It turns out that the Earth has a ‘heartbeat’: a long, slow geological pulse that lasts for 27.5 million years; marked by clusters of major geological events. Events including: volcanic activity, mass extinctions, major tectonic plate movements and sea level increases. The bad news is that periodic surges in geological activity often results in mass-extinction events, relegating species to the memory of the fossil record. The good news is that we’re currently in between beats, with the next Earth-sized ‘thump’ not due for another 20 million years.
Geologists have long theorized that there is a long-term pulse to Earth’s geological events, with estimates ranging between 26 to 36 million years, but this new study makes use of recent advancements in geological dating methods to nail down the period of that ‘heartbeat’ to 27.5 million years.