Earth's Impact Events Through Geologic Time: A List of Recommended Ages for Terrestrial Impact Structures and Deposits

Astrobiology. 2020 Jan;20(1):91-141. doi: 10.1089/ast.2019.2085. Epub 2019 Dec 27.


This article presents a current (as of September 2019) list of recommended ages for proven terrestrial impact structures (n = 200) and deposits (n = 46) sourced from the primary literature. High-precision impact ages can be used to (1) reconstruct and quantify the impact flux in the inner Solar System and, in particular, the Earth-Moon system, thereby placing constraints on the delivery of extraterrestrial mass accreted on Earth through geologic time; (2) utilize impact ejecta as event markers in the stratigraphic record and to refine bio- and magneto-stratigraphy; (3) test models and hypotheses of synchronous double or multiple impact events in the terrestrial record; (4) assess the potential link between large impacts, mass extinctions, and diversification events in the biosphere; and (5) constrain the duration of melt sheet crystallization in large impact basins and the lifetime of hydrothermal systems in cooling impact craters, which may have served as habitats for microbial life on the early Earth and, possibly, Mars.

Keywords: Ages; Cratering record; Ejecta; Geochronology; Impact craters; Terrestrial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.