Chemical heterogeneities reveal early rapid cooling of Apollo Troctolite 76535OPEN ACCESS 

William S. Nelson, Julia E. Hammer, Thomas Shea, Eric Hellebrand & G. Jeffrey Taylor

Nature Communications, Volume 12, Article number: 7054 (2021)


“The evolution of the lunar interior is constrained by samples of the magnesian suite of rocks returned by the Apollo missions. Reconciling the paradoxical geochemical features of this suite constitutes a feasibility test of lunar differentiation models. Here we present the results of a microanalytical examination of the archetypal specimen, troctolite 76535, previously thought to have cooled slowly from a large magma body. We report a degree of intra-crystalline compositional heterogeneity (phosphorus in olivine and sodium in plagioclase) fundamentally inconsistent with prolonged residence at high temperature. Diffusion chronometry shows these heterogeneities could not have survived magmatic temperatures for >~20 My, i.e., far less than the previous estimated cooling duration of >100 My. Quantitative modeling provides a constraint on the thermal history of the lower lunar crust, and the textural evidence of dissolution and reprecipitation in olivine grains supports reactive melt infiltration as the mechanism by which the magnesian suite formed.”