SOLVING THE MASS EXTINCTIONS

   
THE AUTHOR'S QUEST


My name is Ben Fishler. My mission has been to explore the connection between mass extinctions and their causes.

My book about solving the mass extinctions necessarily deals mostly with paleogeology, but I am not a geologist. I do not have a strong background in this area. My education and background is in business, industry, retail floriculture and publishing.

However, for purposes of discovering a different take on how impacts, geology and extinctions are interrelated, I have found that having only a shallow background in geology has actually been more of an advantage than a disadvantage.

I do not believe that a knowledgeable geologist would have chosen to explore the path that I have explored. Furthermore, if I had been a knowledgeable geologist, I doubt that I would have explored this path, either. Any knowledgeable geologist would have asked himself these questions: "Why should I explore a theoretical possibility that I know cannot work? How could antipodal volcanism possibly be a serious player in this picture when there is no reasonable mechanism that would cause it to occur? We already have a theory that locates the Deccan traps more than 4,000 miles away from the antipode of the Chicxulub impact 65 MYA. There is no evidence for volcanism at the antipode. Why waste my time on this?" (author's note: The antipode is the point on a sphere ... such as the Earth ... that is on the exact opposite side from another initial point).

Nevertheless, I have found multiple sources of evidence indicating that volcanism occurs at or near the antipode of a large impact. Furthermore, the current theory says that the Deccan traps were located more than 4,000 miles away from the Chicxulub antipode 65 million years ago (MYA). But this current theory has a huge hole in it ... there is no domal uplift at the Deccan traps, whereas standard geological theory insists that there should be (as opposed to volcanism at the antipode of a large impact, where the focused concentration of mega-earthquakes in a spherical object such as the Earth would have pulverized the Earth's crust at the antipode, obviating any need for domal uplift).

Geologists did not seriously consider the possibility that antipodal volcanism could be caused by a large impact because because there was no sensible geological mechanism that could cause this to occur. Having only a shallow background in geology, I was unaware of the difficulty of finding a mechanism for antipodal volcanism as a result of a very large impact. In fact, based upon my experience in the cold heading business, I believed that the model of impact extrusion would provide just what was needed to satisfy a mechanism for antipodal volcanism. I wrote a book on the internet about my ideas, entitled "Solving the Major Extinctions."

By the time (three years later) that I was instructed as to the reasons why the impact extrusion model would not work (i.e. impact extrusion is a near field phenomenon that would require a much, much larger impact object than the Chicxulub impact object in order for this model to work), I had already explored many factors relating to antipodal volcanism.

By this time, I had already explored several scenarios of impacts and antipodal volcanism ... all of which extensively supported the idea of antipodal volcanism and none of which were either neutral or negative. So, I found myself in an Alfred Wegener situation ... lots of corroborative data but no mechanism to make it work.

Alfred Wegener was a German meteorologist who compiled a wealth of fossil and geological data showing that South America and Africa must have been, at one time, part of the same continent. From this data, Alfred Wegener developed the theory of continental drift. However, he was unable to come up with a geologically plausible mechanism to support the theory. Therefore, his theory was ignored for decades, until the discovery of the mid-ocean ridge in the 1950s.

Alfred Wegener died in the 1930s during a blizzard in Greenland, while gathering more data in support of his theory. He was not vindicated until decades after his death.

I learned two things from the Alfred Wegener story:

1. Stay away from Greenland

2. Find a geologically plausible mechanism

But then another bit of industrial experience came to my aid. I realized that one of the defining characteristics of large impacts was extreme vibration, felt throughout the crust and mantle of the Earth. I had seen extreme vibration in action before, on a smaller, industrial scale. I realized that, just as extreme vibration could virtually eliminate the effects of friction in an industrial test lab, an even greater degree of extreme friction could do the same thing on a grander scale, when looking at friction in the Earth's mantle. I was able to construct a model based upon this concept.

During the past four years, I have been forced to develop a better understanding of geology as I have read numerous articles and dealt with pointed questions from the geology2 group at Yahoo.com.

I had to make several significant changes to my original theory, as I was instructed (mostly by the geology2 group at Yahoo.com) about how some of my mechanisms were geologically unworkable. However, the general thesis and overall result continued to be supported by more and more evidence as I dug deeper into this subject. I realized that the cleanest way to deal with the changes was to amend and rearrange the book, even giving it a slightly different title ("Solving the Mass Extinctions" instead of "Solving the Major Extinctions").

Although I am still not a geologist in the sense of what that term fully describes, I believe that I have developed enough understanding of the factors involved in geology to present a useful theory relating to extinctions, impacts and antipodal volcanism. I believe that this new theory will provide a new and more effective lens through which to view the geological events of the Earth, especially as they relate to extinctions, impacts and antipodal volcanism.

My goal, when I first began to explore this subject, was to see if there was enough information available so that the major mass extinctions could be explained in a unified manner. It always seemed to me that there was probably one single cause for this intermittent pattern of mass extinctions. I wanted to find that cause, if it existed. I believe that I have accomplished that goal.

Furthermore, I believe that when knowledgeable geologists begin to analyze evidence from the Earth's past using this new lens, they will find even more interesting and useful concepts than I have presented here.

SELF-PUBLICATION


Some people have questioned me as to why I decided to self-publish this book on the internet, as opposed to submitting it to a peer reviewed journal. There are several reasons:

1. Protection — Once it is published, it is protected with a date certain. Otherwise, it could be floating around looking for a publisher for a considerable length of time, during which time someone else might publish something somewhat similar.

2. Ease — It's relatively easy to publish on the internet, so, why not?

3. Comments — In many ways, this is a working book ... a book that may need to be amended based upon input from knowledgeable people (as occurred with my original book). If the book is easily and freely available on the internet, these knowledgeable people can easily access it.

4. Control of Presentation — When self-publishing, I can be sure of the way in which the subject is presented, as opposed to being at the mercy of an editor who might not agree with my approach and might want to significantly shorten and amend the text.

5. Fair Evaluation — Even my "safe, conservative" version of this new theory is unusual, when compared to the current canon of established geology. The full version of my theory is very different from currently established views. Theories that challenge established views are not often treated well. The example of Alfred Wegener's theory being ignored is actually fairly mild compared when compared to Galileo, who was confined to house arrest for publishing his theory.

Although people are better behaved when dealing with new theories nowadays, new theories still fight an uphill battle in trying to get a fair hearing. The most usual tactic is to find some small failing in the new theory and use this small failing as an excuse to ignore the theory, regardless of how well the new theory compares to the current standard theory.

By self-publishing, I am assured that people will have a chance to read and understand my theory for themselves, without having to rely on an establishment intermediary.