THE NORTH AMERICAN
This chapter will piece together the story of the
next most recently created continental tectonic plate, Eastern North America.
As I was readying the first edition of this book, I forced myself to
look more closely at South America and its origins. Instead of finding an old
continent that was too old to explain, I found that South America didn't exist
as a separate continent until 132 MYA.
I had assumed that both North
America and South America were actually really old continents (some of their
craters date back well before 250 MYA) that had been conjoined with Eurasia
through the subduction mechanism and then were knocked away when the slow
motion crash of Siberia into Eurasia occurred approximately 200 MYA.
Now I had discovered that South America didn't even exist as a separate
continent until 132 MYA.
What about North America?
A COMPLICATED CONTINENT
Well, North America is complicated. Very complicated.
To begin with,
North America consists of a combination of parts of three different tectonic
First, there is the Eastern American Plate, which came into
existence approximately 202 MYA at the end-Triassic extinction. This plate
remained partially attached to the European Plate until it was completely
jolted loose by the Chicxulub impact 65 MYA. This Eastern American Plate moved
to the northwest (or moved somewhat north but mostly west at the lower
latitudes) until it ran into the tail end of the Siberian Plate.
makes the tail end of the Siberian Plate the next player in the drama. The
Siberian Plate had been moving north and west and splitting into three
different parts as it tried to make a hard left turn as it neared the North
Pole. It had been making this journey since 250 MYA.
By the time the
tail end of the Siberian Continent was finally reaching the middle latitudes
about 70 to 80 MYA, the relatively new Eastern North American Continent came
out of the east and ran into it, beginning the Laramide Orogeny (the raising up
of the high plains and the Rocky Mountains).
This tip of the Siberian
tail eventually broke off and remained lodged between the Eastern American
Plate and the San Andreas remnant land. The rest of the Siberian tail continued
north and northwest.
The third player in the drama is the remnant land
of the Pacific Plate. This remnant land is the western remainder of the part of
Pangaea that Siberia was taken from. At some point in the far distant past,
some continental land came from out of the west and was eventually tied to
Pangaea through the process of subduction. The Pacific Plate was the passive
creation of this process as it was formed from a mid-ocean ridge at the back
end of this eastward-moving continental tectonic mass. Therefore, the Pacific
Plate and the San Andreas remnant land were part of the same plate, just as
South America and the oceanic crust to the east of it (up to the mid-ocean
ridge) are part of the same plate.
Because the San Andreas remnant land
was too high to subduct, the Siberian Plate merely slid by it. When the
Siberian Plate ran into parts of the Pacific Plate that did not contain
remnants (the Farallon and Cocos Plates), it subducted them. In fact, these
mini-plates were actually pieces of the Pacific Plate that were torn away from
the Pacific Plate because it could not stretch enough to accommodate these two
forces acting in different directions.
THE EFFECTS OF THE CHICXULUB IMPACT
While most of this book deals with the antipodal effects of large
cosmic impacts on earth, this chapter also deals with the effects at the impact
The impact at Chicxulub is generally treated as an event
that did not change the shape of the land around it, except for creating the
After analyzing the New Madrid fault, the Sierra Madre
mountains, the shape of the North American Continent, the map of CAMP
structures in the area and the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean basin, I have
come to the conclusion that there is more to the actual Chicxulub impact than
meets the eye.
When looking at continental theory involving a "blob
with a tail," I have had difficulty with two continents:
1. EURASIA - I concluded that this large land
mass was the "vacuum cleaner" of planet earth, absorbing continents as the
subduction process inevitably brought continents together.
AMERICA - A blob with two tails. One tail was Mexico and Central America. The
other tail was Florida and the Bahamas. Furthermore, the largest earthquake in
North American history (New Madrid 1811 & 1812) occurred right in the
middle of the continental mass. What was this all about?
looking at several possible explanations, I finally realized that the two tails
might actually be one tail that had been split in two. The more I examined this
possibility, the more I found that this splitting option explained other
The crux of this splitting explanation is the idea that
the Chicxulub impact actually occurred slightly inside of a North American tail
that curved down sharply to the Florida area and the Bahamas.
Chicxulub impact is located today right on top of the northern "thumb" of the
Yucatan Peninsula. When examining the shape of this area (including the
continental shelf), we can see that there are several miles of land just under
the water to the north of the impact.
If the impact was actually
slightly in the interior of the meat of the tail of this reimagined North
American continent, the force of the impact could have caused the land to move
to the southwest (as explained previously, the impact object came out of the
This moving process would have unhinged a significant
amount of the tail, forcing it to move along with the crater area. The top edge
of the continental-shelf-thumb would have been originally located along the
panhandle of Florida prior to the impact 65 MYA.
The energy of the
impact forced this area to move to the southwest and form the beginnings of the
Gulf of Mexico. Over time, the ocean rounded out the ragged edges of the gaping
opening, creating the Gulf of Mexico as it exists today.
As the moving
impact site peeled off most of the lower tail to the south and west, it also
pulled down the western edge of the upper tail and the lower blob of Eastern
North America. This action stretched out the Sierra Madre mountains and created
a navigable (by land) high plain in the lower part of Arizona and New Mexico.
Furthermore, it stretched the
land and caused a partial rift in the middle of the lower U.S. as it pushed
that same land to the west. The rift did not extend all the way to the northern
border. Today the rift is covered with millenia of silt and provides the base
for the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, including the New Madrid
RAPID SURFACE MOVEMENT AT THE IMPACT
Most geologists would claim that it is impossible
for rapid surface movement to occur at the site of a large impact. They would
argue that study of impact craters shows that the area outside the crater
However, I am not talking about moving the
material on the surface. Rather, I am talking about moving the entire layer of
surface material as one big slab, leaving the actual surface material intact as
a unit. I am talking about moving slabs of delaminated crust from a position
below the surface level.
I am not talking about splitting the tectonic
plate. I am talking about merely sliding layers of crust in a specific
direction, leaving the tectonic plate intact underneath.
look at the less extreme example of the Chesapeake Bay impact. In this case,
the impact is coming from the northeast, hitting into the beginning of a
passive continental tectonic margin. The land that it hits has nowhere to go.
Even as the impact buries itself in the ground and pushes on the layers
of earth from beneath the surface, this land cannot easily break away and head
to the southwest. There is an entire continent in front of it.
my view, this delaminated surface land is pushed up over the land in front of
it, where it eventually comes to rest, sort of like a rug pushed up against a
wall. The extreme pressure of the impact would help these surface layers slide
over the lower rock by creating molten edges at the face of the sliding slab,
in the same way that this occurs in deep earthquakes.
There is even controversial evidence
that this scenario did, in fact, occur. The reason that this evidence is
controversial is due to the fact that the Standard Theory attributes this
occurrence to other factors.
The evidence itself consists of the Blue
Ridge Mountains and the surface land in front of them and behind them.
In the "Blue Ridge Parkway Geology Training Manual," Robert J. Lillie explains
the difference between the Western Appalachians and the Blue Ridge Mountains as
"In the western part of the Appalachians, the
rocks were originally part of North America ... while the Blue Ridge is a piece
of the deeper, hard crust that was uplifted and shoved westward. Farther east,
however, the rocks formed elsewhere and were attached (or "accreted") to the
edge of North America as the ocean closed ... Rocks beneath young sediments of
Georgia and the Carolinas are thus stranded pieces of Africa, left behind when
the Atlantic opened."
"During the late stages of continental collision
the sedimentary rocks of the Valley and Ridge Province (between the Blue Ridge
Mountains and the Western Appalachians) were detached from the hard rocks
underneath and pushed westward. The strata were compressed, deforming in two
different ways. Analogous to a rug being pushed across a floor (or squeezing an
accordian), a series of anticlines and synclines developed."
Lillie goes on to describe the
debate between "thick skinners," who believed that it was downwarping and
vertical lift that caused the mountains, and the "thin skinners," who believed
that there was a long area of horizontal detachment that extended from the
coast to the base of the Western Appalachians. Lillie states:
"The implication of this interpretation was that
hard rocks at the surface were pushed westward tens, and maybe even hundreds,
of miles over North America." 106pg18
In the late 1970s, seismic reflection profiles were
recorded for this area. Lillie recounts the resulting victory of the "thin
"The profiles revealed that thrust faults
merged with a nearly horizontal (detachment) zone above basement rocks in the
Valley and Ridge Province. Strong reflections from the detachment zone were
traced eastward, entirely beneath the Blue Ridge and part of the Piedmont. It
was thus demonstrated that the Blue Ridge and Piedmont were thrust westward in
a thin-skinned fashion over the North American continent."
A similar geological story is
told by Lynn s. Fichter and Steve J. Baedke in "The Geological Evolution of
Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic Region - A Description of the Geology of
Lillie attributes this horizontal movement of
crust to long-ago pressure from reunion with Africa in the formation of Pangaea
prior to 250 MYA. Fichter and Baedke don't discuss the timing, but it is safe
to assume that most geologists would agree with Lillie ... after all, they
don't have another mechanism available.
As far as I can tell,
geologists are saying that we have a unique reaction to a convergent boundary
here. In no other place in the world do convergent boundaries behave like this.
In other places, convergent boundaries rapidly raise up mountains (which is why
the "thick-skinners" took that stance).
But here, it's different. Well,
maybe there's a reason that its different.
What if there were another
force that could cause horizontal movement at surface layers of the earth? What
if that force came out of the northeast at an angle of 30 degrees to 45 degrees
and burrowed down into the earth's surface at or below the level of those
layers and exerted tremendous shock impact in a direction to the south and
west? What if that force were equivalent to the energy of thousands of hydrogen
All of the above questions relate to characteristics of the
Chesapeake Bay impact 35.5 MYA. If, as a recent Princeton study claims, the
Chicxulub impact hit with the energy impact of 2,000,000 hydrogen bombs, then
the Chesapeake Bay impact, though smaller, probably had an energy impact
equivalent of at least hundreds of thousands of hydrogen bombs. A significant
portion of this directional energy could have been transferred to the basement
area of these surface layers, moving them inland (and mostly to the south and
west). It is likely that the original site of the Chesapeake Bay impact may
have been to the north and east of the present crater, after allowing for all
of the sliding involved.
The Piedmont and the Blue Ridge Mountains are
mostly located to the west and south of the Chesapeake Bay impact site. The
Blue Ridge Mountains end in northern Georgia. The Piedmont ends in mid-Georgia.
If the Piedmont and Blue Ridge Mountains were pushed up and moved by a
collision with Africa, why wouldn't they extend farther to the south? Why would
they be so truncated in the north? Why would they happen to be just in the
right location and in the right shape to have been moved by the force of a
large impact that just happened to be moving in that direction? see map
A recent article entitled "How river networks move across a
landscape" by Jennifer Chu of Science Daily on 3/3/14 summarizes work by
Willett, Mccoy, Perron, Goren and Cehn published by the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology. While this work mostly deals with the changing nature of river
networks, it has unusual relevance to the movement of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Jennifer Chu writes:
"What was most surprising to Perron was what is
likely occurring in the southeastern United States. While the landscape, which
stretches from northern Florida to Virginia, has not experienced much tectonic
activity for hundreds of millions of years, the group's map suggests that river
networks in these areas are on the move. From their results, the researchers
find that the Blue Ridge Escarpment is moving inland, and essentially dragging
behind it river basins, slowly stretching them across the landscape."
I realize that the canon of
geological theory does not recognize this sort of rapid surface movement as a
result of a large impact to be valid. But, sometimes, you just have to question
the accepted canon.
So, why am I spending the time to question this
aspect of the geological canon when it doesn't seem to be very important to my
theory? After all, my theory doesn't really hinge upon the events that occurred
at the site of the Chesapeake Bay impact 35.5 MYA.
But my theory does
have quite a bit to say about what happened at the Chicxulub impact site. I
hypothesize that the initial impact at Chicxulub was somewhere between southern
Georgia or Alabama and Panama City in the Florida panhandle, which would have
been near 30 degrees north latitude 65 MYA, and would have been somewhat
inland, but near the coast of Eastern North America. The Chicxulub impact would
have burrowed down into the earth and moved intact surface layers from Florida
to an area south and west of there.
Unlike the Chesapeake Bay impact,
there was no continent in the way to stop these delaminated surface layers from
moving. They moved to a spot near their present location, where they formed the
nascent Gulf of Mexico and the beginnings of Mexico and the Central American
Although I can show some elements of corroboration for this
scenario, I did not have any geological evidence to show that this kind of
intact surface movement had ever occurred in the past ... until I examined the
Chesapeake Bay impact closely.
However, this type of
large slab of material moving mostly as an intact mass can happen in some very
large landslides. Geology.com reports on the largest known landslide that ever
occurred. Known as the Heart Mountain Landslide, it happened 50 million years
ago in northwestern Wyoming. The article says: "The slide occurred when a large
slab of Madison Limestone, about 1600 feet thick and over 400 square miles in
area, became detached and slid down a gradual slope that had average slope of
less than two degrees. As the limestone slab moved it broke into many smaller
pieces. Today over 100 pieces of the slab are scattered across an area of about
1300 square miles. Some of these blocks are up to five miles across and many of
them have been buried by volcanic material."
This huge slab landslide
occurred without the help of giant amounts of energy imparted by a large,
burrowing, cosmic impact. While I am arguing for a much bigger result than this
landslide, I am also pointing out that there was much, much more energy
A quick examination of the Kara crater 70 MYA also
shows some strange anomalies that may support intact surface movement, as well.
According to paper published by Koeberl, Sharpton, Harrison, Sandwell, Murali
and Burke entitled "The Kara/Ust-Kara twin impact structure; A large-scale
impact event in the late Cretaceous," the Kara crater (with a pre-erosion size
of 65 km) had a shadow twin crater of approximately the same size located in
the Kara sea, just to the north and east of the Kara crater.
calls this situation a rare twin impact event. To me, this looks more like a
single event with a deeper impact crater at the original impact site, causing
the intact surface to move to the south and west. The result would look like
two separate impacts at almost the same spot. 129
this entire concept of rapid intact surface movement due to a large impact will
be controversial. But I believe that it explains too much about the formation
of North America to just ignore it.
OLD SPREADING RIDGES SEEN
A recent article in Live
Science details radar views from space that allow scientists to "see through"
the sea floor sediment to the rocky features beneath.
The floor of the
Gulf of Mexico shows the remains of spreading ridges between the Chicxulub
impact site and the U.S. shoreline along the Florida Gulf Coast. This kind of
tear in the crust is just what one might expect to see if a strong force moved
a big hunk of material from the U.S. coast to the south and west.
space radar image also showed some tears in the surface underneath sediment at
the southern edge of the Gulf of Mexico. Again, this type of tear is just what
one would expect if a force began folding up the Yucatan Peninsula as it moved
Mexico and the upper part of Central America to the south and west.
THE EFFECTS OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY IMPACT
About 35.5 MYA, a large object crashed into the
Chesapeake Bay area in Maryland from out of the northeast. The impact caused an
antipodal hotspot that ran down the east coast of Australia.
impact site, itself, the energy pushed the east coast of the U.S. in a
southwestward direction, causing the indented eastern coastline of the U.S. in
the area of Maryland and Virginia, and gradually closing the rift in the middle
of the country.
The rift, located at the Mississippi River and the Ohio
River valleys, still experiences strike slip fault movement from the pressure
to the south on the eastern side of the now-closed rift (i.e. the New Madrid
LOOKING AT THE EVIDENCE
let's ask the question: What makes this impact scenario more plausible than the
Standard Theory, which doesn't posit movement at the site of the impact?
1. MECHANISM FOR NEW MADRID - The Impact Effect
Scenario offers a clear mechanism for the cause and continued movement of the
fault in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys. Without some kind of really
good reason for the New Madrid fault, it is bizarre to have the largest
earthquakes in the history of the U.S. occurring in the middle of the normally
stable continental mass.
2. LARGE IGNEOUS PROVINCES - The map of Large
Igneous Provinces shows a questionable magmatic location (it has a question
mark on it) in the "thumb" of the Yucatan Peninsula. This is mostly
questionable because it located so far away from the rest of the magmatic
locations of the CAMP. The Impact Effect Scenario moves this magmatism
location's initial site to a spot right next to the CAMP locations in lower
Georgia and Alabama. 103 pg 4
Furthermore, an analysis of the
Caribbean Ocean plateau by Keith H. James finds that the thumb area of the
Yucatan has been tectonically linked to Florida, across the Gulf of Mexico.
57 pg 2
3. STRETCH MARKS - A look at a relief map of the Gulf
of Mexico and the Caribbean basin shows stretch marks indicating the movement
of Mexico and Central America away from the Caribbean islands, Florida and the
Bahamas shelf area. The pieces seem to fit together, with Jamaica, especially,
appearing to be partially pulled towards the Central America area.
SAME GEOLOGICAL ORIGIN - Pelagic limestone from the Maya Block in Central
America are similar in age and lithology to the sedimentary sequence of
southwestern Cuba and suggest a common depositional area on the eastern margin
of the Maya Block in the Proto-Caribbean Basin." 113
STRETCHED OUT AREA NORTH OF THE SIERRA MADRES - There is an area between the
Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico and the lower Rocky Mountains in the U.S. that
is not very mountainous
it is as though that area was stretched out,
lowering the mountainous area that was probably there originally. The Impact
Effect Scenario provides a definite cause for this stretched out situation.
6. IT FITS THE "BLOB WITH A TAIL" MODEL - North America is the only
continent (with the exception of the Eurasian conglomeration) that does not fit
the "blob with a tail" model. This Impact Effects Scenario would explain this
7. COMMON SENSE - Does it make sense that a huge impact that
comes in at an angle would not have at least some angular effect at the impact
site? If tectonic plates are going to move around because of mantle plumes, why
wouldn't a huge angled impact cause at least some of the earth's surface to
As I will detail in chapter 2.7, another example of
movement as the result of an angled impact is the Permian extinction impact in
Antarctica 250 MYA. The impact caused the entire Old Australia continent to
move to the south and east, with Eastern Antarctica eventually breaking off and
moving south as the stresses from one-sided (not evenly applied along the whole
length of this huge continent) forward pressure would not allow such a large
structure to stay intact. 57 pg 2
EXPLAINING EASTERN NORTH AMERICA
While this explanation of the three plates which formed North America
does explain the interaction involved, it does not explain the origin of the
key player ... Eastern North America.
Siberia will be explained in
Chapter 2.7. The remnant land at the San Andreas Fault has been explained.
Let's look at the explanation for Eastern North America.
I contend that
Eastern North America was created as a result of a very large impact at the end
of the Triassic, about 202 MYA. This event caused the formation of the Central
Atlantic Magmatic Provinces (CAMP) as a side effect of uplifting the new
Eastern North American Continent.
Because the northern part of the new
Eastern North American Continent did not fully separate from the European
continent until 65 MYA, it has been more difficult to see how the process
worked. However, we can find reasonable candidates for the necessary
participants in this continental formation.
1. CRATER -- There are no absolute answers here.
However, we do have a candidate. Looking at where the original hotspot was
likely to have been and where an impact would have had to have been to be
antipodal to the initial hotspot, there is a possible candidate: The Bedout
crater, located just to the northeast of Australia. However, we cannot be sure.
2. HOTSPOT -- The hotspot for the uplifting of the Eastern North
American Continent is interior to the continent and likely located at or near
Montreal, Canada or under northern Lake Ontario. It is also possible that the
initial hotspot was located to the northwest of either location and that the
cracks propagated to that area and the volcanism started "squirting out" at one
of those points (similar to the Columbia River volcanism in Washington State,
where the Yellowstone hotspot, then located under the Rocky Mountains, couldn't
break through the surface due to the weight and thickness of the rocks.
Instead, the volcanism moved sideways to the Columbia River valley where it
could break out). The entire hotspot situation is confusing, in that much of
northern Eastern North America remained mostly attached to the European
Continent for tens of millions of years. This means that the Eastern American
Continent might not have started outrunning the hotspot until 60 million years
after the creation impact.
However, there are very visible crack and
split lines in the initial hotspot area that can explain the CAMP volcanism as
the cracks propagated to the uplifted edge area of the new continent. The
clearest crack propagation lines are the St. Lawrence seaway, the Hudson
Valley/Lake Champlain divide, the Mohawk River in New York State and the basin
structure of the Great Lakes, much of which is underlain by basalt intrusions.
Even the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York might be the result of tentative
crack propagation. As the propagated cracks released the magmatic pressure and
uplifted and partially separated the Eastern North American Continent from
Europe, they also created the huge CAMP lava flows. Adding to the problem of
determining the original location of the hotspot is the fact that continued
glaciation over the millennia has eroded identifying features on the landscape.
The unusually large amount of volcanism of the
CAMP could mean that a significant amount of the pressure of uplift was
relieved through the CAMP rather than being used in the uplift. This could
explain the partial attachment of the northeastern section (Greenland) to
Europe, as well as a possible lower-than-usual uplift on the western side of
this new continent. 81 pg 22
A Mafic oceanic crustal western
edge of this new continent could have resulted in subduction of that edge under
the Siberian Tail remnant during the collision 80 MYA to 70 MYA at the start of
the Laramide Orogeny (building of the Rocky Mountains). This subducted
collision could have uplifted the high plains and built the Rockies as a normal
continental mountain range from the east, rather than a uniquely strangely
shallow-angled subducted Farallon Plate from the west. The separation of the
pieces of the Siberian Tail as it moved north and east could explain the Big
Horn Basin and other intermountain basins.
3. BLOB WITH A TAIL -- While the Eastern North
American continental uplift did produce a blob with a tail, it is difficult to
see this today because:
a. THE TAIL MOVED 65 MYA -- As detailed earlier
in this chapter, the Chicxulub impact 65 MYA moved most of the tail to the
south and west, as it opened up a gash in the midsection of the Eastern North
American Continent. The pushed-over tail material lined up under the Siberian
tail section of the combined continent, making the continent look as though it
had two tails.
b. COMBINED CONTINENTAL MASSES -- As Eastern
North America moved west, it collided with the tail of the Siberian Continent,
which (with the remnant San Andreas portion of the Pacific Plate at the western
edge) formed the combined continent that we see today. 4.
CONTINENTAL MOVEMENT -- The creation of Eastern North America 202 MYA took a
significant amount of land from Europe, as well as including some ocean crust
on its western side. When it comes to continental movement, we can see where
Eastern North America was connected to Europe and we can see where it ended up
However, this was not a straight line path. The collision with
the Siberian tail (80MYA to 70 MYA) would have moved it northward and/or caused
it to rotate clockwise. The Chicxulub impact 65 MYA would have moved it to the
southwest, until the tail split and the western tail continued on its southwest
journey. Then, 35 MYA, the Chesapeake Bay impact would have moved the entire
plate slightly to the south and west.
5. TANDEM MOVEMENT -- The
original hotspot location is difficult to determine. There is a good
possibility that the Eastern North American Continent did not start to outrun
the hotspot (due to the continent still being partially attached to Europe)
until around 130 MYA. Given the likelihood that the original hotspot and the
crack propagation occurred near Montreal and/or northern Lake Ontario, there is
a clear candidate for the subsequent track of the hotspot. This track is the
New England Seamount Chain. The New England Seamount Chain begins off the
southeast coast of Cape Cod with the Bear Seamount (102 million years old) and
continues southeast to the Nashville Seamount (82 million years old).
If we follow the New England seamount chain
backwards in time, we find that this same hotspot built the White Mountains in
New Hampshire circa 124 MYA and created volcanic intrusions in the Montreal
area approximately 136 MYA. The Nashville Seamount was created 82 MYA. Then the
seamount chain seems to end. However, many geologists believe that it continues
at the Corner Rise Seamounts and then, later, across the mid-ocean ridge, with
the Great Meteor Seamounts.
But, how could this be? The New England
Seamounts move in a relatively straight line and then end at the Nashville
Seamount. The Corner Rise Seamounts begin at 75 MYA and are located
significantly to the north. Why would the hotspot change direction like that?
The answer is that it didn't. Instead, the Eastern North American Plate changed
direction. Somewhere around 80 MYA and 70 MYA, the Eastern North American Plate
ran into the Siberian tail, which was moving to the north and west. This
collision would likely have caused the Eastern North American Plate to be
grabbed and rotated clockwise, thus moving the eastern edge of the plate to the
Because the eastern edge of the Eastern North American Plate
moved to the south, the New England hotspot appeared to move significantly to
the north, where it created the Corner Rise Seamounts (75 MYA to 70 MYA). At
this point, the seamounts stop. However, in a location of similar latitude
across the mid-ocean ridge, a new group of seamounts begin. Some geologists
conclude that this new group is a continuation of the New England Seamount
Chain, now rechristened the Great Meteor Seamounts. I believe that this
interpretation is correct, although my version is slightly different. The
standard view is that the hotspot is moving southeast. I believe that the
hotspot is moving very slowly northwest, but that the plates (Eastern North
American and Europe) are both moving faster in a westerly direction than the
slow moving hotspot. 88,89,90,91,92,93,94
extinction caused by the impact which created the Eastern North American Plate
at its antipode, as well as the CAMP, was the end-Triassic extinction. The
extensive magmatism of the CAMP were the primary driving force for this major
extinction. But we must remember, the CAMP were created by the antipodal impact
This was a huge magmatic event at virtually the same time as
the Triassic extinction approx. 202 MYA. Called the Central Atlantic Magmatic
Province (CAMP), this region contains 300,000 square kilometers of extrusive
basalts that occurred around 200 MYA. Moreover, "dikes and sills of CAMP that
fed the basin basalts also occur across 11 million square kilometers within
four continents, centered upon but extending far outside of the initial
Pangaean rift zone" according to J. Gregory McHone. 54
CAMP is located along the rift line that occurred between North America and
Europe as Pangaea began to break up about 200 MYA. There are also substantial
basalt intrusions and deposits along the African and South American coasts,
which lead most geologists to believe that there was rifting between those two
continents, also (I do not believe that there was any rifting here, because the
South American continent had not yet been created
see Chapter 2.4. In my
view, the CAMP that was located in and near Africa and northern South America
was a result of the creation of the Eastern North American Plate ... see
In the last 30 years, the idea of a CAMP has gone from an
interesting theory to a pretty well proven reality. The ages and types of
magmatism are now proven to be very similar all along this huge area.
Initially, it looks to be a stretch to conclude that all of these magmatic
events are part of the same mega-event. But now this theory is pretty well
The small difference in the cited dates
(202 MYA for the Triassic extinction and 200 MYA for the CAMP) would be right
at the limit of the stated margin of error, but it could also mean that there
are some CAMP sites that are just slightly older that have not yet been sampled
or have not been sampled in the oldest areas of those sites.
McHone notes that, although some geologists might favor a plume theory for the
cause of this magmatism, there is no evidence to support this possibility, nor
is there a hotspot that is a likely culprit. It appears that this magmatism was
a result of plate tectonic action. He says, "Continental rifting was active 25
m.y. before and after the magmatic event, during which rifting and magmatism
evolved into a spreading ocean crust." 58
of the conversation seems to be about the CAMP and their relation to the
Triassic extinction. No one speaks to the cause of the CAMP, other than to say
that they are related to the breakup of Pangaea.
The only explanation
for the breakup of Pangaea seems to be "rifting," caused by tectonic forces.
A DIFFERENT EXPLANATION
Although I agree with the CAMP theory in general, I believe that there are two
important differences between this theory as stated and what actually occurred.
These differences deal with the cause of the breakup of Pangaea and the
relationship between South America and Africa.
As seen in maps of the
CAMP, the magmatic activity of the CAMP stopped somewhere around the equator.
It did not go farther south. This probably means that the rifting stopped at
that point. 57 pg 2
If the reason for the CAMP was the
breakup of Pangaea, then there is no good reason for the CAMP to suddenly stop
halfway down the coast of Africa. It was already halfway down the Gondwana area
of Pangaea. Why stop there?
I believe that the reason why the CAMP
stopped around the equator had to do with the fact that it relates only to the
creation of the Eastern North American Plate.
I believe that the South
American continent was not created until 132 MYA (see see Chapter 2.4).
Therefore, models of the CAMP that show the effects on South America are not
accurate. South America did not exist at that time.
When South America
was uplifted as a continent 132 MYA, it contained some of the CAMP material
(Amazonia) in its northern reaches, because that material happened to be
located there at the time it was uplifted. But there was no rifting related to
South America until it was created 132 MYA and given a strong westward impetus.
Up until then, the Pacific plate was being subducted by Africa near its
southern end while being subducted in the opposite direction by the Eurasian
plate on its northern end. This impossible situation forced the creation of the
Nazca plate, which was initially being subducted by Africa but is now being
subducted by Africa's proxy, South America.
While these important
differences need to be pointed out, they do not change the basic premise of the
CAMP and its relation to the Triassic extinction.
It appears quite
probable that the Triassic extinction was caused by the CAMP. However, the CAMP
were caused by the impact effects of an impact that created Eastern North
America. Therefore, a cosmic impact was the root cause of the Triassic