Magnetic Properties of Lunar Samples: an Exhaustive Survey of the Apollo Collection

Friday, 19 December 2014
Jerome Gattacceca1,2, Eduardo Andrade Lima1, Pierre Rochette2, Benjamin P Weiss1, Minoru Uehara2, Yoann Quesnel2, Laurent Baratchart3, Juliette Leblond3 and Sylvain Chevillard3, (1)MIT, Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Cambridge, MA, United States, (2)CNRS / Aix-Marseille University, CEREGE UM34, Aix-en-Provence, France, (3)INRIA, Sophia-Antipolis, France
Detailed paleomagnetic studies of lunar samples shed light on the existence and timing of the ancient lunar dynamo, with insights to the inner structure and thermal evolution of the Moon, as well as constraints for the lunar dynamo models [e.g., 1-6]. However these studies are usually performed on small cm-scale samples, typically below 100 mg. Such a small size, combined with anisotropy and other spurious effects have been shown to be the source of additional complexity [7].

We measured the natural remanent magnetization and magnetic susceptibility of 105 large Apollo samples (mass range 40 g to 2.9 kg, median mass 350 g). For this, following the approach utilized for the initial paleomagnetic evaluation of Apollo 11 samples [8], we developed a dedicated magnetometer using a fluxgate sensor and a rotating stage, which allowed measuring the bulk samples in their original Teflon and aluminum packaging under nitrogen atmosphere.

Despite a number of caveats (no demagnetization steps, existence of viscous magnetization and other soft secondary magnetization), the ratio of natural remanent magnetization to susceptibility gives a rough estimate of the paleointensity. The evolution of the paleointensity with the estimated age of the samples will provide a broad picture of the evolution of the lunar dynamo. Susceptibility, as a proxy to the bulk metal content in lunar rocks [9], is also a valuable source of information per se but is currently available only for a small fraction of the Apollo collection. Our survey will allow identification of rocks with unusual magnetic properties, and therefore potentially unusual petrogenesis.

References: [1] Fuller & Cisowski 1987. In Jacobs (Ed.) Geomagnetism, 307-455 [2] Garrick-Bethell et al. 2009. Science 323:356-359 [3] Cournède et al. 2012. EPSL 33:31-42 [4] Shea et al. 2012. Science 335:453-456 [5] Suavet et al. 2013. PNAS 110:8453-8456 [6] Tikoo et al. 2014. EPSL in press [7] Tikoo et al. 2012. EPSL 337:93-103 [8] Doell & Grommé 1970. Proc. Apollo 11 Lunar Sci. Conf. 3:2093-96 [9] Rochette et al. 2010. EPSL 292:383-391.