Moon's Activity Appears Young

 

The moon's crust was apparently active far more recently than previously believed, scientists say.

These new findings raise questions about how the moon formed and evolved, researchers said.

Although the Earth's crust is still shifting, driven by the churning semimolten rock underneath it, researchers had thought the moon had cooled off much too long ago to still have any such tectonic activity.

Now, images collected by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter hints the moon has probably seen tectonic activity in the recent past, which would be no surprise to biblical creationists.

Researchers spotted a dozen or so narrow, trenchlike features known as graben in the lunar highlands and in the dark plains of volcanic rock known as the mare basalts. Graben are essentially troughs with two faults or cracks in the surface on either side of them.

The graben the scientists detected, which reach up to about 1,640 feet (500 meters) wide and 1.1 miles (1.8 kilometers) long, appear relatively pristine. This suggests they formed recently — otherwise, they would be marred more often by craters from meteor impacts over time.

"We think they're less than 50 million years old, but they could be 10 million years old, could be 1 million years old, could have happened 40 years ago," Said the lead author of the study from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. . "The intriguing picture that's emerging of the moon is that there is recent geological activity going on."

Moonquakes detected by seismic sensors installed during the Apollo missions support the notion of recent activity on the moon, researchers added. All in all, the moon's interior may still be hot.

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