Abstract

Detailed geologic field work in the Hamersley basin of Western Australia has identified a single horizon that contains predominantly sand-sized spherules similar to those found in impact ejecta such as at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. Evidence suggests that these spherules represent a reworked distal strewn field formed by a large bolide impact in late Archean time. This so-called “spherule marker bed” occurs throughout the main body of the Hamersley basin and in stratigraphically equivalent, but shallower-water lithologies in the northeastern corner. Carbonate constitutes both a matrix component of the spherule marker bed and minor interbeds in the local stratigraphic section. We have utilized carbonate Pb-Pb dating methods to provide, for the first time, an age estimate (2541 +18/−15 Ma) for this important marker bed and therefore of the bolide impact event. Samples from both facies define, within error, an identical isochron age that is also consistent with the few zircon-based age estimates for the Hamersley succession. These findings highlight the great potential of carbonate Pb-Pb geochronology in the dating of Archean and Proterozoic sedimentary rocks.

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