The previous chapter paints the
picture of what happened at the antipode of the Chicxulub impact 65 MYA and how
the evidence for this story is laid out in the geological features that we see
Ben's Antipodal Impact Theory says
that, in order to have a major extinction, a cosmic impact has to be able to
transfer enough force to uplift at least a small continent near the antipode of
the impact site and to create aggressive and persistent volcanism at the
The aggressive, persistent and
explosive volcanism at the antipode of the cosmic impact would be the main
killer of life on earth, producing centuries of soot, ash and noxious gases,
which block sunlight would lead to a massive ice age. However, both the impact
(earthquakes, mega-tsunamis, atmospheric firestorms and sun-blocking ejecta)
and the uplift of a continent (mega-mega-tsunamis) would start the process off
with a bang.
EXPECTED GEOLOGICAL FEATURES
At this point, we can piece together
the geological features that we would expect to find in the aftermath of such a
devastating event. These features (which are fully in evidence in the case of
the Chicxulub impact) are:
1. A Big Impact Crater
The size of the crater (rather than the size of the impact object a deep
water impact can significantly blunt the force of the impact on the lithosphere
and the mantle) is directly related to the amount of energy that is transferred
to the lithosphere and the mantle. I estimate that the 170 km diameter of the
Chicxulub crater is at the mid-range of the size needed to uplift a continent
and cause a major extinction. The 90 km diameter Chesapeake Bay crater did NOT
coincide with a major extinction 35.5 MYA, nor did it uplift a continent. (but
it did raise up mountains in eastern Australia).
2. A Large and Persistent Antipodal Hotspot with Massive Lava
Flows for Tens of Thousands of Years The antipodal hotspot that created
the Deccan traps erupted aggressively and persistently for 100,000 years and
continued with major force for up to a million years after that. Except in the
rare event of a perfectly vertical impact, we would expect this hotspot to move
in the direction dictated by the magma under the uplifted continent. Because
the hotspot must cut through the lithosphere like a plasma torch as it moves
forward, we would expect it to lag behind the path of the continent as
described in the Baseball Theory of Tandem Movement.
3. An Uplifted Continent We would expect to see an uplifted
continent (which includes the antipodal hotspot somewhere in its tail) in the
shape of "a blob with a tail", with the tail pointing back to the impact site.
We would expect to see the continent imbued
with forward motion by the magma beneath it. In the case of the Chicxulub
impact, the uplifted Indian continent was created in the shape of a "blob with
a tail" and it moved in the northwest direction dictated by the transferred
rotational energy of the magma beneath it.
EVIDENCE OF THE SMOKING
So, when we are looking for evidence
of a "smoking gun" for a cosmic impact related to a possible major extinction
event, we would expect to see:
1. CRATER A crater that
is greater than 90 km in diameter.
Evidence of a massive antipodal hotspot that spewed-forth huge amounts
3. BLOB AND A TAIL Evidence
of an uplifted continent in the shape of a "blob with a tail", with the initial
antipodal hotspot located somewhere within the tail.
4. CONTINENTAL MOVEMENT Evidence of movement of the new
continent in the direction dictated by the forward rotational energy of the
mantle underneath it (the forward rotational energy being created by the angle
of the impact and adjusted by "Sidespin" ... see Appendix
5. TANDEM MOVEMENT
Evidence of the hotspot moving in the same general direction as the continent,
but not moving as fast.
All of these five characteristics of
the expected "smoking gun" of a major extinction event are present in the case
of the Chicxulub impact.
However, even though these factors are
in evidence, we can see that it has not been easy to actually figure them out.
This book represents the first time that anyone has been able to piece the
The Chicxulub impact is the most recent
of the major extinctions. This impact has left behind the clearest evidence of
what happened because the evidence is much more recent than the evidence from
previous major extinction events. The details of the other extinction events
are going to be significantly more difficult to piece together. But at least we
know what we are looking for.
THE PERMIAN EXTINCTION
At this point, the only other major
extinction that offers relatively easy clues to its "smoking gun" is the
Permian Extinction. Not so; Appendix I, II, III and IV
will detail the results for the Permian extinction and the uplift of Siberia,
as well as the formation of Western Antarctica, South America and Eastern North
The Permian Extinction is the largest
of the major extinctions. It occurred approximately 250 MYA. The most generally
accepted reason for this extinction (known as the "great dying") was the
effects from massive and persistent volcanism in Siberia
dwarfed the volcanism of the Deccan traps in India.
Let's take a look at the five
characteristics of the expected "Smoking Gun" as they pertain to the Permian
1. CRATER There are
reports of a crater of 300 miles in diameter beneath the ice shield of Eastern
Antarctica. The crater is presumed to be in the neighborhood of 250 million
years old. The location of the crater is approximately where it would need to
be in order to have a huge antipodal hotspot at the location of the Siberian
traps 250 MYA.
The age is approximately
correct. The size of the crater is in keeping with the huge extinction event,
the huge outpouring of flood basalt lava and the huge Siberian continent that
because the crater is located beneath miles of ice, no one has been able to
physically verify the reports. Nevertheless, confidence is high based upon
gravity fluctuation measured by NASA satellites. They found a "mascon" (a mass
concentration of mantle material) that had risen up into the earth's crust.
A posting on "Ohio State Research" notes
"When the scientists
overlaid their gravity image with airborne radar images of the ground beneath
the ice, they found the mascon perfectly centered inside a circular ridge some
300 mikes wide."19 pg2
The posting goes on to say:
"'On the moon, you can look
at craters and the mascons are still there,' (Ralph) von Frese said. "But on
earth it's unusual to find mascons, because the planet is geologically active.
The interior eventually recovers and the mascon goes away.' He cited the very
large and much older Vredefort crater in South Africa that must have once had a
mascon, but no evidence of it can be seen now."19 pg 2
Other evidence of a cosmic
impact 250 MYA is reported in "Extraterrestrial Impacts":
"Very recently a research
team led by Dr. Luann Becker has published that they have chemical evidence for
a meteorite strike 252 millions years ago at the time of the Permian crisis.
The evidence is based on complex carbon molecules called fullerenes which have
cosmogenic isotopes of helium and argon inside their 'football like' structure.
The fullerenes show an unusually high concentration at the time of the
extinction in three boundary sections in Japan, China and Hungary."20 pg 3
There are also heightened levels
of iridium and shocked quartz at 250 MYA. 20 Both of these items are
associated with cosmic impacts.
We have flood basalt evidence of the biggest hotspot currently known on
the Siberian traps. The Siberian traps are located approximately
where they would be needed to originate in order to have been antipodal to the
Antarctic crater 250 MYA. 21
BLOB WITH A TAIL Our evidence is the shape of Siberia as its blob
collides with Europe at the Urals, as well as impacting South Asia near China.
The tail extends to the east all the way through the Bering straits into almost
all of Alaska (remember that a continent includes its shelf, and in this case,
that shelf includes the Bering Straits). This huge antipodal continental uplift
area is in keeping with the size of the huge 300 mile-in-diameter impact
4. CONTINENTAL MOVEMENT -
Standard models of plate tectonics show the Siberian plate moving in to collide
with the European plate. I would argue that the newly uplifted Siberian
continent also had a slight velocity to the south. Therefore, as it headed
west, it moved increasingly more to the south due to the coriolis effect. This
southward movement caused it to crash into China and the surrounding area as
well as into Europe, building up both the north side of the Himalayan plateau
as well as the Ural mountains. It is also interesting to note that this
southward movement by the blob has started a rift in the tail (at Lake Baikal)
because the continental mass is too big to remain intact under rotational
It is also possible that the leading
edge of the Siberian blob was initially located beyond the North Pole, which
would account for southerly movement. In any event, this uplifted continent was
so huge and so long that not all of the pieces moved in exactly the same
direction as it rotated and broke up during its
5. TANDEM MOVEMENT The
hotspot that began in Alaska and the created the Aleutian Islands is the
logical candidate for a follow-on antipodal hotspot that is moving in roughly
the same direction as the blob with a tail. The flood basalt lava deposits in
Southern Alaska circa 235 MYA that move in the direction of the Aleutians may
be the link between the Siberian traps and the Aleutian island arc.
37 Even after 250 million years, the hotspot still has some fire
left, as it feeds the volcanoes at the west end of the Aleutian island chain.
In my opinion, we have a relatively complete "smoking gun" for the Permian
extinction 250 MYA. Although not as complete and definitive as the "smoking
gun" for the End-Cretaceous extinction, it is still very convincing.
The case for the
Permian extinction is explored in even more detail in Appendix
THE TRIASSIC EXTINCTION
Clear cut evidence for a cosmic origin
of the other major extinctions is harder to find. The Earth is a dynamic
planet. It erodes and subducts and covers over older geological features. The
Triassic extinction (202 MYA) is the only other major extinction that has a
good chance of explanation, and even then, it is speculative. The Triassic
extinction was the smallest of the major extinctions. The picture for a
"smoking gun" for the Triassic extinction looks like this for now:
1. CRATER There is a
100 km diameter at Manicouagan in Quebec in Canada that is dated at circa 214
MYA. The impact hit on hard rock with no buffering of water. Even though the
crater size was smallish, the fact that it hit in an area that would be most
conducive for energy transfer (hard rock) means that it could throw up a
prodigious antipodal hotspot and maybe even a small continent.
The likely candidate for this small antipodal
continent would be Western Antarctica, which could have been in the right place
214 MYA to be antipodal.
There is evidence of flood basalt lava in the central Atlantic province that
coincides with the extinction time frame. However, we would expect the flood
basalt lava to be within the structure of the uplifted continent. Furthermore,
the central Atlantic province is a long ways away from where we would expect to
see it. At this point, there is no clear evidence of an antipodal hotspot.
3. BLOB WITH A TAIL Western Antarctica
is very different from Eastern Antarctica. Eastern Antarctica is made up of old
rock. Western Antarctica mostly rose from the sea during the period of 206 MYA
to 146 MYA, according to the Standard Theory.
Thus, although we are taught to think of Antarctica as one
continent, it is really two continents stuck together. And, while Western
Antarctica is pretty small for a continent, it does have a "blob with a tail"
The Standard Theory also notes that
Eastern Antarctica was once connected to Australia (the Great Australian Bight
fits right into the coastline of Eastern Antarctica).22
4. CONTINENTAL MOVEMENT Speculative.
5. TANDEM MOVEMENT Not Known.
As sketchy as this picture is for the
Triassic extinction, the older major extinctions are even more obscure. Too
much evidence is hidden. There aren't any easy assertions.
The Triassic extinction
and the creation of Western Antarctica are explained in great detail in
Appendix II, with further exploration of the Triassic extinction in Appendix
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO UPLIFT A
The above description of what may have
caused the major Triassic extinction should be compared to the non-extinction
event (or minor extinction event) related to the Chesapeake Bay crater 35.5
I am proposing that the impact object
which caused the100 km diameter Manicouagan crater 214 MYA in Canada also
caused the at least a large minor extinction event
of the same time period. I am proposing that this impact also created the small
continent of Western Antarctica, as well as lots of other nasty antipodal
However, just 35.5 MYA, an impact
object created a 90 km diameter crater at Chesapeake Bay in Maryland (USA). The
extinction graph shown on Wikipedia indicates that there was only a minor
extinction event around that time (18% of genera
extinguished in the large minor event versus 13%
at 35 MYA).
How could two craters of almost the
same size produce such different results?
I believe that there were three factors
which led to the difference. These factors were:
1. SIZE A crater of
100km in diameter is 11% bigger than a crater of 90km in diameter. The area of
the crater (which would be directly related to the impact force) is a function
of the square of the diameter. Therefore, the force that produced a 100 km
crater would have been 23% greater than the force producing a 90 km crater.
Furthermore, a crater on hard rock with the same force will be somewhat smaller
than a crater in marshy ground. Therefore, the crater in Canada may indicate a
force that was as much as 40% greater than that at Chesapeake Bay.
2. SURFACE CONDITIONS The Manicouagan
crater was created right in the middle of a continental mass, with no
mitigating effects from water. The Chesapeake Bay impact occurred at the
seashore, where sand (remember Dunkirk) and water could have had some minor
3. ANTIPODE LOCATION
The antipode of the Manacouagan impact is hypothesized to be at the
a relatively thin area of the lithosphere. The antipode of
the Chesapeake Bay impact occurred under the mountains of Eastern Australia.
The crust is much thicker there and the mountains create even more weight and
shear problems than usual.
The combination of these factors appear
to be the reason that the Manacouagan impact object (100 km crater) caused
a large minor extinction and uplifted a continent
(albeit it a small one), while the Chesapeake Bay impact object (90 km crater)
did not uplift a continent, nor did it have the same kind of extinction effect.
This comparison of factors and the
resulting Western Antarctica continent versus no continent also gives us an
idea of what kind of crater must be present to consider continental uplift. It
appears that a crater minimum of 100 km in diameter is needed for continental
uplift, but only if all of the conditions are right.
WHY SHOULD WE ASSUME THAT
EXTINCTIONS ARE RELATED TO COSMIC IMPACTS?
So, let's see where we are.
We have very solid evidence for cosmic
impact and antipodal impact effects as the cause of the End-Cretaceous
We have reasonably solid evidence for
the Permian extinction. We have sketchy evidence for the Triassic extinction.
We now have solid
evidence for all three of these extinctions, as related in Appendix I and
We have no evidence for the other three
older major extinctions.
Why should we assume that cosmic
impacts and their antipodal impact effects were the cause of these other three
extinctions? There are three reasons.
For the first reason, let's look at the
explanations given for those three other, older major extinctions by the
1. Cambrian Extinction
Glacial Cooling or Oxygen Depletion
Ordovician Extinction Glaciation and Sea Level Lowering
3. Devonian Extinction Glaciation or
All of these three explanations are
also the logical consequences of a large cosmic impact with devastating
antipodal impact effects. The volcanism created by the antipodal impact effects
will fill the air with ash and sulfurous fumes for thousands of years. Major
glaciation is the expected result. Therefore, glaciation is merely a result of
the antipodal impact effects, just as antipodal impact effects are merely a
result of a large cosmic impact on-or-near-land. Furthermore, sea level
lowering is just a result of major glaciation, which is, again, an expected
antipodal result of a large cosmic impact .
The point is that a large cosmic impact
would explain all of the other causes that have been named.
This brings us to the second reason
that we should believe that cosmic impacts were the reason for the three older
major extinctions. That reason is: Statistics.
As detailed in Chapter 6, we would
expect that there would be between six to eight impacts on-or-near-land that
would be big enough to create major extinctions during the past 510 million
years. We have experienced six major extinctions. As
detailed in Chapter 8, Appendix I and Appendix IV, we have a clear path
to the understanding of how the most recent three
of these extinctions were due to cosmic impacts.
We know that we have a dynamic planet
that hides ancient evidence. Do we really believe that we only had two or three
big impacts on-or-near-land in the last 510 million years instead of six to
eight? Do we really believe that the Moon (which showed lots of major impacts)
was just really unlucky and the Earth was really lucky?
Unlikely. It's much more likely that
the evidence of ancient major cosmic impacts is too old to find easily. As we
get better at modeling the ancient world (i.e. getting India in the right
place, etc), we may be able to better pick up clues relating to these older
impacts and their antipodal uplifts and hotspots.
The third reason that we should believe
that cosmic impacts were the reason for the three older major extinctions is
the pattern of major and minor impacts and extinctions.
This book deals primarily with the
major extinctions and the major cosmic impacts.
However, there are many more minor (but
significant) extinctions and many more minor (but significant) cosmic impacts.
The pattern of major and minor extinctions is very much in line with the
pattern of major and minor cosmic impacts.
During the last 500 million years,
there have been 32 confirmed impact craters on earth of 20 km diameter or more.
There are likely many more craters of this size that have not yet been
discovered (due to erosion, subduction, etc.).17
During this same time period, there
have been six major extinctions and many more minor extinctions. More than 98%
of all species that have ever lived are now extinct.33
Why should we have to invoke "rare
mantle plumes" and arbitrary glaciation when the pattern of cosmic impacts and
their antipodal effects will explain extinction events just as well
especially now that we have the "smoking gun" for the
last three big ones?