Thorium (Th) data from the Lunar Prospector gamma ray spectrometer (LP-GRS) are used to constrain the composition of lunar pyroclastic glass deposits on top of the Aristarchus plateau. Our goal is to use forward modeling of LP-GRS Th data to measure the Th abundances on the plateau and then to determine if the elevated Th abundances on the plateau are associated with the pyroclastic deposits or with thorium-rich ejecta from Aristarchus crater. We use a variety of remote sensing data to show that there is a large, homogenous portion of the pyroclastics on the plateau that has seen little or no contamination from the Th-rich ejecta of Aristarchus crater. Our results show that the uncontaminated pyroclastic glasses on Aristarchus plateau have an average Th content of 6.7 ppm and ???7 wt % TiO2. These Th and Ti values are consistent with Th-rich, intermediate-Ti yellow glasses from the lunar sample suite. On the basis of this information, we use petrologic equations and interelement correlations for the Moon to estimate the composition of the source region from which the Aristarchus glasses were derived. We find that the source region for the Aristarchus glasses contained high abundances of heat-producing elements, which most likely served as a thermal driver for the prolonged volcanic activity in this region of the Moon. Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Thorium abundances on the aristarchus plateau: Insights into the composition of the aristarchus pyroclastic glass deposits