The enormous pre-Nectarian South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin represents a geophysically and compositionally unique region on the Moon. We present and analyze the mineralogical diversity across this basin and discuss the implications for basin evolution. Rock types are derived from Clementine multispectral data based on diagnostic characteristics of ferrous absorptions in fresh materials. Individual areas are characterized as noritic (dominated by low-Ca pyroxene), gabbroic/basaltic (dominated by high-Ca pyroxene), feldspathic (<3-6% FeO), and olivine-gabbro (dominated by high-Ca pyroxene and olivine). The anorthositic crust has effectively been removed from the interior of the basin. The style of volcanism within the basin extends over several 100 Myr and includes mare basalt and pyroclastic deposits. Several areas of ancient (pre-Orientale) volcanism, or cryptomaria, have also been identified. The nonmare mafic lithology that occurs across the basin is shown to be noritic in composition and is pervasive laterally and vertically. We interpret this to represent impact melt/breccia deposits derived from the lower crust. A few localized areas are identified within the basin that contain more diverse lithologies (gabbro, olivine-gabbro), some of which may represent material from the deepest part of the lower crust and perhaps uppermost mantle involved in the SPA event. Copyright 2001 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Rock types of South Pole-Aitken basin and extent of basaltic volcanism