The end of the lunar dynamo

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  01 Jan 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 1, eaax0883
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax0883


Magnetic measurements of the lunar crust and Apollo samples indicate that the Moon generated a dynamo magnetic field lasting from at least 4.2 until <2.5 billion years (Ga) ago. However, it has been unclear when the dynamo ceased. Here, we report paleomagnetic and 40Ar/39Ar studies showing that two lunar breccias cooled in a near-zero magnetic field (<0.1 μT) at 0.44 ± 0.01 and 0.91 ± 0.11 Ga ago, respectively. Combined with previous paleointensity estimates, this indicates that the lunar dynamo likely ceased sometime between ~1.92 and ~0.80 Ga ago. The protracted lifetime of the lunar magnetic field indicates that the late dynamo was likely powered by crystallization of the lunar core.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Advances