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Density within the moon and implications for lunar composition

Abstract

Density models for the Moon, including the effects of temperature and pressure, can satisfy the mass and moment of inertia of the Moon and the presence of a low density crust indicated by the seismic refraction results only if the lunar mantle is chemically or mineralogically inhomogeneous. IfC/MR 2 exceeds 0.400, the inferred density of the upper mantle must be greater than that of the lower mantle at similar conditions by at least 0.1 g cm−3 for any of the temperature profiles proposed for the lunar interior. The average mantle density lies between 3.4 and 3.5 g cm−3, though the density of the upper mantle may be greater. The suggested density inversion is gravitationally unstable, but the implied deviatoric stresses in the mantle need be no larger than those associated with lunar gravity anomalies. UsingC/MR 3=0.400 and the recent seismic evidence suggesting a thin, high density zone beneath the crust and a partially molten ‘core’, successful density models can be found for a range of temperature profiles. Temperature distributions as cool as several inferred from the lunar electrical conductivity profile would be excluded. The density and probable seismic velocity for the bulk of the mantle are consistent with a pyroxenite composition and a 100 MgO/(MgO+FeO) molecular ratio of less than 80.

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Solomon, S.C. Density within the moon and implications for lunar composition. The Moon 9, 147–166 (1974). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00565401

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00565401

Keywords

  • Gravity Anomaly
  • Seismic Velocity
  • Density Model
  • Lower Mantle
  • Seismic Refraction