Ancient Earth was bombarded with 10 times the number of asteroids and comets than previously thought - Daily Mail
Oct 25, 2021 1 min, 27 secs

Earth was blasted by more asteroids and comets between 2.5 and 4 billion years ago than previously thought, causing a disruption in the formation of its atmosphere and significantly lower levels of oxygen, according to a new study.

With these massive space rocks landing on Earth far more frequently than previously thought, oxygen levels were lower than what they could have been and lower than the levels after the Great Oxidation Event (GOE), when oxygen levels rose significantly in the Earth's atmosphere and its oceans. .

Billions of years ago, Earth was hit by more asteroids and comets than previously thought, causing disruption to its atmosphere and lower oxygen levels.

'This pattern was consistent with evidence for so-called 'whiffs' of oxygen, relatively steep but transient increases in atmospheric oxygen that occurred around 2.5 billion years ago.

Some of these asteroids and comets were more than six-miles wide and caused an 'oxygen sink,' sucking most of essential gas out of the atmosphere.

However, approximately 2.4 billion years ago, the impacts started to slow down and oxygen levels on Earth started to rise again, resulting in the Great Oxidation Event

Asteroids larger than six miles wide likely would have caused an 'oxygen sink,' sucking most of the essential gas out of the atmosphere

However, approximately 2.4 billion years ago, the impacts started to slow down and oxygen levels on Earth started to rise again, resulting in the GOE

'Impact vapors caused episodic low oxygen levels for large spans of time preceding the GOE,' the study's lead author, Simone Marchi, said in a separate statement. 

'What's more, we find that the cumulative impactor mass delivered to the early Earth was an important 'sink' of oxygen, suggesting that early bombardment could have delayed oxidation of Earth's atmosphere,' Marchi added


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