How dating uncertainties affect the detection of periodicity in extinctions and craters

Julia H Indik, Scott Tremaine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Claims of a highly significant detection of a period of 25-30 myr in the records of major extinction events and large craters have prompted us to examine how dating errors degrade a periodic signal. We ran Monte Carlo simulations in which we placed eight events at equal time intervals and then displaced each event by a random error chosen from a normal distribution. If the r.m.s. error is greater than about 13% of the period, the periodic data is usually no longer distinguishable from random data at the 90% confidence level. At present, the r.m.s. dating errors in extinction episodes and craters over the last 250 myr are at least 6 myr or ≳20% of a 25- to 30-myr period. We conclude that even if a periodicity were present, it would not normally be detected at a statistically significant level by the tests used in the literature. The apparent periodicity is probably due to a statistical fluke or subjective bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-219
Number of pages7
JournalIcarus
Volume77
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1989

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dating
craters
periodicity
crater
periodic variations
extinction
random errors
normal density functions
confidence
simulation
intervals
detection
distribution
test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

Cite this

How dating uncertainties affect the detection of periodicity in extinctions and craters. / Indik, Julia H; Tremaine, Scott.

In: Icarus, Vol. 77, No. 1, 1989, p. 213-219.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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