Moon witnessed volcanic eruptions in last 50 million years: Researchers

Moon witnessed volcanic eruptions in last 50 million years: Researchers

A new discovery made by a group of geologists at Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration suggests that the moon has witnessed small but widespread eruptions of basaltic lava during the last 50 million years.

The details of this discovery were announced in a paper published online in Sunday's edition of Nature Geoscience.

For this discovery, the team identified around 70 small volcanic features that are scattered across the moon's dark volcanic plains, or maria. The team observed that the features show as a combination of smooth, low, rounded mounds near patches of rough, blocky terrain. The scientists refer to these unusual areas as irregular mare patches.

These areas are called irregular mare patches because of the fact that these deposits are scattered across the moon's dark volcanic plains and are characterized by a mixture of smooth, rounded, shallow mounds next to patches of rough, blocky terrain.

These mare patches are too small to be seen from Earth as their average size is less than a third of a mile (500 meters) across their largest dimension. So, for this analysis the high-resolution images from cameras on NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft were studied.

Beside, one of the prominent features of study was the Ina that has been known for a long time. Ina was imaged from lunar orbit by Apollo 15 astronauts in the 1970s. Several early studies done have indicated that Ina could be very young (10 million years or less). That time only a few irregular mare patches were known and also their significance was unclear.

John Keller, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland said, "This finding is the kind of science that is literally going to make geologists rewrite the textbooks about the moon".

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