Annihilation of ecosystems by large asteroid impacts on the early Earth

  title={Annihilation of ecosystems by large asteroid impacts on the early Earth},
  author={Norman H. Sleep and Kevin J. Zahnle and James F. Kasting and Harold J. Morowitz},
Large asteroid impacts produced globally lethal conditions by evaporating large volumes of ocean water on the early Earth. The Earth may have been continuously habitable by ecosystems that did not depend on photosynthesis as early as 4.44 Gyr BP (before present). Only a brief interval after 3.8 Gyr exists between the time when obligate photosynthetic organisms could continuously evolve and the time when the palaeontological record indicates highly evolved photosynthetic ecosystems. 
Thinking of biology: asteroid impacts, microbes, and the cooling of the atmosphere.
The authors examine the cooling of the Earth's surface from 3.75 to 1 billion years ago to propose the evolutionary sequence of microbes, which is proposed to be anaerobic heterotrophs, chemoautotophs, and then photoautotrophic microbes.
Impact melting of frozen oceans on the early Earth: Implications for the origin of life
  • J. Bada, C. Bigham, S. Miller
  • Geology, Environmental Science
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1994
It is shown that bolide impacts between about 3.6 and 4.0 billion years ago could have episodically melted an ice-covered early ocean and could have been important for the initiation of abiotic reactions that gave rise to the first living organisms.
Impact delivery and erosion of planetary oceans in the early inner Solar System
The terrestrial planets may have acquired oceans of water (and other surface volatiles) as a late-accreting veneer from impacts of comets and carbonaceous asteroids during the period of heavy
Geologic record of partial ocean evaporation triggered by giant asteroid impacts, 3.29–3.23 billion years ago
Although lunar studies suggest that large asteroid impact rates in the inner solar system declined to their present low levels at 3.8–3.7 Ga, recent studies in greenstone belts indicate that
Refugia from asteroid impacts on early Mars and the early Earth
Impacts of asteroids and comets posed a major hazard to the continuous existence of early life on Mars, as on Earth. The chief danger was presented by globally distributed ejecta, including transient
The Early Record of Life
Over the last 3.5 Gyr, the biosphere has had a profound influence on the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere, at or near the Earth's surface. However, the conditions when life originated were
Ancient oceans, ice sheets and the hydrological cycle on Mars
A variety of anomalous geomorphological features on Mars can be explained by a conceptual scheme involving episodic ocean and ice-sheet formation. The formation of valley networks early in Mars'
3 Early Life on Earth and Analogies to Mars
The evidence for early life and its initial evolution on Earth is linked intimately with the geological evolution of the early Earth. The environment of the early Earth would be considered extreme by
Early planetary environments and the origin of life
The Earth accreted from planetesimals 4.6 Ga1 ago and at least some of the precursor organic compounds were impact-delivered to the early Earth by comets, which supplied much of the Earth’s volatiles.
The Asteroid Impact Connection of Planetary Evolution: With Special Reference to Large Precambrian and Australian impacts
1. A paradigm shift in Earth science 2. Encounters in space 3. Lunar impacts and the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB) in the Earth-Moon system. 4. Impact cratering and ejecta dynamics 5. Identification


Geochemical implications of the formation of the Moon by a single giant impact
The origin of the Moon by a single massive impact of a body slightly larger than Mars with the Earth can explain the angular momentum, orbital characteristics and unique nature of the Earth–Moon
A 3,800-million-year isotopic record of life from carbon in sedimentary rocks
An increased ratio of 12C to 13C, an indicator of the principal carbon-fixing reaction of photosynthesis, is found in sedimentary organic matter dating back to almost four thousand million years
The Origin of the Moon
The similarities in siderophile abundances strongly suggest that the Moon was derived from the Earth's mantle after the Earth's core had formed. The energy required to remove material from the
Hydrothermal processes at seafloor spreading centers
During the past ten years, evidence has developed to indicate that seawater convects through oceanic crust driven by heat derived from creation of lithosphere at the Earth-encircling oceanic
Impact frustration of the origin of life
Using a range of plausible values for the timescale for abiogenesis, the interval in time when life might first have bootstrapped itself into existence can be found for each environment.
Iron and sulfur in the pre-biologic ocean.
Global petrologic variations on the Moon: A ternary‐diagram approach
ltrbil KREEP-rich rocks. 5j Portions of the east limb and - _-4_ highlands have considerable amounts of a mafic, chondritic Th/Ti component (like mare basalt) whose occurrences coincide with
The deep structure of lunar basins: Implications for basin formation and modification
We present models for the structure of the crust and upper mantle beneath lunar impact basins from an inversion of gravity and topographic data from the nearside of the moon. All basin models display