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Nature. 2007 Dec 20;450(7173):1206-9.

Late formation and prolonged differentiation of the Moon inferred from W isotopes in lunar metals.

Author information

1
Institute for Isotope Geochemistry and Mineral Resources, Department of Earth Sciences, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zurich, Clausiusstrasse 25, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland. touboul@erdw.ethz.ch

Abstract

The Moon is thought to have formed from debris ejected by a giant impact with the early 'proto'-Earth and, as a result of the high energies involved, the Moon would have melted to form a magma ocean. The timescales for formation and solidification of the Moon can be quantified by using 182Hf-182W and 146Sm-142Nd chronometry, but these methods have yielded contradicting results. In earlier studies, 182W anomalies in lunar rocks were attributed to decay of 182Hf within the lunar mantle and were used to infer that the Moon solidified within the first approximately 60 million years of the Solar System. However, the dominant 182W component in most lunar rocks reflects cosmogenic production mainly by neutron capture of 181Ta during cosmic-ray exposure of the lunar surface, compromising a reliable interpretation in terms of 182Hf-182W chronometry. Here we present tungsten isotope data for lunar metals that do not contain any measurable Ta-derived 182W. All metals have identical 182W/184W ratios, indicating that the lunar magma ocean did not crystallize within the first approximately 60 Myr of the Solar System, which is no longer inconsistent with Sm-Nd chronometry. Our new data reveal that the lunar and terrestrial mantles have identical 182W/184W. This, in conjunction with 147Sm-143Nd ages for the oldest lunar rocks, constrains the age of the Moon and Earth to Myr after formation of the Solar System. The identical 182W/184W ratios of the lunar and terrestrial mantles require either that the Moon is derived mainly from terrestrial material or that tungsten isotopes in the Moon and Earth's mantle equilibrated in the aftermath of the giant impact, as has been proposed to account for identical oxygen isotope compositions of the Earth and Moon.

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PMID:
18097403
DOI:
10.1038/nature06428

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