Abstract

Experimental crystallization of a lunar picrite composition (sample 12002) at controlled linear cooling rates produces systematic changes in the temperature at which crystalline phases appear, in the texture, and in crystal morphology as a function of cooling rate. Phases crystallize in the order olivine, chromium spinel, pyroxene, plagioclase, and ilmenite during equilibrium crystallization, but ilmenite and plagioclase reverse their order of appearance and silica crystallizes in the groundmass during controlled cooling experiments. The partition of iron and magnesium between olivine and liquid (KD = 0.33) is independent of cooling rate (0.5° to 2000°C/hr), temperature (1325° to 600°C), and pressure (0 to 12 kb). Comparison of the olivine nucleation densities in the lunar sample and in the experiments indicates that the sample began cooling at about l°C/hr. Pyroxene size, chemistry, and growth instability spacings (“swallowtails”), as well as groundmass coarseness, all suggest that the cooling rate subsequently decreased by as much as a factor of 10 or more. The porphyritic texture of this sample, then, is produced at a decreasing, rather than a discontinuously increasing, cooling rate.

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