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Davias’ Astonishing Presentation to Asheville GSA on Carolina Bay origin

Michael Davias’ presentation this week to the GSA’s Southeastern Section in Asheville is simply extraordinary. Even better than last month at Hartford. I bet the sclerotic old geo-goats — and better, the know-it-all-because-somebody-told-me kids — were put on their heels

The fact is that no one knows how the hell these features came to be because no single explanation to date accounts for all the observed characteristics. But I am hopeful that at some point the scales will fall from their eyes and the mainstream will realize how unlimited the potential is for new discovery.

As Orville Wright said, “Isn’t it astonishing that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years just so we could discover them!”

The presentation builds from beginning to end, so make sure to read all the way through.

But first, here is Michaels’ own description of the session from a comment to an earlier Tusk post.


Thanks to all for their efforts in commenting here. Each and every fact does need to be considered and processed.

My experiences at the Southeastern Section Meeting of the GSA were once again beyond my expectations. There is a spectacular amount of good science being done, and it was great to have the opportunity to participate. As for my own talk, it was well attended and generated a good deal of helpful questions. I will be putting the presentation up on the GSA site shortly, and perhaps George can add it to the Tusk site as well.

The GSA, by offering me the opportunity to present my full catastrophic hypothesis, actually surprised me, and at the same time reassured me that the concept of open dialogue is as strong as ever in the geological comunitty.

Allow me to share a few take-aways. Regarding the wind-and-wave process, I did present Kaczorowski’s diagram of bay processes. The diagram’s caption states that a fan was blown across a water filled depression alternating (left to right, then right to let) every 15 min for four hours. The resulting is sort of an oval with points at both the top and bottom ends. No oval bay has points like that, and to suggest a rigorous 50% duty cycle for formative winds is a stretch, as far as I am concerned. I then noted that in the LiDAR, no bays looked like that.

The theme of my talk was to show that the published (!) literature had numerous mentions of the rim sand being: 1) homogeneous in grain size and chemical content bordering on pure quartz; 2) multi-meter deep deposits with NO stratigraphic structure to support either lacustrine, marine or eolian deposits; 3)no fossils of any type; 4) a sharp discontinuity to underlying sediments; 5)not related to those underlying deposits by chemistry or grain size distributions; 6) virtually no clay expect for some vary small lenses (which are acknowledged in the texts to be likely surface percolation artifacts); 7) sheet deposits which drape across well-provinenced slopes and terrace scarps.

A statement was made during the question period that the rims show structure. Interesting, because all the published literature I have read specifically highlight the lack of bedding, etc. Its part of the enigma, guys!

I made a very brief attempt at addressing the age issue. I must admit I would like to avoid placing “the date” chiseled in stone on this, as the data is quite fuzzy. I am proposing 40 to 45 K ago based on a few constraints, but the real date needs to come from the sand in the structural rim. I don’t want to appear to be contentious ( a respected academic geologist hit me with “you are being contentious simply by being here”) with the fine work being done in OSL, carbon and pollen dating, but it is quite clear that the current researchers have no interest in actually dating the rim sand. What are they dating? The contents of the bays and the obvious wind and wave generated surficial deposits. Steve makes some good observation, above, on choice of samples sites to date, such as Frierson Bay. I maintain there are thousands of more obvious locations to sample – if you wanted the rim dates. In fairness, the OSL dates done were done and paid for with research dollars aimed at identifying climate fluctuations – for which the dunes and the lacustrine deposits are best at providing, so they are doing what they need to do. But to extend that to proof of the structural rim dates is a step too far.

Much is made of those 60K and 100K dates: since the data is not published and defended as to location, process and provenance, I fail to see how they could be leveraged to slam the door on a catastrophic genisis. Yes, the antecedent surface is usually sand, and it might have last seen the rays of sun 100K years ago. So what. I feel I can make a case to validate a 43Ka date with the available OSL basket, if the two or three highest are thrown out and we recognize that any date that shows up since 43Ka is simply re-working. My understanding is that all of the OSL dates taken thus far are from the upper 50 cm of sand.

Recent literature is sparse, indeed, excepting “Abstracts from Program”, which refers to poster presentations. While that forum can and does relate good research to the community, they fail to qualify as “peer-reviewed literature”. We need more research. The same fine fellow who dinged me about being contentious for appearing at the GSA also credited the recent debate as being the motivation behind the resurgence of research into the bays. That can only be good.

At the end of my presentation Sunday, I proposed that the catastrophic hypothesis could be falsified by finding diverse OSL dates across the horizontal and vertical bulk of the Goldsboro Ridge sand deposit which underly and comprise the rims of numerous bays imbedded in the ridge. George Howard alerted me to the impending disection of part of the ridge during the construction of the Rt 70 Goldsboro Bypass project. New exposures there might provide just the canvas to draw those samples from. Now all I need to do is to raise some $$$ and entice some credible researchers to execute such a test.

Thanks again for your feedback,



Here is some video I took of Mike explaining his observations and hypothesis at the AGU San Francisco meeting in 2009 (I think?).

75 comments to Davias’ Astonishing Presentation to Asheville GSA on Carolina Bay origin

  • Hermann Burchard

    Here, we are ignoring curvature of Earth, diminishing gravity w/altitude, air resistance at top of atmosphere, so impact velocity = initial ejecta velocity.

    Also ignored rotation of planet Earth about polar axis, which Michael takes care off in elegant fashion.

  • Hermann Burchard

    There was probably not enough energy at the collision site to launch any big chunks exoatmospheric.

    My above computation is based on the empirical fact that large amounts of material were lofted to the Carolinas and indeed as far as Florida if the hundreds of bays were all formed within seconds or at most minutes.

    The physics implies that there were minimal velocity upward of 10 km/sec (my calculation).

    Kinetic energy:
    E_k = 1/2 * mass * velocity^2.

    Lots of energy implied, large velocity v>10km/sec, and large mass of lofted stuff, hence large E_k???

  • Many thanks Hermann,

    If the impact zone weren’t an ice sheet then the problem would be far less complex.

    As you point out, it’s not hard to postulate enough kinetic energy in a very large impact event to get material ejected into sub-orbital, orbital, perhaps even escape velocities. And on re-entry yes, we should expect significant thermal plasmas to form along the re-entry paths. That much is a given. But then, if the ejected material was water ice, how does H20 behave at such temps?

    The questions that stick in my mind are what happens when you suddenly heat a few thousand cubic miles of ice enough that it doesn’t just flash to steam, but disassociates into hydrogen, and oxygen, which is then heated even more until the electrons become stripped from their nuclei, and you have a dense, high energy thermal plasma? How much of the resulting incandescent hydrogen, and oxygen, actually become electrically conductive plasmas? Do we get enough superconducting plasma in the impact plumes, and re-entry paths to provide short circuits between the ionosphere and the ground?

    If so, how quickly does the plasma loose energy to infrared radiation until it’s no longer electrically conductive? What are the ground effects of that IR pulse? And as it cools back down to a non-conductive incandescent state, and finally to normal terrestrial temps, does the hydrogen, and oxygen, recombine to become H2O again?

    And finally, of the thousands of cubic miles of ice that only flashes to steam in the atmosphere without becoming incandescent, how long does it take for it to precipitate back out as rain, and snow?

  • I’m not clear how it fits with Mr. Davias’s hypothesis. But one thing I don’t hear anyone considering yet is the idea of a cluster airburst event, even though it is proposed in the Lake Cuitzeo paper. And yet when you think it through, the idea represents a major paradigm shift away from the standard model idea of one at a time, single bolide, impact events. If fact, it represents a completely different impact mechanism from anything that’s ever been modeled, or studied before.

    Bill Napier pointed out in Palaeolithic extinctions and the Taurid Complex that the breakup of comets is now recognized as a common path to their destruction. And most of the folks I’m reading still point to the ‘string of pearls’ that was SL-9 before it impacted Jupiter as their preferred model of a typical breakup mechanism. But I’m thinking that SL-9 does not represent a typical breakup of a comet at all. And certainly not a kind of breakup mechanism that the inner planets have to worry about.

    Most of the astronomical data indicates that SL-9 was broken into a string of fragments by tidal forces in a close pass of Jupiter before returning to impact; sort of like something pouring over an edge into a stream of drops or fragments. So a breakup that produces a long string of fragments like that requires that the comet make a close passage of a very powerful gravity well.

    But in fact SL-9 does not represent the most common breakup mechanism at all. It’s just the only time we’ve ever witnessed a broken comet hit a planet. So it’s the first one that comes to mind. The other, probably far more common breakup mechanism is represented by objects like comets Linear-1, SW-3, and 17P/Holmes; all of which broke up apparently spontaneously. And without the influence of any nearby planet. It’s as if the ices holding them together sublimated in the warmth of the sun and they just ‘came unglued’ like the wings of Icarus.

    If a dense cluster of comet fragments such as we see in the images of Linear, or SW-3 were to hit soon after the complete breakup of a large comet, then you’d see a different kind of impact mechanism from anything anyone has ever imagined before. Instead of single bolides coming in one at a time, plop, plop, plop. You’d get something like a giant shotgun blast, or 10,000 Tunguska class airbursts hitting a concentrated area within a matter of seconds. Only the very first fragments on the leading edge of the cluster would hit cold atmosphere. The rest of the cluster would be falling into the already superheated impact plumes of those that lead the way. And they’d just crank up the heat, and pressure.

    I wonder what something like that would do to the ground, or an ice sheet. But I’m prttey sure it’s not a ballistic/kinetic impact crater

  • here is a reference that gives some good cratering intel for the case w/o atmosphere using the Deep Impact NASA mission results where the thing getting hit is the comet for a change. This is really juicy for our effort since we learn about the comet properties and also about impact science at the same time. It was actually written FOR US if you think about it.

    The abstract alone is a beautiful discourse on what forces are in play as this event evolves after impact. Note low density estimate. And naturally we like Fig. 6: “The Maxwell Z-model of excavation flow”, because its the Maxwell Z-model!

    Bulk density of only 400 kg/m^3! Even with a wide error spread on that number, its looooooow.


    In July of 2005, the Deep Impact mission collided a 366 kg impactor with the nucleus of Comet 9P/Tempel 1, at a closing speed of 10.2 km sec^-1. In this work, we develop a first-order, three-dimensional, forward model of the ejecta plume behavior resulting from this cratering event, and then adjust the model parameters to match the flyby-spacecraft observations of the actual ejecta plume, image by image. This modeling exercise indicates Deep Impact to have been a reasonably “well-behaved” oblique impact, in which the impactor-spacecraft apparently struck a small, westward-facing slope of roughly 1/3-1/2 the size of the final crater produced (determined from initial ejecta plume geometry), and possessing an effective strength of not more than Y = 1-10 kPa. The resulting ejecta plume followed well-established scaling relationships for cratering in a medium-to-high porosity target, consistent with a transient crater of not more than 85-140 m diameter, formed in not more than 250-550 sec, for the case of Y = 0 Pa (gravity-dominated cratering); and not less than 22-26 m diameter, formed in not less than 1-3 sec, for the case of Y = 10 kPa (strength-dominated cratering). At Y = 0 Pa, an upper limit to the total ejected mass of 1.8 x 10^7 kg (1.5-2.2 x 10^7 kg) is consistent with measurements made via long-range remote sensing, after taking into account that 80% of this mass would have stayed close to the surface and then landed within 45 minutes of the impact. However, at Y = 10 kPa, a lower limit to the total ejected mass of 2.3 x 10^5 kg (1.5-2.9 x 10^5 kg) is also consistent with these measurements. The expansion rate of the ejecta plume imaged during the look-back phase of observations leads to an estimate of the comet’s mean surface gravity of g = 0.34 mm sec^-2 (0.17-0.90 mm sec^-2), which corresponds to a comet mass of m_t = 4.5 x 10^13 kg (2.3-12.0 x 10^13 kg) and a bulk density of rho_t = 400 kg m^-3 (200-1000 kg m^-3), where the large high-end error is due to uncertainties in the magnitude of coma gas pressure effects on the ejecta particles in flight.

  • Dennis
    “Do we get enough superconducting plasma in the impact plumes, and re-entry paths to provide short circuits between the ionosphere and the ground?”

    Yes, and it melts lots of surface rock in N. Minnesota! (I’m just kidding, maybe)

    So I think your are conceptualizing far too highly energetic an event due to the shallow angle involved, for a couple of reasons. Most of the kinetic E is carried down range in the ejecta jet, some of which is still above escape V for whatever its headed relative to the Sun and Earth’s orbital vector about same at the moment. Look at Butterfly Crater on Mars at the lateral ejecta pattern. Thats where the Bays came from. The other 90% (total guess) jets out down range at a flatter angle than it came in on mostly.

    There is probably some lateral dispersion of that jet, as implied by the trend of lower angle cases from 30 to 15 degrees. I think this exit jet lateral dispersion process gets more chaotic as the impact gets flatter and the forcing function of imparted momentum upon the impactor by the target surface becomes less well defined. This is for two reasons. sum of vertical forces is much lower for shallow angle, & more spreading out across the surface both mean lower peak stress (force/area) and (key) the energetic mixing, or hot zone, is spread out so peak temps are much lower. For shallow angle he energy doesn’t excavate so much, (butterfly crater is very shallow for its size) but reflects with vertical damping from some heat loss and from later spreading – from the lateral pressure distribution profile during the impact being highest in the mid line and imparting a laterally dispersive impulse while the hot zone exists. Stretched out hot zone in-track gives more time for establishing laterally dispersive flow field in the jet.

    visualize a Maxwell Z-model translating with the impactor as it spreads out comet into a hot zone. That hot zone imparts outward momentum to the surface which then evolves into a crater after the pulverized comet jet leaves the station, taking away with it the majority of its most dangerous elements, kinetic energy and the heat of its one transformation from solid to slurry (not so great since density and strength are generally proportional)

    The beauty for us all on this forum is that those insane comet storms are perfectly staged after this impact by the non-escape, slower portion of the down range ejecta jet that could literally be going anywhere after the chaos of this process, and what with the moon up there to stir things up too, so now I believe in the comet storm even more than I did when the ablative scarring made me a believer upon watching the Sandia attached vortex video to begin my insane spiral into this completely interrelated jumble of what are actually perfectly organized parts of a single bigger picture.

    Is that clear!?!

    I’ve come to a remarkable enlightenment over the last few weeks during CBays undergraduate, and now in my more advanced and more mechanically founded conceptualizations of this crazy business. During this very brief period I have suddenly come to better understand everything I’ve EVER learned in life from cultural anthropology to perturbational orbital mechanics, from skydiving to sailing, how all of those things are related, and all of this because I paused to contemplate the enigmatic CBays. I understand more about where my instincts come from, and so too how to make better use of them going forward. Stop and study the imprint. Maintain situational awareness on all scales.

    Embrace all science. CLEARLY the CBays are imprinted Bolide Ignimbrite. The Cosmic and the Terra are as one.

    Enigmatic CBays. Imprint of a ET event most likely in the form of an initial but grazing comet strike that led to multiple comet storms around the world for some time after, as the various orbiting clusters of rechilled comet slurry jet proceeded to be flung around by the Earth-Moon system over many months or years until being cleaned out of that space by those two bodies or flung back into a different helio orbit by them. this is Masters and PHD papers for many years to come, with all of the possible scenarios that need investigating as a result of the initial event that deposited the CBays.

    I largely blame Michael Davias for this insane state I’m now left in, but everyone who posts on this forum is also guilty to some degree of my present catatonic state of shock, Mr. Howard and Mr. Cox most notably. When are we having lunch guys? You have to explain to my wife how you make me like this. Please. Come to Brooklyn.

    In the case of the ever shallower approach angle, less and less energy is delivered to the site of the impact, with more and more being carried away within the exiting jet. And its not just kinetic being carried away. the impactor also carries the heat of its own destruction with it in the exiting jet. Sweet.

    This way humans live to talk about it and make art to record it afterward, because we as a species are smarter than your average algae or mosquito. We have survived this rather harsh bit of punctuation in the otherwise gradual process of natural selection in this biosphere. Actually we as a species are the imprint of the evolutionary biological process on that biosphere. The living imprint. We must take it as a lesson to maintain situational awareness on all scales, and study the geological record to find the truth imprinted within. Sometimes catastrophic truth. With an open mind, right George? I have never met or even talked to you my friend, but I love you.

    Now we have lots of work to do to continue to prove the scenario took place. And to figure out comet mitigation or even reclamation. George there is your next enterprise, to follow naturally from your current one.

    I just wonder how many times it did take place. That should fall out of some good shallow angle impact science and the perturbational orbital dynamics that the impact model can feed, to trace exit jet volume through the Earth-Moon orbital environment and find solutions to known comet storm sites. No problem.


    “It’s as if the ices holding them together sublimated in the warmth of the sun and they just ‘came unglued’ like the wings of Icarus.”

    and thats also the key to determining their age. I’m guessing the average density of the overall comet mass of our solar system constantly decreases as bigger chunks break to smaller one in the fractalated Oort cloud or wherever these things ultimately came from. Star farts.

  • Dennis,
    “And finally, of the thousands of cubic miles of ice that only flashes to steam in the atmosphere without becoming incandescent, how long does it take for it to precipitate back out as rain, and snow?”
    most likely 40 days and 40 nights.

  • Thanks Tom,

    While you’re still thinking about the kinetic impact of solid objects, I’m not. I’m looking at a cluster airburst scenario where almost 100% of the kinetic energy of a very large, and dense cluster, approximately 200 miles wide, of small cometary fragments coming in at a shallow angle of about 30 degrees is translated to heat in atmosphere. The violence at ground level gets magnified compared to a crater producing kinetic impact. But it’s not characterized by shock metamorphic effects.

    I’ll go along with most of what you’re saying, except for this:

    “In the case of the ever shallower approach angle, less and less energy is delivered to the site of the impact, with more and more being carried away within the exiting jet. And its not just kinetic being carried away. the impactor also carries the heat of its own destruction with it in the exiting jet.”

    In fact, none of the violence exits, or gets “carried away” in an oblique airburst, or impact. It’s simply continues moving downrange.

    And yes, in point of fact, I am postulating a far more energetic event than anyone has ever imagined. And I think I’ll eventually be able to confirm planetary scarring to back it up. Those scars do not consist of craters, or anything anyone has ever imagined might be related to an impact event.

  • Hermann Burchard

    the CB impactor carved out Saginaw Bay, fairly concentrated. Hence, the comet debris cluster that you postulate was dispersed before impact but not too much. If Michael collects all his data, can he figure the total mass of ejecta contained in CBs? Then, using my velocity calculation, he should be able to calculate the total energy of the impact, a lower bound, because we don’t know how much was used up on ground zero melting, crushing ice maybe even rock. Duncan Steel in his books has details on impact energies. But we still don’t seem to know much about comet cores, my suspicion is still that there were metal condensation cores (average density of overall comets is known to be quite low, however). If so, Saginaw Bay may have been the result of core impact alone, with the debris field much larger. Did Napier publish details of how to calculate the thermal radiation field of his hypothetical debris stream impact? If we knew his formulas then we could figure out if the re-entry ice/water/gravel masses dissociated the H2O.

  • After studying Pete Shultz’s hypervelocity ice sheet impact experiments at NASA Ames, I remain skeptical that anything but a very large bolide could have penetrated the ice sheet to leave a recognizable crater in the sub ice surface in the region of Saginaw Bay. It’s difficult to envision heat penetrating a mile of ice to the sub ice surface, much less with enough remaining kinetic energy for shock metamorphism, and excavation of that surface to occur.

    And like reactive armor on a battle tank, the more oblique the angle of impact, the more protective we can expect the ice sheet to be of the sub ice surface. I need to see data from datable cores from the structure before I’m convinced.

    And so far I haven’t read where anyone has included the potential for hydrothermal explosive forces in their calculations of the energies of an ice sheet impact. All the calculations I’ve seen are as if the impact were into a relatively inert surface like rock, or soils.

    As far as the debris streams Napier describes,I don’t think anyone has done any modeling of the expected impact characteristics yet. Napier seems to be content to concentrate on the astronomy of the event, leaving the actual impact physics to planetary scientists to work out. And even though the YDB team proposed cluster airburst events, and we have numerous images of such clusters in short period orbits that cross those of all the planets of the inner solar system, to the best of my knowledge the impact community are still focused on assuming single bolide cratering events.

    Note that the rallying cry of skeptics to the YDIH remains, “Where’s the crater?”

    I guess they’re afraid to take that monster out of the closet, and confront it. Because if cluster events from things like Linear, or SW-3 are possible, then decades of work estimating the ages of surfaces on the Moon, and Mars, by counting the number of small craters goes right out the window.

  • Yes I understand the looks of that air burst plume in the Sandia imagery, and how it eventually slows and starts arcing concave upward form convection once most or all of its incoming momentum is arrested, and the more violent cases are the ones interrupted by the ground before they slow and start to loft. Nasty business what happens at the surface, and then in the atmosphere as a result.

    The stuff that hit Earth may have hit the moon on the way in too. so plume from that kind of earlier event may be what come in toward Earth. Either way we want a shallow impact model because of the observed butterfly imprint on Earth. If the Earth entry velocities turn out to be like a drop from the Moon, then we can look for impact evidence there and guess what angle impact to characterize what plume may fall from Moon to Earth. Situational awareness.


    The the air burst cluster width may perhaps be correlated to the spread in the shallow angle impact jet over Saginaw. From some highly elliptic Geo-lunocentric orbit. As a generic shallow angle impact model is developed we can investigate the parameters that may be relevant to the first collision and eventually we will figure what happened to the Ice Sheet upon contact. Meanwhile the generic model will give us hints about what rains down after skipping the first time.

    Its not one big piece. Its lots of droplets from the exit jet that don’t make it out far enough to fall back toward the Sun. The irregular elements of the chaotic jet make up droplet streams with similar orbital injection parameters, per group, relative to Earth/Moon or Heliocentric coordinates. So when this first shot comes in at shallow angle, what you get is a whole bunch of droplet streams fired out into different directions relative to Earth and Moon and Sun, etc, so all different families of trajectories, some Earth captured, some Earth escape back to Heliocentric, some sub orbital, all depending on what you put in the front end of the initial impact in the model.

    The suborbital stuff is going to spread out for a few hundred to several hundred/few thousand before intersecting the atmosphere on the far side of the globe, possibly nearly all the way around more or less, which takes maybe 70 or 80 minutes or something. So depending on how you play with the input parameters to play with that output jet, you can send a cluster of comet droplets over a majority of the surface of the earth, with the farthest flying ones the most damaging and the shorter range ones not packing so much velocity.

    So I need to get back with the crater and shock wave camp for a spell, with this in closing

    Unified theory of Comet Catastrophism:

    Comet stuff floats in a cloud on the edge of the heliosphere in various states of disorganization. It is held there in a quasi stable balance of very weak solar wind pressure (by itself unsteady in nature), weak gravitational attraction to each other and to the nuclear plasma furnace at the approximate center of the whole conglomeration.

    Much of that Oort cloud may have insufficient angular momentum to actually be considered as heliocentric, and the outward flux of solar wind is unsteady enough to push the more static ones to higher angles of inclination relative to the ecliptic spontaneously, incase anybody wondered how that might be possible.

    They occasionally pass each other and exchange some momentum in the process, so one gets dropped toward the sun while the other is nudged farther out, perhaps even beyond the heliopause and on to escape the Suns pull forever. Conservation should be our practice….

    The stuff that drops toward the sun rains down into lower energy levels of the solar gravity well. It is gassy as it warms up and makes its own perturbations with respect to the stability of any long term parking orbit (in other words no such thing), as well as being perturbed by the planets or whatever other bodies are nearby, and eventually may impact one of those (planetary) gravity well hard points along the way down the Sun’s bigger well. And yes the gas giants are also considered hard points when encountered at cometary velocity.

    Sometimes when it rains down it splashes w/ some drops absorbed and and some drops continuing down the well as more rain, but starting at a lower velocity.

    As they are near the sun they bake out and get lighter and weaker, which can make them fragment spontaneously. A close encounter w/ whatever gravity well may have similar effect but is more dangerous because it generates higher density parts. The least threatening are the lowest density. They do tend to lose density faster as a group when the group is made of more smaller pieces w/ more presented surface area for that process.

    If various perturbations or impacts slow it enough, it may fall into the sun. Comets have survived passes within a million miles of the sun, much to the surprise of astronomers. But we as Catastrophists know anything is possible. Its probability that we find more interesting. WHen they do eventually cook over completely to vapor or plasma, the solar wind carries the effluent right back to where it started to repeat from the beginning.

    Self sustaining process, so don’t expect any significant break in that weather pattern over the next major fraction of the Sun’s life span…

    Unified theory of Terrestrial Comet Catastrophism, or corollary to the general theory:

    When the comet rain stuff falls into the Earth/Moon system, it gets flung all around the well by the convoluted and angularly energized topography of that well and bounces, splashes, squirts and sprays all over the place without mercy of what life it may extinguish in that process. Or seed.

    Eventually the rotating pair of planetary bodies here in our hood either fling the stuff out or our local portion of the well and downhill into the Sun’s deeper well, or it falls deep into our well where Earth can chomp it up into part of the biosphere called the water table, otherwise known as the integral geological imprint of comet stuff rain here on Earth throughout the history of our planet, or at least as long as there has been a water table. And again, as in the first case, and in fact as a subset of the first case, the long term predict for our neighborhood is for steady rain.


  • Since the YDB team has included the Taurid Complex as the astronomical model for the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis in the Lake Cuitzeo paper, then the whole coherent catastrophism paradigm Clube & Napier have been talking about since they first published ‘The Cosmic Serpent’ in 1982, and then ‘The Cosmic Winter’  in 1990, has become a fundamental part of the postulate. So the origin and frequency of the catastrophic comets that’ve been coming our way are fairly well described.

    Have you read either of those books? Or Paleolithic extinctions, and the Taurid Complex? Napier, (2010) Or The Structure, and evolution of the Taurid Complex? D.I. Steel et. al. (1991)

    I said, while I am convinced that the CBs all formed at the same time, and are related to a previously unstudied kind of impact event. I remain to be convinced that Saginaw Bay is in fact a Pleistocene impact structure.

  • Steve Garcia

    TH –

    Great comment on May 27th. Somehow it never seemed to show up on my CT till now. I check every day almost, and hadn’t seen anything new for about 2 weeks.

    Anyway, specific feedback:

    You hit the nail on the head about modeling at Sandia, to create a matrix for different bursts – angles, sizes, altitudes, and impactor density, too.

    Also, to begin learning what happens underneath an ice sheet impact – whether an actual impact or an air burst (though an air burst does not seem possible with the CBs).

    Not from suborbital exo-atmospheric unless they are very small compared to the size of the Bays themselves…. Now if they were smaller or soft, different story.

    First of all, NOTHING ELSE explains the CBs. I argue (from an almost infinitely smaller experience base) that they HAD to be softer AND smaller. Hard = ‘normal’ craters. And “very small compared to the size of the Bays themselves” – yes. I agree with the exo-atmospheric and suborbital, too. As a fellow engineer (mechanical), I think from experience we grow capable of picturing mechanisms step-by-step, and what you say fits well with what some of us here are imaging in our heads, even if some (me in particular) don’t have the capacity to model it mathematically.

    Steam shredding everything to the same (small) grain size doesn’t sound far off. But if steam shredded something to make the sand at the ET impact site, how did it get to the CB sites? What’s the vehicle?

    Lots in this passage. Absolutely, to the shredding, in my thinking. And yes, as to what transported the sand to the CBs. But don’t forget that the sand is not ONLY inside the CBs. The sand appears to have been laid down draped over entire areas, including the rims of the CBs. I envision a mixed bag of sizes of ejecta, from you icebergs down to that sand. From the only data I’ve found (on Mt St Helens), the larger stuff was not transported so far away. But after the >1cm particles the smaller stuff seems to have spread all the way from 300 to 700 km away. Does this hold for impacts? I don’t have Sandia at my disposal.

    The powerful steam explosion on/in/especially UNDER the ice sheet is of critical importance, not just for it’s ability to shred and pulverize whatever is in the area, be it locally resident or astronomically delivered. Most of all for the potential to loft chunks of ice sheet while embedding whatever it feels like into that ice. Supernova titanium or Michigan sand. And steam isn’t all. Check your steam tables for the 100,000 degree range. Pretty sure its plasma. Plasma, plasma, plasma. Mmmmmm….

    Certainly plasma. And what percentage and distribution of steam vs water vs plasma?

    The steam/plasma expansion may add a sizable amount of force to the explosion of the impact itself. Steam is a huge driver in volcanic eruptions, and that is over time. An instant steam/plasma event has to have magnitudes more expansive energy driving the ejecta.

    More comments later… still reading.

  • Agreed, we need Saginaw Bay mega science to reveal a smoking gun, or even a lack thereof, conclusively to move forward.

    I’m still grappling with the twin lobes of the Mars Butterfly Crater, with the experts telling me the projectile gets ‘decapitated’ in the impact, which sounds fishy. when a projectile comes apart mechanically because of overload in a hypersonic impacts, it doesn’t break into clean chunks and turn at angles after flying a crater width down range, suddenly aimed back at the surface.

    Both the smaller leading crater and the main butterfly crater of Mars have a secondary lobe down range. I’m calling it the ‘tail pocket’ for now. I think is a shock wave related phenom.


  • Hermann Burchard

    can you confirm deep excavation of Saginaw Bay? In the GSA video above you seem to state “50,000 Carolina Bays” and “tens of millions of cubic km” of dirt. — Is that really what you said. One million cubic km is a box of dirt 100 km along each edge. If all excavated at once that would be a very large crater. Saginaw Bay is only 50 km across.

    reading up on Carolina Bay dates again, the YDr contemporaneous hypothesis still seems likely (am reversing self from my earlier comments, only known counter-argument was archeological, Clovis people cultural remains on top of CB rims alleged, but have seen no evidence of this). Michael Davias in above GSA video states the age as “between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago,” i.o.w. he gives 15 K years as upper limit of age possible.

    Tom, Steve,
    can’t figure denial of suborbital incoming, no other process is available to deliver CB-grit material down from Saginaw Bay or points North. Michael Davias pretty much proved the Saginaw Bay impact caused the Bays, to my mind at least. See his web pages and above GSA video.

  • Steve Garcia

    TH -

    Larger ones would conserve velocity better and require less initial (launch) velocity to reach a give range. Smaller ones would slow down faster and hit more vertically, lower cannon ball factor, and that I believe is critically important. Naturally there would likely be some distribution of initial ‘launch’ velocities of these puppies so more variables to sort, but….

    I think I disagree with the larger = farther idea here. F = ma says larger ones get less initial velocity, no?

    Also, based on Mt St Helens data, sand sized went farthest and larger ones went shorter. That initial impetus was from steam, not impact, but still… If volcanoes are that different, I can understand if there are reasons, I am all ears.

    Schultz’s video results seem to show that most ejecta go vertically, more or less, unless I am misreading the video (which is possible). But with few (maybe no) surface features between the CBs and the Great Lakes, what are we to think? Perhaps Schultz’s work does not apply?

    Yes, initial velocities will vary, but with the vast number of ejecta an average may be determined (either by statistics and/or empiricism or models) and used.

  • Hermann Burchard

    CORRECTIION: Lake Michigan replaces Saginaw Bay, M. Davias in Part II of his Asheville GSA video. He seems to envision a series of impacts to explain the oblong shape.

  • Steve Garcia

    Could liquefaction in the traumatized basement cause percolation of sand to the surface or nearly so? Of only one size of sand grain?

    Again, Mt St Helens suggests that a size-separating process likely exists, based on atmospheric forces/pressures/conditions and (probably) lofting forces, as well. See

  • Steve Garcia

    The nature of the CB sand may help here in terms of isotopic signature and all other possible details for origin ID. Item #4: If a giant shock fractured, steam blasted, trans-atmospheric, transonic chunk of ice, only a hundred meters big or so, hits hard ground, would it splash, or would it crater or maybe even bounce? If it bounces wouldn’t it leave a chain of marks?

    If it is shock-fractured or steam-blasted, the CB impactor would splash, making tertiary impact features, most of which would be not aligned. At the least, these would have blown out many portions of many of the rims of the other CBs. Ergo, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

    If solid enough to bounce without breaking/splashing, they would leave deeper cratering.

  • Steve Garcia

    Item#2, chunks of LISheet, seems like a great answer because for some unknown reason the Ice Sheet had plenty of sand of essentially equal grain size already in it, and also because the icebergs magically disappeared after landing, leaving no central impact signature upon landing, even though they were solid enough to be launched suborbital w/ 5,000 Gs acceleration (a complete guess so don‘t get excited) from an astronomical impact blast. Oh yes, and they were ½ mile in diameter on average (another complete guess, please stay calm). But no craters. Is anyone feeling the love for that answer, because I’m actually having some trouble here.

    No, not feeling the love on that one:

    “…chunks of LISheet, seems like a great answer because for some unknown reason the Ice Sheet had plenty of sand of essentially equal grain size already in it…”

    I read it that the shredding was essentially by plasma/steam forces as the creator of the uniform sand size. At and above the ET impact site. Think of it: Steam similar to volcanic steam, but all released in less than a second. What kind of shredding? MUCH more than from a volcano, which releases its pressure over hours and days. I think there should be impact shock telltales in the sand.

    Even the 5,000Gs of lofting force itself should add to the shredding. Some may prefer to call it ‘pulverizing.’

    As to the size of the CBs, it would require a size-sorting at the ET impact site, re initial velocities and loft angles. The CBs are the ones of a certain size range and velocity. Higher velocities would, apparently, shred. I think we all can agree that at SOME initial velocity, the ejecta chunks/icebergs would be torn apart. Lower velocities would land short (but if so, where are those impacts, right? – I don’t know.) Perhaps if the initial velocity was high enough the CBs WERE the lowest velocity ejected objects.

  • Steve Garcia

    [TH] Wait – what about answer #5? Remember the vortices of plasma that we get with ET impacts – and what we get w/ moving plasma is electro-magnetic domination of the dynamic equation. The Sandia factor. That’s right, I’m thinking the sand held hands. What do we know about natural yet freakish cases of plasma torrid behavior?

    This may not be so outlandish an idea. Out of the box, yes, but if ionized, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the quartz in the sand sand particles had static charges. Do I recall correctly the static in volcanic ash clouds? I think so.

    The water vapor particles in any cloud must have similar charges (which on first thought must push them apart), because lightning travels from one cloud to another – requiring one monolithic (and opposing) charge in each of the two clouds involved. What makes each cloud not push itself apart? We all think that afterward both clouds are neautralized, but are they really? I’ve seen MANY a ‘heat lightning’ cloud have lightning bolt after lightning bolt shoot from or to it – from the same other cloud. Does the charge get built up that fast? or are we missing something about clouds and charges?

    Is it possible something similar happens in volcanic clouds or in ejecta-plasma clouds? Do they ‘hold hands’ in some way? If so, it must be a force greater than the electrical repulsion we would expect.

  • Greetings :

    Allow me to respond to Herman’s questions and observations:

    >>can you confirm deep excavation of Saginaw Bay? In the GSA video above you seem to state “50,000 Carolina Bays” and “tens of millions of cubic km” of dirt.
    >— Is that really what you said. One million cubic km is a box of dirt 100 km along each edge. If all excavated at once that would be a very large crater. Saginaw Bay is only 50 km across.

    The proposed Saginaw Impact Structure has replaced the Lake Michigan suggestion I had made at the AGU in 2009 (the video). The “crater” floor extends well beyond the current water-filled Saginaw Bay. The volume contained is, as you note not im the millions of ckm, but in the tens of thousands. I proposed that 10% of the excavated material would comprise the distal ejecta creating the bays. My rough math suggests that 1,600 cubic km of debris would be capable of blanketing 300,000 square kilometers of North America with a 5-meter thick distal ejecta sheet. An image is available to demonstrate a low-impact angle crater (actually, one from Mars) would look imposed at the site:

    >> Michael Davias in above GSA video states the age as “between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago,” i.o.w. he gives 15 K years as upper limit of age possible.

    Again, the video is 2 1/2 years old (12/2009). I currently put the date at between 120,000 and 150,000 years based on OSL dating. See my blog post on Google+ :

    - Michael

  • Steve Garcia
    “lightning travels from one cloud to another – requiring one monolithic (and opposing) charge in each of the two clouds involved. What makes each cloud not push itself apart? We all think that afterward both clouds are neautralized, but are they really?”

    Actually the clouds are typically all the same sense of charge with respect to the ground but at different magnitudes, which is plenty to generate the lightning. The cloud IS pushing itself apart when it ionizes the flow to create the charge. It has been energized by the destabilizing potential of imparted heat from below in a vertical pressure gradient, with buoyancy then being the driving force.

    The shearing vorticity of turbulent flow in those convective cells has a very high ion generating effectiveness, and so different quadrants of the convective cells discharge between each other as the capacitive dielectric of the atmosphere is exceeded by the variable field strength potential (volts/meter) between adjacent cells. Their various plume expansions strip and build up charge, then discharge randomly with the chaotic turbulent development.

    During the unstable process of convection, a cloud becomes a capacitive semi-conductor. Just don’t fly between them when they’re like that. It gets difficult to navigate when the compass spins around every time the lightning strikes. And there can be hail in that environment, which definitely makes flying ill advised. And its really bad for your hearing when it arcs through the airframe. Very bad for landing light bulb filaments as well. That’s what I heard at least.


  • Hermann Burchard

    Michael, thanks. Shocked to learn (from your web page reference) that Sangamonian (125-75 Ka BP) not contemporaneous fully with Eemian (130-114 Ka BP). Apparently while Europe was glacial post 114 Ka BP, Canada remained ice-free for another 39 Ka. Astonishing!

    There are way too many far Northern bolide impacts for my taste. Rational inference: The ones in lower latitudes have not been found, may have been oceanic. Very similar situation with W USA vs E or central. In the W deserts we have a large number of fairly recent calderas (hotspot, so ET bolide impact caused), at Yellowstone, Valles (Los Alamos NM), Long Valley (Mono County CA). These are all Miocene or Pliocene if memory serves. There should be at least as many further E in the USA. Where are they?

  • George Howard

    Breaking news on front page of the Tusk!

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