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- A 6 mm-diameter dark spherule, 15434,28, from the regolith on the Apennine Front at the Apollo 15 landing site has a homogeneous glass interior with a 200 microns-thick rind of devitrified or crystallized melt. The rind contains abundant small fragments of Apollo 15 olivine-normative mare basalt and rare volcanic Apollo 15 green glass. The glass interior of the spherule has the chemical composition, including a high FeO content and high CaO/Al2O3, of a mare basalt. Whereas the major element and Sc, Ni, and Co abundances are similar to those of low-Ti mare basalts, the incompatible elements and Sr abundances are similar to those of high-Ti mare basaits. The relative abundance patterns of the incompatible trace elements are distinct from any other lunar mare basalts or KREEP; among these distinctions are a much steeper slope of the heavy rare earth elements. The 15434,28 glass has abundances of the volatile element Zn consistent with both impact glasses and crystalline mare basalts, but much lower than in glasses of mare volcanic origin. The glass contains siderophile elements such as Ir in abundances only slightly higher than accepted lunar indigenous levels, and some, such as Au, are just below such upper limits. The age of the glass, determined by the Ar-40/Ar-39 laser incremental heating technique, is 1647 +/- 11 Ma (2 sigma); it is expressed as an age spectrum of seventeen steps over 96% of the Ar-38 released, unusual for an impact glass. Trapped argon is negligible. The undamaged nature of the sphere demonstrates that it must have spent most of its life buried in regolith; Ar-38 cosmic ray exposure data suggest that it was buried at less than 2m but more than a few centimeters if a single depth is appropriate. That the spherule solidified to a glass is surprising; for such a mare composition, cooling at about 50 C/s is required to avoid crystallization, and barely attainable in such a large spherule. The low volatile abundances, slightly high siderophile abundances, and the young age are perhaps all most consistent with an impact origin, but nonetheless not absolutely definitive.
- Document ID: 19970026873.
Accession ID: 97N26017.
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta(ISSN 0016-7037); Volume 60; No. 4; 693-710.
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