Asteroid Impacts 3.3 Billion Years Ago Caused Earth’s Oceans To Boil

Image Credit: NASA/Don Davis
Image Credit: NASA/Don Davis
Don’t complain too much when temperatures rise this summer, because it used to be worse. A lot worse.

By Ed Mazza|The Huffington Post

Some 3.3 billion years ago, monster asteroids — in some cases bigger than Rhode Island — repeatedly slammed into the Earth with impacts so violent that air temperatures soared to 932 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks at a time, according to a new study published in the journal Geology.

Temperatures rose to such extreme levels that the oceans literally boiled, causing sea levels to drop by about 330 feet.

Yet somehow, early life managed to survive.

These impacts would have a profound influence on any life trying to evolve into more complex, low-temperature organisms,” geologist Donald Lowe of Stanford University, who led the research, told Science News. “They’d keep getting whacked by these giant impactors and driven to extinction or near extinction.”

Lowe and study co-author Gary Byerly of Louisiana State University made the discovery while examining the Barberton Greenstone belt in South Africa, where ancient rock is exposed.

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