A laser probe 40Ar /39Ar and INAA investigation of four Apollo granulitic breccias

Hudgins, Jillian A.; Spray, John G.; Kelley, Simon P.; Korotev, Randy L. and Sherlock, Sarah C. (2008). A laser probe 40Ar /39Ar and INAA investigation of four Apollo granulitic breccias. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 72(23) pp. 5781–5798.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2008.08.024


Infrared laser probe 40Ar/39Ar geochronology, instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) and analytical electron microscopy have been performed on four 0.5 x 1.0 x 0.3 cm polished rock tiles of Apollo 16 and 17 granulitic breccias (60035, 77017, 78155, and 79215). Pyroxene thermometry indicates that these samples were re-equilibrated and underwent peak metamorphic sub-solidus recrystallization at
1000 – 1100°C, which resulted in homogeneous mineral compositions and granoblastic textures.
40Ar/39Ar data from this study reveal that three samples (60035, 77017, and 78155) have peak metamorphic ages of ~4.1 Ga. Sample 79215 has a peak metamorphic age of 3.9 Ga, which may be related to Serenitatis basin formation. All four samples contain moderately high concentrations of meteoritic siderophiles. Enhanced siderophile contents in three of the samples provide evidence for projectile
contamination of their target lithologies occurring prior to peak metamorphism.
Post-peak metamorphism, low-temperature (<300ºC) events caused the partial resetting of argon in the two finer-grained granulites (60035 and 77017). These later events did not alter the mineralogy or texture of the rocks, but caused minor brecciation and the partial release of argon from plagioclase. Interpretation of the low-temperature data indicates partial resetting of the argon systematics to as young as 3.2 Ga for 60035 and 2.3 Ga for 77017. Cosmic ray exposure ages range from 6.4 to ~339 Ma.
Our results increase the amount of high-precision data available for the granulitic breccias and lunar highlands crustal samples. The results demonstrate the survival of pre-Nectarian material on the lunar surface and document the effects of contact metamorphic and impact processes during the pre-Nectarian Epoch, as well as the low-temperature partial resetting of ages by smaller impact events after 3.9 Ga.
The mineralogy and chemical composition of these rocks, as well as exhumation constraints, indicate that the source of heat for metamorphism was within kilometres of the surface via burial beneath impact melt sheets or hot ejecta blankets.

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