Thrust faults form when the lunar crust is pushed together, breaking the near-surface materials. The result is a steep slope on the surface called a scarp as shown in this diagram. Image: Arizona State University

Moonquakes Reveal the Moon is Still Shrinking & Shaking

Before humans go there again, it’d be smart to better understand the risks of lunar temblors.

This prominent thrust fault is one of thousands discovered on the moon by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). These faults resemble small stair-shaped cliffs, or scarps, when seen from the lunar surface. The scarps form when one section of the moon’s crust (left-pointing arrows) is pushed up over an adjacent section (right-pointing arrows) as the moon’s interior cools and shrinks. Image: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University/Smithsonian
Astronaut Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. prepares to deploy the scientific experiments on the lunar surface during the Apollo 11 mission. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, took this picture with a 70mm lunar surface camera. Image: NASA

Quakes Near Faults

This visualization shows a scarp, a low ridge or step about 26 stories tall that runsnorth-south through the western end of the Taurus-Littrow valley, the landing site of Apollo. The scarp marks the location of a relatively young, low-angle thrust fault, NASA says. The land west of the fault was forced up and over the eastern side as the lunar crust contracted.

‘Wrinkle Ridges’

Newfound “wrinkle ridges” in a region of the Moon called Mare Frigoris add to evidence that the Moon has an actively changing surface. Image: NASA

Independent health and science journalist, former editor-in-chief of LiveScience, writing about how we age and how to optimize your mind and body through time.

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