Compositional analyses of lunar pyroclastic deposits

Lisa R. Gaddis, Matthew I. Staid, James Tyburczy, B. Ray Hawke, Noah E. Petro

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


The 5-band Clementine UVVIS data at ∼100 m/pixel were used to examine the compositions of 75 large and small lunar pyroclastic deposits (LPDs), and these were compared to representative lunar maria and highlands deposits. Results show that the albedo, spectral color, and inferred composition of most LPDs are similar to those of low-titanium, mature lunar maria. These LPDs may have consisted largely of fragmented basalt, with substantial components of iron-bearing mafic minerals (pyroxenes, olivine) and smaller amounts (if any) of volcanic glass. Several smaller LPDs also show substantial highland components. Three classes of very large deposits can be distinguished from most LPDs and from each other on the basis of crystallinity and possible titanium content of their pyroclastic components. One class has spectral properties that are dominated by high-titanium, crystallized "black beads" (e.g., Taurus-Littrow), a second consists of a mixture of high-titanium glasses and beads with a higher glass/bead ratio (Sulpicius Gallus) than that of Taurus-Littrow, and a third has a significant component of quenched iron-bearing volcanic glasses (Aristarchus) with possible moderate titanium contents. Although areally extensive, these three classes of very large pyroclastic deposits compose only 20 of the 75 deposits studied (∼27%), and eruption of such materials was thus likely to have been less frequent on the Moon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-280
Number of pages19
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2003


  • Moon
  • Moon surface
  • Spectroscopy
  • Volcanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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