Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

2011 Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, Ricardo Amils, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII, William M. Irvine, Daniele L. Pinti, Michel Viso

Late Heavy Bombardment

  • Philippe ClaeysEmail author
  • Alessandro Morbidelli
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-11274-4_869



 Asteroids, comets, gas planets, impact craters, impact process,  meteorites,  Moon, small bodies,  solar system dynamics


The term Late Heavy Bombardment (or LHB) corresponds to an elevated frequency of collisions that affected the inner Solar System between 4.0 and 3.8 billion years ago. The Earth preserved no trace of these major impacts, but they can be found on the highly cratered surface of the Moon and other planets such as Mars, or in the age of the impact melt measured on meteorites originating from the asteroid belt. The LHB forms either the slowly decreasing tail end of planetary accretion or a localized cataclysmic event, perhaps triggered by a readjustment of the orbits of the large gas planets long after the formation of the Solar System.


Origin and Duration of the LHB

The current stratigraphic timescale places the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB) period in the beginning of the Archean (in the Eoarchean Era), coeval,...
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References and Further Reading

  1. Cohen BA, Swindle TD, Kring DA (2000) Support for the lunar cataclysm hypothesis from lunar meteorite impact melt ages. Science 290:1754–1756ADSGoogle Scholar
  2. Culler TS, Becker TA, Muller RA, Renne PR (2000) Lunar impact history from 40Ar/39Ar dating of glass spherules. Science 287:1785–1788ADSGoogle Scholar
  3. Gomes R, Levison HF, Tsiganis K, Morbidelli A (2005) Origin of the cataclysmic Late Heavy Bombardment period of the terrestrial planets. Nature 435:466–469ADSGoogle Scholar
  4. Hartmann WK, Ryder G, Dones L, Grinspoon D (2000) The time-dependent intense bombardment of primordial Earth/Moon system. In: Canup RM, Righter K (eds) Origin of the Earth and Moon. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, pp 493–512Google Scholar
  5. Koeberl C (2004) The late heavy bombardment in the inner solar system. Earth Moon Planet 92:79–87ADSGoogle Scholar
  6. Kring DA (2003) Environmental Consequences of Impact Cratering Events as a function of Ambient Conditions on Earth. Astrobiology 3:133–152ADSGoogle Scholar
  7. Kring DA, Cohen BA (2002) Cataclysmic bombardment throughout the inner solar system 3.9–4.0 Ga. J Geophys Res 107(E2):4-1–4-6. doi:10.1029/2001JE001529Google Scholar
  8. Morbidelli A, Levison HF, Tsiganis K, Gomes R (2005) Chaotic capture of Jupiter's Trojan asteroids in the early Solar System. Nature 435:462–465ADSGoogle Scholar
  9. Ryder G (1990) Lunar samples, lunar accretion and the early bombardment of the Moon. Eos Trans Am Geophys Union 71:313–323ADSGoogle Scholar
  10. Ryder G, Koeberl C, Mojzsis SJ (2000) Heavy bombardment on the Earth at 3.85: the search for petrographical and geochemical evidence. In: Canup RM, Righter K (eds) Origin of the Earth and Moon. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, pp 475–492Google Scholar
  11. Stoeffler D, Ryder G (2001) Stratigraphy and isotopic ages of lunar geologic units: chronological standard for the inner solar system. In: The evolution of Mars. International Space Science Institute, Bern, Switzerland, pp 7–53. Space Sci Rev 96:1–4Google Scholar
  12. Tsiganis K, Gomes R, Morbidelli A, Levison HF (2005) Origin of the orbital architecture of the giant planets of the Solar System. Nature 435:459–461ADSGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Earth System ScienceVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Observatoire de la Cote d’AzurNiceFrance