Mineralogy and chronology of the young mare volcanism in the Procellarum-KREEP-Terrane

Yuqi Qian, Zhenbing She, Qi He, Long Xiao, Zaicong Wang, James W. Head, Lingzhi Sun, Yiran Wang, Bo Wu, Xiang Wu, Biji Luo, Kenan Cao, Yiheng Li, Mingtan Dong, Wenlei Song, Fabin Pan, Joseph Michalski, Binlong Ye, Jiawei Zhao, Siyuan Zhao, Jun Huang, Jiannan Zhao, Jiang Wang, Keqing Zong & Zhaochu Hu 

Nature Astronomy
Published: 12 January 2023


“Young lunar mare basalts are recent volcanic products distributed mainly in the Procellarum-KREEP-Terrane. However, these young basalts were never investigated in situ until 2013 by Chang’e-3, and then sampled by Chang’e-5 in 2020. Using the returned Chang’e-5 samples as ground truth, and examining Moon Mineralogy Mapper data globally, we found the young basalts containing less abundant olivine (<10%) than previously suggested. The Chang’e-3 and Chang’e-5 basalts belong to a type of underrepresented basalt. We reassessed the model ages of the young basalts using the new chronology function calibrated by the Chang’e-5 samples and found the young basalts have a trend of increasing TiO2 abundance with time. The young basalts with an age of around 2.0 Ga (billion years ago) are widespread in the Procellarum-KREEP-Terrane, including the Chang’e-5 unit. This indicates mare volcanism was still active at that time and an additional heat source or mechanism may be needed compared to older basalts. Young mare samples from Chang’e-5 and other potential sites are needed to constrain the late lunar thermal and volcanic history.”