The Chinese Space Agency even discovered a new type of lunar rock.

History of Volcanic Eruptions on the Moon Revealed by Chinese Lunar Mission

Researchers from China discovered that Chang'e-5's lunar landing region was flooded with at least four layers of volcanic lava flows.


China has made excellent progress in exploring the surface of the moon with its lunar missions. Thanks to missions such as Chang’e 4 and Chang’e 5, we have learned a plethora of information about Earth’s faithful satellite. Recently, we reported about a discovery by the Chang’e 5 mission, and the water content on the Moon. To the surprise of researchers, there are abundant traces of water on the Moon. This discovery is of great importance for future manned missions to the lunar surface, and plays a crucial role in the future establishment of Lunar colonies.

We also learned that China discovered a completely new mineral on the lunar surface dubbed Changesite-(Y), and the new mineral is of great importance because of its contents of Helium-3. While Earth is protected from solar wind blasts by its magnetic field, the Moon is bombarded by large amounts of Helium-3. Nuclear fusion reactors may benefit from using this isotope since it is non-radioactive and produces no hazardous waste products. At least 1.1 million metric tons of helium-3 are estimated to lie beneath the lunar surface, providing enough energy to sustain humans for at least 10,000 years.

In a press release from the National Space Science Center (NSSC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers found geological evidence that four layers of volcanic lava flow flooded the landing area of the Chang’e-5 lunar exploration missions. Chang’e-5, China’s lunar sample return mission, returned 1,731 grams of samples to Earth in 2020. One of the youngest basaltic units on the lunar surface is located in the northwest region of Oceanus Procellarum, also known as the Ocean of Storms.


It is thought that the long-standing volcanic activities on the Moon are maintained by heat-producing elements such as uranium, thorium, and potassium found in the region. In order to further improve our understanding of lunar volcanic activity and evolution history, we must measure the thickness of basalt and its eruption rate in the landing area of Chang’e-5, explained Du Jun, the leading researcher of the paper.

In order to answer these questions, scientists from the NSSC and other Chinese institutes estimated the thickness of mare basalt deposits located in Chang’e-5’s landing region. A total of four magmatic eruptions occurred in the landing area, with median thicknesses of 230 meters, 70 meters, 4 meters, and 36 meters, respectively.
As well, the study shows that around 2 billion years ago, the eruption rate of mare basalts increased significantly in the Chang’e-5 landing region.

As a result of these findings, a numerical model of lunar volcanic activity can be improved to account for the duration and scale of the events.


The research findings were recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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