Moon Water Discovered in Higher Volume, Scientists Say
May 27, 2011, 11:20
Parts of the moon's interior contain as much water as the upper
mantle of Earth, 100 times more than previously measured, U.S.
Scientists from Case Western Reserve University, Carnegie Institution
for Science and Brown University discovered water along with volatile
elements in lunar magma inside crystals trapped inside tiny volcanic
glass beads returned to Earth by Apollo 17, a Case Western release said
The orange-colored beads, no bigger than a period on a page, came from deep inside the moon during volcanic eruptions.
"These samples provide the best window we have to the amount of water
in the interior of the moon," James Van Orman, Case Western professor
of geological sciences, said. "The interior seems to be pretty similar
to the interior of the Earth, from what we know about water abundance."
The concentrations of water and volatile elements, including
fluorine, chlorine and sulfur, in lunar magma are almost identical to
concentrations in solidified magma from primitive terrestrial mid-ocean
ridges on Earth, the researchers said.
The same team, in a study three years ago led by Alberto Saal, a
professor of geological sciences at Brown University, found the first
evidence of the presence of water in lunar volcanic glasses.
"The bottom line," Saal said, "is that in 2008, we said the primitive
water content in the lunar magmas should be similar to lavas coming
from the Earth's depleted upper mantle. Now, we have proven that is
indeed the case."
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