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Academic Aspects of Lunar Water Resources and Their Relevance to Lunar Protolife
Department of Geological Sciences, California State University, Long Beach, CA 90840, USA
Received: 4 August 2011; Accepted: 31 August 2011 / Published: 19 September 2011
Abstract: Water ice has been discovered on the moon by radar backscatter at the North Pole and by spectrometry at the South Pole in the Cabeus crater with an extrapolated volume for both poles of conservatively 109 metric tons. Various exogenic and endogenic sources of this water have been proposed. This paper focuses on endogenic water sources by fumaroles and hot springs in shadowed polar craters. A survey of theoretical and morphological details supports a volcanic model. Release of water and other constituents by defluidization over geological time was intensified in the Hadean Eon (c.a. 4600 to 4000 My). Intensification factors include higher heat flow by now-extinct radionuclides, tidal flexing and higher core temperatures. Lesser gravity would promote deeper bubble nucleation in lunar magmas, slower rise rates of gases and enhanced subsidence of lunar caldera floors. Hadean volcanism would likely have been more intense and regional in nature as opposed to suture-controlled location of calderas in Phanerozoic Benioff-style subduction environments. Seventy-seven morphological, remote sensing and return sample features were categorized into five categories ranging from a volcano-tectonic origin only to impact origin only. Scores for the most logical scenario were 69 to eight in favor of lunar volcanism. Ingredients in the Cabeus plume analysis showed many volcanic fluids and their derivatives plus a large amount of mercury. Mercury-rich fumaroles are well documented on Earth and are virtually absent in cometary gases and solids. There are no mercury anomalies in terrestrial impact craters. Volcanic fluids and their derivatives in lunar shadow can theoretically evolve into protolife. Energy for this evolution can be provided by vent flow charging intensified in the lunar Hadean and by charge separation on freezing fumarolic fluids in shadow. Fischer-Tropsch reactions on hydrothermal clays can yield lipids, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and amino acids. Soluble polyphosphates are available in volcanic fluids as well as vital catalysts such as tungsten. We conclude that the high volume of polar water resources supports the likelihood of lunar volcanism and that lunar volcanism supports the likelihood of protolife.
Keywords: fumaroles; lunar water; protolife; lunar volcanism
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Green, J. Academic Aspects of Lunar Water Resources and Their Relevance to Lunar Protolife. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2011, 12, 6051-6076.
Green J. Academic Aspects of Lunar Water Resources and Their Relevance to Lunar Protolife. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2011; 12(9):6051-6076.
Green, Jack. 2011. "Academic Aspects of Lunar Water Resources and Their Relevance to Lunar Protolife." Int. J. Mol. Sci. 12, no. 9: 6051-6076.