SIBERIA & THE PERMIAN
At this point, the only other major extinction
that offers relatively easy clues to its "smoking gun" is the Permian
The Permian Extinction is the largest of the major
extinctions. It occurred approximately 250 MYA. The most generally accepted
reason for this extinction (known as the "great dying") was the effects from
massive and persistent volcanism in Siberia
volcanism that dwarfed the
volcanism of the Deccan traps in India.
Let's take a look at the five
characteristics of the expected "Smoking Gun" as they pertain to the Permian
1. CRATER There are reports of a crater of
300 miles in diameter beneath the ice shield of Eastern Antarctica. The crater
is presumed to be in the neighborhood of 250 million years old. The location of
the crater is approximately where it would need to be in order to have a huge
antipodal hotspot at the location of the Siberian traps 250 MYA. In my opinion, we have a relatively complete "smoking gun"
for the Permian extinction 250 MYA. Although not as complete and definitive as
the "smoking gun" for the End-Cretaceous extinction, it is still very
age is approximately correct. The size of the crater is in keeping with the
huge extinction event, the huge outpouring of flood basalt lava and the huge
Siberian continent that was uplifted. 18,19
the crater is located beneath miles of ice, no one has been able to physically
verify the reports. Nevertheless, confidence is high based upon gravity
fluctuation measured by NASA satellites. They found a "mascon" (a mass
concentration of mantle material) that had risen up into the earth's crust.
A posting on "Ohio State Research" notes
"When the scientists overlaid their gravity
image with airborne radar images of the ground beneath the ice, they found the
mascon perfectly centered inside a circular ridge some 300 miles wide." 19
pg2 The posting goes on to say:
"'On the moon, you can look at craters and the
mascons are still there,' (Ralph) von Frese said. 'But on earth it's unusual to
find mascons, because the planet is geologically active. The interior
eventually recovers and the mascon goes away.' He cited the very large and much
older Vredefort crater in South Africa that must have once had a mascon, but no
evidence of it can be seen now." 19 pg 2 Other
evidence of a cosmic impact 250 MYA is reported in "Extraterrestrial Impacts":
"Very recently a research team led by Dr.
Luann Becker has published that they have chemical evidence for a meteorite
strike 252 millions years ago at the time of the Permian crisis. The evidence
is based on complex carbon molecules called fullerenes which have cosmogenic
isotopes of helium and argon inside their 'football like' structure. The
fullerenes show an unusually high concentration at the time of the extinction
in three boundary sections in Japan, China and Hungary." 20 pg
3 There are also heightened levels of iridium and shocked
quartz at 250 MYA. 20 Both of these items are associated with cosmic
2. HOTSPOT We have flood basalt evidence of the biggest
hotspot currently known on earth
the Siberian traps. The Siberian traps
are located approximately where they would be needed to originate in order to
have been antipodal to the Antarctic crater 250 MYA. 21
BLOB WITH A TAIL Our evidence is the shape of Siberia as its blob
collides with Europe at the Urals, as well as impacting South Asia near China.
The tail extends to the east all the way through the Bering straits into almost
all of Alaska (remember that a continent includes its shelf, and in this case,
that shelf includes the Bering Straits). The tail actually continues into part
of the Rocky Mountains of the US. This huge antipodal continental uplift area
is in keeping with the size of the huge 300 mile-in-diameter impact crater.
4. CONTINENTAL MOVEMENT - Standard models of plate tectonics show the
Siberian plate moving in to collide with the European plate. I would argue that
the newly uplifted Siberian continent also had a slight velocity to the south.
Therefore, as it headed west, it moved increasingly more to the south due to
the coriolis effect. This southward movement caused it to crash into China and
the surrounding area as well as into Europe, building up both the north side of
the Himalayan plateau as well as the Ural mountains. It is also interesting to
note that this southward movement by the blob appears to have started a rift in
the tail (at Lake Baikal) because the continental mass is too big to remain
intact under rotational conditions. It is also possible that the leading edge
of the Siberian blob was initially located beyond the North Pole, which would
account for southerly movement. In any event, this uplifted continent was so
huge and so long that not all of the pieces moved in exactly the same direction
as it rotated and broke up during its journey.
5. TANDEM MOVEMENT
The hotspot that began in Alaska and the created the Aleutian Islands is
the logical candidate for a follow-on antipodal hotspot that is moving in
roughly the same direction as the blob with a tail. The flood basalt lava
deposits in Southern Alaska circa 235 MYA that move in the direction of the
Aleutians may be the link between the Siberian traps and the Aleutian island
arc. 37 Even after 250 million years, the hotspot still has some
fire left, as it feeds the volcanoes at the west end of the Aleutian island
a look at the movement of Siberia and how that movement relates to the Rocky
Mountains and other North American features.
The impact crater location
in Eastern Antarctica and the Wrangellia flood basalts (231 - 225 MYA, which
would have been the first separate activity of the Siberian hotspot after
falling behind the moving Siberian continent) in Alaska and Canada give us a
reasonably good picture of where the Siberian continent started out. We can see
from the final position of Siberia that the Siberian traps were on the east
side of the continent when it was first formed.
The blob part of the
continent had a significant south and western momentum that caused it to move
to the west and then to the south.
This movement is corroborated in an
unusual way by an article in the Journal of the Geological Society in 2007.
Entitled "Siberian trap magmatism on the New Siberian islands" by Alexander B.
Kuzmichev and Victoria L. Pease, this article presents evidence that islands
near the Siberian traps are not geologically different from Siberia, itself.
In the course of the investigation, the authors found that the arctic
basin in the Alaska/Siberia area showed a rotated terrane. Furthermore, the
terrane rotated around a pivot point in extreme northeast Alaska. The rotation
in the Siberian area was to the south. 81 pg 960
were not looking to corroborate a model such as the one that I present.
Nevertheless, their terrane conclusions do actually match the scenario that my
model proposes. With the flood basalt lava located on the east side of the
newly uplifted continent, we would expect movement to the west (see Chapter
2.3, Sidespin). Later, due to the Coriolis effect, we would expect movement to
the south. A pivot point near northeast Alaska is right about where we would
expect to find it.
THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS
creation and movement of the Siberian continent had a significant impact on the
western side of the North American continent. Siberia helped to create the
Rocky Mountains in the US and Canada.
The creation of the Rocky
Mountains, as well as the western Canadian mountains and the mountains in
Alaska happened over a period of millions of years and involved several
different aspects of the movement and breakup of the Siberian continent.
The Siberian continent was originally a very large continent. It was so
big that it ended up breaking into several distinct pieces as it pivoted,
turned and moved to the west and then to the south. The resulting plates from
the creation of the Siberian continent are:
1. The western part of the North American plate
(which includes Alaska and the eastern part of Siberia).
2. The eastern
part of the Eurasian plate (which includes the rest of Siberia).
middle tail piece pulled north and west along the Canadian Rockies.
The end of the Siberian tail, which broke off and was trapped between the San
Andreas Fault and the high plains of the U.S.
TOO BIG TO BE STABLE
original Siberian continent that was uplifted was so large that it was
intrinsically unstable as it tried to move in one piece. If this huge continent
had been moving on a truly flat surface, then it might have held together.
However, it was moving on a curved surface, where the Coriolis effect gives a
different direction of movement to each segment of this large object.
The magma that was located under each part of this huge, upraised
continent was being pushed in different directions, due to the rotational
nature of the energy at that point under the earth. In the case of a smaller,
stubby continent (i.e. India), the rotational energy of the blob would take
over and move the entire continent in that direction. In the case of a much
larger continent, the coriolis effect would cause the continent to split apart
into multiple tectonic plates.
It is also possible that the leading
edge of the blob was initially located beyond the North Pole, accounting for
its slight southward movement. This would mean that Old Australia was farther
south, but that is certainly possible.
The result of these competing
directional pressures was the eventual breakup of Siberia into either three or
1. UPPER BLOB - This part moved west and
eventually south and became permanently affixed to Eurasia, as it crashed into
the Ural Mountains and China.
2. LOWER BLOB - This part moved west but
was also pushed north by the tail. The western edge (composed of oceanic crust)
of the Eastern North American Continent eventually ran into this section and
raised up the Canadian Rockies as it was subducted. This combined mass
continued moving west. Eventually, the western pull of the Upper Blob caused
the far northern part of the North American to stretch apart (a quick glance at
a map of northern Canada and Greenland will show how this area is stretched out
like a fan). Finally, the southern movement of the Upper Blob was too much for
the structural integrity of this part of the Siberian continent
Upper Blob ended up permanently affixed to Asia, while the Lower Blob remained
part of the stretched-out North American plate.
3. MAIN TAIL -
Meanwhile, the main part of the tail of the blob was moving in a northern
direction with at least a bit of a western twist. This piece subducted the
Eastern North American Plate in the Southern Canadian Rockies.
END - The tail end of the Siberian Continent followed the blob north and west.
The tail subducted the oceanic western side of the Eastern North American
Continent later on in Canada, forming the Canadian Rockies. The lower part of
the tail broke off as it was trapped between the San Andreas remnant land and
the western edge of Eastern North America, becoming the high plains and the
THE ROCKIES - A COMPLEX SYSTEM
One point in favor of examining the Rocky Mountains in North America
is the fact that they have been studied a lot. And yet, the formation of the
mountains in the western U.S. is so complex that not all answers are known.
Answers to these questions are explored in detail in Chapter 2.5.
THE FOLLOW-ON HOTSPOT
follow-on hotspot for the Siberian continent moved almost directly west from
its original position at Wrangellia in Alaska, forming the Aleutian Islands.
However, because the North American plate did not move in a consistent manner
during the 230 million years since the hotspot separated from the Siberian
basalt flows, the Aleutians formed an arc, rather than a straight line. The
reasons for this changing movement and the shape of the arc are detailed in the
next three paragraphs.
The initial result of the collision of the
Siberian continent and the western side of the North American continent was a
gradual movement of the Siberian part of the North American continent (Alaska)
to the north, as the blob rotated, pulling up the lower part of the blob and
bringing the tail along, until the tail broke off.
Because the Alaska
area was moving north, the west-moving hotspot appeared to be moving south.
This all changed 65 MYA, when the Chicxulub impact pulled the North
American continent to the south, causing the west-moving hotspot to appear to
move north. 41pg960;42;43pg14