Solar System, The Moon

What Causes Moonquakes?

Compared to earthquakes, moonquakes are not as common. They also tend to be less severe compared to an earthquake.
What Causes Moonquakes?

You have surely heard about earthquakes, but have you ever learned about moonquakes? While the premise is the same in that they cause shaking and tremoring, there are many differences between the two types of quakes. Learning more about what moonquakes and what causes them gives you a glimpse into the wonders of space.

What Are Moonquakes?

Compared to earthquakes, moonquakes are not as common. They also tend to be less severe compared to an earthquake. On Earth, the average earthquake lasts for 10 to 30 seconds. While the moonquakes that have been studied have not broken any Richter scale records, compared to earthquakes, moonquakes last an average of five times longer. Some of the moonquakes continued for 10 minutes.

What Causes Moonquakes?

To explore the causes of moonquakes, you can to look at the different types of these tremors. There are four different moonquake types that have been identified, all of which have different causes. These include:

  • Deep moonquakes are believed to be the result of tides
  • Thermal moonquakes occur due to frigid crust expansion
  • Shallow moonquakes occur close to the surface
  • When meteorites hit the moon, this can cause vibrations similar to a moonquake

Shallow moonquakes are generally considered to be the most concerning type. Apollo recorded approximately 28 of this type between the years 1972 and 1977.

moonquakes
Moonquake recordings shown here. Graphics by Yosio Nakamura, UT Austin.

What Are the Effects of Moonquakes?

When research was conducted by astronauts from Apollo, they discovered that shallow moonquakes tend to read an average of 5.5 on the Richter scale. Compared to earthquakes, the surface vibrations usually lasted several minutes longer. If there were buildings on the moon, this would result in damage.

You can see that moonquakes are rather interesting and are different from the quakes felt on earth. This information lets you see more about what the environment is like up there on the moon.

Previous ArticleNext Article

Lauren studies astronomy and physics at NYU.