Abstract

39Ar-40Ar analyses of three petrographically distinct, shocked Apollo 15 KREEP (i.e., high K, rare earth element, P, and other trace element contents) basalt samples demonstrate that a major impact event affected all three samples at about 2.1 Ga. The Copernican System craters Aristillus and Autolycus are to the north; a ray from one of them crosses the landing site and had been suggested prior to the Apollo 15 mission as a source of material that could be used to date these craters. Autolycus, the older of the two, is in a particularly appropriate terrain and is the most likely source of the 2.1 Ga heating and delivery event. With this calibration point, and if Autolycus really is a Copernican crater, the Copernican System lasted twice as long as has previously been suggested. Furthermore, the Moon was not subjected to a constant cratering rate over the past 3 b.y.; the average rate in the preceding Eratosthenian must have been twice that in the Copernican.

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