December 30th, 2016

Antarctica mystery

There’s a big mystery under the Antarctic ice:

Scientists believe a massive object that could change our understanding of history is hidden beneath the Antarctic ice.

The huge and mysterious “anomaly” is thought to be lurking beneath the frozen wastes of an area called Wilkes Land. The area is 151 miles across and has a minimum depth of about 2,700 feet.

Some researchers believe it is the remains of a truly massive asteroid more than twice the size of the Chicxulub space rock that wiped out the dinosaurs.

If this explanation is true, it could mean this killer asteroid caused the Permian-Triassic extinction event, which killed 96 percent of Earth’s sea creatures and up to 70 percent of the vertebrate organisms living on land.

That would be news, wouldn’t it? Even though it would have happened about 252 million years ago.

That extinction event is also called “The Great Dying”:

…[The event occurred] between the Permian and Triassic geologic periods, as well as the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras. It is the Earth’s most severe known extinction event…It is the only known mass extinction of insects. Some 57% of all families and 83% of all genera became extinct. Because so much biodiversity was lost, the recovery of life on Earth took significantly longer than after any other extinction event, possibly up to 10 million years.

There is evidence for one to three distinct pulses, or phases, of extinction. Suggested mechanisms for the latter include one or more large bolide impact events, massive volcanism, coal or gas fires and explosions from the Siberian Traps, and a runaway greenhouse effect triggered by sudden release of methane from the sea floor due to methane clathrate dissociation or methane-producing microbes known as methanogens; possible contributing gradual changes include sea-level change, increasing anoxia, increasing aridity, and a shift in ocean circulation driven by climate change.

In other words, we don’t know. A fascinating topic, though.

One thing we do know is that it wasn’t caused by humans.

[NOTE: I call your attention to a poem I knew and loved as a child:

EVOLUTION

By Langdon Smith (1858-1908)

When you were a tadpole and I was a fish
In the Paleozoic time,
And side by side on the ebbing tide
We sprawled through the ooze and slime,
Or skittered with many a caudal flip
Through the depths of the Cambrian fen,
My heart was rife with the joy of life,
For I loved you even then.

Mindless we lived and mindless we loved
And mindless at last we died;
And deep in the rift of the Caradoc drift
We slumbered side by side.
The world turned on in the lathe of time,
The hot lands heaved amain,
Till we caught our breath from the womb of death
And crept into life again…

You can find the entire poem at the link.]

12 Responses to “Antarctica mystery”

  1. parker Says:

    Wow!

  2. OM Says:

    Life is precious indeed.

  3. DNW Says:

    Does this mean that there is no hole in the pole leading to a cavernous hollow earth world of dinosaurs and hairy midgets and Raquel Welsh clones scampering around in … whatever it was she scampered around in? (long time ago and I was just a kid)

    Just dead jellyfish?

    So much for science being fun.

  4. groundhog Says:

    neonecocon says:One thing we do know is that it wasn’t caused by humans.

    There wouldn’t be much left to confirm or deny that even if there were humans back then.

    : o

  5. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
    – Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

    It’s a wondrous universe.

  6. parker Says:

    Hamlet and Horatio can only dream of Raquel 1 billion BC.

  7. Ralph Kinney Bennett Says:

    Neo, you are the real thing. Langdon Smith! I have loved that poem since my mom first read it to us (my twin brother and me) as children. Talk about one-hit wonders. He was a telegraph operator who became a reporter. The poem begged to be read aloud. The concrete images, the rich words — “Kimmeridge clay” and “Coralline crags” — the snap and lilt of the rhyme. It is fun to read it, to career through it at a flashing pace. I can still remember “Deep in the gloom of a fireless cave/ When the nights fell o’er the plain,/ And the moon hung red o’er the river bed,/ We mumbled the bones of the slain.” I loved that, “mumbled the bones.” Evolution “by the grace of God.” Happy New Year, Neo. Thanks for this, and for all your years of sound judgment, the wisdom of humility, the whimsy of a deep and eclectic mind, a wonderful sense of fun, honesty; yes, honesty. The best salon on the net.

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    Ralph Kinney Bennett:

    Why, thanks!

    That poem created an amazing earworm for me as a child. It has such an insistent beat. Sort of like Poe (although with a different tone): “Once upon a midnight dreary, as I pondered, weak and weary…”

    And it’s really pretty deep at times, too. It’s easy to ignore some of what he’s saying, because the rhymes and the beat are so dominant and insistent. But phrases like “Till we caught our breath from the womb of death/And crept into life again” bear thinking about. He’s describing a resting period between lives, in a reincarnation sequence in which the “womb of death” (which seems at first glance to be a contradiction or oxymoron) expresses the idea of death being a springboard, phoenix-like, to a new life.

  9. F Says:

    There’s no mystery here, as anyone can attest who has seen the 1951 film “The Thing.”

  10. Yancey Ward Says:

    If memory serves, the Deccan Traps in India occurred at about the same time as the Chixulub strike. It has been theorized that the impact caused the mantle plume for that volcanic event on a point on the globe nearly the opposite of meteor strike. I have often wondered if the Siberian Traps were formed in a similar event, but the geologic record didn’t show such a strike. Maybe now it does.

  11. Philip Says:

    Upon reading the first couple of sentences of this post, I thought it was going to be about aliens for sure.

  12. Rich Says:

    Uh oh…. Lovecraft was right ?

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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