Hancock on the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis since 2007

Entire essay on grahamhancock.com

I just discovered a very welcome recent essay from Graham Hancock summing up the profound intellectual significance and petty scholastic dramas of the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis since 2007. Hancock doesn’t note his good timing, but 2017 is the 10th anniversary of the Comet Research Group’s Acapulco AGU presentations introducing the YDIH. This summary is helpful at this point. And it will be particularly helpful to readers new to our subject, or who have followed the narrative at some point but need it all recounted in one place.

The Tusk only wishes it could write something like this. But the content and timeline of our subject is so damn convoluted and confusing that, even with a front row seat, your’s truly has failed to write down, in a single narrative, all the papers and rebuttals, charges and counter-charges, requiems and refutations since Mexico. Graham thankfully had the patience for the tedium and recounts our tumultuous decade quite brilliantly.

If they be reading here, I challenge Hancock’s many detractors to locate references to their oft-felt provocations; advanced pre-diluvium civilizations, post-cataclysm wisemen and future threats are absent.

Note: I omit the fascinating but well-established story of Harlan Bretz and the Channeled Scablands, in keeping with our concentration on the YDIH. 

…Return of the cataclysm
Since 2007, however, hints of just such a catastrophe have returned, and with a vengeance, in the form of a new scientific theory, the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis, which “proposes that a major cosmic impact event occurred at the Younger Dryas Boundary (YDB) 12,800 years ago.”52 The proponents of the hypothesis suggest that the agency was a giant comet that broke up into multiple fragments either before or during its entry into earth’s atmosphere, and suggest also that North America was the epicenter of the resulting cataclysm with several of the largest fragments of the bolide impacting directly on the North American ice cap.

The epoch which geologists call the Younger Dryas (after a species of Alpine flower that flourishes in cold conditions) has long been recognized as mysterious and tumultuous. When it began 12,800 years ago the earth had been emerging from the Ice Age for roughly 10,000 years, global temperatures were rising steadily and the ice caps were melting. Then there was a sudden dramatic return to colder conditions – nearly as cold as at the peak of the Ice Age 21,000 years ago. This short, sharp deep freeze lasted for 1,200 years until 11,600 years ago when the warming trend resumed with incredible rapidity, global temperatures shot up again and the remaining ice caps quite quickly melted away, dumping all the water they contained into the oceans and raising sea level significantly all around the world.

What set these upheavals in motion?

The Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis is a comprehensive attempt to answer that question and is the work of 63 highly-qualified scientists from 55 universities in 16 countries, collaborating as the Comet Research Group.53 Members include nuclear analytical chemist Richard Firestone of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, world-renowned oceanographer Jim Kennett of the University of California, Wendy Wollbach Professor of Inorganic Chemistry and Geochemistry at DePaul University, Albert Goodyear, Professor of Archaeology at the University of South Carolina, Geophysicist Allen West, Astrophysicist Malcolm Le Compte, Geologists James Teller and Ted Bunch – and more than 50 other leading researchers from a wide range of disciplines.54

Such a stellar assembly, cannot be dismissed as “lunatic fringe” – usually the easiest way for defenders of the gradualist status quo to denigrate catastrophists. Comet Research Group members, clearly, are not fringe people! On the contrary, they’re as mainstream as can be, and they have adhered throughout to rigorous methods and protocols. The world of science has therefore been obliged to take their evidence seriously – even though it very clearly points in a dangerous and radical direction and, as Jim Kennett puts it: “challenges some existing paradigms within several disciplines.”55

Ideas that challenge paradigms typically don’t get official funding, so it’s no surprise that Comet Research Group members have received none. This, however, has not deterred them from continuing with their research – which has been consistently of such high quality, yielding such striking results that the gradualist establishment has been unable to prevent publication in a wide range of prestigious scientific journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Journal of Geology, Quaternary International, and Nature’s Scientific Reports. These in turn have led to stories in the scientific and popular press putting the information in front of a much wider audience.


The first headline that caught my eye was in the British magazine New Scientist of 22 May 2007 and asked provocatively: “DID A COMET WIPE OUT PREHISTORIC AMERICANS?”

At that time, 2007, I was taking a break from the lost civilization mystery that had absorbed my energies, and been the subject of so many of my books, for so long. The New Scientist article tweaked my curiosity, however, because it referred to the exact epoch that I had focused on in my books. The article didn’t speak of a lost civilization, but began with a reference to the so-called “Clovis” culture of North America (named after the type site at Blackwater Draw near the town of Clovis, New Mexico, where the characteristic “fluted point” stone weaponry of the Clovis culture was first found).56 This culture mysteriously vanished from the archaeological record during the Younger Dryas between 12,800 and 11,600 years ago. The article addressed the mystery:

“The Clovis people flourishing some 13,000 years ago, had a mastery of stone weaponry that stood them in good stead against the constant threat of large carnivores, such as American lions and giant short-faced bears. It’s unlikely, however, that they thought death would come from the sky.

“According to results presented by a team of researchers this week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Acapulco, Mexico, that’s where the Clovis people’s doom came from. Citing several lines of evidence, the team suggests that a wayward comet hurtled into Earth’s atmosphere around 12,900 years ago [N.B. that date would later be revised downwards by a hundred years to 12,800 years ago], fractured into pieces and exploded in giant fireballs. Debris seems to have settled as far afield as Europe.’

“Jim Kennett, an oceanographer at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and one of the team’’s three principal investigators, claims immense wildfires scorched North America in the aftermath, killing large populations of mammals and bringing an abrupt end to the Clovis culture. ‘”The entire continent was on fire,’” he says.

“Lead team member Richard Firestone, a nuclear analytical chemist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, says the evidence lies in a narrow 12,900-year-old carbon-rich layer of sediment found at eight well-dated Clovis-era sites and a peppering of sediment cores across North America, as well as one site in Belgium.

“Probed as to why no crater had yet been identified with this hypothetical impact 12,900 years ago, a third team member, Arizona-based geophysicist Allen West, suggested that smaller, low-density parts of the comet would have exploded in the atmosphere, while larger fragments might have crashed into the mile deep ice cap that covered North America at that time. ‘Such craters,’ West observed, ‘would have been ice-walled and basically melted away at the end of the last ice age’,’ leaving few traces.57

The article went on to explain that the sediment samples the team’s evidence focussed on contained several different types of debris that could only have come from an extraterrestrial source, such as a comet or an asteroid. The debris included nanodiamonds, created by the shock and heat of impacts, tiny carbon spherules that form when molten droplets cool rapidly in air, and carbon molecules containing the rare isotope helium-3, far more abundant in the cosmos than on Earth.58


““You might find some other explanation for these individually,’” says Firestone, ‘”but taken together, it’s pretty clear that there was an impact.’” The team says the agent of destruction was probably a comet, since the key sediment layer lacks both the high nickel and iridium levels characteristic of asteroid impacts.”’59

Last but not least, the New Scientist article confirmed, all the evidence pointed to North America as the epicentre of the disaster:

“Levels of the apparent extraterrestrial debris, for example, are highest at the Gainey archaeological site in Michigan, just beyond the southern reach of North America’s primary ice sheet 12,900 years ago. Moreover, levels decrease the further you go from Gainey, suggesting that the comet blew up largely over Canada . . .”…’60

In other words, largely over the ice cap that covered the northern half of North America during the Ice Age – the source of all the meltwater that scarred and hacked the scablands of Washington State in “Bretz’s flood” (whether or not that meltwater came exclusively from Lake Missoula or gushed forth in far larger quantities than Lake Missoula, alone, could ever have held). Bretz himself, as we’ve seen, was forced to abandon his own strong intuition that there had been a single, massive meltwater flood in favour of multiple flushings of limited amounts of meltwater out of Lake Missoula again and again over thousands of years.

The primary reason he embraced this theory, however, was not that he had become a convert to gradualism, but because he was never able to explain how a large enough area of the ice-cap to supply all the vast amounts of water needed for his flood could simply have melted all at once. He had proposed two possibilities – dramatic overnight global warming on the one hand, or volcanic activity under the ice cap on the other – but, as the reader will recall, he very quickly conceded there was no evidence for either. What Bretz did not consider, and could not consider – because the relevant data only began to come in quarter of a century after his death – was the possibility that the ice cap could have undergone cataclysmic melting as a result of a comet impact.

If only Bretz had known . . .

A few months after the article appeared in New Scientist, the Comet Research Group published a detailed paper on their findings. It appeared in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on 9 October 2007. Despite the sober setting, the headline was dramatic:


‘A carbon-rich layer,’ summarised the team:,

“dating to around 12,900 years ago, has been previously identified at Clovis-age sites across North America and appears contemporaneous with the abrupt onset of the Younger Dryas (YD) cooling. The in situ bones of extinct Pleistocene megafauna, along with Clovis tool assemblages, occur below this black layer but not within or above it. Causes for the extinctions, YD cooling, and termination of Clovis culture have long been controversial. In this paper, we provide evidence for an extraterrestrial (ET) impact event close to 12,900 years ago, which we hypothesize caused abrupt environmental changes that contributed to YD cooling, major ecological reorganization, broad-scale extinctions, and rapid human behavioural shifts at the end of the Clovis Period. Clovis-age sites in North America are overlain by a thin, discrete layer with varying peak abundances of (i) magnetic grains with iridium, (ii) magnetic microspherules, (iii) charcoal, (iv) soot, (v) carbon spherules, (vi) glass-like carbon containing nanodiamonds, and (vii) fullerenes with ET helium, all of which are evidence for an ET impact and associated biomass burning circa 12,900 years ago . . . . We propose that one or more large, low-density ET objects exploded over northern North America, partially destabilizing the Laurentide Ice Sheet and triggering YD cooling. The shock wave, thermal pulse, and event-related environmental effects (e.g., extensive biomass burning and food limitations) contributed to megafaunal extinctions . . .”…’61

Nor were the mammoths, mastodons, ground sloths, horses, camels, giant beaver and other megafauna alone. In total, it is particularly striking that no less than thirty-five genera of mammals (with each genus consisting of several species) became extinct in North America between 12,900 and 11,600 years ago, i.e. precisely during the mysterious Younger Dryas cold event.62

Looking at the data, the implications of this new research were immediately obvious to me. What it offered, if it checked out, was an elegant and potentially revolutionary explanation both for the sudden onset of the Younger Dryas itself and for the accompanying extinctions, and perhaps for much else besides – including the cataclysmic flooding that left its scars on the channeled scablands of Washington State.

This seemed all the more plausible when I learned that Firestone, Kennett and West’s proposal for their comet was that it was a conglomeration of impactors including one that might have been as much as 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) in diameter.63 Furthermore, that four-kilometer object would itself have been just one amongst multiple fragments resulting from the earlier disintegration – while still in orbit – of a giant comet up to 100 kilometers or more in diameter.64 Many of the fragments of the parent comet remained in orbit. Those that hit the earth at the onset of the Younger Dryas underwent further explosive fragmentation (accompanied by powerful airbursts that would themselves have had cataclysmic effects), as they entered the atmosphere over Canada.

Nonetheless, the authors thought it likely that a number of large impactors, up to two kilometers in diameter, would have remained intact to collide with the ice-cap.65 There, as West had earlier told New Scientist, any craters would have been transient, leaving few permanent traces on the ground after the ice had melted. “Lasting evidence,” the PNAS paper added, “may have been limited to enigmatic depressions or disturbances in the Canadian Shield, e.g. under the Great Lakes, or Hudson Bay.”66

Summarising the damage, the authors envisaged:

“a devastating, high-temperature shock wave with extreme overpressure, followed by underpressure, resulting in intense winds travelling across North America at hundreds of kilometers an hour, accompanied by powerful, impact-generated vortices. In addition, whether single or multiple objects collided with the earth, a hot fireball would have immersed the region near the impacts . . . At greater distances the re-entry of high-speed, superheated ejecta would have induced extreme wildfires which would have decimated forests and grasslands, destroying the food supplies of herbivores and producing charcoal, soot, toxic fumes and ash.”’67

And how might all this have caused the dramatic cooling of the Younger Dryas? The authors offered many mechanisms operating together, amongst the most prominent of these being the huge plume of water vapour from the melted ice cap that would have been cast into the upper atmosphere, combined with immense quantities of dust and debris “composed of the impactor, ice-sheet detritus, and the underlying crust” as well as the smoke and soot from continent-wide wildfires.68 Taken in sum, it’s quite easy to understand how so much lofted debris could, as the authors propose, “have led to cooling by blockage of sunlight”; meanwhile the water vapour, smoke, soot and ice would have promoted the growth of “persistent cloudiness and noctilucent clouds, leading to reduced sunlight and surface cooling . . . [thus reducing] the solar insolation at high latitudes, increasing snow accumulation and causing further cooling in the feedback loop.”69

Severe and devastating enough in themselves, these factors nonetheless pale into insignificance when compared with the consequences of the hypothesized impacts on the ice cap:

“The largest potential effect would have been impact-related partial destabilization and/or melting of the ice -sheet. In the short term this would have suddenly released meltwater and rafts of ice into the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, lowering ocean salinity with consequent surface cooling. The longer-term cooling effects would have resulted largely from the consequent weakening of thermohaline circulation in the northern Atlantic, sustaining YD cooling for [more than] 1,000 years until the feedback mechanisms restored ocean circulation.”’70

Impact-related partial destabilization and/or melting of the ice -sheet! And to such an extent that it was capable of disrupting the circulation of the world’s oceans for more than a thousand years! What was envisaged here, clearly, was a cataclysm – a debacle! – on a truly massive scale. But what struck me most forcefully in the paragraph quoted above was that the authors had only considered the consequences of the huge quantities of icebergs and meltwater dumped into the oceans north, west and east of the North American epicenter of their proposed comet impacts. They did not consider the effects of that gigantic icy flood on the lands lying immediately south of the ice cap – which most certainly would not have been spared.

Once again I found myself wondering how J Harlen Bretz might have reacted if information about a possible comet impact had been at his disposal during his lifetime. I cannot prove it, of course, but I think he would have been much less likely to be distracted by Lake Missoula gradualism and much more likely – now that a credible heat source had been provided – to stick to his catastrophist guns. A single, cataclysmic meltwater flood on a truly gigantic scale coming directly off the ice cap to scour the scablands begins to look very feasible indeed in the light of the case made by Firestone, West, Kennett and the large team of scientists working with them.

Meanwhile my own hypothesis of an advanced civilization of prehistoric antiquity obliterated from the face of the earth during the Younger Dryas “window”, is also strengthened by their work. For if their calculations are correct the explosive power of the Younger Dryas comet would have been of the order of ten million megatons.71 That makes it two million times greater in its effects than the former USSR’s Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear weapon ever tested,72 and a thousand times greater than the estimated explosive power (10,000 megatons) of all nuclear devices stockpiled in the world today.73 A global disaster of such magnitude at exactly the time I suggested in my 1995 book Fingerprints of the Gods does not prove the existence of a lost civilization of the Ice Age but does at least provide us with a mechanism large enough – if such a civilization did exist – to have obliterated it almost entirely from human memory.

The evidence continues to mount

Since it has such important ramifications for almost everything we think we know about the safety and security of the earth’s cosmic environment, and about our own past, it is reasonable to ask how solid the Younger Dryas comet impact theory really is. Since 2007, when it was first proposed, how has it stood up to scientific scrutiny and what new evidence has been brought forward in support of it?

The answer is that it has stood the test of time well and benefitted from a steady accumulation of new evidence set out in the proper way in the scientific literature and subject to rigorous peer review. There is neither space nor need, here, to explore this extensive literature in depth, but to give the general picture I will list the dates and titles of a few of the more important papers, with brief summaries of the conclusions and full references in the footnotes:

2008 (Quaternary Science Reviews):

Wildfire and abrupt ecosystem disruption on California’s Northern Channel Islands at the Allerod-Younger Dryas Boundary. ‘Evidence for ecosystem disruption at 13,000 to 12,900 years ago on these offshore islands is consistent with the Younger Dryas Boundary cosmic impact hypothesis.’74

2009 (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences):

Shock-synthesized hexagonal diamonds in Younger Dryas Boundary sediments. ‘The presence of shock-synthesized hexagonal and other nanometer-sized diamonds in YDB sediments in association with soot and other wildfire indicators is consistent with a cosmic impact at 12,900 years ago, and the hypothesis that the Earth crossed paths with a swarm of comets or carbonaceous chondrites producing airshocks and/or surface impacts that contributed to abrupt ecosystem disruption and megafaunal extinctions in North America.’75

2010 (Journal of Glaciology; Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society; Sedimentary Geology):

Discovery of a nanodiamond-rich layer in the Greenland ice sheet. ‘The presence of rounded nanodiamonds and lonsdaleite in Greenland ice suggests that a large cosmic impact occurred . . . The existence of this layer . . . … appears consistent with the occurrence of a major impact event that correlates with the nanodiamond-rich YDB in North America at 12,900 years ago.’76

Palaeolithic extinctions and the Taurid Complex. ‘Intersection with the debris of a large (50-100 km) short-period comet during the Upper Palaeolithic provides a satisfactory explanation for the catastrophe of celestial origin which has been postulated to have occurred around 12,900 years ago and which presaged a return to Ice Age conditions of about 1,300 years duration. The Taurid Complex appears to be the debris of this erstwhile comet; it includes about 19 of the brightest near-Earth objects.’77

Evidence for a Cosmogenic Origin of fired glaciofluvial beds in the Northwestern Andes: Correlation with Experimentally Heated Quartz and Feldspar. ‘Fired sediment, considered equivalent to the ‘“Black Mat’” impact of 12,900 years ago has been located and analyzed in the Andes of Northwestern Venezuela. The ‘“Black Mat’” refers to possible fallout from the comet airburst presumed to have occurred over the Laurentide Ice Sheet, the impact spreading ejecta over large portions of North America and Europe, making it an interhemispheric event of considerable magnitude . . . The presence of copious monazite in the carbonaceous coatings is considered part of the incoming ejecta, as it is not a common indicator mineral in the local lithology . . . The intergrowth of carbonaceous ‘“black mat’” material with thermally disrupted and fragmented quartz and feldspar, a ‘“welded’” patina of 100-400nm thickness, could only occur with temperatures in excess of 900 degrees Centigrade, the event here interpreted to be of cosmogenic origin.’78

2011 (Earth & Planetary Science Letters):

Framboidal iron oxide: Chondrite-like material from the black mat, Murray Springs, Arizona. ‘At the end of the Pleistocene a Younger Dryas ‘“black mat’” was deposited on top of the Pleistocene sediments in many parts of North America. A study of the magnetic fraction from the basal section of the black mat at Murray Springs, AZ, revealed the presence of amorphous iron-oxide framboids in a glassy iron-silica matrix. [Our] data suggest that the observed textures are . . . due . . . to a shock event that fractured and largely amorphised the grains . . . Therefore, we argue that these particles are the product of a hypervelocity impact event.’79

2012 (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences):

Evidence from central Mexico supporting the Younger Dryas extraterrestrial impact hypothesis. ‘We report the discovery in Lake Cuitzeo in central Mexico of a black, carbon-rich lacustrine layer, containing nanodiamonds, microspherules, and other unusual materials that date to the early Younger Dryas . . . We . . . find the evidence cannot be explained by any known terrestrial mechanism. It is, however, consistent with the Younger Dryas Boundary impact hypothesis postulating a major extraterrestrial impact involving multiple airbursts and/or ground impacts at 12,900 years ago.’80

Very high-temperature impact melt products as evidence for cosmic airbursts and impacts 12,900 years ago. ‘We examined sediment sequences from 18 dated Younger Dryas boundary (YDB) sites across three continents . . . All sites display abundant microspherules in the YDB with none or few above and below. In addition, three sites . . . display vesicular, high-temperature siliceous scoria-like objects, or SLO’s, that match the spherules geochemically . . . Our observations indicate that YDB objects are similar to material produced in nuclear airbursts, impact crater plumes and cosmic airbursts, and strongly support the hypothesis of multiple cosmic airbursts/impacts at 12,900 years ago. Data presented here require that thermal radiation from air shocks was sufficient to melt surface sediments at temperatures up to or greater than the boiling point of quartz (2,200 degrees centigrade).’81

2013 (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; Journal of Geology):

Large Pt anomaly in the Greenland ice core points to a cataclysm at the onset of Younger Dryas. ‘One explanation of the abrupt cooling episode known as the Younger Dryas (YD) is a cosmic impact or airburst at the YD boundary that triggered cooling and resulted in other calamities. We tested the YD impact hypothesis by analyzing ice samples from the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2) ice core across the Bolling-Allerod/YD boundary for major and trace elements. We found a large platinum (Pt) anomaly at the YDB . . . Circumstantial evidence hints at an extraterrestrial source . . . [perhaps] a metal impactor with an unusual composition . . .…’82

New Evidence from a Black Mat Site in the Northern Andes Supporting a Cosmic Impact 12,800 years ago. ‘The spherules from Venezuela are morphologically and compositionally identical to YDB spherules documented elsewhere . . . on three continents, North America, Europe and Asia, confirming the YDB magnetic spherule results of previous researchers. Their microstructural texturing indicates they formed from melting and rapid quenching . . . Thus the most likely origin of the spherules seems to be by cosmic impact/airburst 12,800 years ago with interhemispheric consequences. The site in Venezuela, along with one in Peru, are the two southernmost sites currently known to display evidence for the YDB impact event, and these sites represent the first evidence that the effects of the impact event extended into South America, even into the Southern Hemisphere.’83

2014 (Journal of Geology):

Nanodiamond-Rich Layer across Three Continents Consistent with Major Cosmic Impact at 12,800 Cal BP. ‘A major cosmic-impact event has been proposed at the onset of the Younger Dryas cooling episode at 12,800 years (plus or minus 150 years) before the present, forming the Younger Dryas Boundary (YDB) Layer distributed across up to 50 million square kilometers on four continents. In 24 dated stratigraphic sections in 10 countries of the Northern Hemisphere, the YDB layer contains a clearly-defined abundance peak in nanodiamonds (NDs), a major cosmic impact proxy . . . The large body of evidence now obtained about YDB NDs is strongly consistent with an origin by cosmic impact around 12,800 years ago and is inconsistent with formation of YDB ND by natural terrestrial processes, including wildfires, anthropogenesis, and/or influx of cosmic dust.’84

Taking on the dogmatic uniformitarians

By 2014, after seven years of publishing their data in leading scientific journals, and with such an impressive accumulation of evidence, one would have thought that the Younger Dryas impact theory should, by now, be fully accepted and that researchers would have moved on to a broader consideration of the implications of such a recent and hitherto unsuspected global cataclysm for our understanding of the history of the earth and of our own species. However, we’ve already seen from the example of J Harlen Bretz how scientists wedded to the uniformitarian and gradualist reference frame react with extreme negative force to catastrophist theories.

Nor was Bretz an exception. Alfred Wegener, who first proposed the notion of continental drift – plate tectonics – was similarly pilloried, as, subsequently, were Luis and Walter Alvarez (the Chicxulub, ‘K-T’ impact), Steven J. Gould (punctuated equilibrium), Victor Clube and Bill Napier (coherent catastrophism), and James Lovelock, Sherwood Rowland, Mario Molina and Lynn Margulis for their contributions to geophysiology and the Gaia theory. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Richard Firestone, Allen West, James Kennett and others who have followed the evidence and stuck their necks out to suggest that a comet impact caused the Younger Dryas, have also come under sustained and bitter attack.

Indeed the triumphant crowing of critics who clearly believe they have done away, once and for all, with the heretical catastrophism of Firestone, West and Kennett, has filled the academic air several times in the past few years. On each occasion you can almost hear the collective sigh of relief as if to say “thank God; we finally got those bastards”; but then a few months later comes the devastating and absolutely convincing refutation that forces the critics back to the drawing board.

It’s quite noticeable, reviewing the literature, that academics form themselves into gangs. The ringleaders in the “anti-YD-impact” camp, whose names appear frequently at the top of critical articles, include Mark Boslough, a physicist on the technical staff of Sandia National Laboratories, Nicholas Pinter, a geology professor at Southern Illinois University, Tyrone Daulton, a research physicist at Washington University’s Institute of Materials Science and Engineering, and Todd Surovell, an archaeologist at the University of Wyoming.

In 2012 they teamed up with half a dozen colleagues to publish a paper entitled “Arguments and Evidence Against a Younger Dryas Impact Event”.’85 And a year earlier Pinter, Daulton and some of the authors of the 2012 attack had joined forces to write a paper hubrisistically entitled: “The Younger Dryas Hypothesis: A Requiem”.86

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the comet theory had been greatly exaggerated.

For example, one of the key critiques made in the 2012 paper was that:

“Magnetic microspherule abundance results published by the impact proponents have not been reproducible by other workers. Analyses of the same YD site stratigraphy by Surovell et. al. [2009] could not replicate observations for two of the impact markers published by Firestone et. al. [2007]. The study by Surovell et. al. [2009] found no peaks of abundance unique to the YD time interval.87

But the impact proponents were later able to show that the authors of the 2012 paper “neglected to cite nine independent spherule studies on two continents that reported finding significant YDB [Younger Dryas Boundary] spherule abundances.”88 More damning, though, was the fact that when other scientists repeated the analysis of Surovell et. al., their findings did indeed support an impact. The scientists concluded that:

“the inability of Surovell et. al. to find YDB spherule peaks resulted from not adhering to the prescribed extraction protocol.’ For example, Surovell et. al., did not conduct any analyses using scanning electron microscopy, a necessary procedure clearly specified by Firestone et. al.”.’89

A separate independent study by Macolm LeCompte, Christopher Moore and others noted that the authors of the 2012 paper “collected and analysed samples from seven YDB sites, purportedly using the same protocol as Firestone et .al., but did not find a single spherule in YDB sediments at two previously reported sites.’90 LeCompte et .al. set out to examine this discrepancy. After a thorough investigation of all the evidence their results cast the conclusions of the 2012 paper into even deeper shadow:

“We conducted an independent blind investigation of two sites common to both studies, and a third site investigated only by Surovell et .al. We found abundant YDB microspherules at all three widely separated sites consistent with the results of Firestone et .al. and conclude that the analytical protocol employed by Surovell et .al. deviated significantly from that of Firestone et .al. Morphological and geochemical analysis of YDB spherules suggest they . . . formed from abrupt melting and quenching of terrestrial materials and . . . are consistent with . . . a previously proposed cosmic impact 12,900 years ago . . .”91

Unsurprisingly, after all this, Pinter and Daulton’s 2011 “requiem” for the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis turned out to have been premature. In this paper they claimed to have sampled the YDB layer at a location “identical or nearly identical”” with the location reported by Kennett et. al., as part of three studies that reported finding no YDB spherules or nanodiamonds. However, they are rightly taken to task by James Wittke and others in a paper in PNAS in 2013 which investigated their evidence and found that it was not at all what it claimed to be:

“the published Universal Transverse Mercator coordinates reveal that their purported continuous sequence is actually four discontinuous sections. These locations range in distance from the site investigated by Kennett et. al. by 7,000 m, 1,600 m, 165 m, and 30 m, clearly showing that they did not sample the YDB site of Kennett et al. Furthermore, this sampling strategy raises questions about whether Pinter et al. sampled the YDB at all, and may explain why they were unable to find peaks in YDB magnetic spherules, carbon spherules, or nanodiamonds.”’92

In 2012-12103, in an effort to limit the scope for poor or misleading scholarship to be cited as though it discredits their work – when in fact it does no such thing – Jim Kennett, Richard Firestone, Allen West and a formidable group of pro-impact scientists launched “one of the most comprehensive investigations of spherules ever undertaken”.’93 The investigation focussed on eighteen sites across North America, Europe and the Middle East (the latter represented by Abu Hureyra in Syria), and conducted more than 700 analyses on spherules using energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy for chemical analysis and scanning electron microscopy for surface microstructural characterization.

The results, published in PNAS on 4 June 2013, took advantage of recent advances in radiocarbon technology to refine the date of the Younger Dryas impact from 12,900 to 12,800 years ago94 and enabled a much more detailed map of the YDB field to be drawn up, covering close to 50 million square kilometres of North, Central and South America, a large segment of the Atlantic Ocean, and most of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Calculations indicate that the impact deposited around ten million tonnes of spherules across this vast strewnfield.95 Nor, was there any doubt in the researchers’ minds that an impact had been at the heart of the matter:

“The analyses of 771 YDB objects presented in this paper strongly support a major cosmic impact at 12,800 years ago . . . Spherules . . . are (i) widespread at 18 sites on four continents; (ii) display large abundance peaks only at the YD onset at around 12,800 years ago; (iii) are rarely found above or below the YDB, indicating a rare event; and (iv) amount to an estimated 10 million tonnes of materials distributed across around 50 million square kilometres of several continents, thus precluding a small, local event.”,’96

Despite the annoying ability of the Younger Dryas comet to keep on proving itself, and of its proponents to keep on refuting all attacks, Nicholas Pinter, lead author of the 2011 “Requiem” paper, felt moved in an interview with NBC News in September 2013 to attempt yet again to cast the hypothesis into scientific limbo. “My only comment,” he said, “is that the pro-impact literature is, at this point, fringe science being promoted by a single journal.”97

A number of observers with no particular axe of their own to grind were puzzled by this remark. First of all, as National Geographic correspondent Robert Kunzig noted, it smacked a little of wishful thinking, even desperation, on Pinter’s part. “Some opponents of the hypothesis,” wrote Kunzig, ‘”want so badly for it to go away that they have attempted to declare it dead.”98 Secondly, the journal that Pinter accused of promoting fringe science was none other than the revered, utterly mainstream, and extensively peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Acadeamy of Sciences (PNAS).99 Thirdly, although a number of articles by Kennett, West, Firestone and their team have appeared in PNAS, it is simply not true to suggest that PNAS is promoting their cause. On the contrary, at the time Pinter blurted out his protest to NBC the critics of the YD comet hypothesis had published ten times in PNAS, whereas the proponents of the hypothesis had published there only eight times. Likewise Pinter’s claim that the hypothesis is only being presented in a single journal could hardly be more wrong. By September 2013, in addition to their eight papers in PNAS, proponents had published no less than fifteen papers in thirteen other journals.100

The scholarly fight over the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis (YDIH) is far from over. After Pinter and Daulton’s attacks in 2011 and 2012, and after the comprehensive refutation of their criticisms in 2013, the next assault by critics of the hypothesis appeared in PNAS in May 2014 and was entitled “Chronological evidence fails to support claim of an isochronous widespread layer of cosmic impact indicators dated to 12,800 years ago”. Reading the paper one could easily be led to believe that it dealt a death blow to the YDIH:

“According to the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis (YDIH), ∼12,800 calendar years before present, North America experienced an extraterrestrial impact that triggered the Younger Dryas and devastated human populations and biotic communities on this continent and elsewhere. This supposed event is reportedly marked by multiple impact indicators, but critics have challenged this evidence, and considerable controversy now surrounds the YDIH. Proponents of the YDIH state that a key test of the hypothesis is whether those indicators are isochronous and securely dated to the Younger Dryas onset. They are not. We have examined the age basis of the supposed Younger Dryas boundary layer at the 29 sites and regions in North and South America, Europe, and the Middle East in which proponents report its occurrence. … Only 3 of the 29 sites fall within the temporal window of the YD onset as defined by YDIH proponents. The YDIH fails the critical chronological test of an isochronous event at the YD onset…”

As ever the critics were over-eager. When their seemingly devastating claims of non-synchronous dates were investigated they could not be substantiated and a mass of new evidence emerged supporting the view that a single, very large-scale, very rapid event, “a moment in time called an isochron”, had indeed occurred.101 In July 2015, therefore, PNAS published a full refutation based on 354 dates from 23 stratigraphic sections in 12 countries on four continents under the title “Bayesian chronological analyses consistent with synchronous age of 12,835–12,735 Cal B.P. for Younger Dryas boundary on four continents”. These dates, the study concludes, support “a causal connection between the impact event and the Younger Dryas.”102

Such exchanges amongst scientists often take a long time to resolve, with the result that erroneous claims – as in the May 2014 paper – can remain on the record sometimes for a year or more before being corrected. Another example, which was published online on 16 December 2014 and in print in January 2015 in the Journal of Archaeological Science, is a paper by P. Thy, G. Willcox, G.H. Barfod and D.Q. Fuller, entitled “Anthropogenic origin of siliceous scoria droplets from Pleistocene and Holocene archaeological sites in northern Syria”. 103 The essence of the argument in this paper is that siliceous scoria droplets (composed mostly of glass matrix and bubbles together with partially melted mineral grains) from Abu Hureyra in Syria – cited by pro-impact scientists as evidence for their case – were nothing to do with the comet but were instead a product of ancient buildings destroyed by house fires:

“We therefore conclude that melting of building earth in ancient settlements can occur during fires reaching modest temperatures. There is no evidence to suggest that siliceous scoria droplets result from very high temperature melting of soil and are the result of a cosmic event.”’104

“For the Syria site the impact theory is out,” boasted lead author Peter Thy in a press interview headlined “Study Casts Doubt on Mammoth-Killing Cosmic Impact”’.105 Yet it seems that, once again, the bluster was premature. Allen West is listed as the corresponding author on the majority of scholarly papers published by the team of scientists working on the Younger Dryas impact, so I emailed him to ask if he and his colleagues had any response to the critique by Thy et .al. West replied as follows:

“We agree with Thy et .al. that hut fires can produce glass, but it does not follow, therefore, that all glass comes from hut fires, as they conclude. We have analysed natural glasses supplied by one of the authors of that study, and the 12,800-year-old glass from Syria is only superficially similar. Instead it matches known cosmic impact glass, as well as high-temperature atomic bomb glass.

“Most importantly, those authors did not discuss or look for the evidence of abundant high-temperature minerals presented in our previous papers on three sites on two continents (Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Syria) where we found suessite that melts at around 2,300 degrees Centigrade and corundum at around 1,800 degrees Centigrade. Now we have even stronger evidence from the Syrian site and are working on a new paper… The 12,800-year-old Syrian glass contains a range of minerals that melted at extraordinarily high temperatures. See the table below from our new paper:

Melted minerals Formula Est. melt    T (°C)
Chromite (Fe)Cr2O4 ≈2265
Quartz SiO2 ≈1720
Chert impure SiO2 ≈1720
Magnetite Fe3O4 ≈1550
Native Fe Fe ≈1530
Chlorapatite Ca5(PO4)3Cl ≈1530

‘Those temperatures are sufficient to melt steel. Furthermore the same glass-rich layer at the Syrian site contains large peaks in nanodiamonds, nickel and platinum. No building fire can duplicate that range of evidence – such fires can’t produce nanodiamonds or platinum enrichments. All this evidence refutes the hypothesis of Thy et. .al.. that this glass was produced in low-temperature building fires.’106

When the new paper by West and his colleagues is completed – scheduled for the latter half of 2017107 — I have no doubt that it will, effectively, refute the arguments of Thy et. .al,. – just as all previous attacks have been successfully refuted. But I also have no doubt that those, who for whatever reasons of their own are philosophically opposed to the notion of a cataclysm 12,800 years ago, will publish yet more so-called “requiems” for the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis in the years ahead, even while the constant discovery of new evidence means that it continues to thrive and grow. Indeed the most recent salvos in the ongoing scientific war took place in late 2016 and early 2017 and fully confirmed this trend.

Thus on 19 December 2016 the Journal of Quaternary Science published two papers co-authored by Nicholas Pinter and Tyrone Daulton – who the reader will by now recognise as long-term critics and opponents of the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis. Andrew Scott is also listed as a co-author on the first paper and as lead author on the second paper.

Entitled “Comprehensive analysis of nanodiamond evidence relating to the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis”, the first paper rakes over some very old (and long ago refuted) chestnuts favoured by Pinter and Daulton when it finds “no evidence for londsdaleite in YDB sediments and… no evidence for a spike in nanodiamond concentration at the YDB layer to support the impact hypothesis.”108 Predicatably, the second paper, “Interpreting palaeofire evidence from fluvial sediments: a case study from Santa Rosa Island, California, with implications for the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis,” also finds “no evidence for an extraterrestrial impact”.109

Given the slow process of academic publishing, a year or more may elapse before the Comet Research Group is able to respond fully to these papers. In January 2017, however, members of the group released the following initial comments (in which the first paper is referred to as “Daulton et.al” and the second paper as “Scott et.al”:

1. NANODIAMONDS. The Daulton et. al. paper makes it sound like there is no evidence for nanodiamonds at all, when in fact they admit to the opposite. On page 22, they write, “While there is evidence of cubic nanodiamonds in Late Pleistocene sediments, their presence does not provide evidence of an impact because they have not been linked to impact processes.” The only way they can make that claim is to ignore all of the other evidence that we have such as high-temperature melted spherules and meltglass.

LONSDALEITE. We wrote in Kinzie et al. (2014) that YDB “lonsdaleite-like” particles have all the characteristics of lonsdaleite, but there are too few of them for us to confirm that. We agree with Dalton that these particles are still debatable, and we agree that we misidentified some of them, but not all.

PEAKS IN NANODIAMONDS. Daulton disputes that we have identified peaks in nanodiamonds, but frankly, that is just a nonsensical argument. While it is true that we cannot tell how many nanodiamonds are in the peaks, nevertheless, we know that there are qualitative peaks. Here’s a real world example of why Daulton is wrong. Let’s say that I look out the window onto a pond and I don’t see any ducks. Next day, I look out and there are lots of ducks. There are too many to count, but I know that there are a lot more than zero. The next day the ducks are gone. By definition, there was a peak in ducks on the previous day. The same applies to Daulton’s claim that we don’t have a peak in nanodiamonds. He is simply wrong – the peak has been confirmed by independent groups, including Bement et al. in Oklahoma and in Belgium by Tian et al., who are critics of the YDB hypothesis.

NANODIAMONDS AND IMPACTS. Daulton and others keep repeating “Yes, the diamonds are there but that doesn’t prove there was an impact.” While that is true, technically, there is no other known way to have nanodiamonds appear in sediment except by an impact. To use the same analogy as above, if they look like ducks, they probably are.

2. The Scott et al. paper looked for wildfire evidence in just one area, the Channel Islands in California. They found lots of charcoal and carbon spherules in many strata, and they state on page 11, “Carbonaceous materials from Arlington Canyon do not require extraterrestrial input or ignition, or in some cases preclude such an event,” in contradiction to their press release, which makes it seem like they have completely refuted the YDB hypothesis. Just to be clear, they’re saying that they can’t rule out an extraterrestrial impact. They also argue that the carbonaceous materials indicate low-temperature wildfires which, they assume, precludes extraterrestrial impacts. That assumption just shows their lack of knowledge of impact wildfires, such as those that occurred at Tunguska in 1908, where low-temperature wildfires were triggered beneath the fireball. At Tunguska, the highest temperatures were generated closest to the fireball, and temperatures dropped off exponentially with distance, meaning that at Tunguska and presumably, any other impact event, there are both high-and low-temperature fires.

In line with the ups and downs that we have documented so far, recent papers have not been confined to Daulton and Pinter’s ongoing project to discredit the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis, nor even to the Comet Research Group’s initial response to the December 2016 papers, but have also included papers by other scientists that are highly supportive of the hypothesis.

Of these, the first, by research chemist Antonio Zamora, is entitled “A model for the geomorphology of the Carolina Bays” and was published online in January 2017 in the journal Geomorphology, ahead of the April 2017 print edition.110 The second paper, co-authored by Christopher Moore, Allen West, Malcolm LeCompte and others, is entitled “Widespread platinum anomaly documented at the Younger Dryas onset in North American sedimentary sequences” and was published on 9 March 2017 in Nature’sScientific Reports.111

Let’s begin with the paper on the platinum anomaly discovered across North America which has the potential, in itself, to settle the debate around the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis definitively in favour of the proponents of the hypothesis. This is the case because, as Christopher Moore, lead author of the study comments, “Platinum is very rare in the Earth’s crust, but it is common in asteroids and comets,”112 and because the newly discovered North American platinum anomaly dates precisely from the Younger Dryas Boundary 12,800 years ago and reinforces an earlier study (by Pataev et al) which found an identical platinum anomaly at the identical date in Greenland ice cores.113

“Previously,” Moore et. al. note, “a large platinum (Pt) anomaly was reported in the Greenland ice sheet at the Younger Dryas boundary (YDB) (12,800 Cal B.P.). In order to evaluate its geographic extent, re-assay and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (FA and ICP-MS) elemental analyses were performed on 11 widely separated archaeological bulk sedimentary sequences. We document discovery of a distinct Pt anomaly spread widely across North America and dating to the Younger Dryas (YD) onset. The apparent synchroneity of this widespread YDB Pt anomaly is consistent with Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2) data that indicated atmospheric input of platinum-rich dust… This study finds no evidence to contradict the conclusions of Petaev et al. that the Greenland Pt enrichment most likely resulted from an extraterrestrial source… In addition, our findings show no contradiction with the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis.”114

The language is cautious and understated but the implications for critics of the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis are profound. Those critics have spent years splitting hairs and picking nits in their efforts to contest the nanodiamond, microspherule, synchroneity and other evidence put forward by proponents of the hypothesis, but now, suddenly, across North America, they find themselves confronted by a widespread platinum anomaly – clear and unambiguous evidence of a cosmic impact – at the Younger Dryas boundary. If the debate around this subject were purely objective and rational, the Pt layer should, at a stroke, take all the other evidence of impact out of the “disputed” category, where Daulton, Pinter and others have tried so hard to constrain it, and move it decisively into the “accepted” category. This, in turn, would open the way – at last! – for proper consideration of the implications for the paradigms in various disciplines that will have to be revised, or completely discarded, in the light of the impact evidence. An extinction-level event just 12,800 years ago really does change everything in fields as varied as astronomy, paleo-oceanography, paleo-climatology, geology, and – of the greatest significance for our purposes here – archaeology. This becomes all the more obvious in the light of the second of the two 2017 papers, Antonio Zamora’s “Model for the geomorphology of the Carolina Bays”, which adds greatly to our understanding of the truly cataclysmic and earth-changing nature of the Younger Dryas impacts.

To be clear, the proponents of the hypothesis have always argued that the most plausible agent of the cataclysm was a disintegrating giant comet. According to their calculations, at least four of its largest fragments – in some cases more than a kilometer in diameter – impacted directly, with a kind of “scatter-gun” effect, at different points on the North American ice cap. The trajectory of the incoming fragments was roughly east to west and some remained aloft long enough to cross the Atlantic ocean and hit the northern European ice cap with further impacts traced eastward at least as far as Syria.

The Younger Dryas Boundary strewnfield (after Wittke et al 2013, and Kennett et.al 2014). The area enclosed within the red boundary defines the current known limits of the YDB field of cosmic-impact proxies spanning 50 million square kilometers.

Amongst the impact proponents, there has never been any doubt that North America was the epicenter of the disaster, but Antonio Zamora’s paper offers an entirely new and alarming perspective on the scale of the event, implicating not just the blast and shock waves propagating from the impacts themselves, but also the ejecta thrown up into the upper atmosphere by the force of the impacts. Such ejecta, usually consisting of rock and capable of travelling on ballistic trajectories for distances of thousands of kilometers before returning to earth, are associated with all documented cosmic impacts. In the case of the Younger Dryas, however, the primary impacts in North America were on an ice-cap – still more than a mile deep 12,800 years ago115 – and thus the ejecta would have consisted not of rock but of ice.

Zamora takes up the case, drawing our attention to two extensive but previously unexplained features of the North American landscape – the so called “Nebraska Rainwater Basins” in the Midwest and the so-called “Carolina Bays” in the Southeast. The two regions are widely separated geographically, but in both cases we are confronted by huge numbers of large, very similar and often overlapping geometrical elliptical depressions in the earth that first became apparent from aerial surveys undertaken during the 20th century. The orientation of the “Basins” is from northeast to southwest and the orientation of the “Bays” is from northwest to southeast but, as Zamora puts it, the elliptical shape of the “Basins” is so similar to that of the “Bays” that “it is necessary to consider that they formed contemporaneously with the Carolina Bays by the same mechanisms.”116

Zamora then gives a brief synopsis of the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis, with its proposal that at least four large comet fragments impacted at various points across the North American icecap. He notes that in 2009-2010 there were attempts by the proponents of the hypothesis to argue that the strikingly regular orientation of the Carolina Bays was consistent with their formation by a shockwave coming from vicinity of the Great Lakes – which were not lakes 12,800 years ago but deeply buried depressions entirely covered by the icecap.117 However, their arguments and evidence were dismissed by Pinter, Daulton and others in their 2011 “Requiem” paper which, though subsequently refuted as to nanodiamonds and microspherules, made reasonable and seemingly irrefutable points about the Carolina Bays. Despite the initial promise suggested by their orientation, subsequent investigations failed to identify any trace of meteoritic material within the bays themselves and – even more damningly — indicated that the bays were of widely differing ages and therefore could not have been formed by a single event 12,800 years ago.118
Continue reading Hancock on the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis since 2007

Knock Out: Joe Rogan hosts epic 3.5 hour podcast debating the Younger Dryas impact

Almost 24 hours later and I am still catching my breath. Last night’s Joe Rogan Experience podcast was pure heaven for the Tusk.

As folks might have noted, the world’s most popular interview podcast has taken a long-standing interest in our subject. Graham Hancock has appeared on Rogan six times in recent years, I believe, each visit breaking new viewership records for the show and each episode more closely studying the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. Rogan’s regular audience is perhaps second only to the regular readership of this blog in their understanding of the YDIH. What pleasurable company.

The special thing about this particular episode, despite its wide popularity, was the debate format. Joe paired Graham with another regular guest, professional skeptic Michael Skeptic, and he and Graham brought like-minded sidekicks Randall Carlson and Mark Defant, respectively. If that were not enough to pull you in, Dr. Malcolm LeCompete of the Comet Research Group was introduced for the last 45 minutes in order to close the deal.

So who won the debate? Hancock and crew OWNED Shermer et al., to the point of embarrassment. It was truly hard to watch Shermer, a likable fellow, wither in the face of the peer-reviewed science. He and skeptical fellow travelers (like Mark Boslough) are very subject to difficulties with long-form communication. “Back-and-forth” ain’t their thang — and it shows.

World’s leading website: Daily Mail online touts full story of Younger Dryas impact significance

Daily Mail on the Younger Dryas Impact

Suppose all the wildest theories and historical conspiracies of novelist Dan Brown were proven true. And the mind-reading, spoon-bending claims of Israeli psychic Uri Geller all turned out to be real as well.

That wouldn’t be half as extraordinary as the announcement in an obscure scientific journal this month that vindicated 20 years of maverick research and best-selling books by the eccentric archaeologist Graham Hancock.

His insistence that a highly evolved human civilisation was wiped out by a global catastrophe, remembered now only in myths and Biblical accounts such as the story of Noah and The Flood, has been mocked and dismissed by mainstream experts since he first spoke out in the mid-Nineties

Read more:


Burchard on 12,900 years ago

Hermann Burchard

Download the PDF file .

Datestamp: World’s oldest monument memorializes Younger Dryas comet impact


Response from Gobekli Tepe dig and back at you from Edinburg

What DID that fox say?

Times of London


Ok, I’ve finally found a little time to provide some commentary after posting the Gobekli Tepe \ YD Comet paper last week. I have more substantive comments underway (believe it or not) but first I thought I would rail a bit about the press.

The treatment of this particular story by the American press, and its larger context, the Younger Dryas Boundary Impact Hypothesis, continues to be despicable. The Brits led the way again on this subject and carried most of the planet in their wake. This fascinating little paper is being picked up all over the globe with dozens of re-writes by hundreds of publications — but very nearly zero from the US.

It would seem the US science desks and editors could find some common interest in this subject with our closest intellectual cousin, global warming certainly dominates coverage in both countries. But no. Just like the Widespread Platinum paper in Nature Reports last month, crickets in the US and reported in the UK. It seems we have our own science news, and they have theirs. How’s that for legitimacy of science?

The always depressing fact is that the U.S. science press has become so overtly politicized that it has no ink for anything that does not extend the narrative. There is no room for a serious, mitigable and global “science” threat that does not involve polluters and conservatives as the bad guys. Space rocks are hard to blame – and distracting.

Imagine if a media kid dares take this seriously, and (gasp) does some ‘enterprise reporting’ on the magnitude and quality of the research? They may reveal to themselves a threat on a par with CO2. Who would embark on a writing project that might result in THAT? For the rest of their career they would be intellectually compelled to write the next global warming story with an acknowledgement that the subject is our #2 global problem. That makes it hard to get up in the morning to cover the March for Science.

So why the Brits? I think catastrophism, as a philosophy and a way to see world history, is still a faint cultural recollection for them. And therefore of more interest to their readers and their writers. Like so many non-US cultures, in the United Kingdom they are still surrounded by their dragons — and most have had to consider, at least once, whether their ancestors really saw flying fire lizards, were full of shit, or maybe, just maybe, they saw flaming bolides with snake-like smoke tails — just like they record today with their iPhones.

Moreover, a hardy band of UK researchers has been making precisely these same claims in peer-reviewed publications for decades — approximately 40 decades. From Newton and Whiston, to Clube and Napier, it is hard to put a Brit down who knows he has been right for millennia. There is clearly some thread of understanding in the UK Fourth Estate that this is an area of legitimate intellectual inquiry with a long and distinguished history. Our press, on the other hand, only honors fashions that were born after they were.

So that’s that on the press coverage. As I say, more is coming, on our newest British friend, Dr. Martin Sweatman, author of the paper that inspired this deviation.

Download (PDF, 1.6MB)

Comet Research Group in Nature: Widespread Platinum across continent at Younger Dryas

Download (PDF, 1.18MB)

Wonderful Supplementary Information for the paper below

Download (PDF, 5.3MB)

Recent papers critical of the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis: Daulton and Scott


I have provided some counter points below to the arguments made in the recent publications from Daulton and Scott (regular critics). However, I was particularly disturbed to see that the papers failed to include very significant confirmations of our work, for instance Adronikov 2016. Unlike Tian (2011) and Bement 2014. Daulton claims failure to locate diamonds, but that is no excuse for leading people to believe there have been no recent high-level confirmations of the data from others.

Regardless, there are some obvious shortcoming to the papers and I speak here as a member of the Comet Research Group:

1. NANODIAMONDS. The Daulton et al. paper makes it sound like there is no evidence for nanodiamonds at all, when in fact they admit to the opposite. On page 22, they write, “While there is evidence of cubic nanodiamonds in Late Pleistocene sediments, their presence does not provide evidence of an impact because they have not been linked to impact processes.” The only way they can make that claim is to ignore all of the other evidence that we have such as high-temperature melted spherules and meltglass.

LONSDALEITE. We wrote in Kinzie et al. (2014) that YDB “lonsdaleite-like” particles have all the characteristics of lonsdaleite, but there are too few of them for us to confirm that. We agree with Dalton that these particles are still debatable, and we agree that we misidentified some of them, but not all.

PEAKS IN NANODIAMONDS. Daulton disputes that we have identified peaks in nanodiamonds, but frankly, that is just a nonsensical argument. While it is true that we cannot tell how many nanodiamonds are in the peaks, nevertheless, we know that there are qualitative peaks. Here’s a real world example of why Daulton is wrong. Let’s say that I look out the window onto a pond and I don’t see any ducks. Next day, I look out and there are lots of ducks. There are too many to count, but I know that there are a lot more than zero. The next day the ducks are gone. By definition, there was a peak in ducks on the previous day. The same applies to Daulton’s claim that we don’t have a peak in nanodiamonds. He is simply wrong – the peak has been confirmed by independent groups, including Bement et al. in Oklahoma and in Belgium by Tian et al., who are critics of the YDB hypothesis.

NANODIAMONDS AND IMPACTS. Daulton and others keep repeating “Yes, the diamonds are there but that doesn’t prove there was an impact.” While that is true, technically, there is no other known way to have nanodiamonds appear in sediment except by an impact. To me, to use the same analogy as above, if they look like ducks, they probably are.

2. The Scott et al. paper looked for wildfire evidence in just one area, the Channel Islands in California. They found lots of charcoal and carbon spherules in many strata, and they state on page 11, “Carbonaceous materials from Arlington Canyon do not require extraterrestrial input or ignition, or in some cases preclude such an event,” in contradiction to their press release, which makes it seem like they have completely refuted the YDB hypothesis. Just to be clear, they’re saying that they can’t rule out an extraterrestrial impact. They also argue that the carbonaceous materials indicate low-temperature wildfires which, they assume, precludes extraterrestrial impacts. That assumption just shows their lack of knowledge of impact wildfires, such as those that occurred at Tunguska in 1908, where low-temperature wildfires were triggered beneath the fireball. At Tunguska, the highest temperatures were generated closest to the fireball, and temperatures dropped off exponentially with distance, meaning that at Tunguska and presumably, any other impact event, there are both high-and low-temperature fires.


Download (PDF, 9.35MB)

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Problem solved: Carolina Bays are shock liquefaction impact features from hypersonic ice boulders launched from the glacial ice sheet by a cosmic impact at the Younger Dryas

A. Zamora

The Tusk was absolutely thrilled to see the publication last week of a paper concerning Carolina Bays in the distinguished journal, Geomorphology. Other than a brief role for the Carolina bays in the early papers of the Comet Research Group, and a much longer series of Geological Society of America posters laboriously researched and determindly published by Michael Davias et. al, Zamora’s A Model for the Geomorphology of Bays is the only peer-reviewed and published ‘ET origin’ work on bays in the last two decades — and it is a doozy.

Download (PDF, 3.05MB)

Zamora builds on the work of Willam Prouty and Melton and Schriver in the first half of the 20th century, with an assist from Eyton and Parkhurst in the 70’s, and finally Davias and Kimbel’s efforts in recent years. Each of the researchers maintained that the bays were formed at once by a barrage of material from the midwest. But, just as the early researchers ultimately decided, those around today also dismiss bays as the direct impacts of ET fragments of a comet or asteroid, and consider them to be the remnant features of secondary impacts from the ejecta and ballistic shockwaves of a northerly catastrophe. They are wise to do so.

The correct theory must account for ALL the easily observed, unique characteristics of bays. [See list of 16 from Eyton and Parkhurst here] The “wind and wave,” gradual formation, theories that continue to hold sway in classrooms, and publications from Ivestor and Brooks, fail miserably to account for all the observed phenomena. Zamora checks each off with ease. When time permits I hope to address them one by one.

Significantly, Zamora’s work is multidisciplinary and, like Davias, assisted by geometry as well as geology. Here is a sample:

Ellipses are mathematical conic sections formed by the intersection of a plane and a cone. The elliptical geomorphology of the Carolina Bays and the Nebraska Rainwater Basins can be explained if the bays originated from slanted conical cavities that were later remodeled into shallow depressions by geological processes. A width-to-length ratio of 0.58 corresponds to a cone inclined at 35° using the relationship sin(θ) = W/L. The proposed conical cavities could have been made by impacts of material ejected at approximately 35° in ballistic trajectories from the point of convergence in the Great Lakes Region. The small variations of the width-to-length ratio correspond to slightly different angles that are consistent with possible ballistic trajectories

The bay rims to Zamora are the result of a complex mathematical equation. They are the final surface expression of thousands of conical, inclined ballistic shock cones, each traveling with a giant ice fragment blown from the ice sheet in a nine-minute supersonic arc from the frigid north to the Carolina coast. (I will work on that sentence but you get the idea). These icebergs from space slammed into the supersaturated unconsolidated clayey sands of the coastal plain and left behind the shock “ripples” and “flaps” that we recognize today as bay rims. Zamora even provides an equation relating the perfection and ellipticity of bays to the degree of unconsolidated sediments encountered by the ice bullets:

The LiDAR images also reveal that some terrains do not have elliptical bays. Davias and Harris (2015) describe six archetype bay shapes that may be determined by the geological characteristics of the terrain. The thickness of the layer of unconsolidated material required to produce an elliptical bay can be estimated by the formula tan(θ) × L/2, where L is the length of the major axis and θ is the angle of inclination. A conical cavity inclined at 35° corresponding to a bay with a major axis of 400 m would require a layer of unconsolidated material with a depth of approximately 140 m.

That makes sense to me, and accounts for the “classes” of similar bays, an aspect unexplained by wind and water enthusiasts, but first investigated and catalogued by Davias.

In addition to the present journal publication, Zamora makes his case in detail in a recently published book available from Amazon: Killer Comet: What the Carolina Bays tell us. I am reading it now and will update this post accordingly.

On the shoulders of genius, Zamora has provided defensible and superior answers to the many questions provoked by the appearance and distribution of Carolina bays. The geological community will largely ignore this paper, of course, but some will take note. And there is always reason for hope as the class of geologists who reject recent catastrophic explanations out-of-hand continue their long march from the tenured defense of the known, to retirement, and finally to death. I note that in closing Zamora gives a shout-out to his editor, Professor Andrew J. Plater of the University of Liverpool, clearly an enlightened man, who tweets here as @GeomorphologyDr if you care to thank him.



Comet Research Group responds to Robert Schoch


Robert Schoch

Dr. Robert M. Schoch, Ph.D., of Boston University, is a thought provoking scientist with an open-minded approach to new ideas. Unfortunately his interest in disruptive theories has never extended itself to the Younger Dryas Boundary hypothesis, as he details on his webpage in a critique titled “Controversies Concerning the End ofthe Last Ice Age.”

His objection to the published science and data of the Comet Research Group is curious, since our work validates much of his unpublished speculation concerning catastrophe at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. This dynamic is disappointing because those working to reveal the true record should find some common cause. Unfortunately, Schoch has never reached out to our researchers in order to work through and address his criticisms.

So, the CRG is taking the opportunity here on the Tusk and elsewhere to rebut Dr. Schoch’s critique in the hope that he will carefully re-consider his position, which seems entirely based on the on the faulty work of our critics — which are his too.

Comet Research Group: Rebuttal to “Controversies Concerning the End of the Last Ice Age” 

The Younger Dryas impact hypothesis proposes that a massive swarm of fragments from a giant comet hit Earth approximately 12,800 years ago, triggering bitterly cold ice-age conditions, while contributing to the extinction of millions of animals and to a human population decline across the Northern Hemisphere. The debris from the multiple comet impacts created the Younger Dryas boundary layer (abbreviated as “YDB”), which contains more than a dozen items, called “proxies,” all of which have been found in previously known impact events. These proxies include melted iron spherules, melted glass spherules, high-temperature chunks of melted glass, nanodiamonds, carbon spherules (some containing nanodiamonds), iridium, osmium, platinum, charcoal, and aciniform carbon, a form of soot. Although many of those individual proxies, such as charcoal and soot, can be produced by normal terrestrial processes other than impacts, the entire suite of proxies listed above is only known to occur in cosmic impact events, and cannot be produced in any other natural way. That is an important distinction to remember. To repeat, individual proxies may have other sources than impacts, but there is no evidence of any kind that all of those proxies together are produced at one time by anything other than a cosmic impact. For more information on the impact hypothesis and these proxies, see our website at www.CometResearchGroup.org

Continue reading Comet Research Group responds to Robert Schoch

Grab an oar: Comet Research Group crowd appeal goes live on Indiegogo


Hey folks, I will make this short and expand and update in the future. The newly formed Comet Research Group crowd appeal for funding ancient impact research is on the air — and your help is desperately needed. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the Tusk. And the sooner the better. We only have 30 days remaining and funding of this type requires early enthusiasm to thrive.

There are three pages you should visit in order to give, learn, and share your interest in the effort.

Give: Indiegogo

Learn: Comet Research Group

Share: Facebook

Many of you, like me, have devoted countless hours to this obscure subject. Others who visit this blog maintain a strong interest, if not the obsession of others. But each and every person who has visited cosmictusk.com more than once, and wonders “what the hell did happen 13,000 years ago?” has a good reason to donate to continue and expand the investigation to provide the answer.

Small contributions are particular important. Small donations raise the visibility of the effort just as much as large ones. 5$ 10$ $100 or more is deeply appreciated.

Thank you for donating and sharing the effort on social media. Please let me know if you have “grabbed an oar” in the comments below!

Comet Research Group crowdfunding appeal reschedules launch to Monday, November 14th: Graham Hancock to appear on Joe Rogan podcast Tuesday the 15th


The Comet Research Group crowdfunding effort announced on the Tusk last month, and originally scheduled for November 1st, was pushed back in the interest of avoiding the pending election hysteria. The new date of Monday, November 14th also helps place the launch at a more promising time, a day before a key appearance of author Graham Hancock on America’s most popular podcast: The Joe Rogan Experience.

The Tusk is hoping that Hancock, who we informed of the launch, will provide support for the fundraising appeal to further investigate cosmic impacts in human history, and perhaps give the effort a “plug” on the show — as they say in the ‘biz;)

For those unfamiliar with Hancock, he is a wildly popular author and speculative challenger to current human historical understandings. Like the Tusk and many others, Graham believes that people — not just dinosaurs — have been visited by planetary devastation from above, thousands of years in the past, not millions. The most interesting thing to me is that Hancock’s intellectual and publishing journey was completely unrelated to the forensic and journal efforts of the Comet Research Group. Yet ultimately the laboratory work of the Comet Research Group, and the popular, generalist approach of Hancock reached many (but not all) of the same conclusions.

Fortunately, Graham’s appeal is not limited to the written word. He has also secured a treasured place as a regular guest of the 3-Hour Joe Rogan Experience Podcast, previously described here by the Tusk. These episodes draw millions of intelligent, curious listeners from around he world. It is our humble prayer that after next week’s episode some of them will find their way to the Indiegogo appeal, the Comet Research Group website, the CRG Facebook page, the Youtube video — or perhaps even here at the Tusk.