Complex explosive volcanic activity on the Moon within Oppenheimer crater

Kristen A. Bennett, Briony H N Horgan, Lisa R. Gaddis, Benjamin T. Greenhagen, Carlton C. Allen, Paul O. Hayne, James Bell, David A. Paige

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Oppenheimer crater is a floor-fractured crater located within the South Pole-Aitken basin on the Moon, and exhibits more than a dozen localized pyroclastic deposits associated with the fractures. Localized pyroclastic volcanism on the Moon is thought to form as a result of intermittently explosive Vulcanian eruptions under low effusion rates, in contrast to the higher-effusion rate, Hawaiian-style fire fountaining inferred to form larger regional deposits. We use Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera images and Diviner Radiometer mid-infrared data, Chandrayaan-1 orbiter Moon Mineralogy Mapper near-infrared spectra, and Clementine orbiter Ultraviolet/visible camera images to test the hypothesis that the pyroclastic deposits in Oppenheimer crater were emplaced via Vulcanian activity by constraining their composition and mineralogy. Mineralogically, we find that the deposits are variable mixtures of orthopyroxene and minor clinopyroxene sourced from the crater floor, juvenile clinopyroxene, and juvenile iron-rich glass, and that the mineralogy of the pyroclastics varies both across the Oppenheimer deposits as a whole and within individual deposits. We observe similar variability in the inferred iron content of pyroclastic glasses, and note in particular that the northwest deposit, associated with Oppenheimer U crater, contains the most iron-rich volcanic glass thus far identified on the Moon, which could be a useful future resource. We propose that this variability in mineralogy indicates variability in eruption style, and that it cannot be explained by a simple Vulcanian eruption. A Vulcanian eruption should cause significant country rock to be incorporated into the pyroclastic deposit; however, large areas within many of the deposits exhibit spectra consistent with high abundances of juvenile phases and very little floor material. Thus, we propose that at least the most recent portion of these deposits must have erupted via a Strombolian or more continuous fire fountaining eruption, and in some cases may have included an effusive component. These results suggest that localized lunar pyroclastic deposits may have a more complex origin and mode of emplacement than previously thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalIcarus
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jul 27 2015

Fingerprint

moon
pyroclastic deposit
craters
crater
Moon
explosive
volcanology
volcanic eruption
deposits
mineralogy
volcanic eruptions
iron
clinopyroxene
glass
volcanic glass
country rock
orthopyroxene
radiometer
volcanism
near infrared

Keywords

  • Infrared observations
  • Mineralogy
  • Moon
  • Moon, surface
  • Spectroscopy
  • Volcanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

Cite this

Bennett, K. A., Horgan, B. H. N., Gaddis, L. R., Greenhagen, B. T., Allen, C. C., Hayne, P. O., ... Paige, D. A. (Accepted/In press). Complex explosive volcanic activity on the Moon within Oppenheimer crater. Icarus. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2016.02.007

Complex explosive volcanic activity on the Moon within Oppenheimer crater. / Bennett, Kristen A.; Horgan, Briony H N; Gaddis, Lisa R.; Greenhagen, Benjamin T.; Allen, Carlton C.; Hayne, Paul O.; Bell, James; Paige, David A.

In: Icarus, 27.07.2015.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Bennett, KA, Horgan, BHN, Gaddis, LR, Greenhagen, BT, Allen, CC, Hayne, PO, Bell, J & Paige, DA 2015, 'Complex explosive volcanic activity on the Moon within Oppenheimer crater', Icarus. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2016.02.007
Bennett KA, Horgan BHN, Gaddis LR, Greenhagen BT, Allen CC, Hayne PO et al. Complex explosive volcanic activity on the Moon within Oppenheimer crater. Icarus. 2015 Jul 27. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2016.02.007
Bennett, Kristen A. ; Horgan, Briony H N ; Gaddis, Lisa R. ; Greenhagen, Benjamin T. ; Allen, Carlton C. ; Hayne, Paul O. ; Bell, James ; Paige, David A. / Complex explosive volcanic activity on the Moon within Oppenheimer crater. In: Icarus. 2015.
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