The production rate of cosmogenic deuterium at the Moon’s surface

Evelyn Füri, Etienne Deloule, Reto Trappitsch

Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume 474, 15 September 2017, Pages 76–82


• The deuterium content of olivines from eight mare basalts is determined by SIMS.
• Complementary noble gas (He–Ne–Ar) analyses give new cosmic ray exposure ages.
• The amount of D increases linearly with increasing duration of space exposure.
• The production rate of cosmogenic D is twice as high as previously estimated.
• Corrected D/H ratios have been underestimated for water-poor lunar samples.”

“The hydrogen (D/H) isotope ratio is a key tracer for the source of planetary water. However, secondary processes such as solar wind implantation and cosmic ray induced spallation reactions have modified the primordial D/H signature of ‘water’ in all rocks and soils recovered on the Moon. Here, we re-evaluate the production rate of cosmogenic deuterium (D) at the Moon’s surface through ion microprobe analyses of hydrogen isotopes in olivines from eight Apollo 12 and 15 mare basalts. These in situ measurements are complemented by CO2 laser extraction-static mass spectrometry analyses of cosmogenic noble gas nuclides (3He, 21Ne, 38Ar). Cosmic ray exposure (CRE) ages of the mare basalts, derived from their cosmogenic 21Ne content, range from 60 to 422 Ma. These CRE ages are 35% higher, on average, than the published values for the same samples. The amount of D detected in the olivines increases linearly with increasing CRE ages, consistent with a production rate of (2.17±0.11)×10−12(2.17±0.11)×10−12 mol(g rock)−1 Ma−1. This value is more than twice as high as previous estimates for the production of D by galactic cosmic rays, indicating that for water-poor lunar samples, i.e., samples with water concentrations ≤50 ppm, corrected D/H ratios have been severely overestimated.”