The lunar basalt samples returned by the Chang’e-5 mission erupted about 2.0 billion years ago during the late period of the Moon’s secular cooling. The conditions of mantle melting in the source region and the migration of magma through the thick lithosphere that led to this relatively late lunar volcanism remain open questions. Here we combine quantitative textural analyses of Chang’e-5 basaltic clasts, diffusion chronometry, clinopyroxene geothermobarometers and crystallization simulations to establish a holistic picture of the dynamic magmatic–thermal evolution of these young lunar basalts. We find that the Chang’e-5 basalts originated from an olivine-bearing pyroxenite mantle source (10–13 kbar or 250 ± 50 km; 1,350 ± 50 °C), similar to Apollo 12 low-Ti basalts. We propose these magmas then ascended through the plumbing system and accumulated mainly at the top of the lithospheric mantle (~2–5 kbar or 40–100 km, 1,150 ± 50 °C), where they stalled at least several hundred days and evolved via high-degree fractional crystallization. Finally, the remaining evolved melts erupted rapidly onto the surface over several days. Our magmatic–thermal evolution model indicates abundant low-solidus pyroxenites in the mantle source with a slightly enhanced inventory of radioactive elements can explain the prolonged, but declining, lunar volcanism up to about 2 billion years ago and beyond.
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All data analysed or generated during this study are available in EarthChem Library at https://doi.org/10.26022/IEDA/112769, Science Data Bank at https://doi.org/10.57760/sciencedb.o00009.00468 and Supplementary Tables. Source data are provided with this paper.
The MATLAB code used for diffusion modelling and error calculation in this study can be obtained from the corresponding author B.L.
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We appreciate all staff of the Chang’e-5 mission, and their great effort makes this work possible. We thank China National Space Administration (CNSA) for providing access to the returned sample (CE5C0400) and China University of Geoscience, Wuhan for technical support. This work was supported by the pre-research project on Civil Aerospace Technologies funded by CNSA to Z. W. (no. D020205). B.L. thanks the China Scholarship Council (no. 201906415001) and K. Cashman, J. Blundy and A. Rust for guiding volcanology research.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Extended Data Fig. 1 Some reprehensive backscattered electron (BSE) images of the Chang’E-5 basalt clasts in this study were used for CSD analyzed.
a–e, Microlites in groundmass. a. LS-5-28. b. Outline of plagioclase in LS-5-28. c. LS-1-142. d. LS-2-66. e. 26-710. f. Porphyritic, CE-2. Cpx, clinopyroxene; Pl, plagioclase; Ol, olivine; Ilm, ilmenite.
Extended Data Fig. 2 Representative textural and compositional zoning diagrams for different types of clinopyroxene.
Type I-a, microlites: a, d, 5-28-1A; Type I-b, larger phenocrysts: b, e, 26-2-01; and c f, 26-1-01; Type II, patchy zoning, g-j, 24-632-C; Type III-a, normal zoning: k, n, 11-2-C; l, o, 23-01; and m, p, 21-3B. Insert circles represent the crystallographic and traverse orientation projection that were measured by EBSD. α, β and γ are angles between measured profile and ,  and  axes, respectively. The white bars represent 10 μm.
Extended Data Fig. 3 Chemical composition of clinopyroxene from the Chang’E-5 basaltic fragments.
a, Quadrilateral diagram of clinopyroxene (Cpx). The grey dots are all the original CPX analysis points (data are from this study and references12,13,14,19). The red dots are the relatively high Mg# analysis points and were used for the calculations of clinopyroxene-liquid thermobarometers. b, Histogram showing the distribution of the Mg# values of clinopyroxene. c, Rhodes diagram for the clinopyroxene. Cpx Mg# vs. Liquid Mg#. The composition of CE-5 B112 that equilibrium with most high Mg#-Cpx was used to represent the composition of the liquid. d, Observed Cpx components vs. Predicted Cpx components. The observed Cpx components are close to the predicted Cpx components, indicating that the calculation results are reliable. CaTs: calcium Tschermak, En: enstatite, Fs: ferrosilite, Di: diopside, Hd: hedenbergite.
Extended Data Fig. 4 The relationship between greyscale and Mg# and CaO (wt. %) for clinopyroxene.
The results show that the greyscale is mainly controlled by Mg# values, rather than CaO contents.
Extended Data Fig. 5 Diffusion coefficient and temperature calculations.
a, Diffusion coefficients DFe–Mg of clinopyroxene verses temperature (°C)36. b, pMELTs simulation results of Mg# values of clinopyroxene and temperatures at P = 0.001 kbar and P = 4 kbar, respectively. The average compositions of the CE-5 basaltic fragments (CE-5A)13 were used as starting material. The result show that the Mg# values of clinopyroxene have a good relationship with the temperature. Thus, the Mg# values of clinopyroxene can be used to estimate the crystallization temperature. Since most clinopyroxene with complex zoning formed in the deep magma reservoirs, we assume that it is most likely at a peak pressure of 4 kbar.
Extended Data Fig. 6 pMELTs simulation results.
a, Experimental phase diagram for the Apollo-12 nearly primary low-Ti basaltic sample 1200240. b–d, The phase diagrams were simulated by pMELTs for the 12002, CE-5A, and 042GP-002, respectively. The shaded circles in a, b, c and d represent the multiple-saturation points, which could indicate the potential minimum origin depth and residual minerals43. The grey lines in b are the experimental result for 1200240. The pMELTS simulation phase diagram for 12002 is very similar to that of the experimental result40, indicating that the pMELTS results are effective. The results suggest that the CE-5 basalts were saturated with olivine and pyroxene residual at deep source. e and f, pMELTS results for clinopyroxene Al2O3 or Na2O contents vs. pressures, respectively. CE-5A is the average composition of CE-5 basaltic fragments13. 042GP-002 is a relatively primitive basaltic fragment with higher Mg# (47) value13. Cpx, clinopyroxene; Pl, plagioclase; Ol, olivine; Ilm, ilmenite; Spl, spinel.
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Luo, B., Wang, Z., Song, J. et al. The magmatic architecture and evolution of the Chang’e-5 lunar basalts. Nat. Geosci. 16, 301–308 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-023-01146-x