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Lots of other careful isotopic dating have yielded an uncomfortably wide range of ages — many older, a few younger — for both the Moon's anorthositic crust and for the volcanic lavas that later formed the dark maria."Our group is responsible for about half of the older FAN data," Borg told me, "and we do not like to cast doubt on our previous work." Stephen Mojzsis, a lunar specialist at the University of Colorado, is skeptical.
But it makes a huge difference in the fast-paced environment of the primordial solar system.Most every lunar researcher now accepts that the Moon formed after a Mars-size protoplanet careened into the just-formed Earth, jetting massive blobs of white-hot debris into orbit that rapidly coalesced into a sizable satellite.The Apollo 11 samples showed that much of the lunar crust consists of a rock "froth" that must have floated atop a deep, global ocean of magma as the Moon cooled and solidified. Jeffrey Taylor (University of Hawaii) offers a clear explanation of this process here."To rubbish the whole geochronological history of FAN based on the analysis of one rock and then to apply that to the differentiation history of the Moon, is far too 'adventurous' a conclusion in my mind," he says.There's always a catch, and in this case it's tiny bits of the mineral zircon gleaned from an Apollo 17 sample.New results from Lars Borg (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) and three colleagues, published online last week in , argue that the Moon has been lying a bit about its age.
Instead of being at least 4.43 billion years old, as earlier assays had shown, the group determined an age of 4.36 billion years, give or take 3 million.
Duke is standing at the rim of Plum crater, 130 feet (40 m) across and 35 feet (10 m) .
But it's a single pea-size nugget, collected during Apollo 16 and weighing only 1.88 grams, that has lunar geochemists in a tizzy right now.
So this new, younger-than-expected age seems (forgive me) rock solid.
But is this single determination representative of the entire Moon?
Note the wide range of ages associated with various lunar samples (labeled f through p), in contrast with the recent age determination made by Lars Borg and others.