Scientists Discover What Caused Fire Fountain Eruptions On Moon

Posted: Aug 24 2015, 9:12pm CDT | by , Updated: Aug 24 2015, 9:15pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Scientists Discover What Caused Fire Fountain Eruption on Moon
Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Moon once had fiery lava eruptions, it was confirmed by volcanic glasses found on lunar surface. The new research reveals what was the force that drove those lava eruptions

Scientists found volcanic glasses on lunar surface, which indicated that Moon once had eruptions of fiery lava but what cause those fire fountain eruptions, a new research solves the mystery.

Fire fountains erupt when volatile compounds combine with lava. The volatile compounds turn into a gas and cause to blast lava into the air when it reaches the surface – just like a shaken bottle of soda. Previously, scientists were unsure what volatile gas triggered those eruptions at lunar surface because gas did not exist there anymore.

“The question for many years was what gas produced those sorts of eruptions on the moon,” said Alberto E. Saal, associate professor of earth, environmental and planetary at Brown University. “The gas is gone, so it has not been easy to figure out.”

But now, scientists have identified the driving force behind those explosions. The new research suggests that fire fountain contained significant amount of carbon. When it combined with oxygen, fire fountains exploded and tiny beads of volcanic glass scattered all over the lunar surface.

“The carbon is the one that is producing the large spectacle,” said Saal. “With a little bit of water, with a little bit of sulfur – but the main driver is carbon.”

For many years, the moon was thought to be rich in volatile but devoid of fire-fountain eruptions. The notion was overturned when water was detected in lunar magmas. The lunar samples were brought to earth from the Apollo Missions to the moon.

For this research, scientists carefully analyzed the samples of lunar volcanic glasses and melt inclusions. Melt inclusions are tiny crystals that trap gasses of magma inside and found that “the amount of carbon in the lunar lavas was sufficient to trigger fire-fountain eruptions at lunar surface.”

The study further suggests that volatile elements found on lunar surface have the same origin as the Earth. Scientists believe the moon formed when earth was hit by Mars-size object a long time ago and the debris from that impact resulted in creating Moon.

Saal said. “The volatile evidence suggests that either some of Earth’s volatiles survived that impact and were included in the accretion of the Moon or that volatiles were delivered to both the Earth and Moon at the same time from a common source – perhaps a bombardment of primitive meteorites.” 

The research was published in Nature Geoscience. 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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