The lunar dynamo

Benjamin P. Weiss, Sonia M. Tikoo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations

Abstract

The inductive generation of magnetic fields in fluid planetary interiors is known as the dynamo process. Although the Moon today has no global magnetic field, it has been known since the Apollo era that the lunar rocks and crust are magnetized. Until recently, it was unclear whether this magnetization was the product of a core dynamo or fields generated externally to the Moon. New laboratory and spacecraft measurements strongly indicate that much of this magnetization is the product of an ancient core dynamo. The dynamo field persisted from at least 4.25 to 3.56 billion years ago (Ga), with an intensity reaching that of the present Earth. The field then declined by at least an order of magnitude by ∼3.3 Ga. The mechanisms for sustaining such an intense and long-lived dynamo are uncertain but may include mechanical stirring by the mantle and core crystallization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1246753
JournalScience
Volume346
Issue number6214
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 5 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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