2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (2831 October 2007)
Paper No. 218-9
Presentation Time: 3:45 PM-4:00 PM

MASS EXTINCTION ENIGMAS IN CONTEXT WITH GAMMA RAY BURSTS

KAYE, Thomas G., Burke Museum of Natural History, Seattle, WA 98195, tom@tomkaye.com

Of the many theories for mass extinctions, the Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) is a newcomer to the list of possible mechanisms. Prodigious amounts of gamma rays and cosmic rays are produced after the supernova collapse that leads to the burst. These energetic photons and particles have the unusual characteristic of being narrowly beamed from the poles of the collapsing star and thus the lethal distance of a GRB far exceeds that of a typical supernova. The energy levels and distance the cosmic rays could travel remain a point of debate in the astronomical community. However, it is beneficial to put that debate aside for the moment and ask the question, do the enigmatic patterns of extinction fit a terrestrial ionizing radiation event? This work gives a brief overview of the 30-year history of GRB's and why recent discoveries have made them an extinction candidate. Comparisons to species extinction patterns, pollen anomalies at the KT boundary, the extended divergence times of molecular clocks and comet showers will be examined in the context of radiation overdose and shown to have potential connections to GRB's. This illustrates the need for collaboration between the astronomical and paleontological communities to examine this problem in greater detail.

2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (2831 October 2007)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 218
Planetary Geology: Potpourri
Colorado Convention Center: 605/607
1:30 PM-5:30 PM, Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 39, No. 6, p. 591

© Copyright 2007 The Geological Society of America (GSA), all rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to the author(s) of this abstract to reproduce and distribute it freely, for noncommercial purposes. Permission is hereby granted to any individual scientist to download a single copy of this electronic file and reproduce up to 20 paper copies for noncommercial purposes advancing science and education, including classroom use, providing all reproductions include the complete content shown here, including the author information. All other forms of reproduction and/or transmittal are prohibited without written permission from GSA Copyright Permissions.