Annihilation of ecosystems by large asteroid impacts on the early Earth

Norman H. Sleep, Kevin J. Zahnle, James F. Kasting, Harold J. Morowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

334 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-142
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume342
Issue number6246
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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