Geology

Gerelateerde afbeelding

Geology might be better served by a straightforward system of numbers. The reaction of geologists, by and large, has been to look upon this suggestion as if it had come over a bridge that exists between two cultures. A Continental geologist, in i822, named eighty million years for the white cliffs of Dover, for the downs of Kent and Sussex, for the chalky ground of Cognac and Champagne. Related strata were spread out through Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and Poland. He called it Le Terrain Cretace. If that name was apt, his own was irresistible. He was J. J. d’Omalius d’Halloy. Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous. When the Cretaceous ended, the big marine reptiles had disappeared, the flying reptiles, the dinosaurs, the rudistid clams, and many species of fish, not to mention the total elimination or severe reduction of countless smaller species from the sea. At the same point in geologic time, the flood zakelijke energie basalts now known as the Deccan Traps came out of the mantle and quickly covered at least a million square kilometres in India, effectively stopping the upwelling of the ocean. An ocean gone stagnant would kill phytoplankton, which prosper in the currents of mixed-up seas. Break the food chain and creatures die out above the break. Phytoplankton are the base of the food chain. The Arctic Ocean, surrounded by continents that had drifted together, might have become in the Cretaceous the greatest lake in all eternity, and when the North Atlantic opened up enough to let the water flood the southern seas the life in them would have suffered a cold osmotic shock. Drastic fluctuations of sea level-also related, perhaps, to the separation of continents-might have caused changes in air temperature and ocean circulation that were enough to sunder the food chain. At the end of i979, a small group at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, in Berkeley-among them the physicist Luis Alvarez, winner of a Nobel Prize, and his son Walter, who is zakelijke energie vergelijken a geologist-brought forth a piece of science in which they presented the catastrophe as the effect of an Apollo Object colliding with the earth. An Apollo Object is an “earth-orbit-crossing” asteroid th.1.t is at least a kilometre in diameter and is in the category of asteroids that have pockmarked the surface of Mercury, Mars, and the moon, and the surface of the earth as well, although most of the evidence has been obscured here by erosion. Like the general run of meteorites, an Apollo Object could be expected to contain a percentage of iridium and other platinum-like metals at least a thousand times greater than the concentration of the same metals in the crust of the earth. In widely separated parts of the world-Italy, Denmark, New Zealand-the Berkeley researchers found a thin depositional band, often just a centimetre thick, that contains unearthly concentrations of iridium. Below that sharp line are abundant Cretaceous fossils, and above it they are gone. It marks precisely the end of Cretaceous time.