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Astronomers Say Our Moon is shrinking Creating Thrust Faults and Moonquakes

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The Moon is shrinking as its inside cools, getting more than around 150 feet (50 meters) skinnier in the course of the last a few hundred million years. Similarly, as a grape wrinkle as it shrivels down to a raisin, the Moon gets wrinkles as it shrinks. In contrast to the adaptable skin on a grape, the Moon’s surface crust is weak, so it breaks as the Moon shrinks, framing “thrust faults” where one segment of outside layer is pushed up over a neighboring part.

This conspicuous lunar lobate thrust fault is one of thousands found in Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) pictures. The shortcoming scarp or bluff resembles a stair-step in the lunar scene (left-pointing white bolts) shaped when the close surface outside layer is pushed together, breaks, and is pushed upward along a fault as the Moon contracts. Rock fields, patches of moderately high bight soil or regolith, are found on the scarp face and back scarp territory (high side of the scarp, right-pointing bolts). Picture LROC NAC outline M190844037LR. Credits: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University/Smithsonian

YouTube video: Lee Lincoln scarp at the Apollo 17 Landing site

This representation of Lee Lincoln scarp is made from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photos and height mapping. The scarp is a low edge or venture around 80 meters high and running north-south through the western end of the Taurus-Littrow valley, the site of the Apollo 17 Moon landing. The scarp denotes the area of a moderately young, low-point thrust fault. The land west of the fault was constrained up and over the eastern side as the lunar crust shrined. In a May 2019 paper in Nature Geoscience, Thomas Watters and his coauthors give proof that this fault and others like it are as yet dynamic and creating moonquakes today. Credits: NASA/Goddard/SVS/Ernie Wright

The Taurus-Littrow valley is the area of the Apollo 17 landing site (mark). Cutting over the valley, simply over the arrival site, is the Lee-Lincoln fault scarp. Development on the fault was the probable basis of various moonquakes that activated events in the valley. 1) Large avalanches on of slants of South Massif hung moderately bright rocks and moon dust (regolith) on and over the Lee-Lincoln scarp. 2) Boulders moved down the inclines of North Massif leaving tracks or limited troughs in the regolith on the slants of North Massif. 3) Landslides on southeastern inclines of the Sculptured Hills. Credits: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University/Smithsonian

Reference:

Thomas R. Watters, et al., “Shallow seismic activity and young thrust faults on the Moon,” Nature Geoscience (2019)

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