, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 59-99

The Aristarchus-Harbinger region of the moon: Surface geology and history from recent remote-sensing observations

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Abstract

The region including the Aristarchus Plateau and Montes Harbinger is probably the most diverse, geologically, of any area of comparble size on the Moon. This part of the northwest quadrant of the lunar near side includes unique dark mantling material; both the densest concentration and the largest of the sinuous rilles; apparent volcanic vents, sinks, and domes; mare materials of various ages and colors; one of the freshest large craters (Aristarchus) with ejecta having unique colors and albedos; and three other large craters in different states of flooding and degradation (krieger, Herodotus, and Prinz). The three best-authenticated lunar transient phenomena were also observed here.

This study is based principally on photographic and remote sensing observations made from Earth and Apollo orbiting space craft. Results include (1) delineation of geologic map units and their stratigraphic relationships; (2) discussion of the complex interrelationships between materials of volcanic and impact origin, including the effects of excavation, redistribution and mixing of previously deposited materials by younger impact craters; (3) deduction of physical and chemical properties of certain of the geologic units, based on both the remote-sensing information and on extrapolation of Apollo data to this area; and (4) development of a detailed geologic history of the region, outlining the probable sequence of events that resulted in its present appearance.

A primary concern of the investigation has been anomalous red dark mantle on the Plateau. Based on an integration of Earth- and lunar orbit-based data, this layer seems to consist of fine-grained, block-free material containing a relatively large fraction of orange glass. It is probably of pyroclastic origin, laid down at some time during the Imbrian period of mare flooding.