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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Catastrophism Versus Gradualism 2. Lyell's Laws 3. The Alvarez Hypothesis 4. Mass Extinctions 5. Kill Curves and Strangelove Oceans 6. Catastrophism and Natural Selection: Charles Darwin Versus Patrick Matthew 7. Impacts and Extinctions: Do They Match Up? 8. The Great Dying: The End-Permian Extinctions 9. Catastrophic Volcanic Eruptions and Extinctions 10. Ancient Glaciers or Impact-Related Deposits? 11. The Shiva Hypothesis: Comet Showers and the Galactic Carousel 12. Geological Upheavals and Dark Matter Epilogue: What Does It All Mean? A New Geology Sources and Further Reading Index

About the Author

Michael R. Rampino is Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences within the Life Sciences Department at NYU. He is the co-author of Origins of Life in the Universe (Cambridge, 2008) and author of Climate: History, Periodicity, and Predictability (Springer, 1988). He work has been reported on in the NYT Science section and appeared on NOVA.


Cataclysms is a useful, well-written and not overly technical summary of Neocatastrophism since the Alvarez team published the initial work in the early 1980's. Rampino paints a lively picture of how work in the area of geoscience is actually done - aided and abetted to good purpose by copious illustrations -- Niles Eldredge, author of Eternal Ephemera As late as 1964, it was hard to find a scientist who believed that crashing meteorites, rather than volcanism, had caused craters on the Moon and the Earth. In this well-written and provocative book, Michael Rampino tantalizes us with his examination of the relationship between astronomy and geology, which he argues could become truly predictive of the past and future. Cataclysms takes us far out, indeed. But if there is one lesson from the history of geology, it is that we should listen to those like Rampino who think outside the box - or even outside the solar system. -- James Powell, author of Fixing the Sky

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