About 244 rocks that have fallen to Earth as meteorites are demonstrably from the Moon.  Numerous rock samples were brought back by the American Apollo missions of the latest 1960s and early 1970s, but those samples are inaccessible except to a few planetary geology researchers.




Lunaite (lunar brecciated anorthosite; lunar impact melt anorthosite breccia) (6.5 mm across) - this is a sample from a much-celebrated Moon rock that was found in Africa's Sahara Desert.  The fragment is small, but it is sufficient to show the overall nature & texture of the rock.

This is the NWA 482 Meteorite (Northwest Africa 482 Meteorite), found in Algeria in the year 2000.  The lithology is a brecciated anorthosite.  A few clasts of other lithologies have been identified as well, so a better term is a polymict breccia.  This rock formed during an ancient impact event early in the Moon's history.  The full rock term is often given as polymict impact melt breccia.  The photo shows its brecciated & fractured nature.  The breccia consists of light-colored clasts in a very dark matrix.

The light colored clasts are ferroan anorthosite.  Anorthosite is an intrusive igneous rock that is exclusively or near-exclusively composed of plagioclase feldspar.  There are several different plagioclase feldspar minerals.  This rock is 80-90% composed of anorthite, a very calcium-rich plagioclase.

The dark-colored, fine-grained matrix of this rock is reported to contain anorthite plagioclase feldspar, olivine, pyroxene (pigeonite & augite), troilite (FeS), metallic iron-nickel alloy, ilmenite, and whitlockite.

Available information indicates it is likely derived from the lunar highlands on the far side of the Moon (the side always facing away from Earth).  The anorthosite portion of this rock represents the earliest lunar crust (4.5 billion years old).  This date indicates the initial formation of our solar system.  The oldest Martian rocks are 4.5 billion years.  The oldest rocks from the asteroid belt are 4.5 billion years.  The oldest known Earth materials are 4.4 to 4.5 billion years.

Isotopic analysis of NWA 482 has provided dates for other significant events in this rock's history.  The major brecciation and impact melt event occurred at 3.75 billion years ago.  Another significant thermal event occurred at 2.4 billion years ago.

Available dates that indicate when this rock was ejected from the Moon's surface vary - for example, at ~1 million years ago and at ~280,000 years ago.  Available dates indicating arrival time on Earth also vary, including 60,000-120,000 years ago and 8600 years ago - the younger date is more likely, considering the relatively unweathered appearance of the original rock.

The above info. is mostly synthesized from published abstracts during Geological Society of America and Lunar & Planetary Science meetings held from 2001 to 2006.

(More info. on NWA 482)



Lunaite (lunar mare basalt; 253 grams) - this rock was collected by American astronauts on the Moon itself & brought back to Earth.  This is a lunar mare basalt.  The Moon's surface has several huge, dark-colored, subcircular to irregularly-shaped depressions called maria (see pic of the Moon).  The lunar maria are floored by thick successions of basalt lava flows.  This sample is a 3.3 billion year old grayish basalt from one of these maria.  It has some vesicles - the small rounded cavities representing trapped gas bubbles when the lava initially solidified.  Cosmic radiation exposure dating indicates that this was exhumed from the lunar subsurface 228 million years ago (during the Triassic), presumably by an impact event.

CMNH public display, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

Surface collected on the Moon by Alan Bean on 20 November 1969.


A very large, unique Moon rock was found in 2007 in Morocco.  See photos & info.


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