Astronauts Eugene A. Cernan and Harrison H. (Jack) Schmitt collected 243 pounds (110 kg) of rock and regolith samples during 22 hours working on the lunar surface during the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972, while Astronaut Ronald Evans orbited in the command module. The field observations, audio descriptions, and photographs coupled with orbital data and detailed, laboratory analyses of Apollo samples provided unprecedented information about the Moon and its geologic history. The Apollo samples continue to inspire new questions and answers about the Moon. Debra Hurwitz and David Kring (Lunar and Planetary Institute and NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute; Hurwitz now at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) were particularly interested in solving the mystery of where the boulders came from at the base of the North Massif (station 6) and at the base of the South Massif (station 2) from which Apollo 17 astronauts collected samples of impact melt breccias. The breccias were unequivocally formed by impact processes, but forty years of analyses had not yet determined unambiguously which impact event was responsible. Was it the basin-forming event of the landing site’s neighbor Serenitatis (possibly Nectarian age); the larger, nearby Imbrium basin (Imbrian age and one of the last large basins to form); a combination of these impacts or an impact event older or younger than all of the above. Tracking down the origin of the boulders would ideally unravel details of the formation age of the breccias and, ultimately, help with the historical record of basin formation on the Moon. Hurwitz and Kring verified the boulders rolled down from massif walls—Apollo 17 impact melt breccias originated in massif material, not from the Sculptured Hills, an overlying geologic unit. But the relative geologic context is easier to explain than the absolute age, at least until some discrepancies are resolved in existing Ar-Ar and U-Pb radiometric ages of the Apollo 17 impact melt breccias.

Read the Whole Story and learn more at

Hurwitz, D., and Kring, D. A. (2016) Identifying the Geologic Context of Apollo 17 Impact Melt Breccias, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 436, p. 64-70, doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2015.12.032.

Rock and Roll at the Apollo 17 Site –Short Slide Summary (with accompanying notes).

Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff
Source: Linda M. V. Martel /Hawai’i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology

Tagged with:  
Share →

Carbon Workshop

NESF 2018

ELS 2018

Lunar Landing Workshop

Upcoming Events

March 2018

- Deep Space Gateway Workshop
Feb 27-March 1 (Denver, Colorado)

Journey Through the Universe
March 2-9 (Hilo, HI)

Microsymposium / LPSC
March 17-23 (The Woodlands, TX)

Planetary Science Deep Space SmallSat Studies
March 18 (The Woodlands, TX)

View More Upcoming
View Past Events

SSERVI Team Science

Did you know?

The largest impact feature on the Moon is not one of the prominent "seas" that face the Earth, but the huge SPA Basin on the farside.

Read More