Mass extinctions occurring over the past 260 million years were likely caused by comet and asteroid showers, scientists conclude in a new study published yesterday (October 20) in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
For more than 30 years, scientists have argued about a controversial hypothesis relating to periodic mass extinctions and impact craters — caused by comet and asteroid showers — on Earth.
In their new paper, Michael Rampino, a New York University geologist, and Ken Caldeira, a scientist in the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology, offer new support linking the age of these craters with recurring mass extinctions of life, including the demise of the dinosaurs. Specifically, they show a cyclical pattern over the studied period, with both impacts and extinction events taking place every 26 million years.
This cycle has been linked to periodic motion of the sun and planets through the dense mid-plane of our galaxy. Scientists have theorized that gravitational perturbations of the distant Oort comet cloud that surrounds the sun lead to periodic comet showers in the inner solar system, where some comets strike the Earth.
Specifically, he and Caldeira found that six mass extinctions of life during the studied period correlate with times of enhanced impact cratering on Earth. One of the craters considered in the study is the large (180 km diameter) Chicxulub impact structure in the Yucatan, which dates to about 65 million years ago — the time of a great mass extinction that included the dinosaurs.
Moreover, they add, five out of the six largest impact craters of the last 260 million years on Earth correlate with mass extinction events. Rampino said:
This cosmic cycle of death and destruction has without a doubt affected the history of life on our planet.
83% correlation with largest meteor craters? Pretty significant.
On the creationist side, the next "correction" is supposed to be by fire ... (the God's Wrath part)
On the evolutionist side the dating of the meteor craters and the correlation of them to extinction events that changed the course of life on earth, and that may even have bee critical for life forming on earth, forms an evidence based division into different chapters of the dialog of the natural history of the planet, one that is not over yet ... (the Comet Math part).
A problem for the YEC crowd is all those craters and their dates\sequences correlating with the fossil record of extinctions instead on one flood conflation: why do the craters mark different chapters in the story of life on earth?