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Current Affairs

Tectonic activity detected on Moon

Date: 02 May 2020 Tags: Space

Issue

Tectonic activity has been detected on the moon by researchers who have discovered a system of moving ridges topped with boulders on its near side.

 

Background

The majority of the moon's surface is covered by something called regolith, the powdery dust of rocks created by constant meteorite impacts. Because the moon has no atmosphere to speak of, rocks and orbiting debris crash right into its surface and blow apart.

 

Details

  • There are very few spaces on the lunar surface which aren't covered by regolith - but some seemingly new spots have recently been discovered.

  • So using a tool on the LRO to measure the surface's temperature, scientists were able to discover more than 500 patches of exposed bedrock on narrow ridges following a pattern across the nearside of the moon.

  • The new study found that these ridges are actually related to a mysterious system of tectonic features - ridges and faults - unrelated to the lava-filled basins.

  • Back in 2014, NASA's GRAIL mission discovered a network of ancient cracks in the moon's crust, which became channels for magma from the moon's core to flow to the surface.

  • So the ridges, according to these scientists, are ancient magma flows which are still heaving upwards - breaking the surface and draining the regolith into cracks and voids, leaving the blocks exposed.

  • According to the scientists, the tectonic movements may actually have begun billions of years ago with a giant impact on the far side of the moon.

  • Magma from the core then filled these cracks and controlled the pattern detected in the GRAIL mission. The blocky ridges comprising this network now trace the continuing adjustments along these ancient weaknesses.