Editor's Summary

10 July 2008

Lunar glass: Reflections on a watery Moon


Although it has been suggested — controversially — that water ice might be found in the permanently shadowed deep polar craters on the Moon, the bulk Moon is thought to have lost virtually all of the highly volatile elements, including water, long ago during the catastrophic heating events that led to its formation. Hydrogen, as the lightest element, is thought to have been completely lost. Saal et al. used the latest secondary ion mass spectrometry techniques to derive improved limits on the indigenous volatile (CO2, H2O, F, S, Cl) contents of the most primitive basalts in the Moon, the lunar volcanic glasses. Their best estimate of the pre-eruptive water content is 745 p.p.m., with 260 p.p.m. as a minimum. This suggests that the bulk Moon is not entirely depleted in water and other highly volatile elements.

News and ViewsPlanetary science: The early Moon was rich in water

Analyses of lunar volcanic glasses show that they are rich in volatile elements and water. If parts of the lunar mantle contain as much water as Earth's, does this imply that the water has a common origin?

Marc Chaussidon

doi:10.1038/454170a

LetterVolatile content of lunar volcanic glasses and the presence of water in the Moon's interior

Alberto E. Saal, Erik H. Hauri, Mauro L. Cascio, James A. Van Orman, Malcolm C. Rutherford & Reid F. Cooper

doi:10.1038/7201xa