Lunar paleointensity measurements: Implications for lunar magnetic evolution

Lawrence, K, Johnson C, Tauxe L, Gee J.  2008.  Lunar paleointensity measurements: Implications for lunar magnetic evolution. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 168:71-87.

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anomalies, basins, core dynamo, dynamo, field, impact-generated plasma, lunar, moon, natural remanent magnetization, paleointensity, prospector, remanent magnetism, rocks, sIRM, system, thellier-thellier


We analyze published and new paleointensity data from Apollo samples to reexamine the hypothesis of an early (3.9-3.6 Ga) lunar dynamo. Our new paleointensity experiments on four samples use modern absolute and relative measurement techniques, with ages ranging from 3.3 to 4.3 Ga, bracketing the putative period of an ancient lunar field. Samples 60015 (anorthosite) and 76535 (troctolite) failed during absolute paleointensity experiments. Samples 72215 and 62235 (impact breccias) recorded a complicated, multicomponent magnetic history that includes a low-temperature (< 500 degrees C) component associated with a high intensity (similar to 90 mu T) and a high temperature (> 500 degrees C) component associated with a low intensity (2 [LT). Similar multi-component behavior has been observed in several published absolute intensity experiments on lunar samples. Additional material from 72215 and 62235 was subjected to a relative paleointensity experiment (a saturation isothermal remanent magnetization, or sIRM, experiment); neither sample Provided unambiguous evidence for a thermal origin of the recorded remanent magnetization. We test several magnetization scenarios in an attempt to explain the complex magnetization recorded in lunar samples. Specifically, an overprint from exposure to a small magnetic field (an isothermal remanent magnetization) results in multi-component behavior (similar to absolute paleointensity results) from which we could not recover the correct magnitude of the original thermal remanent magnetization. In light of these new experiments and a thorough re-evaluation of existing paleointensity measurements, we conclude that although some samples with ages of 3.6 to 3.9 Ga are strongly magnetized, and sometimes exhibit stable directional behavior, it has not been demonstrated that these observations indicate a primary thermal remanence. Particularly problematic in the interpretation of lunar sample magnetizations are the effects of shock. As relative paleointensity measurements for lunar samples are calibrated using absolute paleointensities, the lack of acceptable absolute paleointensity measurements renders the interpretation of relative paleointensity measurements unreliable. Consequently, current paleointensity measurements do not support the existence of a 3.9-3.6 Ga lunar dynamo with 100 mu T surface fields, a result that is in better agreement with satellite measurements of crustal magnetism and that presents fewer challenges for thermal evolution and dynamo models. (c) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.