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Published March 31, 1977 | public
Journal Article

I. The Accumulation and Bulk Composition of the Moon - Outline of a Lunar Chronology


We present here an outline of lunar chronology and evolution based on analyses of the isotopic parent-daughter systems ^(87)Rb-^(87)Sr,U -Th-^(206)Pb-^(207)Pb-^(208)Pb and ^(40)K-^(40)Ar. An overview of the chronology will first be given, followed by an outline of the observational basis. A more complete discussion of ^(40)K-^(40)Ar results and their interpretation is presented in the paper by G. Turner in this volume. While the body of data on lunar materials is limited, the chronology for lunar evolution appears to be rather well defined. The samples which have been investigated represent mare basalts [returned by the Apollo missions (11, 12, 15 and 17) and by the Soviet Luna 16 mission] and terra rocks, which include non-mare basalts, anorthosites, troctolites and norites but are predominantly comprised of complex breccias [returned by Apollo 12, 14, 16 and 17 and Luna 20]. The mare basalts are associated with the late stage lava flows which covered the mare basins. These flood basalts have been broken up by impact processes but for the most part are associated with the local areas and have not been subject to major transport or metamorphism by impact. The highland rocks predate the mare lava flows but are not clearly associated with a particular magmatic or impact process. They may have been excavated from considerable depths and transported over wide distances. Impact meta-morphism is certainly one of the critical stages in their development. The techniques which permit the precise dating of lunar rocks are the result of a rapid development over the past nine years in mass spectrometric techniques, in refined chemical separation methods and mineral separation procedures, and in mineral identification and analysis. These methods have been applied most extensively to lunar problems, but in the future they will undoubtedly be utilized in a new generation of studies of meteorites and of terrestrial samples.

Additional Information

© 1977 The Royal Society. This work was supported by a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Grant no. NGL-05-002-188.

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