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The Catastrophic Heart Beat of Earth: What Might Happen Every 27.5 million Years

Written by Zainab Ijaz The human heart beats between 60 to 100 times per minute . Other living organisms have heart or sometimes hearts of ...

Written by Zainab Ijaz

The human heart beats between 60 to 100 times per minute. Other living organisms have heart or sometimes hearts of their own that beat rhythmically. These same systematic pulses are found in everywhere around us: the colors we see, the sounds we hear, the light that bounces from surface to surface then in our eyes, even the galaxy itself seems to have a pulse of its own.
What Actually Are These Pulses?
The events forming catastrophic pulse include times of volcanic activity, marine and non-marine mass extinctions, major ocean-anoxic events, continental flood-basalt eruptions, sea-level fluctuations, global pulses of intraplate magmatism, and times of changes in seafloor-spreading rates and plate reorganizations, as explained by the authors of this study. 

Our Earth gives an impression that it might also have a pulse with a ‘beat’ every 27.5 million years. This notion would have been strange for a member of human society some 200 years ago. But not anymore. Geologists have discovered this phenomenon which is mentioned in the recent study published in the journal Geoscience Frontiers. All these events cluster together and form a very slow pulse, containing a 27.5-million-year cycle of catastrophic ebbs and flow.

These Pulses Have Developed A Planetary Calendar
Dinosaurs came and were smothered out by nature, Ice Age began and with its melting started the quashing of creatures that we cannot even fathom, Pangea split into islands and continents, and gradually humans shaped the new course for the global history. But we never thought that all along, Earth has been keeping a time record of every event sprouting on its surface.

Michael Rampino, a geologist and lead author in this study, says that “Many geologists believe that geological events are random over time. But our study provides statistical evidence for a common cycle, suggesting that these geologic events are correlated and not random.

In this study there’s a suggestion of planetary geological cycle. This is not the first-time that geologists have tried to find harmony in our history. Scientists have been trying to prove this for last 100 years. In 1920s and 30s the time suggested for this beat was 30 million years. Later, after a better technological development in 1980s and 90s, the estimated time was inferred to be 26.2 to 30 million years.

With the recent improvements in radio-isotopic dating techniques, the study in Geoscience Frontiers strives to give more accurate calculations. The authors of the study collected the latest, best dating for 89 known geologic events over the last 260 million years:
  • 29 sea level fluctuations
  • 12 marine extinctions
  • 9 land-based extinctions
  • 10 periods of low ocean oxygenation
  • 13 gigantic flood basalt volcanic eruptions
  • 8 changes in the rate of seafloor spread
  • 8 times there were global pulsations in inter-plate magmatism
The events tend to gather around 10 different dates, a ‘timetable’ of Earth’s geological history. Between these 10 periods the number of events may drop to zero but the peak activity occurs every 27.5 million years. Thus, forming a ‘beat’.

Maybe After all, There Is a Planet X? 
Now to the most important question: Why or What causes these pulses?

Scientists give two plausible answers:

First, it might be due to a function of internal Earth dynamics. These further affect global tectonics and climate, imposing a change in major processes including carbon cycles and axonic events (when parts of seas get exhausted of oxygen in large amounts and euxinia, water containing H2S, Hydrogen Sulphide, develops).

Second, cycles in Earth’s orbit in Solar System and Galaxy might be an interruption to the yearly normalcy of Earth. Most of the paleontologists and geologists suggest that comet strike might be a cause. This hypothesis has been surrounding the extinction of creatures of different marine and non-marine animals like dinosaurs and mammoths. Some space researcher has gone as far as to put the blame on Planet X.
Planet X is the hypothetical ninth planet lurking at the edges of Solar system for which scientists are still finding evidences. This ninth planet orbits the Earth like other eight but every 27.5 million years, it passes through the Kuiper Belt and dislodges a bunch of comets towards the sun and Earth gets caught in the pathway. And BAM, mass extinction. This is what Daniel Whitmire, a math instructor in University of Arkansas suggested.

The origin of all these events is not known but the evidences show that they are highly systematic and coordinated, posing a geological record. 

This forces one to think about the timespan and fragility of their own planet. But don’t worry, the last time our Earth showed a beat was 7 million years ago. We are supposedly safe from a mass extinction until the next 20 million years. Unless...humans become the new cause of this pulse?