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A Long-Lived Lunar Core Dynamo

Science  27 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6067, pp. 453-456
DOI: 10.1126/science.1215359

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Abstract

Paleomagnetic measurements indicate that a core dynamo probably existed on the Moon 4.2 billion years ago. However, the subsequent history of the lunar core dynamo is unknown. Here we report paleomagnetic, petrologic, and 40Ar/39Ar thermochronometry measurements on the 3.7-billion-year-old mare basalt sample 10020. This sample contains a high-coercivity magnetization acquired in a stable field of at least ~12 microteslas. These data extend the known lifetime of the lunar dynamo by 500 million years. Such a long-lived lunar dynamo probably required a power source other than thermochemical convection from secular cooling of the lunar interior. The inferred strong intensity of the lunar paleofield presents a challenge to current dynamo theory.

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