The Moon

Even though we have been studying it for hundreds of years, many aspects of the Moon remain mysterious. One question is why the near-side crust is thinner than the far-side crust. Together with my colleague Ian Garrick-Bethell, I suggested tidal heating as an explanation, an effect which was important early in the Moonís history when it was much closer to the Earth. Tides may also have played a role in generating an early dynamo on the Moon, work which was published in Nature with my former student Tina Dwyer as first author. 

Suggested crustal structure of the Moon due to tidal heating (see the Science article for more details). The techniques used to model the tidal effects were originally developed to study Jupiterís moon Europa!


I was a Guest Scientist on the GRAIL mission to measure the Moonís gravity field.  One of my interests in this mission was in getting a better constraint on the structure of the deep lunar interior. Some preliminary results are published here and a more thorough study is here.


Here is a list of recent Moon-related papers:

  GRAIL, LLR and LOLA constraints on the interior structure of the Moon I. Matsuyama, F. Nimmo, J.T. Keane, N.H. Chan, G.J. Taylor, M.A. Wieczorek, W.S. Kiefer, J.G. Williams Geophys. Res. Lett. 43 8365-8375, 2016 Reprint

  Tidal dissipation in the lunar magma ocean and its effect on the early evolution of the Earth-Moon system E.M.A. Chen, F. Nimmo Icarus, 275 132-142, 2016 Reprint

  GRAIL gravity constraints on the vertical and lateral density structure of the lunar crust, J. Besserer, F. Nimmo, M.A. Wieczorek, R.C. Weber, W.S. Kiefer, P.J. McGovern, J.C. Andrews-Hanna, D.E. Smith, M.T. Zuber Geophys. Res. Lett. 41, doi:10.1002/2014GL060240, 2014 Reprint

  The tidal-rotational shape of the Moon and evidence for polar wander I. Garrick-Bethell, V. Perera, F. Nimmo, M.T. Zuber, Nature 512 181-184, 2014

  The Crust of the Moon as Seen by GRAIL, M. A. Wieczorek, G. A. Neumann, F. Nimmo, W. S. Kiefer, G. J. Taylor, H. J. Melosh, R. J. Phillips, S. C. Solomon, J. C. Andrews-Hanna, S. W. Asmar, A. S. Konopliv, F. G. Lemoine, D. E. Smith, M. M. Watkins, J. G. Williams, M. T. Zuber Science 2012

  Ancient Igneous Intrusions and Early Expansion of the Moon Revealed by GRAIL Gravity GradiometryJ. C. Andrews-Hanna, S. W. Asmar, J. W. Head III, W. S. Kiefer, A. S. Konopliv, F. G. Lemoine, I. Matsuyama, E. Mazarico, P. J. McGovern, H. J. Melosh, G. A. Neumann, F. Nimmo, R. J. Phillips, D. E. Smith, S. C. Solomon, G. J. Taylor, M. A. Wieczorek, J. G. Williams, M. T. Zuber Science 2012

  Dissipation at tidal and seismic frequencies in a melt-free Moon, F. Nimmo, U.H. Faul, E. Garnero, J. Geophys. Res. Planets 117, E09005, 2012 Reprint

  A long-lived lunar dynamo driven by continuous mechanical stirring, C.A. Dwyer, D.J. Stevenson, F. Nimmo, Nature 479 212-214, 2011 Reprint Supplementary Information

  Structure and formation of the lunar farside highlands, I. Garrick-Bethell, F. Nimmo, M.A. Wieczorek, Science 330 949-951, 2010, Reprint Supplementary Info.(PDF)

  Tungsten isotopic evolution during late-stage accretion: constraints on Earth-Moon equilibration F. Nimmo, D.P. O'Brien, T. Kleine Earth Planet. Sci. Lett292 363-370, 2010 Reprint

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences home page

Francis' Page

Last Modified: 20th Nov 2017