Research ArticlePLANETARY SCIENCE

A long-lived magma ocean on a young Moon

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Science Advances  10 Jul 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 28, eaba8949
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba8949

Abstract

A giant impact onto Earth led to the formation of the Moon, resulted in a lunar magma ocean (LMO), and initiated the last event of core segregation on Earth. However, the timing and temporal link of these events remain uncertain. Here, we demonstrate that the low thermal conductivity of the lunar crust combined with heat extraction by partial melting of deep cumulates undergoing convection results in an LMO solidification time scale of 150 to 200 million years. Combining this result with a crystallization model of the LMO and with the ages and isotopic compositions of lunar samples indicates that the Moon formed 4.425 ± 0.025 billion years ago. This age is in remarkable agreement with the U-Pb age of Earth, demonstrating that the U-Pb age dates the final segregation of Earth’s core.

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