The Alvarez Impact Theory of Mass Extinction; Limits to its Applicability and the “Great Expectations Syndrome”

  title={The Alvarez Impact Theory of Mass Extinction; Limits to its Applicability and the “Great Expectations Syndrome”},
  author={Grzegorz Racki},
  • G. Racki
  • Published 20 December 2012
  • Environmental Science, Geography
For the past three decades, the Alvarez impact theory of mass extinction, causally related to catastrophic meteorite impacts, has been recurrently applied to multiple extinction boundaries. However, these multidisciplinary research efforts across the globe have been largely unsuccessful to date, with one outstanding exception: the Cretaceous—Paleogene boundary. The unicausal impact scenario as a leading explanation, when applied to the complex fossil record, has resulted in force-fitting of… 
Interaction of the reasons for the mass biota extinctions in the Phanerozoic
The consideration of the conditions during the mass extinctions has shown that a series of factors, including mutually independent tectonic movements, variations in the sea level and climate,
Earth's Impact Events Through Geologic Time: A List of Recommended Ages for Terrestrial Impact Structures and Deposits
High-precision impact ages can be used to reconstruct and quantify the impact flux in the inner Solar System and, in particular, the Earth–Moon system, thereby placing constraints on the delivery of extraterrestrial mass accreted on Earth through geologic time.
Validating the New Paradigm for Extinction: Overcoming 200 Years of Historical Neglect, Philosophical Misconception, and Inadequate Language
The first “complete” paradigm of extinction was proposed as “the multigenerational, attritional loss of reproductive fitness,” for which MALF is a suitable acronym. A “complete” paradigm must
Terrestrial consequences of hypervelocity impact – shock metamorphism, shock barometry, and newly discovered impact structures
Impact cratering was once considered a rare geological process of no, or little, importance to the evolution of the Solar System and planet Earth. After more than 50 years of space exploration and
Timing of dicynodont extinction in light of an unusual Late Triassic Polish fauna and Cuvier’s approach to extinction
ABSTRACT Dicynodont therapsids are prominent elements of Triassic continental faunas, but the date of their demise is controversial, linked either to end-Carnian faunal turnover or to end-Triassic
Paleozoic–Mesozoic Eustatic Changes and Mass Extinctions: New Insights from Event Interpretation
  • D. Ruban
  • Geography, Environmental Science
  • 2020
The majority of the considered mass extinctions coincided with either interruptions or changes in the ongoing eustatic trends, and it cannot be excluded that such interruptions and changes could have facilitated or even triggered biodiversity losses in the marine realm.


The Frasnian–Famennian biotic crisis: How many (if any) bolide impacts?
  • G. Racki
  • Geography, Environmental Science
  • 1999
Abstract The prime causation of the mid-Late Devonian mass extinction near the Frasnian–Famennian (F–F) boundary remains uncertain. Nevertheless, geochemical evidence has been presented recently as
Do Impacts Really Cause Most Mass Extinctions
For the past 28 years, the trendy “bandwagon” in the geosciences has attempted to explain most mass extinctions by extraterrestrial impact events. However, the past decade of research has shown no
On several occasions at impact geology- and paleontology-related meetings during the past 10 years, I have heard the statement from colleagues that major extinctions must be linked to large asteroid
Impacts, volcanism and mass extinction: random coincidence or cause and effect?
Large impacts are credited with the most devastating mass extinctions in Earth's history and the Cretaceous – Tertiary (K/T) boundary impact is the strongest and sole direct support for this view. A
The Cretaceous-Tertiary Mass Extinction: Theories and Controversies
The Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary (KTB) mass extinction is primarily known for the demise of the dinosaurs, the Chicxulub impact, and the frequently rancorous thirty-years-old controversy over the
Assessing the record and causes of Late Triassic extinctions
A scale of greatness and causal classification of mass extinctions: Implications for mechanisms
A quantitative scale for measuring greatness, G, of mass extinctions is proposed on the basis of rate of biodiversity diminution expressed as the product of the loss of biodiversity, called magnitude
A Unified Theory of Impact Crises and Mass Extinctions: Quantitative Tests
Several quantitative tests of a general hypothesis linking impacts of large asteroids and comets with mass extinctions of life are possible based on astronomical data, impact dynamics, and geological information predict that impacts of objects ≥ 5 km in diameter could be sufficient to explain the record of 25 extinction pulses.
Press-pulse: a general theory of mass extinction?
Abstract Previous discussions of mass extinction mechanisms generally focused on circumstances unique to each event. However, some have proposed that extensive volcanism combined with bolide impact
Mass Extinction Causality: Statistical Assessment of Multiple-Cause Scenarios
Assessments of generalized mass-extinction causality scenarios should be made on a statistical—as opposed to an anecdotal or speculative—basis that takes explicit account of the principle that