Published data sets of major geologic events of the past ∼ 250 Myr (extinction events, sea-level lows, continental flood-basalt eruptions, mountain-building events, abrupt changes in sea-floor spreading, ocean-anoxic and blackshale events and the largest evaporite deposits) have been synthesized (with estimated errors). These events show evidence for a statistically significant periodic component with an underlying periodicity, formally equal to 26.6 Myr, and a recent maximum, close to the present time. The cycle may not be strictly periodic, but a periodicity of ∼ 30 Myr is robust to probable errors in dating of the geologic events. The intervals of geologic change seem to involve jumps in sea-floor spreading associated with episodic continental rifting, volcanism, enhanced orogeny, global sea-level changes and fluctuations in climate. The period may represent a purely internal earth-pulsation, but evidence of planetesimal impacts at several extinction boundaries, and a possible underlying cycle of 28-36 Myr in crater ages, suggests that highly energetic impacts may be affecting global tectonics. A cyclic increase in the flux of planetesimals might result from the passage of the Solar System through the central plane of the Milky Way Galaxy-an event with a periodicity and mean phasing similar to that detected in the geologic changes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science