Late Heavy Bombardment of Comets May Have Created Earth’s Oceans

August 6, 2009

(ChattahBox)— A team of researchers from Denmark believes that near-surface rocks from Greenland hold the key to ancient Earth during the time of an event, called the Late Heavy Bombardment or the Lunar Cataclysm, which took place about 3.8 to 4.1 billion years ago.

The researchers claim the large impact craters left behind on the moon, Earth and other planets during the Lunar Cataclysm were caused by icy comets, which formed the Earth’s first ancient seas.

Lead researcher Uffe Jorgensen of the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark, surveyed the levels of iridium in surface and near-surface rocks from Greenland, which date back to the time of the bombardment. Iridium is not that common on Earth, but is found in abundance in comets and asteroids.

The researchers estimate an asteroid would have left behind about 18,000 parts per trillion of iridium on surface rocks, with comets leaving behind about 130 parts per trillion. The Greenland rocks tested as containing about 150 parts per trillion of iridium, lending credence to the theory that the bombardment was caused by comets.

The researchers believe the ice from a comet swarm thawed to create a global ocean. Some scientists go even further with the theory, including Jorgensen, theorizing the Late Heavy Bombardment of comets may also have seeded Earth with life.

“If it had not happened, [the bombardment] there would have been no water on Earth, and no life,” said Jorgensen.

However, other scientists even question whether Earth experienced a bombardment, and believe the only way to know for certain is for a return trip to the Moon to collect additional samples of earth rocks and dust transported to the moon during a bombardment.

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