Abstract: Orbital data indicate that the youngest volcanic units on the Moon are basalt lavas in Oceanus Procellarum, a region with high levels of the heat-producing elements potassium, thorium, and uranium. The Chang’e-5 mission collected samples of these young lunar basalts and returned them to Earth for laboratory analysis. We measure an age of 1963 ± 57 Ma for these lavas and determine their chemical and mineralogical compositions. This age constrains the lunar impact chronology of the inner Solar System and the thermal evolution of the Moon. There is no evidence for high concentrations of heat-producing elements in the deep mantle of the Moon that generated these lavas, so alternate explanations are required for the longevity of lunar magmatism.
Cite: X. Che, A. Nemchin, D. Liu, T. Long, C. Wang, M. D. Norman, K. H. Joy, R. Tartese, J. Head, B. Jolliff, J. F. Snape, C. R. Neal, M. J. Whitehouse, C. Crow, G. Benedix, F. Jourdan, Z. Yang, C. Yang, J. Liu, S. Xie, R. Fan, D. Li, Z. Li, S. G. Webb, Age and composition of young basalts on the Moon, measured from samples returned by Chang’e-5, Science, eabl7957 (2021). DOI: 10.1126/science.abl7957