The moon

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 346–364 | Cite as

Vitrification darkening of rock powders: implications for optical properties of the lunar surface

  • Douglas B. Nash
  • James E. Conel


Laboratory experiments show that albedoes as low as those on the Moon can be produced by vacuum vitrification and associated chemical fractionation of ordinary terrestrial basaltic material. Vitrification is established as an unequivocal process that can account for the low albedo and apparent local darkening with age of the lunar surface. The spectral reflectance curves of glass powders are significantly different than those of the parent rock mineralogy; thus, the presence of ubiquitous glass in lunar surface material complicates compositional determinations by interpretation of spectral reflectance curves. Vitrification of rocks on the Moon may highly modify the chemical composition of the resulting glass; thus, glass fragments found in lunar fines cannot be assumed to represent bulk parent rock material. Progressive impact vitrification of lunar surface material throughout the Moon's history may have led to a fine-grain, opaque, refractory-rich material we call ‘ultimate glass’. This unidentified and, at this point, hypothetical component may exist in dark regolith material; if found, it may be a useful indicator of regolith maturity.


Lunar Surface Parent Rock Glass Powder Glass Fragment Rock Powder 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas B. Nash
    • 1
  • James E. Conel
    • 1
  1. 1.Space Sciences Division, Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

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