Determining the effect of varying magmatic volatile content on lunar magma ascent dynamics

Marissa Lo, Giuseppe La Spina, Katherine Joy, Margherita Polacci, Mike Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Moon is not volcanically active at present, therefore, we rely on data from lunar samples, remote sensing, and numerical modelling to understand past lunar volcanism. The role of different volatile species in propelling lunar magma ascent and eruption remains unclear. We adapt a terrestrial magma ascent model for lunar magma ascent, considering different compositions of picritic magmas and various abundances of H2, H2O, and CO (measured and estimated) for these magmas. We also conduct a sensitivity analysis to investigate the relationship between selected input parameters (pre-eruptive pressure, temperature, conduit radius, volatile content) and given outputs (exit gas volume fraction, velocity, pressure, and mass eruption rate,). We find that, for the model simulations containing H2O and CO, CO was more significant than H2O in driving lunar magma ascent, for the range of volatile contents considered here. For the simulations containing H2 and CO, H2 had a similar or slightly greater control than CO on magma ascent dynamics. Our results showed that initial H2 and CO content has a strong control on exit velocity and pressure, two factors that strongly influence the formation of an eruption plume, pyroclast ejection, and overall deposit morphology. Our results highlight the importance of (1) quantifying and determining the origin of CO, and (2) understanding the abundance of different H-species present within the lunar mantle. Quantifying the role of volatiles in driving lunar volcanism provides an important link between the interior volatile content of the Moon and the formation of volcanic deposits on the lunar surface.
Original languageEnglish
Article number
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Oct 2021


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