Evidence from 40Ar/39Ar ages of lunar impact glasses for an increase in the impact rate ∼800 Ma ago

N. E.B. Zellner, J. W. Delano, T. D. Swindle, F. Barra, E. Olsen, D. C.B. Whittet

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24 Scopus citations


Geochemical and 40Ar/39Ar data on nine impact glasses from the Apollo 14, 16, and 17 landing sites indicate at least seven distinct impact events with ages ∼800 Ma. Rock fragments analyzed by Barra et al. [Barra F., Swindle T. D., Korotev R. L., Jolliff B. L., Zeigler R. A., and Olsen E. (2006) 40Ar-39Ar dating of Apollo 12 regolith: implications for the age of Copernicus and the source of nonmare materials, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 70, 6016-6031] from the Apollo 12 landing site and some Apollo 12 spherules reported by Levine et al. [Levine J., Becker T. A., Muller R. A., Renne P. R. (2005) 40Ar/39Ar dating of Apollo 12 impact spherules, Geophys. Res. Let., 32, L15201, doi: 10.1029/2005GL022874.] show ∼800 Ma ages, close to the accepted age of the Copernicus event, 800 ± 15 Ma [Bogard D. D., Garrison D. H., Shih C. Y., and Nyquist L. E. (1994) 39Ar-40Ar dating of two lunar granites: The age of Copernicus, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 58, 3093-3100]. These Apollo 12 samples are thought to have been affected by material from the Copernicus event since there is a Copernicus ray going through the Apollo 12 landing site. When all of these data are viewed collectively, including an Apollo 16 glass bomb [Borchardt R., Stöffler D., Spettel B., Palme H. and Wänke H. (1986) Composition, structure, and age of the Apollo 16 subregolith basement as deduced from the chemistry of post-Imbrium melt bombs. In Proceedings, 17th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, pp. E43-E54], and in the context of diverse compositional range and sample location, there is a suggestion that there may have been a transient increase in the global lunar impact flux at ∼800 Ma. Therefore, the Copernicus impact event could have been one of many. If correct, there should be evidence for this increased impact flux around 800 Ma ago in the age statistics of terrestrial impact samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4590-4597
Number of pages8
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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