Are there any known major events around the 50-60 million years preceding the cambrian explosion that could explain the sudden increase in biodiversity? Specifically a supernova, or active galactic center either in the milky way or some other nearby galaxy?

  • $\begingroup$ Hard to see why any such event would trigger the Cambrian Explosion. Explanations I'm aware of are generally related to the complex climate, ecosystem and chemistry of Earth as it developed reaching various critical points e.g. the concentrations of microorganisms and/or chemicals. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Aug 28 '18 at 0:40
  • $\begingroup$ @StephenG - I agree. I have posted an answer below saying that astronomical events have little to no effect on our planet. $\endgroup$ – MystaryPi Aug 28 '18 at 0:46
  • $\begingroup$ @StephenG - I suspect the question refers to the Ediacarian explosion (aka the Avalon explosion), circa 575 Mya, rather than to the Cambrian explosion, circa 541 Mya. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Aug 28 '18 at 16:52
  • $\begingroup$ Complex life happened 33 million years prior to the Cambrian explosion. Life was quite simple up to the Ediacarian. About 2/3 way in to the Ediacarian, life got considerably more complex (multi-celled animals and plants), and did so rather quickly. This early complex life may well have been its own undoing, with the first mass extinction occurring at the Ediacarian / Cambrian boundary. While it may have well been its own undoing, that early complex life most likely also formed the seed for the even greater Cambrian explosion. No external event was needed. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Aug 28 '18 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ I have found multiple references, but don't have time to write them into an answer. The key reference: Biotic replacement and mass extinction of the Ediacara biota (open source). $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Aug 28 '18 at 17:34

There was japanese research into nebula winters, to find correlation of weather records with starbusts, dark bok clouds and supernovae:

enter image description here

research reference

A global winter caused by a proto-stellar clouds, called bok globules, is possible too, because there may be 100 times more of them than we can see, they are abot 1ly diameter and 2-50 solar masses, completely dark. Perhaps they would dim the sun by at least 10-40 percent. enter image description here

You can also find a document that regroups current research for Nebula Winters, corresponding to image 1. the geology evidence is the following:

Bodiselitsch et al. (2005) found iridium anomalies at the base of all cap carbonates both after the Marinoan and Sturtian glaciations; iridium and other platinum-group elements are typical proxies for extraterrestrial (including exosolar) materials and are much more abundant than in the Earth’s upper mantle and crust. These authors interpreted the anomalies to be the product of the rapid accumulation of extraterrestrial material once trapped in the surface ice and later transported to the ocean floor via the melting of the ice at the end of the glaciation. Nevertheless, the excursion of iridium may also reflect the enhanced flux of extraterrestrial material due to an encounter with a nebula. Moreover, 244Pu is expected to remain in the Fe/Mn crusts of interest. Fields et al. (2005) estimated the 244Pu production by a supernova explosion to approximately 0.9 ×10-7 solar masses. The expected flux of the 244Pu at the Earth is approximately 10-16 kg m-2 yr-1 . A significant amount (0.1 Bq m-2 ) of the accreted 244Pu remains in the sedimentary rocks, even considering the half-life of 244Pu (80 Myr). The existence of abundant 100-μm spherical iron balls in pelagic sediments is also possible direct evidence. For example, Miono et al. (1993) argued that the spherules accumulate in Paleozoic-Mesozoic bedded cherts. These spherules are generally believed to originate from 25 micro-meteorites. The nebula winter model can be tested by similar but further advanced investigations, including the analysis of the abundance of the isotopes and platinum family elements of the minerals separated from spherules in the pelagic sediments, detailing their exosolar nature. In addition, mineralogical investigations on the ages, the abundances of platinum family elements, and the isotope ratios of the minerals of the exosolar grains in the pelagic sediments at that time, will clarify the influence of the galactic environment on the natural history of the Earth.

The theory is supported by time correlation, which is fairly close to starburts, which occur every 100Ma.

Specific evidence of historical astronomical events require the presence of supernovae elements, i.e. Iridium, in rocks from snowball times.

Other reasons for the Cambrian explosion are the edvent of bilateral animals, 600Ma, the last snowball event from 630Ma, PH and oxygen instability in the ocean, algea blooms. I found this pic which gives an idea of the oxygen concentrations from the cambrian: enter image description here

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