Distribution of 28 elements in size fractions of lunar mare and highlands soils

William V. Boynton, John T. Wasson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Four volatile, six siderophile and 18 generally lithophile elements were determined in six sieve fractions of mare soil 15100 and seven sieve fractions of highlands soil 66080; 15100 is a moderately and 66080 a highly mature soil. Two size fractions of 66080 were subjected to leaching with HCI and etching with HF. Leaching removed ca. 25% of the rare earths in both the 500-177 μm and 62-20 μm fractions; the soluble phase, probably a phosphate, is enriched in light rare earths relative to the bulk soil. The leach and etch removed a larger portion of Zn and Cd than expected on the basis of surface concentrations inferred from size distribution data apparently because of selective dissolution of minor volatile-rich phases. Lithophile concentrations in 66080 are nearly independent of grain size. In 15100 decreasing grain sizes show moderately increasing amounts of KREEP and anorthosite related elements, and decreasing amounts of basalt related elements. In 66080 a maximum in siderophile concentration occurs at ca 150 μm, as previously observed in our studies of 61220, 63500 and 65500. This peaking appears to result from a gradual increase with time in the size of metal grains as a result of welding during micrometeorite impacts. The coarse fraction maximum is not observed in the siderophile data for 15100, probably because of the much smaller fluence of extralunar projectiles at the Apollo 15 site. A modest rise in siderophile concentrations in the smallest size fractions of all soils probably results from recondensation of impact-vaporized materials. The concentrations of highly volatile Zn, Cd and In in 15100 and 66080 show a marked increase with decreasing size, but the fine/coarse ratios are about a factor of two lower than those in soils 61220 and 63500. The lower ratio in 66080 results entirely from higher concentrations in the coarser fractions. It appears that this is a reflection of the higher maturity of 66080, and that the volume-correlated component in lunar soils increases with increasing near-surface residency. The high amount of volume-correlated component in 15100 may be related to the more efficient formation of agglutinates in basalt-rich soils. The observed increase in rare gas and volatile metal concentration with decreasing grain size results from an increasing bias in surface exposure of fine grain sizes, probably as a result of the adhesion of smaller to larger grains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1073-1082
Number of pages10
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1977

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Distribution of 28 elements in size fractions of lunar mare and highlands soils'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this