Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso


  • Nicholas Arndt
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_81-3


Anorthosite is a magmatic intrusive rock. It is light colored (leucocratic) and has a medium to coarse grain size (phaneritic). It is mainly composed of plagioclase (andesine, labradorite, bytownite) and minor pyroxene, olivine, and iron-titanium oxides (ilmenite, magnetite). Proterozoic anorthosite forms large massifs associated with granitoids (North America, Scandinavia). Archean coarse-grained (megacrystic) anorthosite occurs in intrusions (dikes and sills) and flows of basaltic composition.

Anorthosite is a common constituent of the lighter surfaces of the Moon called lunar highlands or terrae. Formation of anorthosite requires the concentration of plagioclase from mafic magma by flotation in a magma ocean (as is proposed to have occurred on the Moon), ascent of plagioclase-rich mushes, or low-pressure crystallization in magma chambers.

See Also


Grain Size North America Bioorganic Chemistry Large Massif Magma Chamber 
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.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Maison des GéosciencesLGCA, Université J. FourierSt-Martin d’HèresFrance