Most of the major geological events in the modern history of the planet took place at intervals of 27.5 million years. Scientists called this pattern the “pulse of the Earth.”
From sea level changes to volcanic eruptions: over the past 260 million years, dozens of major geological events appear to have occurred at intervals.
“For quite some time now, some geologists have wondered if there is a cycle of about 30 million years in the geological record,” explains lead author Michael Rampino, professor in the Department of Biology and Environmental Studies at New York University. That said, until recently, bad dating was difficult.
Many geologists believe that all geological extremes are largely random. In the new study, scientists analyzed 89 major geological events that have occurred over the past 260 million years to see if they were truly random or there is a pattern.
These include extinctions, sea level fluctuations, major volcanic activity and the movement of Earth’s tectonic plates, and periods when the oceans were toxic due to lack of oxygen.
The researchers then arranged the events in chronological order and analyzed their location on the timeline. The scientists found that most of them are grouped into 10 separate time periods with an interval of 27.5 million. This number may not be accurate, but it is “a pretty good estimate” with a confidence interval of 96%, the study authors note. They called their discovery “the pulse of the Earth.”