The Moon Is Shrinking and It’s Causing ‘Moonquakes’ on the Lunar Surface

"Our analysis gives the first evidence that these faults are still active and likely producing moonquakes today as the Moon continues to gradually cool and shrink", said Thomas Watters, senior scientist in the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

From the data analysed and algorithms used, researchers were able to determine eight of the 28 shallow quakes recorded were within 30 kilometres of faults and were visible in lunar images.

The team then superimposed this location data onto the LRO imagery of the thrust faults.

A total of five seismometers were placed on the Moon's surface by crewmembers of Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16.

The scientists detailed their findings online today (May 13) in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Professor Nicholas Schmerr, a geologist at Maryland University, said: "We found a number of the quakes recorded in the Apollo data happened very close to the faults seen in the LRO imagery".

The seismometers measured the shaking produced by moonquakes - ranging from two to five on the Richter scale - and used an algorithm to detect the locations. Some of these shallow quakes might in theory result from activity on lunar faults, but the locations and depths of the sources of these quakes were uncertain.

The team also found that six of these moonquakes took place when the moon was at its farthest point from Earth. Instead, as the moon's interior has cooled over the last several hundred million years, it has caused the surface to wrinkle as it shrinks.

Unlike the flexible skin of a grape when it shrinks into a raisin, the moon's brittle crust breaks. The scarps form when one section of the moon's crust (left-pointing arrows) is pushed up over an adjacent section (right-pointing arrows) as the moon's interior cools and shrinks.

Lena Headey reflects on Cersei Lannister's arc in 'Game of Thrones'
It would've been cool to see Cersei have some kind of fight showdown with Dany or Arya , or anyone. Game Of Thrones will conclude at 9pm this Sunday on HBO and at 2am on Sky Atlantic in the UK.

California teachers and principal put on administrative leave after noose photo leaks
Garcia was the boy's first-grade teacher and testified that as his teacher she could tell he was being physically abused at home. Miguel Coronado held a press conference outside the school Thursday afternoon to call attention to the issue. "It hurts.

Bale agent: I hope he keeps playing for Madrid
Bale has made it clear he wants to stay in Madrid but Marca claim Zidane has personally told the player that he is free to leave. But after Lopetegui and then Santiago Solari were sacked, Zidane's return has put Bale's future at the club in serious doubt.

NASA said the Moon's scarps resemble "small stair-step shaped cliffs", which extend for up to a few miles at a times.

The LRO has imaged more than 3,500 fault scarps on the moon since it began operation in 2009. Those that appear brighter indicate freshly exposed lunar rock, suggesting an event like a "moonquake", which is an natural disaster that takes place on the moon.

Other LRO fault images show fresh tracks from boulder falls, suggesting that quakes sent these boulders rolling down their cliff slopes.

The relative proximity of the quakes to the faults suggest that they were triggered by geological activity rather than asteroid impacts or tremors from much deeper within the rocky body. With almost a decade of LRO imagery already available and more on the way in the coming years, the team would like to compare pictures of specific fault regions from different times to look for fresh evidence of recent moonquakes.

"That always leads you to the intriguing possibility that maybe these things are still active, and maybe these faults are showing us current tectonic activity on the moon", Watters said.

We've known that the moon shudders since four seismometers were placed on its surface during the latter stages of the Apollo program. With a larger network of modern seismometers, we could make huge strides in our understanding of the Moon's geology. "It is also a testament to how much can be gained by human spaceflight to the surface of other worlds and underlines the fantastic potential for future missions back to the moon and, hopefully someday, Mars".

This release is adapted from text provided by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The moon is slowly shrinking over time, which is causing wrinkles in its crust and moonquakes, according to photos captured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Related Articles