Research into ancient geological events suggests that our planet has a slow, steady “heartbeat” of geological activity about every 27 million years.
The pulse of clustered geological events, including volcanic activity, mass extinctions, plate reorientation and sea-level rise, moves slowly in a 27.5-million-year cycle of cataclysmic waves, but researchers believe that fortunately we have 20 million years. One before the next “pulse”.
“Many geologists believe that geological events are random over time,” Michael Rampino, a geologist at New York University and lead author of the study, said in the 2021 report, “but we provide statistical evidence for a common cycle. The events are interconnected rather than random.”
The team examined the histories of 89 well-understood geological events from the last 260 million years, some of them challenging times – more than eight of these world-changing events came together in small geological timescales to create catastrophic ‘pulses’.
The research team emphasized: “These events include oceanic and non-oceanic extinctions, large oceanic anoxic events, continental flood basalt eruptions, sea-level fluctuations, global pulses of magma within plates, and changes in rates of coastal spreading and plate realignment.”
The team continued: “Our results indicate that global geological events are generally interconnected and appear in the form of pulses with a fundamental cycle of about 27.5 million years,” the team said. A study published in a journal
That 2018 paper, conducted by two researchers from the University of Sydney, looked at Earth’s carbon cycle and plate tectonics, and concluded that the cycle is about 26 million years long.
In this latest study, many of the events the team observed are causal events, meaning one directly causes another, so some of the 89 events are linked: for example, hypoxic events causing ocean extinctions.
“These climatic pulses of tectonics and climate change may be the result of geophysical processes linked to the dynamics of plate tectonics and mantle plumes, or may be rhythmic by astronomical cycles linked to Earth’s movements in the Solar System and Milky Way.” The panel came to an end.