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No. 11: Summer 1980

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Mysterious Swirl Patterns On The Moon

In at least three lunar locations, enigmatic bright-and-dark swirl patterns drape craters and mare terrains. Ranging from 10 kilometers across to less than 50 meters, they may be ribbon-like, open-looped, or closed-looped. The swirls are sharply defined but do not appear to scour or otherwise disturb the terrains where they occur. Similar swirl patterns have been recognized on Mercury. Two intriguing characteristics of the lunar swirl patterns are:

(1) They coincide with strong magnetic anomalies; and (2) They appear to be very young, being superimposed on top of essentially all lunar features of all ages. Schultz and Srnka suggest that recent cometary impacts created the patterns.

(Schultz, Peter H., and Srnka, Leonard J.; "Cometary Collisions on the Moon and Mercury," Nature, 284:22, 1980.)

Comment. The terrestrial implications are obvious: our earth must have been hit, too. Perhaps at the Tunguska site there are similar swirl patterns -- now obliterated by vegetation.

Reference. Lunar swirl patterns are cataloged in Section ALE5 in The Moon and the Planets. To order, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #11, Summer 1980. 1980-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987