What is Earth’s geological pulse? (A complete study)

Our Earth never fails to surprise us. Every now and then it comes up with something unique which blows our minds and makes us realise how small we are in front of this nature and universe. With every upcoming study, we are getting to know something really unique about this world. Isn’t it so shocking that there is so much yet to be known and discovered about our world!

So what we are discussing here is the study to be published in the journal Geoscience Frontiers. In the study, scientists and researchers have found out some stark facts about our Earth which will have implications on our lives and our future generations. So what exactly is it? It is the Earth’s geological pulse. This article will tell you more about what is Earth’s geological pulse and how is it important for us?

What is the geological time scale?

For understanding the geological pulse, first, let us know a bit about the geological time scale.

The geological time scale is the brief history of Earth. It is stratigraphic history that involves the ordering and analysis of layers of Earth-based chronological dating techniques. The geological time frame begins from nearly 4.6 billion years when the Earth first came into existence. The geological time frame is a crucial aspect of expressing the history of Earth.

The International Commission on Stratigraphy creates a definitive geological time frame and is the foremost authority in charge of geologic time. There are various units of geologic time scales. These are:

  • Eons lasting thousands of millions of years.
  • Eras lasting hundreds of millions of years
  • Periods lasting nearly tens of millions of years
  • Epochs are several millions of years in length. Holocene is the current epoch.
  • Ages are relatively smaller periods consisting of a few million years. Meghalayan is the current age.

What is Earth’s geological pulse?

According to the study in Geoscience Frontiers, scientists and geologists have found a very stark pattern in the various activities of our Earth. They have found out that major geological events like volcanic eruptions and mass extinctions repeat themselves after 27.5 million years. Scientists are calling this repetitive nature the ‘pulse of the Earth’.

The study headed by geologist, Michael Rampino, who is also a professor in the Department of Biology at the New York University, believes that there are no such patterns in geological events over time.

But he further says that the study provides evidences based on statistics that depict a common cycle. This suggests that all these geological events in our Earth’s history are interrelated and not just random events.

What did the scientists discover about the geological pulse?

Over the last five decades, scientists have analysed cycles of some of the major geological events including mass extinctions on land and water and volcanic activities. These cycles range from anywhere between 26 to 36 million years.

But the limitations in the dating techniques of geological events didn’t allow the researchers to conduct quantitative investigations. This hampered the early investigations of the geological record to a great extent.

But with newer radioisotopic dating techniques and changes in the geological time scale, newer data on the past events has come up. With the new-age dating technique, Michael and his partners joined together the records of geological events of the last 260 million years.

The team studied a variety of geological events such as sea-level fluctuations, marine and land extinctions, volcanic activities. Flood-basalt eruptions, oxygen-depleted oceans and the changes in positions of Earth’s tectonic plates. In total, there were the ages of 89 major events of the last 260 million years.

The scientists found a pattern in these events. They recognised that these events were typically grouped at 10 different timestamps. The 260 million years period was divided into 10 timestamps, grouped in peaks or pulses of nearly 27.5 million years.

The latest group of these events occurred nearly 7 million years, depicting that the next geological pulse of Earth is more than 20 million years away. Previous studies suggested that Earth’s geological pulse is somewhere between 26.4 and 30 million years. But this latest study narrows down this range and seems to be more accurate.

What causes the geological pulse of Earth?

Although the researchers now have evidences that the Earth has a geological pulse, the reason behind this pulse is still unknown to them. The fact that all the geological activities on Earth consist of rhythmic cycles is quite interesting but the answer to why it occurs is still trivial. The leaders of the study have different beliefs and ideas regarding this question.

Some believe that forces within or on the surface of Earth such as magma activity, climatic change or tectonic movement may answer the pattern. Some others say that the changes in the orbital cycles of Earth could be the possible answer.

The fact that the cyclical movement of our solar system in the Milky Way galaxy takes nearly 30 million years, to some extent supports this view. Another theory suggests that this geological pulse may be in some way related to dark matter located in the universe.

Now that’s quite interesting as scientists have proposed that the increase in the dark matter may increase astronomical activities like asteroids and meteors, simultaneously affecting the events on Earth. Still, a lot is to be known about dark matter and to declare it as the reason behind the pulse.

But still, there is no firm affirmation as to what causes this strange cyclical pattern in the events on Earth. But the crux is that in every 27.5 million years, we can expect something big in geological activities.

Will we experience Earth’s geological pulse?

There is a time period of nearly 27.5 million years between any two pulses. For mankind, it is a very huge timescale. Even our species, the Homo Sapiens is believed to be just 200,000 years old. This is less than even 1 percent of the pulse. Even then, currently, we are between pulses. The next one is due in nearly 20 million years. So, it is not arriving anytime soon.


Earth never fails to surprise us. It has surprised us once again through this phenomenon known as the Earth’s Geological Pulse. It refers to the periodic repetition of various geological events such as mass extinction, volcanic activities, sea-level fluctuations and many such events. This was found out by a study which was published in the Geoscience Frontiers which stated that the major geological events reach a peak after every 27.5 million years. This is the Earth’s geological pulse.

A big thank you to all of you who have stuck to this article till here. We appreciate your efforts to stick with us. If you liked our article “What is Earth’s Geological Pulse? (A Complete Study)”, you can also have a look at our other articles like “What happens when a neutron star collides with a black hole?” If you like our articles, do write down your feedback in the comments section. If you want us to write on a particular topic, do let us know.

Frequently asked questions

Q- What is Geology?

Ans – Geology is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change over time.

Q- When did the Earth’s formation take place?

Ans – The formation of Earth took nearly 4.5 billion years ago.

Q- Since geological pulse bring mass extinction, is there any chance that life is possible on any other planet?

Ans – There is no such surety that whether life is present on any other planet in our solar system or outside it. For more details, you can check or other article “What are the chances of life on other planets in our solar system”. The article will give you a better insight on it.

Q- What activities take place under the surface of Earth?

Ans – Various activities continuously happen on and inside the surface of Earth such as movement of the tectonic plates or movement of molten magma which causes events like earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, volcanic activities and cause mass destruction.

Q- There have been doubts regarding the shape of Earth? What actually is the shape of the Earth?

Ans – The Earth is an irregularly shaped ellipsoid. While the Earth appears to be round when viewed from the vantage point of space, it is actually closer to an ellipsoid.

Q- When did the dinosaurs first evolved on Earth and when did they become extinct?

Ans – Dinosaurs first evolved 225 million years ago from lizards and they became extinct nearly 65 million years ago. Their extinction was allegedly caused by a huge asteroid impact on Earth which wiped their whole existence. Finally, nearly 200,000 years ago , the first homo sapiens evolved in Africa.

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