Very long-term periodicity of episodic zircon production and Earth system evolution

Yujing Wu, Xianjun Fang, Linhua Jiang, Biao Song, Baofu Han, Mingsong Li, Jianqing Ji

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The driving forcing behind the secular evolution of the Earth system is controversial. Zircon, a common mineral in the continental crust, is a testimony of the growth and evolution of the continental crust and a recorder of Earth system evolution because of the time scale of the U[sbnd]Pb isotopic chronology system zircon contains. Here, we compiled the largest known database of 2,042,944 zircon U[sbnd]Pb ages derived by sampling the global continental crust. Comprehensive time series analysis techniques enable the identification of periodicities in the zircon production history and the growth and evolution of the continental crust over Earth's history. After the evaluation and exclusion of hot spot data impacts, we systematically obtained long-term cyclicities of zircon production of ca. 800, 360, 220, 160, 69, 57, 44, 30, 20, and 17 Myr, which are objective and statistically robust. These cycles are consistent with periodicities derived from multiple geological processes, i.e., mantle plumes, plate tectonics, orogenic events, large magmatic events, climate change, biological extinctions, and even meteorite impacts. The periodicities of these geological phenomena, including zircon production, indicate the periodicity of Earth system evolution in the past 3 billion years. Furthermore, these terrestrial periodicities also correspond to cyclic astronomical perturbations, such as the precession of the galactic warp, the galactic year, and the movement period of the solar system in the Milky Way, within error. Therefore, we suggest that the growth and evolution of the continental crust, and even Earth system evolution, probably originate from the periodic driving forcing of the Earth's astronomical environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104164
JournalEarth-Science Reviews
StatePublished - Oct 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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