On the basis of composition, it is possible to distinguish three major groups of Apollo 12 basaltic rocks: olivine-pigeonite basalts and gabbros, ilmenite-bearing basalts and gabbros, and feldspathic basalts. Two major groups of Apollo 11 basalts are also distinguishable: ophitic ilmenite basalts and intersertal ilmenite basalts. Compositional variations between samples within groups are generally dominated by MgO variations, whereas differences between groups are primarily inverse variations of TiO2 and SiO2 or Al2O3 and FeO. Results of fractionation calculations indicate that the MgO variation trends are explained principally by low-pressure fractionation of early-crystallized olivine ± pigeonite ± chrome spinel. The Al2O3 versus FeO trend in the basalts might possibly be explained by near-surface fractionation, but the TiO2 versus SiO2 trend is not explainable in this way. Investigations of the latter trend in terms of possible processes of high-pressure fractional melting or fractional crystallization indicate that the compositional variations cannot be the products of simple variations in depth or degree of fractionation.
Our data are consistent with the view that the mafic magmas formed by partial melting in the lunar interior, and that near-surface fractionation, with the exception of removal or addition of olivine, has not been extensive.