterization is not exact. These fragments are interpreted as a component of ejecta thrown to the Apollo 16 site from impacts in the surrounding maria; their TiO2 abundances are similar to those in the maria near the Apollo 16 site (Zeigler et al. 2006).


Figure 5.  Basalt clasts in the Apollo 16 returned samples. Distribution of basalt TiO2% from bulk sample analyses, compared TiO2% (on other clasts) inferred from TiO2% in their pyroxenes. Data from Dowty et al. (1974), Delano (1975), Murali et al. (1976), Vaniman et al. (1978), Simon and Papike 1987; and Zeigler et al. (2006).

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Parent Magma Modeling

Having validated the calculation of parent melt TiO2 from TiO2 in the pyroxenes, we can calculate the TiO2 abundances in the basalt fragments in highland basalts using the above equation for D(TiO2). We can then compare our inferred basalt compositions from the meteorites to data of orbital remote sensing data and Apollo landing sites. Figure 6 summarizes the results of this calculation shown as a histogram of number of samples versus magma TiO2 content. We compare these results with similar histograms of Apollo/Luna basalt Ti content and the Ti content of basalts measured from orbit (see also Giguere et al. 2000; Gillis et al. 2003).


Figure 6.  Histograms of TiO2 contents of lunar basaltic surfaces and rocks. a) Basaltic clasts in feldspathic lunar meteorites, calculated or analyzed here (see text; Dho 1180 data from Zhang and Hsu [2009]; three QUE 93069 glasses from Koeberl et al. [1996]; one ALHA81005 glass from Delano [1990]). Note that the distribution is unimodal, with few clasts of high-Ti basalt. b) Apollo basalts, after Giguere et al. (2000). Note that distribution is bimodal, with many high-Ti basalts. c) Lunar basaltic surfaces, Ti inferred from Clementine UV-VIS data (Gillis et al. 2003). Note unimodal distribution, and rarity of high-Ti basalts. d) Lunar basaltic surfaces, from Lunar Prospector gamma ray data (Prettyman et al. 2006). Note unimodal distribution, and rarity of high-Ti basalts.

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Comparison of Lunar Meteorite Basalts to the Apollo/Luna Samples and Remote Sensing

Each meteorite contains basalts of several different types, i.e., with varying abundances of TiO2, and most have a distinct distribution of basalt types (Figs. 3 and 6). Most of the basalt fragments in MAC 88104/5 came from parent magmas with 1–3 wt% TiO2 (Fig. 6a), but one clast formed from magma with more than 10 wt% TiO2 (Table 1). MIL 07006 has a similarly distinctive basalt-type distribution, one clast of high-Ti basalt, and two clasts containing pyroxenes with even lower Ti* than the Apollo/Luna VLT basalts. The basaltic magmas represented in QUE 93069 and Dho 1180 have similar distributions of TiO2 contents with most fragments falling in the range of 3–4 wt% TiO2. As the basalt fragments probably originate from flows in the area around the meteorite source crater, similar basalt TiO2 contents could imply similar source regions for the meteorites. The basalts in ALHA81005 are distinct from the other meteorites we studied. Three of the five basalt clasts are low Ti, with between 3 and 4 wt% TiO2 (Fig. 6a). One fragment contains pyroxenes characteristic of VLT basalt (Fig. 3a), but these pyroxenes contain even lower Ti* (Fig. 3a) than the VLTs of the Luna 24 site (Vaniman and Papike 1977). A final basalt clast was derived from a lava flow with approximately 6 wt% TiO2, with pyroxenes that precipitated from low-to-intermediate Ti basalts (Fig. 3a). The histogram distribution for ALHA81005 resembles that of QUE 93069 and Dho 1180 (Fig. 5a), yet the compositions of the pyroxenes (Fig. 2a) show that it is actually distinct from these other meteorites.

The distribution of Apollo/Luna basalts by TiO2 content is clearly bimodal, with two peaks between 2 and 3 wt% TiO2 and 12 and 13 wt% TiO2 (Fig. 6b). The majority of lunar basalts in the returned sample collection contain between 1 and 3 wt% TiO2 or 11 and 13 wt% TiO2, and there is a relative absence of basalts with TiO2 between 4 and 10 wt%. This bias reflects the nonrandom selection of the Apollo and Luna landing sites. However, the global basalt TiO2 distribution determined from remote sensing (Figs. 6c and 6d) is unimodal. Although the histograms derived from Clementine reflectance data and Lunar Prospector gamma ray spectrometer data have slightly different shapes, they are generally similar. Both have a peak at 1–2 wt% TiO2 that decreases continuously as the amount of TiO2 in basalt increases. The remote sensing data suggest that there is proportionally far less high Ti basalt on the Moon than suggested by the Apollo/Luna collection.

When they are combined onto one histogram, the range of magma Ti contents inferred from our basalt fragments and glasses (Fig. 6a) does not resemble the bimodal distribution of Ti abundances in the Apollo mare basalts (Fig. 6b). Instead, the distribution of inferred magma composition resembles the unimodal continuum of Ti abundances inferred from orbital remote sensing data (Figs. 6c and 6d; see also Giguere et al. 2000; Gillis et al. 2003; Prettyman et al. 2006). The distribution of our basaltic clast and glass fragments is unimodal, with a peak at 3–4 wt% TiO2. This is slightly different from the remote sensing data, which both exhibit a peak at 1–2 wt% TiO2, but this difference is within uncertainties of our modeling calculations and within the small data set we have sampled so far. Even with this slight difference, the basalt fragment data fit remarkably close to the Lunar Prospector data (Fig. 6d).

Basalt fragments are probably incorporated into feldspathic breccias in a process similar to that described previously for the Apollo 16 site, as laterally dispersed ejecta from impacts on nearby maria. On the basis of data from the Apollo 16 site (Delano 1975; Vaniman et al. 1978; Zeigler et al. 2006), it seems likely that basalt fragments in regolith breccia meteorites represent basalt flows within a few hundred kilometers of the meteorite’s source region. Therefore, identification of different types of mare basalts in individual meteorites could potentially help constrain the meteorite’s provenance, by comparing basalt composition with remotely sensed compositional data (Joy et al. 2008; Arai et al. 2010; Basilevsky et al. 2010).


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methods
  5. Discussion
  6. Conclusions
  7. Acknowledgments
  8. References
  9. Supporting Information

Many feldspathic lunar meteorites contain small proportions of crystalline basalts and basaltic glasses. These meteorites, inferred to represent a random sampling from the lunar highlands, provide a view of lunar basaltic volcanism that is not available from the returned Apollo and Luna samples. In particular, they can be used to investigate mare basalt petrogenesis from more diverse regions of the Moon, and shed new light on the temporal thermal and magmatic evolution of the Moon.

Here, we have demonstrated and validated that the most primitive pyroxene composition in basalt clasts can be used to recover the TiO2 abundances in their parent magmas and thus to classify them (e.g., Taylor et al. 1991; Neal and Taylor 1992). In the feldspathic lunar meteorites studied here, nearly all of the basaltic fragments are of very-low Ti (VLT) and low-Ti compositions. The distribution of TiO2 content of magmas represented by basaltic fragments in feldspathic meteorites is unimodal (Fig. 6a), substantially identical to the distribution of basalt compositions determined from global remote sensing data (Clementine and Lunar Prospector) and unlike the bimodal distribution of TiO2 abundances in returned Apollo and Luna basalts (Figs. 6b–d). This result confirms that high-Ti basalts are overrepresented in the Apollo collection, and is consistent with the absence of high-Ti basalts among basaltic lunar meteorite.

While the distribution of Ti abundances in the analyzed basaltic clasts is like the global lunar distribution, the distributions in individual meteorites are not identical (Fig. 6). This lack of uniformity of mare basalt fragments among meteorites implies a nonrandom distribution of fragments, i.e., that the basalt content of each meteorite does not represent the whole moon, but probably represents basalts in the neighborhood of its launch site. These differences in basalt chemistry and classifications could potentially be used to help delimit or identify the source regions of the feldspathic meteorites. It may be possible to locate specific source regions for MIL 07006 and MAC 88105 because they contain high Ti basalts, which outcrop in few places on the Moon (Fig. 1). It is also possible, even likely, that the basalt fragments in feldspathic meteorites include samples derived from cryptomaria, i.e., of the Moon’s ancient premare volcanism. It will be important to understand how to recognize these basalts, and to learn from them about the Moon’s early volcanic history and petrogenesis.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methods
  5. Discussion
  6. Conclusions
  7. Acknowledgments
  8. References
  9. Supporting Information

Acknowledgments–– Thin sections used in our study were loaned by the Antarctic Meteorite Curatorial Facility, Johnson Space Center. We are grateful to Anne Peslier, Loan Le, Kent Ross, GeorgAnn Robinson, John Spratt, and Anton Kearsley for assistance with electron microprobe and SEM analyses, and to Juliane Gross for her advice and help. We thank Drs Ryan Zeigler and Carle Pieters for their helpful reviews. This project was started in an LPI Summer Internship to the first author, and was continued under support from NASA Cosmochemistry grant NNX08AH78G to the second author. K. H. J. would like to thank the Leverhulme Trust and Ian Crawford for supporting research at the NHM London. Lunar and Planetary Institute Contribution # 1656.

Editorial Handling–– Dr. Carle Pieters


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  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methods
  5. Discussion
  6. Conclusions
  7. Acknowledgments
  8. References
  9. Supporting Information
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Supporting Information

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methods
  5. Discussion
  6. Conclusions
  7. Acknowledgments
  8. References
  9. Supporting Information

Appendix S1. Basaltic Fragments in Lunar Feldspathic Meteorites: Connecting Sample Analyses to Orbital Remote Sensing

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MAPS_1344_sm_Appendix_S1.pdf7029KSupporting info item

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