A team of astronomers and geologists at Durham University studied an area of the lunar surface in the Compton-Belkovich Volcanic Complex.By mapping the radioactive element thorium which spewed out during the eruption, astronomers discovered that assisted by the Moon's low gravity, debris from the unnamed volcano was able to cover an area the size of Scotland.The eruption, which happened 3.5 billion years ago, threw rock five times further than the pyroclastic flow of molten rock and hot gases that buried the Roman city of Pompeii.

"By mapping the radioactive content of the lava from this volcano we have been able to show that molten, radioactive rock was thrown far beyond the slopes of the volcano, reaching several hundred miles in one direction," Wilson pointed out.The team is now planning to apply its mapping technique to the largest known volcano in the Solar system, Olympus Mons on Mars.

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