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Impact frustration of the origin of life

Maher, Kevin A. and Stevenson, David J. (1988) Impact frustration of the origin of life. Nature, 331 (6157 ). pp. 612-614. ISSN 0028-0836. doi:10.1038/331612a0.

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One possible definition for the origin of life on Earth is the time at which the interval between devastating environmental insults by impact exceeded the timescale for establishing self-replicating proto-organisms. A quantitative relationship for the Hadean (pre-3,800 Myr ago) and Early Archean (3,800 to 3,400 Myr) impact flux can be derived from the lunar and terrestrial impact records. Also, the effects of impact-related processes on the various environments proposed for abiogenesis (the development of life through chemical evolution from inorganic materials) can be estimated. Using a range of plausible values for the timescale for abiogenesis, the interval in time when life might first have bootstrapped itself into existence can be found for each environment. We find that if the deep marine hydrothermal setting provided a suitable site, abiogenesis could have happened as early as 4,000 to 4,200 Myr ago, whereas at the surface of the Earth abiogenesis could have occurred between 3,700 and 4,000 Myr.

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Stevenson, David J.0000-0001-9432-7159
Additional Information:© 1988 Nature Publishing Group. Received 11 August; accepted 3 December 1987.
Issue or Number:6157
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130624-090913478
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:39044
Deposited By: John Wade
Deposited On:24 Jun 2013 17:41
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:42

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