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Recent volcanism on the Moon

New data from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter suggests that lunar volcanism petered out slowly and occurred more recently that previously believed.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has provided researchers strong evidence the moon’s volcanic activity slowed gradually instead of stopping abruptly a billion years ago. Scores of distinctive rock deposits observed by LRO are estimated to be less than 100 million years old. This time period corresponds to Earth’s Cretaceous period, the heyday of dinosaurs. Some areas may be less than 50 million years old. Details of the study are published online in Sunday’s edition of Nature Geoscience. “This finding is the kind of science that is literally going to make geologists rewrite the textbooks about the moon,” said John Keller, LRO project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

In a way, this new conclusion is an example of science discovering the obvious. It seems to me quite unlikely that volcanic activity on the Moon would have “stopped abruptly” under any conditions. That’s not how these things work.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Max

    “That’s not how these things work”.
    This phrase got my mind thinking about what I was looking at. At first glance it looks like a small shield volcano with a outflow of lava. (shadows on the right for craters, on the left for hills and domes and flows)
    Zoom out again and you can see the faint outline of a 2 Kilometer crater with the center pinnacle. This is not a volcano at all.
    So did the lava flow from the plane into the crater, or did something push out from the center cone to form the flow? What is the material, lava is too viscous to flow in a low gravity environment?
    Am I missing something obvious? I realized there are no giant volcanoes on the Moon to explain all the lava and dark regions (seas) that cover half of the face of the Moon. Volcanoes are large on earth and Venus. In low gravity Mars Mount Olympus is 7 miles high!
    John Z this is your Bailywick. Did not one of the lunar landing’s discover that the dark regions is not lava but actually obsidian? Melted rock from scorching as the moon passed through an atmosphere?
    Is it also true that 2 miles of the Moons crust is missing and the core exposed? About the same amount of material that makes up the continents here on earth? Are not the lunar rocks brought back to earth the same isotope and material that we find on earth?
    In a BBC educational called “Before There Were Dinosaurs”, the Moon (a planetoid they called “Thea”) collided with the earth gouging out large chunks of Granite. Thea lost much of its mass and velocity it was captured by the earth. The friction and plasma created by such a encounter would have been so violent that the temperatures reached would rival perhaps even surpass those in a supernova!
    When a star explodes the plasmas expand outward with their newly created heavy metals at escape velocity.
    In a collision, there is no where for the plasmas and heavy metals created to escape too! All would be captured in the crust of the material that landed on top of the calcium carbonate of earths old atmosphere… The heat and pressure of the Lunar sediment turns the calcium carbonate fossils into “Fossil Fuel” oil, and the continents will drift.
    We are not made of star stuff, we are made of Moon stuff!
    From the earths formation until now, the half-life of unstable metals would have been spent. This explains much. They were formed not so long ago in the collision and deposited on top of the planet accessible to humans.
    All of this from the lack of Volcanoes, scorch marks, and a big crater 3 miles deep on the edge of the Moon.

  • Max

    You preformed well on coast-to-coast last night Robert, I’m wish I could’ve made it in to ask you about the flyby of Mars. It seems there’s been a lot of close flybys lately. With new technology are we just seeing them Better now? Or has activity increased?
    Sorry for calling you John Z in the post above, John Zimmerman was a childhood friend of mine. My dyslexic memory works by association.

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