Water in lunar anorthosites and evidence for a wet early Moon

Abstract

The Moon was thought to be anhydrous since the Apollo era1, but this view has been challenged by detections of water on the lunar surface2,3,4 and in volcanic rocks5,6,7,8,9 and regolith10. Part of this water is thought to have been brought through solar-wind implantation2,3,4,7,10 and meteorite impacts2,3,7,11, long after the primary lunar crust formed from the cooling magma ocean12,13. Here we show that this primary crust of the Moon contains significant amounts of water. We analysed plagioclase grains in lunar anorthosites thought to sample the primary crust, obtained in the Apollo missions, using Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, and detected approximately 6 ppm water. We also detected up to 2.7 ppm water in plagioclase grains in troctolites also from the lunar highland upper crust. From these measurements, we estimate that the initial water content of the lunar magma ocean was approximately 320 ppm; water accumulating in the final residuum of the lunar magma ocean could have reached 1.4 wt%, an amount sufficient to explain water contents measured in lunar volcanic rocks. The presence of water in the primary crust implies a more prolonged crystallization of the lunar magma ocean than a dry moon scenario and suggests that water may have played a key role in the genesis of lunar basalts.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Representative polarized FTIR spectra of plagioclase from FANs.
Figure 2: FTIR spectra of plagioclase from 15415,238 before and after heating at 1,000 °C for 24 h.
Figure 3: Water contents in LMO products and mantle sources of basalts through time.
Figure 4: Representative polarized FTIR spectra of troctolite 76535,164.

References

  1. 1

    Lucey, P. et al. Understanding the lunar surface and space–Moon interactions. Rev. Mineral. Geochem. 60, 83–219 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Clark, R. N. Detection of adsorbed water and hydroxyl on the Moon. Science 326, 562–564 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Pieters, C. M. et al. Character and spatial distribution of OH/H2O on the surface of the Moon seen by M3 on Chandrayaan-1. Science 326, 568–572 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Sunshine, J. M. et al. Temporal and spatial variability of lunar hydration as observed by the deep impact spacecraft. Science 326, 565–568 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Saal, A. E. et al. Volatile content of lunar volcanic glasses and the presence of water in the Moon’s interior. Nature 454, 192–195 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Boyce, J. W. et al. Lunar apatite with terrestrial volatile abundances. Nature 466, 466–469 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Greenwood, J. P. et al. Hydrogen isotope ratios in lunar rocks indicate delivery of cometary water to the Moon. Nature Geosci. 4, 79–82 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    McCubbin, F. M. et al. Nominally hydrous magmatism on the Moon. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 107, 11223–11228 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Hauri, E. H., Weinreich, T., Saal, A. E., Rutherford, M. C. & Van Orman, J. A. High pre-eruptive water contents preserved in lunar melt inclusions. Science 333, 213–215 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Liu, Y. et al. Direct measurement of hydroxyl in the lunar regolith and the origin of lunar surface water. Nature Geosci. 5, 779–782 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Elkins-Tanton, L. T. & Grove, T. L. Water (hydrogen) in the lunar mantle: Results from petrology and magma ocean modelling. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 307, 173–179 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Shearer, C. K. et al. Thermal and magmatic evolution of the Moon. Rev. Mineral. Geochem. 60, 365–518 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Norman, M. D., Borg, L. E., Nyquist, L. E. & Bogard, D. D. Chronology, geochemistry, and petrology of a ferroan noritic anorthosite clast from Descartes breccia 67215: Clues to the age, origin, structure, and impact history of the lunar crust. Meteorol. Planet. Sci. 38, 645–661 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Asimow, P. D. & Langmuir, C. H. The importance of water to oceanic mantle melting regimes. Nature 421, 815–820 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Danyushevsky, L. V. The effect of small amounts of H2O on crystallization of mid-ocean ridge and backarc basin magmas. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 110, 265–280 (2001).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Ochs, F. A. III & Lange, R. A. The density of hydrous magmatic liquids. Science 283, 1314–1317 (1999).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Hui, H. & Zhang, Y. Toward a general viscosity equation for natural anhydrous and hydrous silicate melts. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 71, 403–416 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Canup, R. M. & Asphaug, E. Origin of the Moon in a giant impact near the end of the Earth’s formation. Nature 412, 708–712 (2001).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Sharp, Z. D., Shearer, C. K., McKeegan, K. D., Barnes, J. D. & Wang, Y. Q. The chlorine isotope composition of the Moon and implications for an anhydrous mantle. Science 329, 1050–1053 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Hess, P. C. Petrogenesis of lunar troctolites. J. Geophys. Res. 99, 19083–19093 (1994).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Keller, L. P. & McKay, D. S. The nature and origin of rims on lunar soil grains. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 61, 2331–2341 (1997).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Johnson, E. A. & Rossman, G. R. The concentration and speciation of hydrogen in feldspars using FTIR and 1H MAS NMR spectroscopy. Am. Mineral. 88, 901–911 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Johnson, E. A. & Rossman, G. R. A survey of hydrous species and concentrations in igneous feldspars. Am. Mineral. 89, 586–600 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Behrens, H., Romano, C., Nowak, M., Holtz, F. & Dingwell, D. B. Near-infrared spectroscopic determination of water species in glasses of the system MAlSi3O8 (M = Li, Na, K): An interlaboratory study. Chem. Geol. 128, 41–63 (1996).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Johnson, E. A. Water in nominally anhydrous crustal minerals: Speciation, concentration, and geologic significance. Rev. Mineral. Geochem. 62, 117–154 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    O’Leary, J. A., Gaetani, G. A. & Hauri, E. H. The effect of tetrahedral Al3+ on the partitioning of water between clinopyroxene and silicate melt. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 297, 111–120 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    Hauri, E. H., Gaetani, G. A. & Green, T. H. Partitioning of water during melting of the Earth’s upper mantle at H2O-undersaturated conditions. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 248, 715–734 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28

    Palme, H. & O’Neill, H. St. C. Cosmochemical estimates of mantle composition. Treatise Geochem. 2, 1–38 (2004).

    Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    Spera, F. J. Lunar magma transport phenomena. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 56, 2253–2265 (1992).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30

    Borg, L. E., Connelly, J. N., Boyet, M. & Carlson, R. W. Chronological evidence that the Moon is either young or did not have a global magma ocean. Nature 477, 70–72 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by NASA (NNX11AH48G to H.H. and NNX10AH74G to Y.Z.). We thank the Apollo sample curators for allocating us the samples and G. Rossman for providing an aliquot of plagioclase GRR1968. H.H. thanks Y. Chen for technical assistance on heating experiments and electron microprobe analyses, and D. Draper and the LPI for help to access the JSC facility. This manuscript was greatly improved by the suggestions and comments of E. A. Johnson.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

H.H. conceived this study and performed the analyses and experiments. Y.Z. provided the terrestrial plagioclase grains. A.H.P and Y.Z. assisted in experiments and FTIR analyses. H.H., A.H.P., Y.Z. and C.R.N. discussed the data and wrote the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hejiu Hui.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Information (PDF 2142 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hui, H., Peslier, A., Zhang, Y. et al. Water in lunar anorthosites and evidence for a wet early Moon. Nature Geosci 6, 177–180 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1735

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing