Most major geological events in Earth's recent history have clustered in 27.5-million-year intervals — a pattern that scientists are now calling the "pulse of the Earth," according to a new study.
Over the past 260 million years, dozens of major geological events, from sea level changes to volcanic eruptions, seem to follow this rhythmic pattern. .
"For quite a long time, some geologists have wondered whether there's a cycle of around 30 million years in the geologic record," said lead author Michael Rampino, a professor in the departments of biology and environmental studies at New York University.
The team first scoured the literature and found 89 major geological events that occurred in the past 260 million years.
The researchers looked only at the past 260 million years — when the dating of such events is most accurate — but they think the results likely extend further back in our planet's history.
For example, data from sea level changes go back around 600 million years and also seem to follow this pulse, Rampino said.
One theory is that the solar system sometimes moves through planes containing larger amounts of dark matter in the galaxy, Rampino said.
When the planet moves through dark matter, it absorbs it; large amounts of captured dark matter can annihilate and release heat, which can produce a pulse of geological heating and activity, Rampino said.
Perhaps this interaction with large amounts of dark matter correlates with the pulse of the Earth, Rampino said.