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No. 60: Nov-Dec 1988

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Collision/eruption/extinction/ magnetic reversal

An increasingly popular scenario is: (1) Every 34 million years the solar system bobs up and down through the thickly populated disk of our galaxy; (2) The resulting encounters lead to showers of comets and/or asteroids on earth; (3) The mechanic trauma leads to basalt flooding; (4) Great biological extinctions occur in consequence; and (5) The terrestrial magnetic field reverses in step.

Now, if scientists could show that all of these phenomena occur at the same frequency and are roughly in phase, it would constitute one of science's most important syntheses. The stratigraphic record and the estimated ages of meteor craters certainly hint at such synchrony. Recently, two more papers have appeared which support the above scenario. First, M.R. Rampino and R.B. Stothers show that during the past 250 million years, eleven episodes of basalt flooding have occurred with an average cycle time of 32 million years. Second, J. Negi maintains that the earth's magnetic record boasts a similar string of disturbances, with an average period of 33 million years.

(Anonymous; "Regular Reversals in Earth's Magnetic Field A Fluke?" New Scientist, p. 32, August 25, 1988.)

From Science Frontiers #60, NOV-DEC 1988. 1988-2000 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