Essay 2

Ben's Revised Antipodal Focusing Theory
by Ben Fishler

Ben's Revised Antipodal Focusing Theory (BRAFT) explains most occurences of mantle plumes, hotspots, plate tectonics, continent formation, Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs) and mass extinctions as the natural result of very large or huge cosmic impacts. It is even possible that ALL of these phenomena are the result of cosmic impacts.

BRAFT recognizes that small or medium sized cosmic impacts are unlikely to have more than significant regional effects, at most. These impacts are not large enough to penetrate the Earth's crust.

However, very large (producing craters of at least 50 km diameter in size) or huge (producing craters of at least 85 km diameter in size) cosmic impacts are a completely different story.

A very large cosmic impact can penetrate the Earth's crust. The extra directed pressure will force liquid material from the outer edge of the Earth's liquid core and the adjoaining mantle to penetrate the now-permeable mantle (permeable due to the extreme vibration from magnitude 12+ impact earthquakes) causing a mantle plume to shoot to the underside of the Earth's crust at a point called the energy antipode. This energy antipode point will be somewhat close to the physical antipode of the impact, but somewhat distant due to the off-center nature of the impact object's path through the mantle and the forward overbalance of impact pressure. The mantle plume will eventually cause a hotspot as the mantle plume melts its way to the surface.

Whereas very large cosmic impacts can cause regional devastation at the impact site and a mantle plume and an eventual hotspot at the energy antipode, a huge impact can have much more significant and devastating effects.

A huge impact can create such a strong mantle plume that the pressure and volume of the plume will cause the plume to spread out underneath the Earth's surface and actually lift up a signifricant amount of that crust, itself. It will create a separate continent and tectonic plate with the edge of this continent "unzippering" from neighboring crust along a line where the pressure is just enough to overcome the effects of gravity and crustal shear strength. Shortly thereafter, it will begin to subside.

This continent (which is also a complete tectonic plate) and its hotspot will be given a directed motion by the mantle plume, reflecting the angle of impact and off-center nature of the hit. This continent will move as an untethered feature on the surface of the crust, greatly affected by the coriolis effect in its movement. The hotspot will follow behind at a slower speed because it is tethered to the liquid core and must melt its way horizontally through the mantle, as it travels the same directed path as the continent (but without the benefit of permeable vibrational assistance, after the impact earthquakes subside).

A huge impact will create such a strong mantle plume that its hotspot will force its way to the surface immediately after impact and create a LIP. The lava will follow the path of least resistance, which means that it will escape to the surface at the site of the physical antipode, where the rocks have already been pulverized by the focusing effect of the earthquake waves. If the physical antipode happens to be at the edge of the new continent (as in the Deccan traps 66

MYA and the Siberian traps 252 MYA), the lava will create a huge LIP at that location. If the physical antipode happens to be in the interior of the continent, the lava will make its way to the edge via crack propagation and deposit its LIP there (Parana Etandeka traps 132 MYA and the CAMP (Central Atlantic Magmatic Provinces) 201 MYA).

The shape of a newly formed continent will be "a blob with a tail." This shape will occur because of the extra pressure nearer to the impact, forcing more uplift in that direction. South America is the quintessential example of this shape (slightly misshapen on the western side due to its millions of years of running into the Pacific plate).

All of the recent mass extinctions of the past 252 million years correlate with the huge impacts and can explained by their effects. These mass extinctions and their correlative huge impacts are:


The primary proximate cause of the world-wide mass extinctions shown above was the explosive and continuous volcanism of the LIPs that were formed by these impacts. This explosive and continuous volcanism would have blocked the sunlight for millenia, causing a shut down of the plant growth cycle.

The notable exception to this scenario is the Valanginian-Weissert Oceanic Anoxic Event 132 MYA. It was truly a major extinction in the sea, but not on land. Why?

Although it was arguably the biggest impact of them all, the impact 132 MYA that created the Marianas/Challenger deep trench (which took over the subduction function from the Mariana trough and continues as a self-repicating scar today) actually occurred in the middle of the Pacific ocean, so there was no regional land damage from the impact except for the tsunamis. But, mostly, there was a lack of explosive volcanism, because the volcanism was not moving into the path of water-laden subducted crust, as was the case with the three other LIPs. The African part of the Parana Etendekja traps just sat there and didn't move. The South American part moved west with the whole continent in front of it. It didn't run into any water-laden subducting crust. Thus, there was no water to turn to steam and cause explosive eruptions, throwing huge amounts of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.

Trying to look back beyond 252 MYA is a fool's errand. The Earth erases, erodes, hides and subducts much of the evidence from the distant past. If I am right about the location of India 66 MYA (4,000 miles away from where most geologists place it), then how productive can our guesses be about things that are even more than 200 million years older?

Suffice it to say that at this point it seems that ALL of the more recent mass extinctions can be explained by the BRAFT theory … and maybe all of the older ones, too.