Several issues related to Ben's Antipodal Impact Theory require additional explanation. This chapter will explore some of those issues.


There is a big difference between a large impact that occurs on or near land and an impact that occurs in deep water. Water tends to dissipate much of the impact effect and deep water covers 50% to 60% of the planet.

The issue of whether an impact occurs on or near land as opposed to deep water needs further clarification for two reasons:

1. To establish the validity of this argument, especially in the light of counter-assertion.

2. To explain the number of large impacts that have had a truly devastating effect, as opposed to just the total number of large impacts (impacts in deep water would have a much smaller effect).

There are two specific arguments to rebut. These arguments are:

1. ARGUMENT #1—Impacts on land are LESS likely to cause antipodal damage than impacts in deep water. A paper by Jonathan T. Hagstrum in 2004 argues that large-body impacts could cause antipodal hotspots, as well as hotspots at the original impact site (hotspot pairs). Hagstrum's paper argues that there is a 99% confidence level that antipodal hotspot pairs are not due to chance. Furthermore, the paper states:

"Because continental impacts are expected to have lower seismic efficiencies, continents possibly acted as shields to the formation of antipodal hotspot pairs." 6 pg 1

2. ARGUMENT #2—There are too few extinctions to attribute them the effects of cosmic impacts. A paper by Rosalind V. White in 2002 notes that:

"Statistical examination of craters on the Earth and Moon demonstrates that Earth should receive a crater as big as Chicxulub (180 km in diameter) on average every ca. 31 Myr (Hughes 1998)." 2 pg 2979

Therefore, if big impacts produce big extinctions, why have we only seen six major extinctions in the past 510 years, when we should have seen approximately 16?


The answers to these arguments are related, so I will address them both at once. I believe that the answers to these riddles lie in the fact that more than 70% of the surface of the Earth is covered with water (with 50% to 60% of the Earth's surface covered with deep water) .

I believe that when a cosmic object hits the water instead of the land, the water would absorb a significant amount of the shock. Therefore, many of the impacts would not have transmitted as much energy to the mantle, nor would they have caused as much energy transfer damage at the antipodal area of the earth.

Certainly a large cosmic strike in the ocean would produce some kind of crater and it would produce a prodigious mega-tsunami, but mega-tsunamis still only cause regional damage. They don't usually lead to extinction. It takes massive and persistent volcanism with its attendant decades and centuries of volcanic winter to lead to massive extinction. An interesting recent comparative example for the difference (on a much smaller scale) between water (a loose substance) and rock (a hard substance) is the story of the British army on the beaches of Dunkirk in France in 1940.

At that time, Hitler's army had surrounded the British army and was ready to drive them into the sea … with the possible loss of almost all of Britain's trained troops. However, Adolf Hitler (prodded by his air marshal, Herman Goering) ordered his Panzer tank divisions to stand down, while the German air force bombed the British troops to pieces.

Unfortunately for Hitler, the loose sand absorbed much of the blast effect from the bombs. Although many of the British troops were covered with sand, relatively few were injured. The great majority of the British troops were able to escape back to England on a jury-rigged flotilla of ersatz troop ships.

Although Jonathan Hagstrum might believe that impact in water would be more likely to form a hotspot at the antipode, I respectfully disagree. Water has an amazing ability to reduce the impact effect of an object. Water will direct much of the force in all directions (especially into directions of least resistance), reducing the impact effect at the specific impact point. For smaller impacts, a cosmic collision object wouldn't even shock the ocean floor if it hit the Earth in deep water.

Perhaps the dissipating effect of water can best be understood by reading the following report from This report relays the results of U.S. military testing of bullets fired directly into water in order to see if downed airmen could escape the effects of enemy aircraft strafing at sea by diving under water. The report focuses on .30 caliber armor piercing rounds (assault rifle equivalents) and. 50 caliber armor piercing rounds (truly brutal high powered bullets used primarily in devastating mounted machine guns and high-powered sniper rifles).

"The Bureau of Ordnance conducted a series of tests to determine depths of water required to give protection against .50 caliber and .30 caliber AP bullets fired from a few inches above the water. A target of 1-inch pine boards was suspended at various depths with their surface at right angles to the line of fire. The Complete penetration of a board was considered a lethal impact. "When the .50 caliber bullet was fired vertically downward, the critical distance for complete penetration was found to lie between 4 ft. and 5 ft. Firing at oblique angles of 45 to 60 degrees from the vertical reduced the lethal bullet travel by approximately 1 ft. When the .30 caliber bullet was fired vertically downward, complete penetration was observed at 1 ft. but not at 2 ft. Based on these observations a person must be submerged at least 5 ft. to feel reasonably safe from .50 caliber machine gun fire and at least 2 ft. for .30 caliber machine gun fire." 7

Earlier in the report, it noted that soft-nose bullets (the bullets tested in the report above were full-jacketed military bullets) do not penetrate as well. Soft nose bullets also expand (and slow down some) and break up.

Many or most of the large Earth impact objects would be more similar to soft nose bullets than full-jacketed military bullets.

Water has strong stopping power, even from full-jacketed military bullets that are aerodynamically shaped. Two feet of water can provide reasonable protection from an assault rifle! And water is especially effective in slowing down soft nose (like most impact objects) bullets coming in at an angle (like most cosmic impacts).

While most large cosmic impact objects hitting in deep water would still have a big effect on the planet Earth, I don't believe that they would be able to transfer enough energy to the antipode of the impact to cause a major extinction event.

I believe that 50% to 60% of the large cosmic impacts on Earth in the last 510 million years probably hit water that was deep enough to effectively stop a major extinction event. Therefore, instead of approximately 16 major extinction events, we would expect six to eight major extinction events from the Cambrian to the present day.

Standard earth science texts list six:

1. Cambrian 510 MYA

2. Ordovician 440 MYA

3. Devonian 365 MYA

4. Permian 250 MYA

5. Triassic 202 MYA

6. End-Cretaceous 65 MYA


This book is not the first to name geological activity at the antipode of an impact as a possible effect from a large cosmic object. Several scientists have noted the convergence of earthquake forces at the antipode and have suggested that this could cause geological activity.

However, none of those scientists have been able to link antipodal impact activity to a major impact event in a convincing manner (I hope to end that drought).

Nevertheless, there are two groups of scientists who have brought a special insight into the subject.

Back in 2003, Dr. Michael Martin-Smith proposed the "Bullet Theory." This theory posited major volcanic activity at the antipode of the Chicxulub impact, as a result of the shock effect transmitted through the lithosphere and the mantle.

As an intriguing sidelight, Dr. Martin-Smith (a medical doctor who is a life-long amateur astronomer) noted that on the planet Mercury, there is a large region of jumbled hills at the exact antipode of the huge Caloris impact basin (1385 km in diameter). Dr. Martin-Smith also points out the fact that Mercury has not had any volcanism for at least three billion years … the region of hills (the size of France and Germany) is "ascribed to a concentration of shock waves emanating from the Caloris Basin impact." 8 pg 4

I had to wonder: If a planet like Mercury (with no liquid core for effective hydraulic energy transfer to a thin shell) could uplift a portion of its crust at the antipode (albeit from a huge, huge impact), then what could be uplifted on planet Earth, with its much more inviting composition of a small, hard outer shell and a semi-liquid mantle?

The concept of using impact pressure to change the shapes of objects is not new. It has long been used in metal fabrication, going back to blacksmiths and even before that.

In particular, the screws, nuts, bolts and nails that are commonly sold in hardware stores are formed by impact pressure (mostly during the creation of the heads, but in the case of nuts, during the shaping of the blank).

More apropos to the question at hand, the fastener industry also uses special machines called "impact headers" to extrude metal at the antipode of the impact by the hardened punch. And, in these cases, the heading machines are moving solid steel, not just a thin (relative to the size of the impacting force) layer of rock.

A major problem with the position taken by Dr. Martin-Smith was his assertion that the Deccan traps were located at the antipode of the Chicxulub impact within one degree. He made this assertion with no acknowledgment that virtually all models and standard accepted theory showed the Deccan traps as being located approximately 4000 miles away from the antipode.

Dr. Martin-Smith submitted his idea to Scientific American, but they declined publication.

Looking back on his work, I can see that he had some of the important factors identified, but lacked a model that dealt with the Standard Theory's dispute of the location of India. He also lacked a mechanism that was geologically viable.

David C. Weber, Tim S. Bennett and Charles E. Weber have done useful work in the area of antipodal impacts, both on Earth and on other planets. This trio wrote a paper entitled "A Theory for the origin of volcanoes on Mars" in December of 2008. This paper hypothesized the proposition that:

"… the plateaus and volcanoes of Mars were generated by the focusing of seismic waves from asteroid impacts on the exact opposite side (antipode) of the planet. These impacts resulted in mechanical waves that traveled concentrically outward from the impact and converged and converged on the exact opposite side of Mars, which then caused major uplift and eruption of magma on a large scale." 12

They find that the fact that the two biggest craters on Mars are antipodal to two large bulges on the surface is too much to be just a chance occurrence.

This paper adds to the evidence for uplift on other planets as cited by Dr. Martin-Smith.

Going further, Charles Weber posted a paper entitled "Lava Flows and Traps from Antipode Disruption by Meteorite Impacts."

The paper notes that the "association of lava flows opposite meteorite impacts would require an extremely improbable coincidence." This paper also states that there is much confusion regarding trenches and plate tectonic movement. 13 Also noted in the paper is the fact that antipodal impact effects have been bruited about since 1975:

"It has been proposed by David Weber that concentration of seismic waves from a meteorite impact at the antipode (opposite side of a sphere) on the Earth could be the cause of many of the massive lava floods of the past. Schultz and Gault proposed antipodal disruption on the moon by impacts as early as 1975. Hughes, et. al, believe the affects are more violent in a liquid planet (Hughes). Antipodal disruption was proposed as possible by Watts, et. al. in 1991 (Watts) and Boslough, et. al., wrote of simulations of that process in 1995 (Boslough). The strong correlation of the bulges and associated volcanoes on Mars and Mercury with large impact craters on the opposite side makes this hypothesis very credible." 13

A recent (3/28/10) paper by David Charles Weber is entitled "Meteors, focused quakes, core plumes, super-volcanoes and extinction 65 Ma."

This paper makes the case that the antipode of the Chicxulub impact was just off the northern coast of Australia, near its eastern edge. As the Australian continent moved north, it moved over the antipodal hotspot of the Chicxulub impact. This hotspot then created the string of volcanoes and lava fields that run down Australia's eastern side.

The reasoning given for the location of the antipode of the Chicxulub impact is startlingly similar to my own. We even come up with reasonably similar antipode positions (mine 21ºS, 132ºW in my conservative version and the same after land displacement in my speculative version: his 37ºS, 143ºW).

However, there is a significant difference in the mechanisms that we used to determine the movement of the North American plate so that the Chicxulub impact ends up in the right place (besides the much bigger factor that my antipodal hotspot creates the Deccan traps and the Indonesian Islands, while his antipodal hotspot stands still and has eastern Australia pass over it.).

Weber says that there has been a slowdown of the North American plate as illustrated by the volcanic calderas of the Yellowstone hotspot as the North American plate passes over it. The older distances between the Yellowstone calderas showed a much faster moving (in a westerly direction) North American plate.

Weber's position assumes that hotspots are stationary and plates just move over them. I don't assume this. My assumption is that both plates and hotspots move and, furthermore, hotspots can move more slowly as they grow long in the tooth.

Therefore, in my opinion, the Yellowstone hotspot may not be telling us much.

Weber and I also have some disagreement about the nature of the forces that cause the hotspots. I see the forces as a two-step process. The first step involves the focusing of earthquake waves at the antipode of the impact. This focusing effect pulverizes the lithosphere in that area and eliminates any need for upwelling lava to spend any energy shearing the rock. The rock has already been sheared and crushed.

The second step involves a strong pulse of pressure on the liquid material in the mantle at the boundary of the mantle and the core.

The incredibly strong shear waves will cause the mantle material to temporarily lose its frictional resistance, allowing the liquid material to shoot to the underside of the lithosphere. If the impact is big, but not too big, the pressure will find relief in creating a plume.

If the impact is really big, the pressure can find relief only by additionally uplifting a continent, as well as spewing forth lava at the antipode (but that's a subject for the more speculative section of this book).

Weber also sees the force as waves. These waves transfer pressure and focus it at the antipode. As he states in his hypothesis:
"The volcanoes occurred at the antipode of the Yucatan impact by the focusing of mega earthquake waves, which both cracked the crust and created a core plume 14 pg 1
However, Weber is not able to present a mechanism that would account for the plume shooting up to the underside of the lithosphere. His version of a hotspot is static and not terribly vigorous.

Again, he sees the hotspot as moving along the coast of Australia in a southeast direction and then suddenly moving to the south-southwest down the Great Dividing Range before bleeding out in the West Victoria plains. More properly speaking, he sees the hotspot standing stationary while the continental tectonic plate move over it in this manner. He does not see the Chicxulub impact as the cause-and-effect creator of the Deccan Traps.


Other well-known figures have looked at impacts, extinctions and antipodes, too.

Michael Rampino of New York University has cited volcanism as a big player in major extinctions. However, he has concerns about whether the volcanism is truly connected to the impacts. Specifically, he is concerned that some of the volcanism at the Deccan traps predates the Chicxulub impact event. 34

It is true that there has been some basalt lava found to the north of the Deccan traps dating to 72 MYA and some near the Deccan traps dated to 68 MYA. Nevertheless, the vast outpouring that makes up the Deccan traps dates to 65 MYA, the same time as the Chicxulub impact. 9

With an area as vast as the Deccan Traps, it is not surprising that there was some volcanism near it or in it in the preceding several millions of years. Few large areas on Earth are free of all volcanism over a five or ten million year period.

Even noted columnist George Will has written about the controversies surrounding the impacts and extinctions in a column on 12/31/09. He focuses on a possible 300 mile wide crater called Shiva that is located off western India and could have accounted for the sudden surge of the Indian plate movement to 15 to 20 centimeters per year. However, there are questions as to whether Shiva is even a crater and, if it is, is it 65 million years old?

Although I have developed a completely different scenario for India's rapid movement and its starting location (again, to be explored even more fully in Section II), George Will's comments about India's sudden increase in speed led me to look at the possibility of India being located at the antipode in a different way … a way that involved directional energy. 35


The basic nature of the volcanism at the Deccan traps is what is called flood basalt lava. Flood basalt lava is not considered to be explosive. It is not usually associated with high levels of toxic fumes or clouds of ash.

The volcanoes in the Hawaiian Islands were created by a hotspot. The usual volcanic lava that comes out of the Hawaiian Islands is flood basalt lava. It is pretty tame lava.

One of the objections to the idea that volcanism at the Deccan traps was the prime cause of the End-Cretaceous extinction is based upon the fact that the lava at the Deccan traps is flood basalt lava. How could this wimpy, tame lava be responsible for a major mass extinction?

There are several factors to consider in analyzing this seeming paradox. But first, let's remember the vast nature of this huge lava field. The volume of basalt lava at the Deccan traps originally covered as much as 600,000 square miles (that's a rectangle 600 miles long and 1,000 miles wide) and contained 12,275 cubic miles of lava. The eruption at Mount St. Helens produced less than half a cubic mile of lava. 11

Therefore, the factors to consider are:

1. The Magnitude of the Eruptions - There was 25,000 times more lava produced by the Deccan traps than by Mount St. Helens. That's more than four orders of magnitude difference. This was a truly mega-event.

2. The Power of the Eruptions - The initial eruptions had so much energy behind them that they could not have been the sedate, smoothly flowing streams of flow basalt lava that are seen in Hawaii. Even normally tame flow basalt lava would have been spewed thousands of feet into the atmosphere.

3. Water - The proximity to the ocean and the severely cracked rock near the antipode could have let water seep into the lower reaches of the upwelling. Once water, which can violently transform to steam, is introduced, eruptions can become truly spectacular.

The combination of these three factors provide plenty of reasons for suspecting that the lava flows at the Deccan traps spread massive amounts of gas, ash and rock into the atmosphere … and it continued in a furious manner for 100,000 years, with still strong eruptions continuing for as long as one million years.


For those who still have doubts that the persistent volcanism from the Deccan traps was the cause of the End-Cretaceous mass extinction, Gerta Keller of the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University has some telling analysis, as explained in an article entitled "The Cretaceous-Tertiary Mass Extinction, Chicxulub Impact and Deccan Volcanism." She writes:

"Data generated from over 150 Cretaceous-Tertiary (KT) boundary sequences to date make it clear that the long-held belief in the Chicxulub impact as the sole or even major contributor to the KT mass extinction is not supported by evidence. The stratigraphic position of the Chicxulub impact ejecta spherules in NE Mexico and Texas and the impact breccia within the crater on Yucatan demonstrate that this impact predates the KTB by about 300,000 years." 114

Writing about the Deccan traps, she continues: "The main phase of eruptions occurred rapidly, was marked by the longest lava flows spanning 1500 km across India, and ended coincident with the KT boundary. The KT mass extinction may have been caused by these rapid and massive Deccan lava and gas eruptions that account for ~80% of the entire 3500 m thick Deccan lava pile." 114

I can't help but note that the truly explosive aspects of the Deccan traps may not have come initially. The more explosive part of the eruptions may have occurred a few hundreds of thousand years later, when water-soaked crust that was subducted in the path of the moving continent at the Deccan traps finally came into play (just like, on a smaller scale, the mega-supervolcanic eruption of Lake Toba 74,000 years ago). This spectacularly explosive result may have been the vehicle that created a volcanic night lasting for millenia, choking off the light from the sun and plunging the earth into a brutal period of cold lifelessness.

Even more telling is a story entitled "Global wildfires Did Not Kill the Dinosaurs" in on Dec. 11, 2013, which reports on research by a team from Royal Holloway, University of London and members of the Canadian Geological Survey and University of Calgary. This story says that new analysis shows that the Chicxulub impact could not have killed the dinosaurs by means of excessive thermal radiation. At first, scientists assumed that the impact would have raised ground temperatures to around 1000 degrees centigrade, igniting global forest fires and killing most of the land animals. However, new NERC funded research shows that there is no ash layer evidence supporting such a conclusion.

Team leader Claire Belcher states:

"The research we have carried out suggests that the amounts of thermal radiation released by the impact of an asteroid with the earth 65 million years ago, were not as significant as previously thought, and the energy component of the K-T event was not responsible for the extinctions seen at this time." 128

The article concludes: "Belcher hopes that research may now focus on addressing other hypotheses, which may explain the extinction patterns and disruptions seen at this time, including the death of the dinosaurs." 128

Well, if they want a new hypothesis, I just happen to have one right here!