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Journal Articles Nature Year : 2023

The lunar solid inner core and the mantle overturn

Arthur Briaud
Clément Ganino
Anthony Mémin


Seismological models from Apollo missions provided the first records of the Moon inner structure with a decrease in seismic wave velocities at the core–mantle boundary1,2,3. The resolution of these records prevents a strict detection of a putative lunar solid inner core and the impact of the lunar mantle overturn in the lowest part of the Moon is still discussed4,5,6,7. Here we combine geophysical and geodesic constraints from Monte Carlo exploration and thermodynamical simulations for different Moon internal structures to show that only models with a low viscosity zone enriched in ilmenite and an inner core present densities deduced from thermodynamic constraints compatible with densities deduced from tidal deformations. We thus obtain strong indications in favour of the lunar mantle overturn scenario and, in this context, demonstrate the existence of the lunar inner core with a radius of 258 ± 40 km and density 7,822 ± 1,615 kg m−3. Our results question the evolution of the Moon magnetic field thanks to its demonstration of the existence of the inner core and support a global mantle overturn scenario that brings substantial insights on the timeline of the lunar bombardment in the first billion years of the Solar System
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insu-04091965 , version 1 (09-05-2023)



Arthur Briaud, Clément Ganino, Agnès Fienga, Anthony Mémin, Nicolas Rambaux. The lunar solid inner core and the mantle overturn. Nature, 2023, 617, pp.743-746. ⟨10.1038/s41586-023-05935-7⟩. ⟨insu-04091965⟩
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