Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 112, Issue 1–4, pp 59–71 | Cite as

Ages of Globally Distributed Lunar Paleoregoliths and Soils from 3.9 Ga to the Present

  • Amy L. Fagan
  • Katherine H. Joy
  • Donald D. Bogard
  • David A. Kring


This study determines the ages of 191 discrete lunar regolith samples from the Apollo, Luna, and meteorite collections. Model closure ages (for lithified breccias) and appearance ages (for unconsolidated soils) are calculated using the trapped 40Ar and 36Ar abundances of each sample, determined from published Ar data. Model closure ages of regolith breccias span ~3.9 to 0.01 Ga and appearance ages of soils range from ~3.6 to 0.03 Ga; 169 of these ages are published here for the first time, while 22 are recalculated ages. The regolith breccias with the oldest closure ages originate from the ancient highlands and oldest mare surfaces sampled by the Apollo missions. Soils generally have similar ages to each other, regardless of location and collection depth, with most model ages <2.0 Ga. Together, the soils and regolith breccias represent a record of regolith processes over the past 3.9 Ga. The data illustrate that individual landing sites can provide a diversity of ages, which has implications for planning future missions. Differences in maturity between older and younger regolith samples may reflect a change in collisional regimes over time. We note, too, that the closure ages published here are critical data needed for selecting temporally appropriate regolith samples used to decipher the diversity of impactors hitting the lunar surface over time and how the Sun has changed in time.


Moon Regolith Closure age Bombardment history 



This work was partially supported by NASA Lunar Science Institute Contract NNA09DB33A (David A. Kring PI), NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute Contract NNA14AB07A (David A. Kring PI), and the Leverhulme Trust (Grant 2011-569 to KHJ). LPI Contribution #1779.

Supplementary material

11038_2014_9437_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (469 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 469 kb)


  1. D.D. Bogard, L.E. Nyquist, in 4th Proceedings of the Lunar Science Conference (1973), pp. 1975–1985Google Scholar
  2. D.D. Bogard, D.H. Garrison, C.Y. Shih, L.E. Nyquist, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 58, 3093–3100 (1994)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. I.A. Crawford, S.A. Fagents, K.H. Joy, M.E. Rumpf, Earth Moon Planets 107, 75–85 (2010)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. I.A. Crawford, S.A. Fagents, K.H. Joy, Astron. Geophys. 48, 3.18–3.21 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. P. Eberhardt, J. Geiss, H. Graf, N. Grögler, M.D. Mendia, M. Mörgeli, H. Schwaller, A. Stettler, U. Krähenbül, H.R. von Gunten, in 3rd Proceedings of the Lunar Science Conference (1972), pp. 1821–1856Google Scholar
  6. O. Eugster, P. Eberhardt, J. Geiss, N. Grögler, M. Jungck, M. Mörgeli, in 6th Proceedings of the Lunar Science Conference (1975), pp. 1989–2007Google Scholar
  7. O. Eugster, E. Polnau, in 28th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Abst# 1232 (1997)Google Scholar
  8. O. Eugster, N. Grögler, P. Eberhardt, J. Geiss, in 11th Proceedings of the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (1980), pp. 1565–1592Google Scholar
  9. O. Eugster, J. Geiss, N. Grögler, in 19th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (1983), pp. 177–178Google Scholar
  10. O. Eugster, D. Terribilini, E. Polnau, J. Kramers, Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 36, 1097–1115 (2001)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. S.A. Fagents, M.E. Rumpf, I.A. Crawford, K.H. Joy, Icarus 207, 595–604 (2010)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. D. Heymann, J.R. Walton, J.L. Jordan, S. Lakatos, A. Yaniv, The Moon 13, 81–110 (1975)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. F. Hörz, R. Grieve, G. Heiken, P. Spudis, A. Binder, in Lunar Sourcebook, ed. by G.H. Heiken et al. (1991), pp. 61–120Google Scholar
  14. K.H. Joy, D.A. Kring, D.D. Bogard, D.S. McKay, M.E. Zolensky, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 75, 7208–7225 (2011)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. K.H. Joy, M.E. Zolensky, K. Nagashima, G.R. Huss, D.K. Ross, D.S. McKay, D.A. Kring, Science 336, 1426–1429 (2012)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. D.A. Kring, Astrobiology 3, 133–152 (2003)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. P. Lucey, R.L. Korotev, J.J. Gillis, L.A. Taylor, D. Lawrence, B.A. Campbell, R. Elphic, W. Feldman, L.L. Hood, D. Hunten, M. Mendillo, S. Noble, J.J. Papike, R.C. Reedy, S. Lawson, T. Prettyman, O. Gasnault, S. Maurice, in New views of the Moon, Rev. Min. and Geochem. 60, ed. by B.L. Jolliff et al. (2006), pp. 83–219Google Scholar
  18. U.B. Marvin, J.A. Wood, G.J. Taylor, J.B. Reid Jr., B.N. Powell, J.S. Dickey Jr., J.F. Bower, in 2nd Proceedings of the Lunar Science Conference (1971), pp. 679–699Google Scholar
  19. D.S. McKay, G.H. Heiken, G.-A. Waits, in 9th Proceedings of the Lunar Science Conf. (1978), pp. 1913–1932Google Scholar
  20. D.S. McKay, D.D. Bogard, R.V. Morris, R.L. Korotev, P. Johnson, S.J. Wentworth, in 16th Proceedings of the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (1986), pp. D277–D303Google Scholar
  21. D.S. McKay, D.D. Bogard, R.V. Morris, R.L. Korotev, S.J. Wentworth, P. Johnson, in 19th Proceedings of the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (1989), pp. 19–41Google Scholar
  22. C. Meyer, R. Brett, N.J. Hubbard, D.A. Morrison, D.S. McKay, F.K. Aitken, H. Takeda, E. Schonfeld, in 2nd Proceedings of the Lunar Science Conference (1971), pp. 393–411Google Scholar
  23. R.V. Morris, in 7th Proceedings of the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (1976), pp. 315–335Google Scholar
  24. R.V. Morris, in 9th Proceedings of the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (1978), pp. 2287–2297Google Scholar
  25. National Research Council, The scientific context for exploration of the Moon (National Academy Press, Washington, 2007), p. 107Google Scholar
  26. R.O. Pepin, J.A. Eddy, R.B. Merrill, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta Supp. vol. 13, (Pergamon Press, New York, 1980), p. 581Google Scholar
  27. P.R. Renne, R. Mundil, G. Balco, K. Min, K. Ludwig, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 74, 5349–5367 (2010)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. W.J. Schwarz, K. Kossert, M. Trieloff, J. Hopp, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 75, 5094–5096 (2011)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. R.H. Steiger, E. Jäger, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 36, 359–362 (1977)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. G.J. Taylor, R.D. Warner, K. Keil, in 10th Proceedings of the Lunar Science Conference (1979), pp. 1159–1184Google Scholar
  31. S.J. Wentworth, D.S. McKay, D.J. Lindstrom, A. Basu, R.R. Martinez, D.D. Bogard, D.H. Garrison, Meteoritics 29, 323–333 (1994)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. J.A. Wood, J.S. Dickey Jr., U.B. Marvin, B.N. Powell, in Proceedings of the Apollo 11 Lunar Science Conference (1970), pp. 965–988Google Scholar
  33. M. Zolensky, P. Bland, P. Brown, I. Halliday, Flux of extraterrestrial materials, eds. by D.S. Lauretta and H.Y. McSween Jr. in Meteorites and Early Solar System II, vol. 943 (University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 2006), pp. 869–888Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy L. Fagan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Katherine H. Joy
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Donald D. Bogard
    • 1
    • 2
  • David A. Kring
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Lunar Science and ExplorationLunar and Planetary InstituteHoustonUSA
  2. 2.NASA Lunar Science InstituteMoffett FieldUSA
  3. 3.School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental SciencesUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

Personalised recommendations