KREEP basalt petrogenesis: Insights from 15434,181

Cronberger, K. and Neal, C. R.

Meteoritics & Planetary Science
doi: 10.1111/maps.12837


“Returned lunar KREEP basalts originated through impact processes or endogenous melting of the lunar interior. Various methods have been used to distinguish between these two origins, with varying degrees of success. Apollo 15 KREEP basalts are generally considered to be endogenous melts of the lunar interior. For example, sample 15434,181 is reported to have formed by a two-stage cooling process, with large orthopyroxene (Opx) phenocrysts forming first and eventually cocrystalizing with smaller plagioclase crystals. However, major and trace element analyses of Opx and plagioclase coupled with calculated equilibrium liquids are inconsistent with the large orthopyroxenes being a phenocryst phase. Equilibrium liquid rare earth element (REE) profiles are enriched relative to the whole rock (WR) composition, inconsistent with Opx being an early crystallizing phase, and these are distinct from the plagioclase REE equilibrium liquids. Fractional crystallization modeling using the Opx equilibrium liquids as a parental composition cannot reproduce the WR values even with crystallization of late-stage phosphates and zircon. This work concludes that instead of being a phenocryst phase, the large Opx crystals are actually xenocrysts that were subsequently affected by pyroxene overgrowths that formed intergrowths with cocrystallizing plagioclase.”