Abstract

We report the discovery of the Paraburdoo spherule layer, which consists entirely of replaced impact-produced melt spherules. It is distal ejecta from a large impact close to the Archean-Proterozoic boundary in the Hamersley Basin of Western Australia. The spherule layer occurs in the Paraburdoo Member of the Wittenoom Formation and was deposited ca. 2.57 Ga (date via U-Pb age interpolation) in a deep shelf environment. The layer consists of microkrystites rich in plagioclase and ferromagnesian crystals, replaced by K-feldspar and a phlogopite-like sheet silicate, respectively. The skeletal textures indicate rapid cooling of a melt with mafic to ultramafic composition and suggest oceanic target rocks. The Paraburdoo spherule layer is 2 cm thick, normally graded, and was probably deposited by suspension settling, as there is no evidence of reworking; it is strikingly similar to the Reivilo spherule layer in the Griqualand West Basin (South Africa), appears to provide a third impact-related high-resolution stratigraphic correlation between these two basins, and points to a high frequency of large impacts around the Archean-Proterozoic boundary.

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