Explicitly modelled deep-time tidal dissipation and its implication for Lunar history

J A M Green, M Huber, David Waltham, J Buzan, M Wells

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Dissipation of tidal energy causes the Moon to recede from the Earth. The currently measured rate of recession implies that the age of the Lunar orbit is 1500 My old, but the Moon is known to be 4500 My old. Consequently, it has been proposed that tidal energy dissipation was weaker in the Earth's past, but explicit numerical calculations are missing for such long time intervals. Here, for the first time, numerical tidal model simulations linked to climate model output are conducted for a range of paleogeographic configurations over the last 252 My. We find that the present is a poor guide to the past in terms of tidal dissipation: the total dissipation rates for most of the past 252 My were far below present levels. This allows us to quantify the reduced tidal dissipation rates over the most resent fraction of lunar history, and the lower dissipation allows refinement of orbitally-derived age models by inserting a complete additional precession cycle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-53
Number of pages8
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Early online date6 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • tides, tidal drag, Earth-Moon evolution, Mesozoic-Cenozoic;, numerical tidal model

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