Reexamination of Early Lunar Chronology With GRAIL Data: Terranes, Basins, and Impact Fluxes

Evans, Alexander J.; Andrews-Hanna, Jeffrey C.; Head, James W.; Soderblom, Jason M.; Solomon, Sean C.; Zuber, Maria T.

Flooding of the lunar surface by ancient mare basalts has rendered uncertain the ages of lunar geochemical terranes and several impact basins. Here we combine craters having recognizable surface expressions with craters identified only by their gravitational signatures in Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory data to reassess the chronological sequence of lunar impact basins and the ages of major lunar geochemical terranes. Our results indicate that although volcanically flooded regions are deficient in craters with diameters greater than 20 km by more than 50% relative to unflooded regions, craters with diameters greater than 90 km can be readily recognized either by topography or by gravity anomaly. On the basis of the areal density of craters with diameters greater than 90 km we conclude that (1) the Serenitatis basin could be as young as the Imbrium basin; (2) the areal density of craters within the Procellarum KREEP Terrane is significantly lower than that for the South Pole‐Aitken basin and the Feldspathic Highlands Terrane; (3) if the youngest age of final crystallization of the lunar magma ocean is adopted as a lower bound on the age of the Procellarum KREEP Terrane, a minimum age of approximately 4.3 Ga is inferred for ~40% of lunar impact basins, including South Pole‐Aitken; and (4) the flux of impactors capable of forming craters with diameters of at least 90 km decreased substantially through the Nectarian and Imbrian periods.


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JGR: Planets

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Seismology, Geology, and Tectonophysics
Published Here
August 26, 2020