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Mare Frigoris Moon

Scientists detect shrinking and quaking of the moon

Mankind has just received some unsettling news and it is about the Earth’s only natural satellite, the Moon. An analysis of the 2010 imagery from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) found that some parts of the moon were shrivelled with prominent thrusts and cliffs as its interior cooled. After analyzing these images from 2010, it was found out that the moon is still shrinking and is experiencing moonquakes as recorded by the seismic data recorder of the moon, it also suggests that these faults are due to the moonquakes.

Nicholas Schmerr, an assistant professor of geology at the University of Maryland has developed another algorithm to re-analyze and further analyze the seismic data from instruments of NASA’s Apollo Missions with which he thinks he will be able to find the epicentre of these quakes based on data of 28 moonquakes.

The LRO images have suggested that the formation of these thrust faults is due to tectonic activity and movement of crustal plates and not because of any external factors like asteroids impacts etc.

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A paper published in the journal Nature Geosciences which was co-authored by Nicholas Schmerr suggests moon is experiencing such quakes even today. The LRO images and seismic activity suggest that the moonquakes occur along the areas of the thrust plates and it is active even today.

The Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16 missions with seismic devices recorded around 28 quakes on Moon from 1969 to 1977, which had an equivalent magnitude of 2 to 5 on Earth. The 8 epicentres of these quakes were found within the 19 miles of the fault lines.

Schmerr is modelling shake maps derived from the moonquakes data which predict where the strongest shaking could occur, given the thrust faults. Out of these 8 quakes, 6 have happened at its apogee. Apogee is a point where the moon is farthest from the Earth. The reduction from Earth’s crust causes additional slipping of the thrust faults.

Wrinkles are being formed on the surface of moon due to its brittle nature just like in raisins as they dry, on moon one section of the crust is pushed up against another section which may go up to tens of yards high.

The LRO has imaged 3,500 fault thrusts on the moon and its nearby terrain has shown possibilities of landslides and big boulders crashing down and relatively bright patches due to erosion near these thrust faults.

The team is looking to analyze the pictures of these patches on the moon and study the data with more recent findings. Schmerr has also suggested that with a large network of modern seismograms we can make huge strides in understanding the moon’s geology.

How would be the moonquake experience? I think it would be pretty different for us because of the gravity difference. What do you think? Tell us with a quick and short comment

Read more news about the moon: Water molecules found on the moon

 

About the author: Kalpit Veerwal
Kalpit Veerwal is a second year Computer Science undergraduate at IIT Bombay. He is well known for being the only person to score 360/360 in JEE (Main). He is registered in the Limca Book of Records for the same. A blogger in his free time, he has also secured top ranks in various exams held in India and the world.

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