Lunar impact history from (40)Ar/(39)Ar dating of glass spherules

Science. 2000 Mar 10;287(5459):1785-8. doi: 10.1126/science.287.5459.1785.


Lunar spherules are small glass beads that are formed mainly as a result of small impacts on the lunar surface; the ages of these impacts can be determined by the (40)Ar/(39)Ar isochron technique. Here, 155 spherules separated from 1 gram of Apollo 14 soil were analyzed using this technique. The data show that over the last approximately 3.5 billion years, the cratering rate decreased by a factor of 2 to 3 to a low about 500 to 600 million years ago, then increased by a factor of 3.7 +/- 1.2 in the last 400 million years. This latter period coincided with rapid biotic evolutionary radiation on Earth.