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Nature ; 600(7887): 59-63, 2021 12.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-34666339


Mare volcanics on the Moon are the key record of thermo-chemical evolution throughout most of lunar history1-3. Young mare basalts-mainly distributed in a region rich in potassium, rare-earth elements and phosphorus (KREEP) in Oceanus Procellarum, called the Procellarum KREEP Terrane (PKT)4-were thought to be formed from KREEP-rich sources at depth5-7. However, this hypothesis has not been tested with young basalts from the PKT. Here we present a petrological and geochemical study of the basalt clasts from the PKT returned by the Chang'e-5 mission8. These two-billion-year-old basalts are the youngest lunar samples reported so far9. Bulk rock compositions have moderate titanium and high iron contents  with KREEP-like rare-earth-element and high thorium concentrations. However, strontium-neodymium isotopes indicate that these basalts were derived from a non-KREEP mantle source. To produce the high abundances of rare-earth elements and thorium, low-degree partial melting and extensive fractional crystallization are required. Our results indicate that the KREEP association may not be a prerequisite for young mare volcanism. Absolving the need to invoke heat-producing elements in their source implies a more sustained cooling history of the lunar interior to generate the Moon's youngest melts.