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The composition and origin of the moon

Anderson, Don L. (1973) The composition and origin of the moon. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 18 (2). pp. 301-316. ISSN 0012-821X. doi:10.1016/0012-821X(73)90069-1.

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Many of the properties of the moon, including its “enrichment” in Ca, Al, Ti, U, Th, Ba, Sr and the REE and “depletion” in Fe, Rb, K, Na and other volatiles can be explained by early condensation processes in the solar nebula. Thermodynamic calculations show that Ca-, Al- and Ti-rich compounds condense first in a cooling nebula. The initial high temperature mineralogy is gehlenite, spinel, perovskite, Ca-Al-rich pyroxenes and anorthite. Inclusions in type III carbonaceous chondrites such as the Allende meteorite are composed primarily of these minerals and are highly enriched in trace refractories such as REE relative to carbonaceous chondrites. These inclusions can yield basalt and anorthosite in the proportions required to eliminate the europium anomaly, leaving a residual spinel-melilite interior. A high Ca-Al deep interior does not imply an unacceptable mean density or moment of inertia for the moon. The inferred high U content of the lunar interior, both from the Allende analogy and the high heat flow, indicates a high temperature interior. The model is consistent with extensive early melting, shallow melting at 3 AE, and with presently high deep internal temperatures. It is predicted that the outer 250 km is rich in plagioclase and FeO. The low iron content of the interior in this model raises the interior temperatures estimated from electrical conductivity by some 800°C. The deep interior may be partially molten at the present time.

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Additional Information:© 1973 Published by Elsevier B.V. Received 7 August 1972; Revised version received 12 December 1972. This research was supported by National Aeronautics and Space Administration contract NASA NGL 05-002-069. I would like to acknowledge helpful conversations with H. Mizutani and critical reviews of the manuscript by A. Albee, D. Burnett, A. Cameron and P. Wyllie. Paul Gast kindly supplied the author with the results of some of his important studies in advance of publication.
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NASANGL 05-002-069
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Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences2193
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150217-093144551
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Official Citation:Don L. Anderson, The composition and origin of the moon, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 18, Issue 2, March 1973, Pages 301-316, ISSN 0012-821X, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:54861
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:17 Feb 2015 17:57
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 20:38

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