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Impact melting of frozen oceans on the early Earth: Implications for the origin of life

By J. L. Bada, C. Bigham and S. L. Miller

Abstract

Without sufficient greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the early Earth would have become a permanently frozen planet because the young Sun was less luminous than it is today. Several resolutions to this faint young Sun-frozen Earth paradox have been proposed, with an atmosphere rich in CO2 being the one generally favored. However, these models assume that there were no mechanisms for melting a once frozen ocean. Here we show that bolide impacts between about 3.6 and 4.0 billion years ago could have episodically melted an ice-covered early ocean. Thaw-freeze cycles associated with bolide impacts could have been important for the initiation of abiotic reactions that gave rise to the first living organisms

Topics: Physical Sciences: Geophysics
Year: 1994
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:43134
Provided by: PubMed Central
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