Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 55, Issue 35, pp 4010–4017 | Cite as

Experimental measurement of growth patterns on fossil corals: Secular variation in ancient Earth-Sun distances

  • WeiJia ZhangEmail author
  • ZhengBin Li
  • Yang Lei
Article Astronomy


In recent years, much attention has been given to the increase in the Earth-Sun distance, with the modern rate reported as 5–15 m/cy on the basis of astronomical measurements. However, traditional methods cannot measure the ancient leaving rates, so a myriad of research attempting to provide explanations were met with unmatched magnitudes. In this paper we consider that the growth patterns on fossils could reflect the ancient Earth-Sun relationships. Through mechanical analysis of both the Earth-Sun and Earth-Moon systems, these patterns confirmed an increase in the Earth-Sun distance. With a large number of well-preserved specimens and new technology available, both the modern and ancient leaving rates could be measured with high precision, and it was found that the Earth has been leaving the Sun over the past 0.53 billion years. The Earth’s semi-major axis was 146 million kilometers at the beginning of the Phanerozoic Eon, equating to 97.6% of its current value. Measured modern leaving rates are 5–14 m/cy, whereas the ancient rates were much higher. Experimental results indicate a special expansion with an average expansion coefficient of 0.57H 0 and deceleration in the form of Hubble drag. On the basis of experimental results, the Earth’s semi-major axis could be represented by a simple formula that matches fossil measurements.


growth pattern Earth’s semi-major axis planetary Hubble expansion 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Supplementary material

11434_2010_4197_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (717 kb)
Supplementary material, approximately 717 KB.


  1. 1.
    Wells J W. Coral growth and geochronometry. Nature, 1963, 197: 948–950CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Lambeck K. The Earth’s Variable Rotation: Geophysical Causes and Consequences. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979. 449Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Runcorn S K. Changes in the Earth’s moment of inertia. Nature, 1964, 204: 823–825CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Mazzullo S. Length of the year during the Silurian and Devonian Periods: New values. Geol Soc Am Bull, 1971, 82: 1085–1086CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Johnson G A L, Nudds J R. Growth Rhythms and the History of the Earth’s Rotation. London: John Wiley, 1975. 27–41Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Scrutton C T. Periodicity in Devonian coral growth. Palaeontology, 1964, 7: 552–558Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Berry W B N, Barker R M. Fossil bivalve shells indicate longer month and year in Cretaceous than present. Nature, 1968, 217: 938CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Pannella G. Paleontological evidence on the Earth rotational history since Early Cambrian. Science, 1972, 16: 212–237Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Scrutton C T. Periodic growth features in fossil organisms and the length of the day and month. In: Tidal Friction and the Earth’s Rotation. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1978. 154–196Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Knutson D W, Buddemeier R W, Smith S V. Coral chronometers: Seasonal growth bands in reef corals. Science, 1972, 177: 270–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ma T Y H. On the seasonal change of growth in some Palaeozoic corals. Proc Imp Akad Tokyo, 1933, 9: 407–409Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Goreau T F. The physiology of skeleton formation in corals. I. A method for measuring the rate of calcium deposition by corals under different conditions. Biol Bull Mar Biol Lab, 1959, 116: 59–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Al-Horani F A, Tambutté É, Allemand D. Dark calcification and the daily rhythm of calcification in the scleractinian coral, Galaxea fascicularis. Coral Reefs, 2007, 26: 531–538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Levy L, Appelbaum W, Leggat Y, et al. Light-responsive cryptochromes from a simple multicellular animal, the coral Acropora millepora. Science, 2007, 318: 467–470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Moya A, Tambutté S, Bertucci A, et al. Study of calcification during a daily cycle of the coral Stylophora pistillata: Implications for ‘light-enhanced calcification’. J Experiment Bio, 2006, 209: 3413–3419CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Thomas G, Mehmet S. Growth dynamics of red abalone shell: A biomimetic model. Mater Sci Eng C, 2000, 11: 145–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Williams G E. Late Precambrian tidal rhythmites in South Australia and the history of the Earth’s rotation. J Geol Soc London, 1989, 146: 97–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Richardson C A, Peharda M, Kennedy H, et al. Age, growth rate and season of recruitment of Pinna nobillis (L) in the Croatian Adriatic determined from Mg:Ca and Sr:Ca shell profiles. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol, 2004, 299: 1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Qu Y G, Xie G W, Gong Y M. Relationship between Earth-Sun- Moon 1000 Ma ago: Evidence from the stromatolites. Chinese Sci Bull, 2004, 49: 2083–2089CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Zhao Z Y, Zhou Y Q, Ji G S. The periodic growth increments of biological shells and the orbital parameters of Earth-Moon system. Environ Geol, 2007, 51: 1271–1277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Williams G E, Jenkins J F, Walter M R. No heliotropism in Neoproterozoic columnar stromatolite growth, Amadeus Basin, central Australia: Geophysical implications. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol, 2007, 249: 80–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Wang X, Wang D X, Gao R Z, et al. Anthropogenic climate change revealed by coral gray values in the South China Sea. Chinese Sci Bull, 2010, 55: 1304–1310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Chen T R, Yu K F, Shi Q, et al. Twenty-five years of change in scleractinian coral communities of Daya Bay (northern South China Sea) and its response to the 2008 AD extreme cold climate event. Chinese Sci Bull, 2009, 54: 2107–2117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Shi Q, Zhao M X, Zhang Q M, et al. Estimate of carbonate production by scleractinian corals at Luhuitou fringing reef, Sanya, China. Chinese Sci Bull, 2009, 54: 696–705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Lammerzah C L, Preuss O, Dittus H. Is the physics within the Solar system really understood? Astrophy Space Sci Libr, 2008, 349: 75–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Krasinsky G, Brumberg V. Secular increase of astronomical unit from analysis of the major planet motions, and its interpretation. Celest Mech Dynam Astron, 2004, 90: 267–288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Standish E M. The astronomical unit now. In: Kurtz D W, ed. Proc. IAU Colloq. 196, Transits of Venus: New Views of the Solar System and Galaxy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. 163Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Iorio L. Effect of sun and planet-bound dark matter on planet and satellite dynamics in the solar system. J Cosmol Astropart P, 2010, 1005: 018CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Kasting J F. Earth’s early atmosphere. Science, 1993, 259: 920–926CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Kawaguti S, Sakumoto D. The effects of light on the calcium deposition of corals. Bull Oceanogr Inst Taiwan, 1948, 4: 65–70Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Runcorn S K. Palaeontological data on the history of the earth-moon system. Phys Earth Planet In, 1979, 20: 1–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Stephenson F R, Morrison L V. Long-term changes in the rotation of the Earth: 700 B.C. to A.D. Phil Trans R Soc Lond A, 1984, 313: 47–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Dickey J O, Bender P L, Faller J E, et al. Lunar laser ranging: A continuing legacy of the Apollo Program. Science, 1994, 265: 482–490CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    James C G, Zahnle W K J. Lunar nodal tide and distance to the moon during the Precambrian. Nature, 1986, 320: 600–602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Degl’Innocenti S, Fiorentini G, Raffelt G G, et al. Time-variation of Newton’s constant and the age of globular clusters. Astron Astrophys, 1996, 312: 345–352Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Nikishina A M, Zieglerb P A, Abbottc D, et al. Permo-Triassic intraplate magmatism and rifting in Eurasia: Implications for mantle plumes and mantle dynamics. Tectonophysics, 2002, 351: 3–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Spergel D N, Bean R, Doré O, et al. Three-year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) observations: Implications for cosmology. Astrophys J, 2007, 170: 377–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Peacock J A. Cosmological Physics. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 283Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Krauss L M. Implications of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe age measurement for stellar evolution and dark energy. Astrophys J, 2003, 596: L1–L3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Lathe R. Early tides: Response to Varga et al. Icarus, 2006, 180: 277–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Van Flandern T C. A determination of the rate of change of G. Mon Not R Astron Soc, 1975, 170: 333–342Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer SciencePeking UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Advanced Optical Communication Systems & NetworksPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  4. 4.Committee of Yuanpei Honors ProgramPeking UniversityBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations