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Nature. 2009 Sep 10;461(7261):236-40. doi: 10.1038/nature08317.

The global distribution of pure anorthosite on the Moon.

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Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, 3-1-1 Yoshino-dai, Sagamihara, Kanagawa 229-8510, Japan.


It has been thought that the lunar highland crust was formed by the crystallization and floatation of plagioclase from a global magma ocean, although the actual generation mechanisms are still debated. The composition of the lunar highland crust is therefore important for understanding the formation of such a magma ocean and the subsequent evolution of the Moon. The Multiband Imager on the Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE) has a high spatial resolution of optimized spectral coverage, which should allow a clear view of the composition of the lunar crust. Here we report the global distribution of rocks of high plagioclase abundance (approaching 100 vol.%), using an unambiguous plagioclase absorption band recorded by the SELENE Multiband Imager. If the upper crust indeed consists of nearly 100 vol.% plagioclase, this is significantly higher than previous estimates of 82-92 vol.% (refs 2, 6, 7), providing a valuable constraint on models of lunar magma ocean evolution.


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