The new concept of the origin of continents

Himalayan Geology, Vol. 22(1), 2001, pp. 185-190
ISSN: 0971-8966

A comprehensive, updated, and to some extent, complete revision of the publication that was submitted for consideration in Oslo in 2008 (33 IGC; STT09707L) and is presented below.

The Impact at the Paleozoic-Mesozoic (Permian-Triassic) Boundary

Granton Institute of Technology, 263 Adelaide Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M5H 1Y3, Canada

Abstract: At the end of the 20th century, several authors, some with numerous well established supporting geological evidence, presented the hypothesis that a large extraterrestrial body impacted the Earth at the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary. The presented paper not only further develops these ideas, but also presents cogent proof for the occurrence of the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary impact based on available geological data as well as the latest space exploratory data. The geological data is taken primarily from the Initial Reports of the Proceedings of the Deep Sea Drilling Project, the Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program, and other valuable sources. The new “Geological Map of the Ocean Floor” and a 3-D dual model of an impacted Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary Earth presented here were both recently constructed at the Granton Institute of Technology. The map and model, combined with the geological evidence cited below, are effective in confirming the impact at Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary, which not only signaled the beginning of the Mesozoic Era, but also served as the origin of the modern continents and the modern abyssal oceans. Objections to the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary impact hypothesis also presented.

Geological Facts Supporting the Paleozoic-Mesozoic Boundary Impact (PMB)

■ The Great Extinction of life circa this period, when “as many as 90% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate families dying out” (Renne et al., 1995). Many extinctions have traditionally been called “Great”; however only the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary biotic change fully deserves to be called a “true mass extinction” (Hoffman, 1989). For millions of years onwards, life itself was nearly extinguished. Hence, something really unprecedented had happened at Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary, something that happened neither before nor afterwards.

■ An insertion in Science (February 2001) states: “recent studies of some [Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary] sites indicate that the extinction occurred very abruptly, consistent with a catastrophic cause. Fullerenes (C60 to C100) from sediments at the [Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary] contain trapped helium and argon with isotope ratios similar to the planetary components of carbonaceous chondrites.” The extraterrestrial signature of the helium provides strong evidence that fullerenes where delivered intact to Earth in a bolide at the [Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary]. The above was confirmed following examination of the 3He concentration in the bulk Sasayama sediments at several intervals (Becker et al., 2001).

■ The evidence taken from petrified woods provides strong support for the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary impact as well: “…the lack of growth rings in Euramerian Upper Paleozoic woods contrasts with… clear growth rings… in Mesozoic and Tertiary woods…” (Chaloner and Creber, 1973). Observed changes in the annual tree rings indicates an onset of seasons at the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary (Figure 1-1), which can be attributed to a shift of the Earth’s axis. This shift, in turn, could be caused only by a strong external force, which could be created only by a correspondingly heavy external impactor.

■ Dramatic changes in the character and configuration of the Earth’s magnetic field at the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary (Cox, Doell, 1960).

■ Synchronization between Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary and a chiefly basalt ejection of up to three million cubic kilometres on an area of over two million square kilometres in central Siberia (Renne et al., 1995).

■ The formation of the greatest volume of marine evaporites recorded for any geologic period (Frakes, 1986).

■ The most dramatic drop of the growth carbonate platforms at the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary, after which there is no documented reefs and reef-builders growth (Bosscher and Schlager, 1993).

■ The beginning of the break-up of the supercontinent Pangea after the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary. It is commonly believed that Pangea before the breakup was assembled at the end of the Permian. However, it is hard to believe that the constituent parts of Gondwana, such as Africa and South America as well as the entire Pangea were molded so precisely as if in preparation for such a smooth union. The absence of significant orogeny on the coasts of West Africa, Eastern South America, and South Australia only amplifies doubts about the correctness of this supposition. It is much more plausible that Pangea, or at least Gondwana, was always a supercontinent until some event broke it up into several parts, presumably at the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary, which resulted in the beginning of the disintegration of Pangea and the following formation of the modern continents. This is indirectly supported in a May 2008 publication in Science (Niu, 2008). Refer to page 14 in presented paper.

Fig. 1 – The most probable global model of Phanerozoic glaciation**, based on summarized and mean data taken from selected well-known and generally accepted ice sheet models and works in this field completed by: Bentley (1999), Calkin and Young (2002), Frakes et al. (1992), Hughes (1998), Moran et al. (2006), Polyak et al. (2001), Visser (1993), Zachos et al. (1993).

* Existing only in short periods in the Mesozoic, periglacial setting with seasonal winter ice but not one of permanent glaciers.

** The alleged late Ordovician–early Silurian, and late Devonian–early Carboniferous glaciations are not well corroborated and lack sufficient stratigraphic determination and thus are not included in the graph.

■ The scarcity of sedimentation, when “only a few areas on the earth where continuity of latest Permian with earliest Triassic could be recognized” (Kapoor, 1996).

■ The absence of permanent glaciation anywhere on the globe during the Mesozoic (Frakes, 1986; Frakes et al., 1992; Zachos et al., 1993; Calkin and Young, 2002). See also Figure 1

■ An abrupt, major, and worldwide hiatus in coal formation from the Changhsingian to the middle Triassic (Faure et al., 1994).

■ A transition of the world ocean– from mostly shallow-water epicontinental to modern deep water – after the Paleozoic (Dickins, Choi, and Yeates, 1992 ; Parubets, 1998). “There is no record in the abyss which reaches back as far as 200 million years, and either there was no abyss then or the relicts of these ancient seas have been completely destroyed” (Heezen and Hollister, 1971). It is hard to believe that all of the ancient oceanic crust has been completely destroyed and that not even a small remnant has been preserved. It seems more plausible that the oceanic crust as well as the modern deep water Ocean started to form in the Mesozoic.

Fig. 1-1 – Transverse sections of Paleozoic and Permian/Triassic petrified gymnosperm woods (conifers) and extant angiosperm (flowering) woods.

A) Paleozoic gymnosperm wood with lack of growth rings (modified from Chaloner and Creber, 1973).

B) Paleozoic gymnosperm wood, showing two of a number of weakly developed, very obscure growth rings. These were possibly developed by non-climatic factors (modified from Chaloner and Creber, 1973).

C) Permian or Triassic wood from Antarctica. The dark area in the lowest (older) quarter of the figure represents intensely crushed wood cells. One of a number of “rings” of crushed tissue resembles the true growth rings (modified from Schopf, 1961).

D) Extant angiosperm wood with clearly shown growth rings (Press). This transverse section represents angiosperm woods, which developed only during and after the Cretaceous. Undisputedly clear growth rings, attributable to the onset of the seasons, start to show in petrified woods at the Mesozoic.

■ An analysis of Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary soils suggests a substantial surge of acid rain, abnormal amounts of dust in the atmosphere, and significant worldwide changes in the carbon cycle, which culminated in the early Triassic (Holser et al., 1989).

Considered separately, each of the above-mentioned geological facts is compelling but does not constitute proof of a Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary impact. Each of the facts can be interpreted in several ways. For instance some of the facts have been suggested as causes of the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary (Permian-Triasic) extinction, and not only as effects of some initial, greater case that did push the planet to the very brink of the Paleozoic geological era. Considered together, however, the facts indicate the need for a unified explanation and also point the way to one such explanation, i.e., the hypothesis that there was a large impact at the end of the Changsingian.

Another strong support for the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary impact hypothesis comes from an analysis, below, of marine sediments on continental shelves and slopes.

Background and Objectives for Constructing the New Geological Map of the Ocean Floor

J.H.F. Umbgrove stated in 1946 that the continental shelf south of Appalachia is “covered by a pile of shelf deposits ranging from Triassic to Recent” (Umbgrove, 1946). He was one of the first marine geologists to notice this specific age range of marine sediments on the continental shelves and slopes. Later data from the Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP), Ocean Drilling Program (ODP), and other sources confirmed his conjecture, but on a worldwide scale.

Fig. 2 – Geological-structural interpretation of the area surrounding ODP sites 759 and 760. These sites are located on the northwest edge of the Australian continental slope, adjacent to the Jurassic oceanic crust (modified from Haq, von Rad et al., 1990). Additional information is provided in Table 1.

The ages and locations of samples from selected1 continental shelves and slopes sites are provided in Table 1. Notably, “the oldest marine sediments recovered by deep sea drilling” are Carnian (Haq, von Rad et al., 1990). See also Figure 2. The oldest detected marine sediments are Scythian (Exon, 1982). See also Figure 4.

One might object that “hard geology” reveals Paleozoic sedimentation on the floors of the shallow seas that P.H. Kuenen termed “shelf seas” (1950) and J.H.F. Umbgrove termed “inner shelves” (1946): the North and Barents Seas, the Sunda and Sahul shelves, Hudson Bay, the Baltic Sea, etc. However, most marine geologists do not consider these areas to be true shelves bounding an ocean, but merely large areas of continental land that have become flooded by shallow water in relatively recent times. The same Umgrove paper pointed out that, on the basis of solid geological findings, the bottom of the Barents Sea (for example) “…belongs to the European continent.” Umgrove adds that “…the North Sea [seems] to have been a land area in the near past…” and “…the Sunda shelf [was flooded] in sub-Recent time.” Similarly, P. E. Kent (1968) stressed that “the North Sea [floor] is not fundamentally different from the adjoining land areas [and is] a flooded section of the North-West European foreland.” According to B. Collette (1968), “…the North Sea area…cannot be considered as an extension of the continental shelf.” And H. Kuenen (1950) states that the “Baltic, Hudson Bay, Sunda and Sahul shelves may be looked upon as flooded continental areas.” These “shelf seas” whose bottoms have pre-Triassic sediments are, in their structural or stratigraphic patterns, merely continuations of adjoining unflooded continental lands, and should not be considered as continental shelves and slopes at all. Therefore, the conclusion stands that the true “outer shelves” – the ones that are adjacent to actual deep ocean – do not have sediments older than Scythian (see Table 1).

This complete lack of marine continental shelves and slopes sediments older than Triassic casts serious doubt on the Pangea-Panthalassa concept and provides strong support for the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary impact hypothesis. Figure 3 shows a commonly recognized profile of so-called Pangea at the end of the Permian, with the distribution of continental shelves and slopes that the Pangea-Panthalassa theory implies (characteristic shade “P” in Figure 3). If Pangea was indeed surrounded by a Paleozoic ocean, then we would expect to observe evidence of Permian and perhaps older sediments or at least some remnants of these at those areas marked by characteristic shade “P” in Figure 3. However, just Mesozoic and Cenozoic marine sediments were found on the continental shelves and slopes.

The absence of marine sediments on the continental shelves and slopes older than Mesozoic would not be so significant if the age of the continental shelves and slopes did not coincide with the age of the oldest oceanic crust as well as with the age of the oldest subduction zones. All three of these geological facts are presented below:

■ The oldest oceanic crust recovered or detected to date is Jurassic (Bass and Moberly, 1973; Dean, 1981; Seiferti, 1981; Müller, 1997; UNESCO Geological Map of the World, 2000).

The selection criterion was age: Table 1 includes all of the oldest continental shelves and slopes sediments for which reliable data were available.

Table 1: Age of base cores from selected sites located on continental shelves and slopes (CSS)

■ The oldest marine sediments recovered by deep ocean drilling at continental shelves and slopes are Carnian (Haq, von Rad et al., 1990), and the oldest detected marine sediments on the continental shelves and slopes are Scythian (Exon, 1982).

■ Geological records of subduction flux earlier than lower Jurassic do not exist (Gramling, 2008), or, at least are not available (Silver and Behn, 2008).

The idea that the supposed Paleozoic ocean crust has been completely “subducted away” is suspect (is it possible that not even a small remnant of it has not been preserved?) but is at least in the realm of physical possibility. Since it is obviously physically impossible to “subduct” continental slopes and shelves, as well as all subduction zones itself, it is more plausible that modern abyssal ocean with continental shelves and slopes did not exist prior Mesozoic at all.

The conflict between the imperical data and the requirements of the Pangea-Panthalassa concept also calls into question the concept itself. It seems that Pangea covered the entire smaller Paleozoic Earth and was never surrounded by an abyssal Paleozoic ocean, and the Paleozoic ocean was only epicontinental, and Mesozoic and Cenozoic continental shelves and slopes were simply parts of the continental crust of Pangea (characteristic shade “M” in Figure 3). Figure 4 further illustrates this point.

The New Geological Map of the Ocean Floor (GMOF)

The presented Geological Map of the Ocean Floor (Figure 4), which was released by the Granton Institute of Technology in 2004, was constructed as follows:

- The bathymetrical base map was based on Bruce Heezen and Marie Tharp’s World Ocean Floor Map. This map was based on Research and Exploration initiated and supported by the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research (Heezen and Tharp, 1977) (used with permission of Marie Tharp).

- Chronostratigraphic ages of the oceanic crust taken from the UNESCO Geological Map of the World (2000) (with permission of Secretary General CCGM/CGMW Philippe Bouysse).

- The ages and locations of recovered rock sites, indicated on the map by numbered tags, were taken primarily from the Initial Reports of the Deep Sea Drilling Project (with the advice of the Joint Oceanographic Institutions for Deep Earth Sampling) and the Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program (prepared in cooperation with the National Science Foundation and Joint Oceanographic Institutions), as well as from other sources, as noted in Table 1.

This map provides an opportunity to observe visually the considerable structural distinctions between the Mesozoic and Cenozoic ocean floors. Notably, the Mesozoic floor is visibly a relatively monotonous formation with a substantial number of large seamounts, while the Cenozoic floor is rich with a myriad of small volcanoes and volcanic formations. These formations cover nearly all of the Cenozoic oceanic floor.

It can be noted that the formation customarily called the Mid-Ocean Ridge (Heezen and Hollister, 1971) is in fact the Cenozoic ocean floor. To be precise, it is clear from the map that the processes that dominated the formation of the Cenozoic ocean floor, and that were responsible at the bottom of the formation for those myriad of small volcanoes, had started in some areas as early as the Upper Cretaceous, and these specific formations did not appear in some areas up to the end of the Oligocene. The earliest Neogene oceanic floor was literally perforated and stitched by small volcanoes and volcano-like formations, however. It is difficult to define which processes were responsible for the creation of these formations. One of these possible processes – the increase in the ocean depth – will be discussed in the section “Alternative Explanation of the Worldwide Presence of Shallow-water Deposits in the Deep sea Basins”.

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Another contrast between the Mesozoic and Cenozoic oceanic floors is bathymetric: the mean depth of the Mesozoic floor is considerably lower than that of the Cenozoic floor.

It can also be noticed and seen on the map, that, in a geological sense, the modern Earth has only one ocean and two continents – a North and a South continent. While it is true that, geographically, the North continent is divided into the Americas, Eurasia, Africa, and Australia, these divisions are made mostly by shallow-water seas that cover the lowermost parts of the continental crust. Thus, geologically speaking, the planet has only one northern continental crust mass that comprises the northern “continents” and the shallow-water seas between them. The planet has a separate continental crust mass in the south, which constitutes Antarctica. Separating these two continents is a single contiguous oceanic crust, with a few minor irregularities. In 1947, Wallace Pratt made the significant observation that: “If there were no continent of Antarctica, we might speak of the continental shelf of the earth in the singular. All the other continents lie within the confines of the single encircling belt of shallow-water which is essentially continuous – the continental shelf. But Antarctica has its own individual continental shelf, which it shares with no other continent” (Pratt, 1947). Literally, there are two shelves and two continents. The Geological Map of the Ocean Floor provides one more opportunity to translate this observation into visual terms.

Table 2: Basalts originated subaerially or in shallow-water environment
*Refer to References for additional information.

The differences between the oceanic floors of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras are not solely visual; there are also important lithological differences. The Mesozoic oceanic basement is distinguished by a wide variety of basalts, including phonolites, vesicular and amygdalar basalts, and trachybasalts. In contrast, the Cenozoic oceanic floor basalts are more homogeneous and consist mostly of typical low potassium “tholeiite Mid-Ocean Ridge basalts”. The presence of trachybasalts as well as vesicular and amygdalar basalts on many parts of the Mesozoic oceanic floor suggests without the possibility of any other interpretation, that significant parts of it had originated above sea level or in shallow-water depth. In contrast, mostly all Cenozoic floor, except for Iceland, had not been exposed to subaerial environments (Table 2), despite the fact that the Cenozoic floor is positioned considerably above the Mesozoic floor.

For example, DSDP site 462, located in the Nauru Basin of the Pacific, is one such Mesozoic area: the Cenomanian basalt recovered from a depth of 5780m originated at Cenomanian “at very shallow depth” (DSDP, site 462, p.79). One other example, DSDP corehole 216, in another part of the ocean floor – east of Ninety East ridge – is located on the Upper Cretaceous floor. At the bottom of this site “the amygdalar and vesicular basalts located at the lower part of the recovered basalt consist of large vesicles and amygdules varying in size from 1mm to 15mm in diameter. The size increases with depth. Lack of pillow structures and the amygdalar and vesicular nature of the base basalt suggest aerial or near surface lava extrusions” (DSDP, site 216, pp. 216, 219, 220). At the present time, this basalt is located 2720m below sea level. As expected, not only the basalt originated there subaerially or at shallow-water depth: “The oldest sedimentary unit immediately overlying this basalt consists of ash beds, chalks, and volcanogenic clays. Microfossil evidence, the presence of a molluscan fauna, and the occurrence of glauconite attest to a shallow-water environment” (DSDP, site 216, p.220). Other sites of the Mesozoic oceanic floor with similar lithology are presented in Table 2.

It is believed, such terrigenous and shallow-water sediments have been transported to the abyss by density (turbidity) currents. However, it is necessary to consider numerous cases where subaerially/shallow-water originated sediments overlay the basaltic basement, which also had originated subaerially (or in shallow-water). Thus, one could conclude indeed, there is no need at all to employ the concept of density currents to explain the presence of terrigenous and shallow-water sediments, which overlay the subaerially or shallow-water originated base basalts. It seems that terrigenous and shallow-water sediments on the deep oceanic floor simply were always there – from the moment of their original formation.

Alternative Explanation of the Worldwide Presence of Shallow Water Deposits in the Deep Sea Basins

Originally, the concept of the density (turbidity) currents was created not to explain the presence shallow-water deposits over the entire ocean floor, but to find a way to explain the origin of the submarine canyons. Almost 70 years ago, R.A. Daly (1936) resurrected the old concept of F.A. Forel, who had proposed that the sublacustrine canyon of the Rhône was cut by currents of sediment laden water flowing in along the floor of Lake Leman (Forel, 1885).

It is understandable, that in 19th century and up to the middle of the last century, because of the lack of sophisticated marine data equipment, it was permissible to speculate about the existence of turbidity currents without direct detection of them.

As late as 1972, Francis P. Shepard expressed alarm: “We still do not have substantial evidence of high-speed turbidity currents, although there is suggestive evidence from the successive breaking of cables notably those of the Grand Banks earthquake” (Shepard, 1972). However, what was achieved after that time was only measuring the current’s speed in some submarine canyons (Shepard and Marshall, 1978). The current’s speed at the Hudson Submarine Canyon fluctuate in the range of 6 -13cm/s or 0.2 - 0.5km/h (Cacchione et al., 1978). The Georges Bank canyons show the highest currents of those measured in the canyons of the American east coast, with speeds of up to 70-75cm/s or 2.5-2.7km/h (Keller and Shepard, 1978). In comparison: the speed of the Gulf Stream is 3 to 10 times higher, but, even so, neither Iceland’s Faeroe Ridge nor Blake Plateau show any evidence of cutting. The English Channel also does not exhibit any evidence of submarine canyons at its bottom. This data was the first indication that, without substantial evidence of the existence of turbidity currents gathered by marine detection systems, it is difficult to continue claiming their existence as a real phenomenon.

During the last three decades, marine and coastal sciences have undergone radical changes with the development of new marine equipment:

■ New current detection systems (Nihoul et al., 1998 ; Dickey, 1998);

■ New multi-beam sonar systems, such as SEA BEAM 2000 (Talukdar et al., 1994);

■ The Acoustic Ambient Noise Recorder CMOS (Soran, 1994);

■ Deep sea sonars Gloria, TOBI, Sea Marc II, DSL-120 (Blondel and Murton, 1997);

■ The new ocean data equipment Bathy-2000P and Echo Sounder Bathy-5000 (;

■ Sound Surveillance Systems (SOSUS), which provide deep water, long-range submarine tracking through their faint acoustic signals (;

■ The Marine and Coastal Geographical Information Systems (GIS) (Wright and Bartlett, 2000).

These and many other marine detection systems provides opportunities to listen to earthquakes and the movement of magma through the sea floor. They also allow listening to and recording of low frequency calls of whales and detection of small seismic events at ranges of thousands of kilometers. Some systems are sophisticated enough to detect movement of shrimp when their legs contact rocks, and to listen to the sound of the waves created by neutrinos when they penetrate the ocean water. But no one system or operator has yet detected any images or sounds of at least one turbidity current in progress, i.e., one that is capable of cutting a submarine canyon. What have been observed are only the images of post-landslide formations (Shanmugam, 2000 ; Blondel and Murton, 1997).

Doubt about the existence of powerful turbidity currents also came even from the data related to the Grand Banks submarine landslide in 1929. This turbidity current/submarine slump event is most often cited as proof of the existence of the turbidity currents. That massive slump, triggered by an earthquake, slid down with a speed of up 85km/hr and a duration of 13 hours and 17 minutes (Heezen and Ewing, 1952). This speed is comparable to the speed of mountain rivers, which, at the present time, are cutting the canyons along their pathways day-by-day. Most discussions in the mid-20th century about the origin of the turbidity currents dealt only with the speed of those slumps and not with their duration. It seems that this was a mistake, since the factor of the time in the process of cutting a stone by currents is a more important factor than the speed. The Grand Canyon in Arizona, for example, was carved up to 5 million years (Lucchitta, 1990).

The Grand Banks landslide used as evidence to support the turbidity concept evidently lasted only a little bit more than 13 hours. Furthermore, after 1929, we do not have any indication of a recurrence of a similar event there. Even if one assumes that one or a few of them were missed, and that one can talk about 10 landslides, for example, that occurred there undetected during the last 75 years, one will conclude that there were only 130 hours of landslide activity (or turbidity currents) there during the last 75 years. For example, in a geological time-scale, this adds up to 9 years of activity of this assumed current in that area during the last 15 million years. Even if this rate is increased 100 times, the boost would yield only 900 years of activity of the turbidity currents at the Grand Banks during the last 15 million years. Hence, one million years of stone-cutting activity, which is a minimum of time to cut a canyon comparable to the Grand Canyon would result only after 16 billion years). At the same time, we may observe worldwide many submarine canyons that are even much greater than the Grand Canyon. For example, the Ganges Submarine Canyon is 1100 nautical miles and its arms – Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog, and Easy – cover significant parts of the Indian Ocean. “Able is about eight times as wide and five times as deep as the Mississippi River. [It is] …more than 4 miles across at the top, it has a depth of 240 feet…” (Dietz, 1963). The Congo Submarine canyon is also an enormously large structure – 5 miles wide and 3000 feet deep (Heezen et al., 1964).

Therefore, if we assume, as is commonly believed, that the Grand Banks 1929 submarine slump was a typical turbidity current, and, if we take into account the above simple calculations, we may easily come to the conclusion that a turbidity current is not responsible for cutting unique formations such as the Congo, the Ganges, and hundreds of other submarine canyons. It seems, more probable, that they were created by some other process, as, for example, subaerially cut by huge streams of water that do not exist on this planet at the present time.

The second most often cited “evidence”, after Grand Banks submarine landslide, that is used as proof of the existence of turbidity currents are the tests carried out by Philip Kuenen and C.I. Magliorini in a small water tank (Kuenen and Magliorini, 1950). However, it seems questionable to apply the findings of the experiment, which was conducted in a pool measured in meters, to the World Ocean, which has sizes measured in thousands of kilometers, depths that exceed several kilometers, and water pressure that thousands of times exceeds the pressure in the experimental tank. Definitely, this is a case when we could observe transition from quantity to quality.

It seems that it is not right to claim the existence of the turbidity currents as a matter of fact until at least one real turbidity current powerful enough to cut a submarine canyon through stones is detected in progress and continually observed.

It also seems that the old dilemma, that is, were submarine canyons cut subaerially by streams of water or under water by turbidity currents, is not only still open; it also appears that modern technology is excluding the possibility of seriously considering the second process. However, the possible existence of only the first process in the dilemma – the subaerially cut submarine canyons – leaves many scientists perplexed. Henry Menard’s question – “… if the abyssal plains were formed subaerially, there would be no water at all in the ocean basins. What happens to the water?” (Menard, 1964) and Francis Shepard’s question – “…what would have happened to the water?” (Shepard, 1972) – are products of such confusion. The answer to these questions may be simple: yes, in the early Mesozoic, ocean basins were almost empty and some areas of the modern oceanic floor were land (Parubets, 2001). Specifically, that vision of the proposed process called here the Mesozoic Multi-level Oceanic System arises out of the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary impact hypothesis under consideration. One of the consequences of the proposed hypothesis is the existence in the Mesozoic of epicontinental seas, which had been continually flowing out in huge streams down to the, partially filled oceanic basins. This enormous flow created gigantic canyons on its passage through continental slopes and onto the newly formed and growing Mesozoic floor, some part of which still was not stable and strong enough to be preserved. The Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary Impact was history by the Mesozoic, but, still, immense amounts of vapour from seawater over the not yet stable part of the oceanic floor continued to supply this circle of tremendous movement of the Mesozoic water. This process evolved into a circulation of streams which continued to create the initial parts of the modern oceanic crust. Generally, this occurred along the edges of the new modern continents, and presumably in the areas, water streams were the most intense. This process continued until the open magma areas were completely covered with new oceanic crust and water (Parubets, 2001).

Hence, the direction in which the newly formed ocean floor should have developed is not towards the continents, but oppositely, from the continents’ edges to the Mid-Oceanic Ridge. Indirect confirmation of such a process comes from the graph of oceanic lithosphere formation published in Science in May 2008 (Niu, 2008). Accordingly, 70 million years ago, the distance between the edges of the already-solidified lithosphere was at least 700km x 2 = 1400km and the distances between the edges progressively narrowed towards the Mid-Oceanic Ridges. Interpolation of the presented data permit the conclusion that in the Upper Jurassic, for example, the distance between the boundaries, of the already-solidified parts of lithosphere was at least 2800km if not 4000km or more. These numbers conform well with distances between the Jurassic parts of the ocean floor, Cretaceous parts of it, and so on (refer to Figure 4). The shallow-water seas and lagoons over the entire Mesozoic floor, which surrounded newly formed highlands and islands, would complete that “strange” Mesozoic Multi-level Oceanic System. It seems that these processes were dominant up to the Paleogene; only in the Neogene did the oceanic basin start to fill up to abyssal depth.

Some authors are agreed “that considerable areas of the present oceans were formerly land or relatively shallow oceans, or both, before the Neogene and especially before the mid-Cretaceous…”, and “the oceans became deeper during the Mesozoic and Early Tertiary but the great depths of the modern oceans were formed only during the Neogene” (Dickins, Choi, Yeates, 1992).

The attainment of abyssal depth in the modern oceans at the Neogene could be the cause of the formation of the myriad of small volcanoes and volcanic formations over almost all the Cenozoic oceanic floor, in comparison with the scarcity of these formations in the presumably shallow-water Mesozoic ocean (which was discussed above).

The available paleotemperature data also effectively support this idea. Many parts of the ocean floor (see Figure 5), perhaps nearly the entire Mesozoic floor was covered by very warm water – from 14°C to 17°C. According to the aforementioned ideas, this was not deep water of the ocean, but shallow warm-water of the seas and lagoons. J. M. Schopf raised the following question: “one point which is not understood is how deep water of the ocean might warm up” (Schopf, 1980).

Only since the Late Eocene, the ocean depth began to rise and unusually super-warm water of this oceanic system slowly started to cool down to the present 2°C. The beginning of the Cenozoic glaciation coincide well with this cooling of the ocean temperature.

The graph presented below shows that, characteristically, the temperature on continental land and the water temperature of the oceanic basins were almost the same in the Cretaceous.

Fig. 5 a) Temperature of the bottom water at different areas of the ocean:

solid black line: mean temperature of the bottom ocean water since earliest Cretaceous (modified from Van Andel, 1994);

bubbled “line”: eastern equatorial Pacific (core sample taken from a depth of 4725m) (modified from Emiliani and Edwards, 1953);

red line: from equatorial region of the ocean south of New Zealand (modified from Schacketon and Kennett, 1974);

green line: calculated and constructed from data collected at the North-West Pacific, presented by Douglas and Woodruff (1981).

b) blue line: Atlantic upper ocean temperatures (constructed from data provided by Bice et al., 2006).

c) Mean temperature at southwest North American land - dotted black line (modified from Van Andel, 1994).

That paleotemperature data has, in its own turn, the support of evidence from the growth of atolls and guyots: the… “cold water would inhibit growth of reef-forming organisms…” (Hess, 1946). Hence, the atolls and guyots started growing and continued their growth only in warm water; this is well supported by the graphs of paleotemperatures presented below. Thus, the flat-topped summits of the guyots themselves could well be supporting evidence for the slow filling up of the modern ocean basin or, at least, they could be interpreted in this way to support the ideas expressed above.

The processes examined in this section constantly attract the attention of the geological community:

■ Henry Menard in 1964 noted, that “… the possibility that Pacific submarine canyons and guyots were formed during lower eustatic stands of sea-level is a global problem…” (Menard, 1964).

■ Foreze Wezel summarized on the basis of direct geological data gathered prior to 1988, and came to the conclusion “... that a zone of the Central Indian region was partly emerged land and partly epicontinental sea until late Mesozoic time” (Wezel, 1988).

■ “It seems obvious that many sea mounts over such a large area [as the Pacific] were not made by scattered heterogeneous processes, but rather by one process affecting the whole world. Around the world, on land, there is a Cretaceous transgression which has been known for many years. Many have postulated that such a submergence on land is due to crustal expansion which forces water out of basins onto the continents” (Heezen and Tharp, personal communication).

There are different views and different interpretations; however, the fact is: in the Mesozoic, the system of epicontinental seas existed in combination with sea water in the oceanic basins, presumably shallow. This would be true if so many subaerially/shallow-water basalts and sediments were there at that time.

Another probable support for the Mesozoic Multi-level Oceanic System can be found in the geological data obtained from the continents. Thus, the stratigraphy of Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary sequences of the Karoo Basin – the southern part of modern Africa – indicate major changes in the water flow system at that time. These changes coincide well with and add to some new information that contributes to better understanding of the Mesozoic Multi-level Oceanic System. The earliest Triassic non-marine strata in the Karoo Basin suggest that there was a rapid changeover in fluvial facies, from slow, meandering rivers to rapidly flowing braided anastomosing streams at the beginning of the Triassic with “progressive decrease in channel stability… [when]… floodplains became more frequently reworked” (Smith, 1995). Moreover, according to the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary Impact hypothesis, this southernmost part of Africa had been surrounded in the earliest Triassic by an unstable skin of the modern ocean floor that was barely covered by constantly vapourized hot water. A change in the temperature is expected in places such as Karoo Basin from relatively normal in Permian to high or extremely high in the earliest Triassic. The stratigraphy of Karoo Basin is confirming such an extreme increase of the temperature there at Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary and suggests that “… scavenged carcasses of animals [under the influence of some heat source] became desiccated before the ligaments and skin decayed. The mummified tissue held many of the bones in articulation long enough for floodplain sedimentation to embed and bury the bulk of the skeletons. Both overbank floods from the main rivers and local sheetflow run-off could have been competent enough to… transport some of the carcasses further into the waterhole depressions” (Smith, 1995).

In a summary of this section, it is appropriate to note that the existence of an almost empty early Mesozoic ocean basin, with thin and still unstable skin of the newly originated Early Mesozoic oceanic crust, which only in some places at particular time became strong enough to be preserved, and covered only by shallow-water seas and lagoons, with some areas not covered even by that shallow-water, with the presence there of huge flowstreams from the continents, which eroded the structure of the basin, can explain the presence of the subaerially originated basalts in many parts of the preserved Mesozoic floor. These circumstances also explain the presence of shallow-water sediments, such as clay, mud, silt, and sand over the entire ocean floor at that time.

It is also appropriate to note again that the concept of turbidity currents seems to have been generally accepted de facto as a matter of fact only on account of the absence of any alternative explanation of the presence of submarine canyons and shallow-water marine sediments on the entire oceanic floor. It is also important to note once again that, until at least one powerful, constantly operating turbidity current that is eroding the ocean bottom is detected, there is only the one, above presented explanation of the presence of shallow-water deposits worldwide on the ocean floor. Until an alternative indisputable explanation arises, it seems that only the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary Impact hypothesis can give a unified interpretation of these phenomena.

The Latest Space Exploratory Data Supporting the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary Impact

One of the consequences of the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary Impact Hypothesis is the expected presence of a significant mass of ejecta at the moment of impact. This ejection should throw into space an immense amount of a mixture consisting of magma, fiery gases, over-heated vapours and shreds of crust. Depending on their velocities, some debris should have been thrown some distances along the Earth’s surface, or returned back to the surface after being ejected into space. Some of them may be able to escape Earth’s gravitational well altogether, and form some asteroids and comets or, being captured by the gravity of other planets, had been fallen on the surfaces of them as meteorites (Parubets, 1998; 2001).

The evidences of such debris would considerably help to confirm the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary Impact Hypothesis. In 1999, as one part of the continuing development of this idea, the assumption was put forward that some Martian rocks could be the remnants of the Earth (Parubets, 1999). Such an suggestion was based on results of the analysis of the composition of five Martian Rocks and six soil samples at the Areas Vallis landing site of the Mars Pathfinder using the alpha proton x-ray spectrometer. The returned data supported the conclusion that “the analyzed rocks are similar in composition to terrestrial Andesites and close to the mean composition of the Earth’s crust” (Rieder et al., 1997). The unexpected composition of these Martian rocks sharply contrast with that of the soils on which they rest. The results for Pathfinder’s six soil samples are similar to those derived from Viking Lander data at two different locations of Mars. Moreover, the chemical composition of Martian meteorites, found on Earth, are similar to that of Martian soil, but not the five Earth-crust like rocks examined by the Pathfinder. However, substantial support from this data for the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary Impact Hypothesis can only come after Martial rock and soil samples are returned to Earth in the future.

Recent space exploratory data more effectively support the idea under consideration, particularly the Spitzer Spectral Observations of the Deep Impact ejecta during the Deep Impact encounter of comet 9P/Tempel 1, as well as global observations and spectral results of asteroid Itokawa from the Hayabusa spacecraft.

The current and leading theory for the formation of comets and asteroids claimed that they were made from leftover debris following the formation of solar nebula and present remnants of the “building blocks” of the birth of the solar system. However, it seems this theory should be reconsidered. Many observatories observed the collision between Deep Impact’s half-ton impactor and comet 9P/Tempal1 on July 4, 2005 (Kerr, 2005; online in Science Analysis of data collected by the Spitzer Space Telescope indicate a wide range of surprising materials which nobody expected to find. 9P/Tempal1 contains phyllosilicates (including secondary silicates such as clays), carbonates (which usually associated with limestones) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). “The existence of hydrated silicates in comets is provocative, because it would suggest the presence of abundant amounts of reactive (and warm) water in the formation region of the comet or in the cometary parent (initial) body… The presence of carbonates (limestones) is (also) provocative because, like the phyllosilicates, liquid water was thought to be required to form carbonates from CO2 in the presence of silicates” (Lisse, 2006).

The surprising ingredients from comet 9P/Temel1 ejecta such as clay and carbonates were unexpected because they are thought to require not only liquid water to form but, what is important, water must exist for long periods on the surface of the planet or other objects where these comets were formed. Furthermore, the presence of clay require a very special liquid water environment, where mineral particles in size 2-4µm could be created by dissolving in warm water with further deposition fall-out and the formation of sedimentary rocks. Carbonates were seen before in comet Halley as well, which is now, it seems, not so controversial. It appears that 9P/ Tempel1 have once been part of something much bigger than itself and the semi-rocky interior of the comet was formed on a planet-like body.

Taking into consideration that only Earth and ancient Mars have reactive/warm water for sufficiently extended period of time, and that the elements of the interior comet 9P/Temepel contain every rock forming element found on Earth, the candidacy of the planet Earth as the initial place of the formation of this comet appears to be preferable to other options.
Another space observation, the asteroid Itokawa from Hayabusa spacecraft, also contradicts the current theory on the formation of comets and asteroids, and to some extent, support the proposed assumption. Similar to data from comet 9P/Tempel 1, asteroid Itokawa returned unexpected results. The structure of the asteroid was discovered to be a loose heterogeneous mixture consisting of fine gravels from mm to cm scales, boulders (Asphaug, 2006), and cm to mm sized regolith with one interpretation suggesting that such grains existed from the initial formation (Fujiwara, 2006). The existence of decameter sized boulders as well as the abundance of meter-sized boulders, cannot be explained by simple impact – cratering processes. Thus, the boulders might have been produced when Itakawa was generated by catastrophic disruption (Saito, 2006) – the impact, that broke up a much larger parent body.
It appears that asteroid Itakawa, similar to comet 9P/Tempel1, both have once been part of something much bigger than itself and were formed perhaps on a planet, possibly Earth. Of course, all the above stated data does not prove the impact particularly at Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary. However, the data indicated that the impact which created comet 9P/Tempet-1 and asteroid Itakawa did not occur in the early stages of the planet’s formation, when the crust and water over it had not formed yet, but at a time when crust and seas had already developed. Hence, at the present time, even with the current, insufficient data, one could confidently hypothesize that comet 9P/Tempel 1 and asteroid Itakawa are remnants of Earth’s crust created following an impact at Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary. Further space exploration will, of course, provide a correct assertion on this matter.

In spite of much direct as a well as suggestive evidence, however, there are also numerous strong objections to this hypothesis.

Objections to the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary Impact Hypothesis

The most often cited objections are:

1.That such an impact would have completely destroyed the Earth;

2.That an evident crater is absent;

3.That shocked quartz and siderophile elements, which are expected to accompany such an impact, are lacking.Facts dealing with these objections are presented below:

1.Earth’s Survival:

Astronomical calculations suggest that a planetoid of up to one-third the Earth’s mass could have collided “without getting into trouble with the dynamics” (Cameron, 1984), while the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary Impact hypothesis implies that a planetoid of only one-sixth the mass of the Earth penetrated the planet’s crust in the area of modern Pacific. It is appropriate to mention here as well that an assumption has been put forward that the pre-impact planetoid and Earth existed as a dual planetary system with similar orbits and minimal relative velocity (Kazansky, 1980).

Proceeding from this assumption, the merging of the planets could have occurred with nearly parallel trajectories and the resulting energy release from the impact would be many times less than with a head on collision. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as at the California Institute of Technology reached almost the same conclusions. The computer-simulated test performed by these researchers confirmed the possibility of a low-angle, giant impact on Mars. That research also to some extent overturned previous statements that such an impact was dynamically impossible (Kerr, 2008).

2.A crater:

As has been noted by many authors, the Pacific basin is an exceptional spot, and its shape and history have not been explained by any existing theory. Here are some remarks regarding Pacific:

■ “The circumference of the Pacific Ocean is roughly a circle, somewhat smaller than the great circle” (Carey, 1958).

■ The Pacific Basin… is bounded by an almost continuous belt of strong… mountain building” (Hess, 1946).

■ “According to the Continental Drift Theory, … (when)… the super continent Pangea… (was)… fractured; its independent parts started drifting apart – an action that continues to this day. Can it be a coincidence that, after millions of years of drift, the edges of the continent surrounding the Pacific Ocean describe such a circular shape?” (Parubets, 2001).

The enumeration of similar remarks is easy to extend, but only a brief look at the globe is needed to confirm that the Pacific Mountain Belt is almost a circle, with a range of mountains from 1300m to 6400m high.

A 3-D dual model of the impacted Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary Earth, constructed at the Granton Institute of Technology, is presented to show that the Pacific basin could be the giant impact crater, perhaps the largest known in the Solar System (Parubets, 2000). Figure 6 consists of two photo-images of that model. It was constructed on the basis of the assumption that – according to the exploratory calculations using the accretionary theory of the Impact-Trigger hypothesis (Hartmann and Davis, 1975) – the largest size of the planetoid that collided with Earth during its formation was up to the size of Mars; this is one-sixth of the size of the modern Earth. The Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary Impact hypothesis affirms that the event happened, not at the earliest stages of the development of the planet, but at the end of the Permian. If that is so, the Permian Earth would be approximately 11,100km in diameter and then – due to the impact – would have increased to a size slightly bigger than it is now. Then it would have shrunk to its present size due to cooling down in the following periods.

The presented model, of course, is not a part of the Expansion Theory or the Pulsation version of it. However, some postulates of the hypothesis under consideration indeed could be useful for alternative views about the cause of the increasing size of the planet.

All impacted craters existing on the Earth were created by meteors or asteroids so small in size that they left behind them only relatively small marks on the Earth’s surface, but never, before or after the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary, has any impactor penetrated the planet’s crust. Thus, the experience of the scientists studying an impact’s consequences was limited by data, which was collected only from those surface marked craters. The magnitude of the hypothesized impact at Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary was so great that the previous impact-cratering experience was simply not applicable here. That is why the huge Pacific Crater remained undetected.

One deductions drawn from the Impact-Trigger hypothesis (Hartmann, 1974; Shoemaker, 1976), and particularly from exploratory calculations using accretionary theory, is that, at the earliest stages of Earth’s development, when the crust was not yet formed, the planet experienced an impact with a planetoid the size of Mars.

The impact that has been considered here by no means excludes the possibility of earlier collisions. The research presented, however, focuses exclusively on the possibility and consequences of the giant impact at Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary, when Earth’s crust had already formed, and life had experienced considerable development.

The most recent tests of the possibility of a low-angle giant impact on Mars confirm to some extent that such an impact left the giant Borealis basin on the surface of Mars. The basin is an ellipse that is 10,650 kilometres long (Kerr, 2008). It is significant that impact did not happen at the earliest stages of Mars’s development, but instead much later, when Mars’s crust had already formed.

Hence, the presence of the giant post-impact crater on Mars, which occupies up to one third of the planet’s surface and which is surrounded by highlands four kilometres high, does effectively support the idea that gigantic impacts within the solar system, of course with different magnitudes, happened not only at the earliest stages of the development of the planets, but also during much later, relatively recent periods. Indeed, it seems that the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary impact was one of those collisions.

Fig. 6 – 3-D dual model of an impacted Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary Earth. The smaller globe represents the Permian Earth, presumably 11,100km in diameter (Parubets, 2001) with a rotary axis perpendicular to the orbital plane. All existing continents fit each other and cover this smaller globe, with the exception of the circle of the Pacific Rim, which presumably represents the hypothetical Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary impact crater. The bigger globe, with its axis of rotation shifted by 23º, represents the post-impacted Earth.

3.The Lack of Shocked Quartz and Siderophile Elements:

The consequences of the meteoritic/asteroidal impacts on the surface of the Earth have been well documented by E. Shoemaker, H. Melosh, I. Nasmyth, G. Gilbert, E. Öpik, R. Grieve, R. Dietz, C. Sonet, R. Bjork, H. Moore, M. Nordyke, A. Wegener, J. O’Keefe, L. Davis, G. Wetherill, Y. Zeldovich, A. Jackson, H. Urey, I. Zotkin, and many other workers in this field.

Three major processes accompanying such events should be distinguished: craterings, creation of shocked quartz and other shocked features, and scattering of iridium and some other siderophile elements if the impactor contains them.

Those who have been searching for explanations of the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary phenomenon as a sequel to some kind of catastrophe – such as a major impact – came to a standstill because of the lack the shocked quartz and siderophile elements around the globe at that time.

At the same time, one could notice that the absence of any kind of sedimentation or, rather, its scarcity at Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary is notorious and is itself a geological enigma. “There are… only a few areas on the earth where continuity of latest Permian with earliest Triassic could be recognized” (Kapoor, 1996). “At most places within the Tethyan region, the top of the Changhsingian is marked by a hiatus” (Dickins, 1992).

Logically, one cannot expect the widespread presence of shocked quartz or iridium worldwide without the sediments themselves. Hence, the relevant question is not “why is iridium not widely dispersed in the post-impact period at Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary?”, but: “Why are Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary sediments so scarce?”

To have a correct answer to this question, it is best to use some postulates of the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary Impact hypothesis, which perfectly conform with that phenomenon. The hypothesis claims, that, at the moment of the collision with a huge impactor, not only an enormous crater – the Pacific basin – was created but also the remnants of the Paleozoic sial crust started floating through the newly opened immense areas of magma on the surface of the dramatically expanded new Mesozoic Earth. As one of the result of the impact, all the water of the Permian Ocean started rushing from the newly originated modern continents down to the ocean of magma in gigantic streams, washing not only all biota, but also all entire sediments into the magma. It is well documented that, when ejected magma is contiguous with deep water on the ocean floor, it surprisingly does not result in the instant vapourization of the contacted water, as one could expect. Instead of that, a thin layer of overheated steam is formed between the magma and water, and this barrier acts as an ideal heat insulator , which protects ocean water from instant vapourization. However, taking into account the scale of the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary catastrophe and the immense size of contacted water-magma areas, an exceptionally enormous rate of vapourization is expected anyway. The vapour probably filled the planet’s atmosphere up to its uppermost level. Then all this vapour, when cooled down, came back to the surface of the planet, presumably in acid rain and mud. “This process turned into a circulation of these streams… over the space of a few million years” (Parubets, 2001). Figure 7 to some extent illustrates this massive water outflow from the continents followed by a massive inflow around the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary.

Since the earliest Triassic, these streams deposited sediments at the edges of the newly formed continents, and the unstable skin of the Triassic oceanic floor was created at the bottom of the modern ocean basins. In some areas of the continents’ edges, which later would be transformed into continental shelves and slopes, in spite of the enormous water streams, some Triassic sediments were not washed down, but instead preserved until now (Table 1). But only in the Jurassic did some parts of the oceanic crust become thick and stable enough to last, mostly in the areas adjoining the continents.

Fig. 7 Drastic change in the percent area of continents covered by water at Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary (modified from Holser and Magaritz, 1987).

The above-mentioned post-impact water-flowing scenario seems speculative to some degree. This assumption is first of all based on real geological data, however, and the data strongly support this water-flowing concept of the Mesozoic Multi-level Oceanic System. Secondly, more than any other existing theory, this idea explains better and in the most unified way these phenomena:

■ The near lack of any continuous sedimentation at Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary;

■ The total lack not only of any Paleozoic oceanic floor, but also of Paleozoic continental shelves or slopes;

■ The worldwide presence of the subaerially/shallow-water originated ocean floor’s basalts and sediments;

■ The existence of huge submarine canyons such as Ganges, Congo, and many others;

■ The phenomenon of the high water temperature at the bottom of the Mesozoic-Tertiary oceans and the beginning of the growth of the coral built atolls and guyots after the Mesozoic;

■ The appearance of the shelf/terrace-like formations hemming the modern oceans and their islands at a variety of depths (Menard et al., 1962), as illustrated in Figure 4.

The Impact at Changhsingian

Despite the aforementioned massive water streams, which had dominated the earliest Triassic oceanic system, and which had been washing down almost everything into the ocean of magma, in some areas, presumably in some crevices and depressions on the landscape, such as Changhsing, Zhejiang, Guargynch, and Sichuan provinces in South China, and in Meishan section; the Guryul Ravine in Kashmir; Adadeh in Iran; Sicily; some areas in Greenland and some others, the post-impact sedimentation did survive, but barely.

Because of such scarce representation of Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary sedimentation, there were long-standing controversies about the paleontological definition of the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary. Only in 1987, at the Working Group meeting of the International Geologic Correlation Project 199, at Beijing, the participants accepted the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary near Changhsing. Most scientists do accept this definition of the beginning of the Mesozoic. Studies and observations such as the work of Edward Tozer – on the basis of the ammonoidea Otoceras beds – defined the boundary right between the latest stage of the Changhsingian and the Otoceras beds in Gangetian. “Otoceras time [Lowest Triassic] seems to have been preceded by an interruption in sedimentation…, the universal unconformity below Otoceras zones must signify a worldwide geological event” (Tozer, 1988).

It is significant that even barren Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary sedimentation in many places includes abundant iridium and other siderophile elements (Figure 8), as well as chrome-bearing spinels and microspherules (Chai et al., 1992), and 3He trapped in fullerenes, which was “delivered intact to Earth in a bolide” (Becker et all, 2001).

The siderophile elements, especially iridium, could be interpreted as evidence of the impact of Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary. That gave a reason to Yin Hongfu to come to the conclusion, that “an impact event near [Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary] is possible but not finally confirmed” (Yin Hongfu and Zhang Kexin, 1996). Heinz Kozur also did not rule out the possibility of “cosmic causes [as a] possible event [that triggered a] Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary biotic crisis” (Kozur, 2000). He summarized the state of views about Changhsing this way: “If there was an impact, it can be called the late Dorashamian (late Changhsingian) impact, not Gangetian, because during that time the main extinction process was over” (Kozur, personal communication)

One specific implication of the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary (Changhsingian) impact

Some of the possible implications of the Changhsingian impact are probable changes and developments in the composition and probably the structure of the planet’s core; namely, it not unlikely that not just one, but two, and perhaps even more inner cores positioned next to each other are at the center of the planet and formed a single whole at the post-impact time. Such an assumption was first suggested in 1998 (Parubets, 1998) and further developed in 2001 (Parubets, 2001). In 2002, Don L. Anderson wrote: "Finally, large, late impacts can efficiently and rapidly inject their metallic cores to the center of the impacted planet, and trigger additional seperation of iron from the mantle. The moon is a byproduct of one of these late impacts." (Anderson, 2002).

Fig 8 – Abundance patterns for siderophile elements at Meishan Section (A, B, C, D); chalcophile elements at Changxing (E, F, G, H, I) – modified from Chai Chifang et al., 1992, as well as carbon-isotope anomalies in Greenland (J) – modified from Hsu and McKenzie, 1990, and in Meshian section, South China (K) – modified from Xu Daoyi and Yan Zhen, 1993, at PMB. The carbon-isotope anomalies could be interpreted as “... a manifestation of drastic reduction biomass in the earliest Mesozoic ocean” (Hsu and McKenzie, 1990).

The assumption that Earth's inner core could consist of two or more impacted planets' cores is based on the supposition that inner cores of the pre-impacted planet might be so dense that each of them was crystalline and formed into a single large crystal (Ross, 1981; Tromp, 1993; Stixrude and Cohen, 1995) and also on the supposition that Mars (which has a size comparable to the size of the supposed impactor of the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary impact) could also have a core (Anderson, 1971).

If these suppositions are true, one could assume that during such an impact, the impactor's core could not be destroyed and was attracted to the bigger core during the post-impact period. In that case, one may suppose as well that the gravitational attraction was not enough to overcome the strength of the crystal's lattices, which are composed of super-iron crystals. The crystalline cores then became positioned next to each other.

It is also known that Earth's inner core (or "cores" in the context of the assumption presaented) rotates "...of 1 degree per year faster than the daily rotation of the mantle and crust" (Song and Richards, 1996) and "...that Earth's inner core radius enlarged locally beneath middle Africa by .98 to 1.75 kilometers" during the period from December 1, 1993 to September 6, 2003 (Wen, 2006). This enlargement is not necessarily the maximum. Instead, the enlargemnt could be just the beginning of the slope of a much bigger phenomenon.

Some of these suppositions are still speculative and are not supported by weighty direct evidence. They could, however, be helpful in the present situation, when "...geodynamicists still struggle to understand exactly how the churning of the core's fluid iron [outer core] generates the [magnetic] field inside Earth" (Kerr, 2008). The churning not only generated, but also dramatically weakened the magnetic field, with a following return to its full strength, and somehow reversed the field as well.


During the last two centuries, numerous papers have been issued related to the enigma of the Pacific basin. Theories have ranged from suggestions about the expelling of the Moon from that area to scenarios about a terrestrial catastrophic event that led to the origin of that basin. Unsupported by valid evidence, these ideas were doomed to fall into oblivion. Since the 1970s, when the astronomers Hartmann, Davis, Cameron, and Shoemaker (1976) developed the new Impact-Trigger hypothesis, which features the idea that impacts and the terrestrial bodies’ collisions are parts of the planet’s formation, especially at the earliest stages of development, interest in catastrophic events on Earth and particularly in the Pacific area of the planet has grown significantly.

In 1980, Boris Kazansky suggested that the sial Mesozoic Earth 100 to 200 million years ago collided with an earth sized planetoid, characteristically similar to Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa (Kazansky, 1980). This assumption merits attention at least because it helps to solve the “water problem” (Revelle, 1955; Menard, 1964) on the Earth.

In 1987, Zhou Yaoqi did make the assumption that “…in the Pacific Ocean region at P-T occurred an extraordinary collision of an iron-nickel meteorite” with Earth. The result was that the Pacific Ocean’s pre-Mesozoic floor fractured into many pieces, sank, and vanished. As a result – with reference to Ben-Avraham and Nur –some pieces of it were retained in some areas of the ocean up to the present time (Zhou Yaoqi, 1987).

In 1996, Ben Berends, in an attempt to support the Expansion Theory, for the first time ever constructed the globe in a way that all continents fit each other perfectly around the globe, which represented the smaller Earth, with the Pacific Rim excluded from this fit. He suggested that the “Pacific Ring” is a crater, a proposal that “incites the idea of the cataclysm with celestial origin”. The cataclysm in turn led to the expansion of the Earth (Berends, 1996).

Prior to 1998, the author of present paper, on the basis of available geological data, came to conclusion that a major impact did occur at the boundary of Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras, and that this event not only marked the beginning of the new era and the origin of the modern continents, but also created the conditions for the beginning of the modern abyssal ocean (Parubets, 1998).

In 2001, Luann Becker and her team from NASA claimed in Science that they found “confirmation of the impact event at the Permian-Triassic boundary” (Becker et al., 2001).

The presented paper offers perhaps the most complete and scientifically grounded attempt to assert the concept of the impact at Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary. It is notable that not only the quantity, but also the quality of publications directly focused on the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary impact is growing year in, year out. At the same time, there is also increasing data that supports the idea of the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary impact. This is true, despite the fact that sometimes the authors of those publications do not necessarily share some tenets of the hypothesis under consideration.

Taken separately, the above stated geological and other facts cannot be strong enough arguments to confirm the hypothesis under consideration. However, when all these facts appear together, they form a conclusive body of evidence, which not only strongly supports, but to some extent proves the Paleozoic-Mesozoic Boundary Impact hypothesis.


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