Geological Rhythms and Cometary Impacts

Science  21 Dec 1984:
Vol. 226, Issue 4681, pp. 1427-1431
DOI: 10.1126/science.226.4681.1427


Time-series analysis reveals two dominant, stable long-term periodicities approximately equal to 33 ± 3 and 260 ± 25 million years in the known series of geological and biological upheavals during the Phanerozoic Eon. Because the cycles of these episodes agree in period and phase with the cycles of impact cratering on Earth, these results suggest that periodic comet impacts strongly influence global tectonism and biological evolution. These two periodicities could arise from interactions of the solar system with interstellar clouds as the solar system moves cyclically through the Galaxy.