Talk:Lunar mare

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Tidal locking[edit]

I have removed the following:

"This bias of distribution is thought to have assisted in the tidal locking of the Moon's rotation to its orbit (the phenomenon whereby the Moon spins on its axis in the same timespan as it takes to orbit the Earth). This results in only one side of the Moon being visible from the Earth (excepting some small leeway from libration). The reason the maria have assisted in tidal locking is that they are denser than much of the rest of the surface and are therefore more strongly attracted towards the Earth by gravity. Over many eons, the Moon's rotation has slowed so that the heaviest side of the Moon with the maria on it faces constantly towards the Earth."

This is wrong for several reasons. First, gravitationally, the lunar orientation is just as stable in its current configuration as in a state where it is rotated by 180 degrees. This means that it is only by chance that the mare basalts are predominantly on the hemisphere that faces the Earth. Second, tidal despinning occurs only because of the spherical harmonic degree two gravitational field (this is simply a triaxial ellipsoid in shape). It can be shown that the mare basalts make little to no contribution to the current degree-2 gravitational field of the Moon.

Mark Wieczorek Oct 29, 2006

I do not believe the maria are predominantly on the Earth-side of the moon by chance, but the explanation you (rightly) removed reverses cause and effect: the side of the Moon facing the Earth had a thinner crust due to tidal effects, and so lava could break through more easily and from the maria. This is my understanding of it, at least. --ScottAlanHill 07:41, 30 October 2006 (UTC)
As a geophysicist, I have searched in vain long and hard for a mechanism by which tidal forces could redistribute materials from one hemisphere of the Moon to another. Of course, the possibility exists that tidal effects somehow caused primordial crustal thickness variations during crystallization of the magma ocean, but the mechanism is at this point unknown.-- Lunokhod 10:50, 30 October 2006 (UTC)
This is discussed in the astronomy textbook I'm teaching out of, so if it's wrong I'd like to know. The theory is that the mantle is slightly offset with respect to the crust, due to the gravitational influence of the Earth. (I'm not sure it could be considered a tidal effect, as I said above.) The mantle is supposed to be slightly closer to the Earth, so that the crust on the "front" of the moon is thinner than on the back, which made it easier for lava to escape. (Is the thickness variation true?) I guess I don't understand exactly how that was supposed to work, either: if we consider the crust and the mantle as being two independent spheres orbiting at the same speed, the radius of their motion should be independent of their mass and density. Centrifugal force would actually result in heavier materials moving away from the center (naively considering the example of the centrifuge). --ScottAlanHill 22:40, 1 November 2006 (UTC)


As an astrophysicist I have no idea why the magma is all this side but I do know that the most likely reason why all the large impact features are on the earth side is because they are the result of secondary impacts from asteroids that struck earth billions of years ago. Like Phobos is battered with strings of impacts from the ejecta of martian impacts, it is likely the Moon suffered the same bombardment. Soloist (talk) 11:15, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

Pronunciation[edit]

The article gives the pronunciation of mare but not maria; I tend to use MAH-ria, but I can also imagine saying it mah-REE-ah like the woman's name (and certainly this is acceptable Latin pronunciation, cf Ave Maria). Which is it?

The stress is on the "ma". The name Maria is of a completely different origin. Lesgles (talk) 03:50, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

Distribution of mare[edit]

The Moon article contains the statement:

Maria are found almost exclusively on the near side of the Moon, covering 31% of the surface on the near side,[43] compared with a few scattered patches on the far side covering only 2%.[44] This is thought to be due to a concentration of heat-producing elements under the crust on the near side, seen on geochemical maps obtained by Lunar Prospector's gamma-ray spectrometer, which would have caused the underlying mantle to heat up, partially melt, rise to the surface and erupt.[30][45][46]

This appears to contradict the statement in this article, Distribution section part 4, and possibly the discussion on tidal locking above. I know little about the subject - which is right? Chris55 (talk) 23:16, 5 June 2012 (UTC)

The Distribution of mare basalts section seems to be quite argumentative, especially during the following section:

[Note: current data in fact may not preclude this, although the timing and length of mare volcanism in a number of basins cast some doubt on it. Initial mare volcanism generally seems to have begun within 100 million years of basin formation.[4] Although these authors felt that 100 million years was sufficiently long that a correlation between impact and volcanism seemed unlikely, there are problems with this argument. The impacts that created the basins are not necessarily as precisely dated as the basalts (the authors mix older K-Ar and Rb-Sr dates, and whole rock with individual crystal dates, and absolute dates (radiometric) with much more subjective relative dating (correlation based on spectral characteristics, crater counts) in a way that does not preclude uncertainties on the order of tens or of millions of years or more. The authors also point out that the oldest and deepest basalts in each basin are likely buried and inaccessible (sampling bias). Some of the basalts that contribute to a "long history of eruption" in a particular basin came from a separate basin. So the question of a connection between impacts and basalt eruption seems an open one. Large igneous provinces on earth that were once thought to span tens or hundreds of millions of years are now known to have mainly erupted in less than few million years at most, with the vast bulk of activity spanning less than one or two million years in most cases.]

I thought that Wikipedia wasn't supposed to have stuff like this in the articles, but I would like some advice before I make any changes. 5donuts (talk) 19:06, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

Red and blue maria[edit]

Please could our resident experts include information about S-type (red) and T-type (blue) basalts. Cheers. nagualdesign (talk) 08:54, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

Marae versus Maria[edit]

I've seen both of these words used to describe the plural of mare, but which one is correct? 5donuts (talk) 19:16, 4 February 2014 (UTC)