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Evidence for and implications of an Early Archean terrestrial impact record

Abstract

Early Archean, 3.5 to 3.2 Ga, greenstone sequences in South Africa and Western Australia contain a well-preserved record of early terrestrial meteorite impacts. The main impact-produced deposits are layers, 10 cm to over 1 m thick, composed largely of sand-sized spherules, 0.1 to 4 mm in diameter. The beds studied to date show an assemblage of features indicating formation by the fall of debris from impact-generated ejecta clouds. Some presented data effectively rule out normal magmatic or sedimentary processes in the origin of these units and provide substantial support for an origin by large impacts on the early earth. The presence of at least four, remarkably thick, nearly pure spherule layers suggests that smaller-scale impact deposits may be even more abundant in these sequences. The existence of a well-preserved Archean terrestrial impact record suggests that a direct source of evidence is available regarding a number of important aspects of early earth history

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This paper was published in NASA Technical Reports Server.

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