Isotopic evidence for the formation of the Moon in a canonical giant impactOPEN ACCESS 

Sune G. Nielsen, David V. Bekaert & Maureen Auro

Nature Communications, Volume 12, Article number: 1817 (2021)


“Isotopic measurements of lunar and terrestrial rocks have revealed that, unlike any other body in the solar system, the Moon is indistinguishable from the Earth for nearly every isotopic system. This observation, however, contradicts predictions by the standard model for the origin of the Moon, the canonical giant impact. Here we show that the vanadium isotopic composition of the Moon is offset from that of the bulk silicate Earth by 0.18 ± 0.04 parts per thousand towards the chondritic value. This offset most likely results from isotope fractionation on proto-Earth during the main stage of terrestrial core formation (pre-giant impact), followed by a canonical giant impact where ~80% of the Moon originates from the impactor of chondritic composition. Our data refute the possibility of post-giant impact equilibration between the Earth and Moon, and implies that the impactor and proto-Earth mainly accreted from a common isotopic reservoir in the inner solar system.”