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No. 12: Fall 1980

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The earth's ring

The most profound climatic event of the Tertiary was the terminal Eocene event 34 million years ago. The sudden change in the abundance of forest plants suggests that the winters became much more severe while the summers remained about the same. At about the same time, the radiolaria were devastated by some sort of disaster. This was also the time when the North American tektite strewn field was deposited -- a field that stretches halfway around the world. John O'Keefe hypothesizes that some of the tektites and microtektites that rained down during this period missed the earth and went into orbit around it, forming an opaque Saturn-like ring. This ring might have lasted a million years or more; and its shadow could have caused the extrasevere winters postulated from botanical data.

(O'Keefe, John A.; "The Terminal Eocene Event; Formation of a Ring System around the Earth," Nature, 285:309, 1980.)

Comment. Many who have previously speculated about terrestrial ring systems, such as I.N. Vail, were called pseudoscientists!

Reference. The North American tektites are the subject of Section ESM3 in our Neglected Geological Anomalies. Ordering information here.

Earth's ring shadow
Earth's ring shadow

From Science Frontiers #12, Fall 1980. 1980-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987