Lunar mare TiO2 abundances estimated from UV/Vis reflectance

Hiroyuki Sato, Mark Robinson, Samuel J. Lawrence, Brett W. Denevi, Bruce Hapke, Bradley L. Jolliff, Harald Hiesinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


The visible (400–700 nm) and near-infrared (700–2800 nm) reflectance of the lunar regolith is dominantly controlled by variations in the abundance of plagioclase, iron-bearing silicate minerals, opaque minerals (e.g., ilmenite), and maturation products (e.g., agglutinate glass, radiation-produced rims on soil grains, and Fe-metal). The same materials control reflectance into the near-UV (250–400 nm) with varying degrees of importance. A key difference is that while ilmenite is spectrally neutral in the visible to near-infrared, it exhibits a diagnostic upturn in reflectance in the near-UV, at wavelengths shorter than about 450 nm. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Wide Angle Camera (WAC) filters were specifically designed to take advantage of this spectral feature to enable more accurate mapping of ilmenite within mare soils than previously possible. Using the reflectance measured at 321 and 415 nm during 62 months of repeated near-global WAC observations, first we found a linear correlation between the TiO2 contents of the lunar soil samples and the 321/415 nm ratio of each sample return site. We then used the coefficients from the linear regression and the near-global WAC multispectral mosaic to derive a new TiO2 map. The average TiO2 content is 3.9 wt% for the 17 major maria. The highest TiO2 values were found in Mare Tranquillitatis (∼12.6 wt%) and Oceanus Procellarum (∼11.6 wt%). Regions contaminated by highland ejecta, lunar swirls, and the low-TiO2 maria (e.g., Mare Frigoris, the northeastern units of Mare Imbrium) exhibit very low TiO2 values (<2 wt%). We find that the Clementine visible to near-infrared based TiO2 maps (Lucey et al., 2000) have systematically higher values relative to the WAC estimates. The Lunar Prospector Gamma-Ray Spectrometer (GRS) TiO2 map is consistent with the WAC TiO2 map, although there are local offsets possibly due to the different depth sensitivities and large pixel scale of the GRS relative to the WAC. We find a wide variation of TiO2 abundances (from 0 to 10 wt%) for early mare volcanism (>2.6 Ga), whereas only medium to high TiO2 values (average = 6.8 wt%, minimum = 4.5 wt%) are found for younger mare units (<2.6 Ga).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-238
Number of pages23
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • Image processing
  • Moon
  • Spectroscopy
  • Thermal histories
  • Volcanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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