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Lunar mare basalts are spatially unevenly distributed, and their abundances differ between the nearside and farside of the Moon. Although mare asymmetry has been attributed to thickness variations in the low-density anorthositic crust, the eruptive mechanism of lunar magma remains unknown. In this study, we investigate the relationship between mare distribution and crustal thickness using geological and geophysical data obtained by the SELENE (Kaguya) and the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory spacecraft, and quantitatively re-evaluate the influence of the anorthositic crust on magma eruption. We identify a lateral heterogeneity in the upper limit of crustal thickness that allows magma extrusion to the surface. In the Procellarum KREEP Terrane, where the surface abundances of heat-producing elements are extremely high, magmas can erupt in regions of crustal thickness below about 30 km. In contrast, magma eruptions are limited to regions of crustal thickness below about 20 km in other nearside regions, around 10 km in the South Pole–Aitken Basin and approximately 5 km in the farside Felspathic Highland Terrane. Such heterogeneity may result from lateral variations in magma production in the lunar mantle and/or crustal density.

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