Skip to comments.Rock strata dating suggests planetary orbital effects on climate
Posted on 02/26/2017 5:21:35 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
From the University of Wisconsin
From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a chaotic solar system
Plumbing a 90 million-year-old layer cake of sedimentary rock in Colorado, a team of scientists from the University of WisconsinMadison and Northwestern University has found evidence confirming a critical theory of how the planets in our solar system behave in their orbits around the sun.
The finding, published Feb. 23, 2017 in the journal Nature, is important because it provides the first hard proof for what scientists call the chaotic solar system, a theory proposed in 1989 to account for small variations in the present conditions of the solar system. The variations, playing out over many millions of years, produce big changes in our planets climate changes that can be reflected in the rocks that record Earths history.
The discovery promises not only a better understanding of the mechanics of the solar system, but also a more precise measuring stick for geologic time. Moreover, it offers a better understanding of the link between orbital variations and climate change over geologic time scales.
Using evidence from alternating layers of limestone and shale laid down over millions of years in a shallow North American seaway at the time dinosaurs held sway on Earth, the team led by UWMadison Professor of Geoscience Stephen Meyers and Northwestern University Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences Brad Sageman discovered the 87 million-year-old signature of a resonance transition between Mars and Earth. A resonance transition is the consequence of the butterfly effect in chaos theory. It plays on the idea that small changes in the initial conditions of a nonlinear system can have large effects over time.
In the context of the solar system, the phenomenon occurs when two orbiting bodies periodically tug at one another, as occurs when a planet in its track around the sun passes in relative proximity to another planet in its own orbit. These small but regular ticks in a planets orbit can exert big changes on the location and orientation of a planet on its axis relative to the sun and, accordingly, change the amount of solar radiation a planet receives over a given area. Where and how much solar radiation a planet gets is a key driver of climate.
Chaotic Solar System
To find the signature of a resonance transition, Meyers, Sageman and UWMadison graduate student Chao Ma, whose dissertation work this comprises, looked to the geologic record in what is known as the Niobrara Formation in Colorado. The formation was laid down layer by layer over tens of millions of years as sediment was deposited on the bottom of a vast seaway known as the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway. The shallow ocean stretched from what is now the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, separating the eastern and western portions of North America.
The Niobrara Formation exhibits pronounced rhythmic rock layering due to changes in the relative abundance of clay and calcium carbonate, notes Meyers, an authority on astrochronology, which utilizes astronomical cycles to measure geologic time. The source of the clay (laid down as shale) is from weathering of the land surface and the influx of clay to the seaway via rivers. The source of the calcium carbonate (limestone) is the shells of organisms, mostly microscopic, that lived in the water column.
The finding is important because it provides the first hard proof for the chaotic solar system, a theory proposed in 1989 to account for small variations in the present conditions of the solar system.
Meyers explains that while the link between climate change and sedimentation can be complex, the basic idea is simple: Climate change influences the relative delivery of clay versus calcium carbonate, recording the astronomical signal in the process. For example, imagine a very warm and wet climate state that pumps clay into the seaway via rivers, producing a clay-rich rock or shale, alternating with a drier and cooler climate state which pumps less clay into the seaway and produces a calcium carbonate-rich rock or limestone.
The new study was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation. It builds on a meticulous stratigraphic record and important astrochronologic studies of the Niobrara Formation, the latter conducted in the dissertation work of Robert Locklair, a former student of Sagemans at Northwestern.
Dating of the Mars-Earth resonance transition found by Ma, Meyers and Sageman was confirmed by radioisotopic dating, a method for dating the absolute ages of rocks using known rates of radioactive decay of elements in the rocks. In recent years, major advances in the accuracy and precision of radioisotopic dating, devised by UWMadison geoscience Professor Bradley Singer and others, have been introduced and contribute to the dating of the resonance transition.
Other studies have suggested the presence of chaos based on geologic data. But this is the first unambiguous evidence
The motions of the planets around the sun has been a subject of deep scientific interest since the advent of the heliocentric theory the idea that the Earth and planets revolve around the sun in the 16th century. From the 18th century, the dominant view of the solar system was that the planets orbited the sun like clockwork, having quasiperiodic and highly predictable orbits. In 1988, however, numerical calculations of the outer planets showed Plutos orbit to be chaotic and the idea of a chaotic solar system was proposed in 1989 by astronomer Jacques Laskar, now at the Paris Observatory.
Following Laskars proposal of a chaotic solar system, scientists have been looking in earnest for definitive evidence that would support the idea, says Meyers.
Other studies have suggested the presence of chaos based on geologic data, says Meyers. But this is the first unambiguous evidence, made possible by the availability of high-quality, radioisotopic dates and the strong astronomical signal preserved in the rocks.
See more at: http://news.wisc.edu/from-rocks-in-colorado-evidence-of-a-chaotic-solar-system/#sthash.vtKvXCKY.dpuf
h/t to Joe DAleo
I have no training in any of the sciences.However,I’ve read more than once that the earth’s orbit around the sun has inconsistencies (at least small ones).If that is,in fact,true it’s easy even for an amateur like myself to see how such fluctuations might effect earth temperatures.
“Where and how much solar radiation a planet gets is a key driver of climate”
Not true. Everyone knows it’s caused by manmade pollution.
Things warmed up because neanderthals were not smart enough to put emission controls in their vehicles.
And wooly mammoths could not fit in small, reasonably sized cattle carriers.
Remember, many scientists claimed that due to the fact most of Earth's continents were on the southern part of the planet 500 to 300 million years ago, Earth was actually encased in ice possibly as high as a mile thick! But volcanic activity and the shifting continents changed the ocean stream patterns, and that melted the ice to create our modern oceans.
There’s been a suggestion that the orbits of the gas giants — Jupiter, Saturn & Neptune — have an affect on sun-spot activity and the solar-cycles both long & short.
Oh yeah! This new science referencing “chaotic solar system” will just generate a lot of “yes buts” from the AGW crowd, who are ardent pseudo scientists.
Don’t tell the Religious Order of the Climatinites.
They get mighty angry when proved that they worship a false god.
Someone has evidence of the "spirograph" nature of elliptical, precessing orbits (although I would throw in Earth's satellite: the Moon as well as the planets).
No climate scientist to my knowledge properly included these data into the Anthropogenic Climate Change models.
Good name for an imaginary singer; Rock Strata, wearing a leopard skin toga.
A character in the Flintstones cartoons.
The gravitational and electromagnetic forces of each of the bodies in the solar system have some affect on all the others, even when only indirectly. The “arrangement” and behavior of the solar system, and any of its bodies, at any time, is a result of the dynamics of the entire system. That should never have been a mystery to modern earth scientists.
A short video (about 10 min):
Lots of information, but it also puts a lot in perspective.
I believe this 10 min. film would take a full semester in most high school physics classes.
Sounds like they may be geographically challenged.
“sedimentary rock in Colorado”
“Alternating layers of shale and limestone near Big Bend, Texas, characteristic of the rock laid down at the bottom of a shallow ocean during the late Cretaceous period.”
Well, Colorado, Texas. What difference does it make. They are both just flyover country.
Fantastic video! Thanks for posting the link.
My dad built satellite systems in his career and worked closely with the orbital mechanics guys. I was always amazed at the sophisticated math involved and how they precisely knew their launch windows a decade in advance. Talk about hard-stop dates for a project!
Though the article doesn’t make it clear, the rock formations would seem to be similar in age and stratification, both laid down beneath a shallow sea stretching through the middle of North America. If that was the case, you would expect both to show the same evidence changes in the earth’s orbit. One would also support the other.
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