Major episodes of geologic change

correlations, time structure and possible causes

Michael Rampino, Ken Caldeira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-227
Number of pages13
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume114
Issue number2-3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1993

Fingerprint

Sea level
periodicity
planetesimal
Galaxies
causes
Solar system
Tectonics
seafloor
extinction
sea floor spreading
Deposits
flood basalt
Earth (planet)
periodic variations
Fluxes
protoplanets
evaporite
sea level change
orogeny
solar system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)

Cite this

Major episodes of geologic change : correlations, time structure and possible causes. / Rampino, Michael; Caldeira, Ken.

In: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol. 114, No. 2-3, 1993, p. 215-227.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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