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2001 Annual Science Report

Arizona State University Reporting  |  JUL 2000 – JUN 2001

Role of Impacts in the Origin, Distribution & Evolution of Life

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

Role of Impacts in the Origin, Distribution & Evolution of Life (dm)

We finished testing the new computer system designed to provide 3-D simulations of impact cratering events. We then simulated the Ries impact event that occurred 15 million years ago in what is today Germany. This impact is interesting because it involved carbonate rocks, which, when vaporized, can produce greenhouse-warming carbon dioxide. We are continuing these types of model calculations to determine how impact events can affect Earth’s climate.

We began studies of impact-generated hydrothermal systems. Initial results were presented at several meetings and a paper is presently in production. We are evaluating the thermal history of these systems and their appropriateness for thermophilic and hyperthermophilic life, particularly early in life’s evolution when impact events were more common.

In a collaborative project, we demonstrated that the lunar cataclysm hypothesis was correct. This implies that the Earth was severely bombarded approximately 3.9 Ga ago, coincident with evidence of the earliest evolution of life on Earth.

    David Kring
    Project Investigator

    H. Melosh

    Jack Farmer

    Elizabetta Pierazzo

    Objective 5.0
    Describe the sequences of causes and effects associated with the development of Earth's early biosphere and the global environment.

    Objective 12.0
    Define climatological and geological effects upon the limits of habitable zones around the Sun and other stars to help define the frequency of habitable planets in the universe.

    Objective 14.0
    Determine the resilience of local and global ecosystems through their response to natural and human-induced disturbances.