Compositional evidence regarding the influx of interplanetary materials onto the lunar surface

John T. Wasson, William V. Boynton, Chen Lin Chou, Philip A. Baedecker

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57 Scopus citations


Siderophilic element/Ir ratios are higher in mature lunar soils from highlands sites than in those from mare sites. We infer that the population of materials responsible for the early intense bombardment of the Moon had high ratios, and that the population responsible for the essentially constant flux has low ratios. No group of chondrites has siderophile/Ir ratios identical to those in the mare or highlands soils; CM chondrites are the most similar, and CM-like materials may account for a major fraction of Earth-crossing materials during the past 3.7 b.y. Siderophile/Ir ratios may be used to determine the amount of highlands regolith in soils or breccias from the mare-highlands interface areas (Apollo 15 and 17), and to infer the time of formation of highlands breccias whose sideropbiles originated in mature soils. Arguments are summarized against the viewpoint that the siderophiles in most highlands breccias originated in basin-forming projectiles. Differences in mature soil siderophile concentrations at Apollo 14 and 16 indicate a substantially greater concentration at the latter site immediately following the Imbrium event. Siderophile concentrations are used to estimate mean regolith depths at the landing sites; as relative values these are more precise than estimates based on seismic or crater observations. The longlived flux is calculated to be 2.9 g cm-2 b.y.-1 averaged over the past 3.7 b.y. A consideration of the relationship between mass fluence and time indicates that the mass flux decreased with a half-life of about 40 m.y. immediately following the Imbrium event.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-141
Number of pages21
JournalThe Moon
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Mar 1975

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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