Abstract

Visible to near-infrared (V-NIR) remote sensing observations have identified spinel in various locations and lithologies on the Moon. Experimental studies have quantified the FeO content of these spinels (Jackson et al. 2014), however the chromite component is not well constrained. Here we present compositional and spectral analyses of spinel synthesized with varying chromium contents at lunar-like oxygen fugacity (fO2). Reflectance spectra of the chromium-bearing synthetic spinels (Cr# 1–29) have a narrow (~130 nm wide) absorption feature centered at ~550 nm. The 550 nm feature, attributed to octahedral Cr3+, is present over a wide range in iron content (Fe# 8–30) and its strength positively correlates with spinel chromium content [ln(reflectancemin) = −0.0295 Cr# – 0.3708]. Our results provide laboratory characterization for the V-NIR and mid-infrared (mid-IR) spectral properties of spinel synthesized at lunar-like fO2. The experimentally determined calibration constrains the Cr# of spinels in the lunar pink spinel anorthosites to low values, potentially Cr# < 1. Furthermore, the results suggest the absence of a 550 nm feature in remote spectra of the Dark Mantle Deposits at Sinus Aestuum precludes the presence of a significant chromite component. Combined, the observation of low chromium spinels across the lunar surface argues for large contributions of anorthositic materials in both plutonic and volcanic rocks on the Moon.

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