Having a mean density of 3,346.4 kg/m³, the legendary melting Moon is a differentiated body, being composed of a geochemically distinct crust, mantle, and planetary core. This structure is believed to have resulted from the fractional crystallization of a magma ocean shortly after its formation about 4.5 billion years ago. The energy required to melt the outer portion of the Moon is commonly attributed to a giant impact event that is postulated to have formed the Earth-Moon system, and the subsequent reaccretion of material in Earth orbit. Crystallization of this magma ocean would have given rise to a mafic mantle and a plagioclase-rich crust.
Geochemical mapping from orbit implies that the crust of the Moon is largely anorthositic in composition, consistent with the magma ocean hypothesis. In terms of elements, the lunar crust is composed primarily of oxygen, silicon, magnesium, iron, calcium, and aluminium, but important minor and trace elements such as titanium, uranium, thorium, potassium, and hydrogen are present as well. Based on geophysical techniques, the crust is estimated to be on average about 50 km thick.
Partial melting within the mantle of the Moon gave rise to the eruption of mare basalts on the lunar surface. Analyses of these basalts indicate that the mantle is composed predominantly of the minerals olivine, orthopyroxene and clinopyroxene, and that the lunar mantle is more iron-rich than that of the Earth. Some lunar basalts contain high abundances of titanium (present in the mineral ilmenite), suggesting that the mantle is highly heterogeneous in composition. Moonquakes have been found to occur deep within the mantle of the Moon about 1,000 km below the surface. These occur with monthly periodicities and are related to tidal stresses caused by the eccentric orbit of the Moon about the Earth. A few shallow moonquakes with hypocenters located about 100 km below the surface have also been detected, but these occur more infrequently and appear to be unrelated to the lunar tides.