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40Ar/39Ar dating of Apollo 12 regolith: Implications for the age of Copernicus and the source of nonmare materials

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2006.09.013
  • Earth Science


Abstract Twenty-one 2–4 mm rock samples from the Apollo 12 regolith were analyzed by the 40Ar/ 39Ar geochronological technique in order to further constrain the age and source of nonmare materials at the Apollo 12 site. Among the samples analyzed are: 2 felsites, 11 KREEP breccias, 4 mare-basalt-bearing KREEP breccias, 2 alkali anorthosites, 1 olivine-bearing impact-melt breccia, and 1 high-Th mare basalt. Most samples show some degree of degassing at 700–800 Ma, with minimum formation ages that range from 1.0 to 3.1 Ga. We estimate that this degassing event occurred at 782 ± 21 Ma and may have been caused by the Copernicus impact event, either by providing degassed material or by causing heating at the Apollo 12 site. 40Ar/ 39Ar dating of two alkali anorthosite clasts yielded ages of 3.256 ± 0.022 Ga and 3.107 ± 0.058 Ga. We interpret these ages as the crystallization age of the rock and they represent the youngest age so far determined for a lunar anorthosite. The origin of these alkali anorthosite fragments is probably related to differentiation of shallow intrusives. Later impacts could have dispersed this material by lateral mixing or vertical mixing.

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