Kerr Watch

Elapsed time since Richard Kerr failed to inform his Science readers of the confirmation of nanodiamonds at the YDB: 6 years, 3 months, and 4 days

NASA impact frequency experts speechless facing Centaur


Bill Napier on the Tusk

Royal Astronomical Society Press Release

Google News

Bonus PDF: Fred Hoyle’s 100th honored

Known severe upsets of the terrestrial environment and interruptions in the progress of ancient civilizations, together with our growing knowledge of interplanetary matter in near-Earth space, indicate the arrival of a Centaur around 30,000 years ago. This giant comet would have strewn the inner planetary system with debris ranging in size from dust all the way up to lumps several kilometers across.

Specific episodes of environmental upheaval around 10,800 BCE and 2,300 BCE, identified by geologists and paleontologists, are also consistent with this new understanding of cometary populations. Some of the greatest mass extinctions in the distant past, for example the death of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, may similarly be associated with this giant comet hypothesis.

RAS Press Release, December 22, 2015

Download (PDF, 630KB)

Kloosterman: A man before his time



Trevor Palmer and the fine folks across the pond at the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies were thoughtful to contribute a newly translated 2000 monograph by Tusk favorite, Dutchman Han Kloosterman. It is a wonderfully prescient and learned piece that places Kloosterman’s field evidence (the Usselo layer) into centuries of context for catastrophic geology.

The publication was a year before Firestone and Topping’s article in The Mammoth Trumpet presenting evidence for an ice age catastrophe and a full seven years before Firestone and 22 others’ seminal paper in PNAS: Evidence for an extraterrestrial impact 12,900 years ago that contributed to the megafaunal extinctions and the Younger Dryas cooling. As elegantly acknowledged by Kloosterman, however, his paper follows Whiston’s work by 304 years, Cuvier by 168 years, and — I would add — Plato by 2348 years.

But Kloosterman includes something more I find compelling and little discussed in the recent or old school literature: The ice age cataclysm served to catalyze modern civilization. As Kloosterman concludes:

…If the catastrophic events had not occurred, we would still be painting mammoths, bison, and rhinoceroses and we would still be eating roasted reindeer meat.

I have always believed that this possibility undermines the ‘improbability’ argument against such a recent cosmic impact cited by Boslough and others (See 2.3). From Boslough’s temporally provincial point of view ‘we’ are technologically and culturally isolated from the YD impact — not created by it. But if Kloosterman is right, The Bos and his technological toys are themselves the extraordinary evidence for the extraordinary claim The Bos rejects.

Download (PDF, 491KB)

An Extraordinary Podcast on the YDB Event: Hancock and Carlson on Joe Rogan


Graham Hancock and Randall Carlson were guests on an extraordinary 3-Hour episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast on Thursday, November 19. The Joe Rogan Experience, one of the world’s most popular podcasts, attracts “TV-like” audiences of more than 11 million listeners a month. Rogan says in his interview intro that people were ‘skipping work’ and having ‘house parties’ to catch this show, so it was a particularly well-anticipated episode.

The podcast was almost entirely dedicated to the YDB event and is the most comprehensive and informative popular presentation of the subject to date. This kind of popular attention to our subject is simply wonderful. Enjoy:

And on YouTube:

The Cosmic Tusk?


Cosmic Tusk Interview: Dr. Bill Napier


The Paper

The Tusk has been interested for some time in conducting an occasional interview with players in fields related to cosmic catastrophes in human times. So much of the coverage of our subject is “drive-by” journalism, with uninformed reporters on deadline asking shallow, often misinformed, questions of key scientists and then writing a story which barely informs. The subject deserves something at least a little better. So, in a modest effort to add more depth to the popular record than is commonly provided, I nominated our blog to try out a few interviews.

It was an easy call whom to approach first, Bill Napier. He is a digital acquaintance of mine, a cool guy and a wiseman. Astronomer, best-selling popular novelist, frequent contributor to a 40 year canon of astronomical justification for end times in the peopled past — Bill Napier is simply a Tusk-kind-of-guy.

Napier and his collaborators in the old country are even credited with their own handle, “British Neo-Catastrophists.” Post-Newton and Whiston, Post-Velikovsky, concurrent with Alvarez but Pre-Firestone — shunned by NASA and employed by the Queen — they are contributors to a cogent set of astronomical facts termed “Coherent Catastrophism,” a body of evidence indicating that quite horrible cosmic encounters have occurred in the human past.

Here goes: 

dr. william bill napier

Astronomer and author Bill Napier

CT: Dr. Napier, thanks for joining the Cosmic Tusk for our inaugural interview! How’s the weather over there on the Emerald Isle?

A. Sunny at the moment, but I’m not too far from the Atlantic and I can see clouds coming our way. It’ll be wet and windy by the evening. Good whisky weather.

CT: My kind of island, Bill. As many Tusk readers are aware, you and your many collaborators, particularly Victor Clube, are known for maintaining in publications since the 1970’s that a large comet entered our solar system ~20,000 years in the past, began to progressively disintegrate, and left behind increasingly diffuse streams of cometary material which periodically wreaked havoc on our ancient ancestors. What first got you and Clube interested in the disintegrating giant comet theory?

BN: My own interest in impacts as having a catastrophic potential for life goes back to about 1970, almost back to my student days. Victor Clube joined the Royal Observatory at Edinburgh, where I worked, in the early 70s. He was interested in the possibility that violent Galactic events might from time to time have terrestrial consequences. It was very natural that we should put our heads together on these topics, and we did so from the mid-70s onwards. We soon realised that the Oort cloud is liable to disruption during the Sun’s orbit around the Galaxy, flooding the planetary system with comets, and that there are some really big ones out there. We had a primitive but working theory of catastrophism by the late 70s (e.g. Napier & Clube, Nature 282, 455, 1979 and more, wherein we remarked that “historical records are a potential source of data for testing our hypothesis.”). It was actually Fred Whipple at Harvard University who first took the view that Comet Encke was the remnant of a much larger body, and we picked up that idea and ran with it. The big puzzle for us was why the Comet Encke progenitor went unrecorded in the historical record. Even at a diameter of 20 km it would have been almost as bright as the full moon.

CT: Interesting you say you were puzzled that a giant comet went unrecorded, Bill. You must have later come to believe that these events were indeed “recorded,” but in religious traditions and mythology, as you maintain in your books Cosmic Winter and Cosmic Serpent. Was that realization subsequent to your astronomical conclusions? Tell us how myth began to play a role in your studies.

BN: No question, the astronomy came first. There were two components to this. The likely impact rate of Tunguskas and super-Tunguskas made us wonder where these things were in the historical record, and of course the disintegration products, plainly visible in the sky, of a large progenitor comet provided another where-is-it-in-the-record paradox. Victor had some ancient book by Bellamy who had some strange ideas about disintegrating moons recorded in ancient tales; all I could find in our local library was a book by Fontenrose on Delphic myth. We started from there. It wasn’t long before we learned that astronomical motifs of a catastrophist nature are to be found scattered throughout ancient tales. And of course others had been there before us throughout the centuries, all the way back to the classical authors.

CT: Fontenrose and Bellamy? That’s obscure stuff the Tusk will have to follow up on! I noticed that you provided Chapter 11 in respected science author Nick Bostrom’s book, Global Catastrophic Risks, and referred to evidence from myth as obviously “qualitative,” and that “one man’s unifying hypothesis is another’s Velikovskian fantasy.” Great quote. So let’s turn to the quantitative evidence of a recent catastrophe. Outside the work of the YDB team, where do think “traditional” evidence for determining the frequency of impacts has gone wrong? Where do you find quantitative evidence for more frequent impacts that NASA, for instance, does not?

BN: The “traditional” route was set in the 1970s and later, when it was generally assumed that Earth crossers were perturbed out of the main asteroid belt. There was little inkling of the big populations on the fringes of the planetary system, feeding into unstable orbits between the giant planets. Impact hazard assessments based on this model may still be fine for short timescales. Imagine, however, taking a snapshot of a railway station. Depending on the time and date, you might see a handful of cleaning staff, a rush hour crowd, or holiday time congestion. If you use this single snapshot to predict tomorrow’s throughput, you could get it spectacularly wrong. To get a reliable assessment you need to look at the bigger picture, and the trouble with current impact estimates is that they don’t. They assume statistical completeness, i.e. that the current situation is typical. Chapman and Morrison, for example, estimate the probability of a globally destructive impact over the next 10,000 years to be about 1%. I have no idea what the real figure is, but I do know that on a timescale 30,000 or so years, there’s an expectation that a comet with at least 100 times the mass of the entire near-Earth asteroid system will enter a short-period orbit and disintegrate in our neighbourhood. Comets break up by a variety of routes, hierarchic fragmentation being a major one. Brief, strong surges of impact are then a distinct possibility, rendering the Chapman/Morrison/Harris model more or less irrelevant when it comes to assessing the hazard to civilisation. Whereas this traditional route will tell us to expect a few hundred megaton impact, yielding regional damage, the real encounter mechanics may be quite different and may have global consequences. The good news is that we would probably get plenty of warning. Dark comets emerging from the Halley system are a different matter, but that hazard is unquantified.

As to when this might have happened in the past, it’s long been known that the zodiacal cloud is substantially overmassive in relation to the available supply of dust, with David Hughes for example concluding that `at some time in the last 1000 to 100,000 years, the cloud has benefited from a large and unusual mass enhancement’. A massive radar survey of meteors undertaken by Peter Brown’s Canadian group in recent years, coupled with their dynamical modelling, has strengthened the result that much of the zodiacal cloud came from the progenitor of Encke’s comet and that it was an unusually large object. The destruction time of the zodiacal cloud is something between 10,000 and 20,000 years, straddling the Younger Dryas boundary.

Another way. Consider the impact cratering record as recorded in the Earth Impact Database. The impact record is dominated by episodes of multiple bombardment. I’ve labelled these in the diagram, which plots only the best dated craters. We’ve demonstrated in the refereed literature that (a) fragments from main belt asteroid collisions fail by an order of magnitude to reproduce these episodes; (b) comet showers from Oort cloud disturbances likewise; and (c) the known population, size distribution and orbital flow of centaurs can account for the record. (Most of the episodes coincide in time with major extinction events, and the asterisks mark a couple of singlets that also coincide with big extinctions. These impacts are generally too small individually to have caused the mass extinctions and can only be proxies for some other astronomical process, such as stratospheric dusting.) Considering all 184 impact structures in the database, it turns out there is only one in the range 5–35 million years (the Ries crater 24 km across). Using the traditional estimates, we expect something like 17 land impacts to have made craters >20 km across over this interval. Most of these should have been discovered, this being a relatively recent era. It’s hardly credible that we have missed 16 out of 17 of them; the dearth is real. Conversely, there seems to have been a surge of impact cratering in the recent past relative to the long-term average. All this makes sense if the prime impactors are derived from the breakup of large comets, since their mass distribution is top-heavy and their input is erratic and episodic. I think the Galactic environment also plays a role through disturbing the Oort comet cloud, for example when we pass through spiral arms.


The statistics don’t reveal any significant difference between the temporal behaviour of large and small craters in this respect. The asteroid belt may well be okay as a supplier of small impactors, incoming comets for larger ones, but it’s not clear to me where the breakeven point lies. All three major 20th-century impacts (Tunguska, British Guyana, Curuca River and here) coincided with our passage through major meteor streams, and the odds of this are about 1000 to one against. Peter Brown and colleagues, in a letter to Nature published last year, suggest that the number of impactors up to Tunguska-sized is up to ten times higher than previous estimates based on long-term lunar counts. Again, we’re looking at a flickering system.

CT: Bill, you labeled the current understanding the “Chapman/Harris/Morrison” model, referring respectively of course to Clark Chapman, Alan Harris, and David Morrison. These elderly gentlemen are US scientists and well known to the Tusk as catastrophe deniers. You addressed some of Morrison’s objections to your understanding of the situation a few years back, comments which can be found here in the Tusk for those interested. What fascinates me is how these three have built careers (See also: Plait, Phil and Boslough, Mark) based on conflicting public contentions. To wit: The cosmic threat is dangerous enough for them to write books and give speeches about, but not so dangerous the public should be genuinely concerned. And it’s awkward companion message: The impact threat is so well constrained there is no room for scholarly disagreement, yet their field desperately needs further funding because…there is still “so much we don’t know!” Are these guys scientists — or intellectual contortionists?

BN: My guess would be that they want to steer a course between alarmism and complacency (the giggle factor), and that different aspects of the celestial hazard issue are emphasised depending on the audience and the context. However, more to the point, their model fails to predict the YDB phenomena. If the YDB teams are right, the CMH model is up against a real problem. It also fails to account for (and the protagonists continue to ignore):

1) Not just the whole array of YDB evidence, but also that of Marie Agnes Courty, indicating that major cosmic disturbances of some sort took place 12,800 BP and 2350 BC, the latter collapsing the earliest civilisations.

2) The evidence, decades-old now and not even controversial amongst the comet community, that an exceptionally large, low-inclination, short-period comet has been orbiting in our neighbourhood for about 20,000 years. The massive Canadian meteor survey of Peter Brown and colleagues, for example, confirming this, has been simply ignored by the CMH group. And yet in such a disintegrating environment there is a reasonable probability of a catastrophic encounter with debris in the comet trail. In this connection my colleagues have further material upcoming.

3) The finding that large bodies leak inwards from beyond the edge of the planetary system, entering unstable orbits which yield large Earth-crossing comets at a calculable rate, and that the inner interplanetary environment is thus subject to substantial mass enhancements (factor of 100 or more) at intervals comparable with the timescale of civilisation to date.

4) Impact cratering statistics, using the best extant data, demonstrating the existence of bombardment episodes throughout geological history, most easily explained as giant comet breakup and specifically not explicable by asteroid breakup or Oort cloud disturbance. For example the 24 km Boltysh crater in the Ukraine crater in the Ukraine was formed within 2000-3000 years of the Chicxulub impact crater; the odds of this synchronicity being down to chance are 2500 to one against for this pair alone, 1000 to one against for the Popigai/Chesapeake pair and so on.

If the silence on these points is like something out of Kafka, such counter-arguments as we have heard are like something out of Mickey Mouse [emphasis CT]. The “it’s impossible” argument continues to be presented years after its deficiencies have been pointed out and a working model described in the peer-reviewed literature; one protagonist’s answer to a journalist’s question about the evidence for bombardment episodes (a Bayesian analysis which survived tough refereeing) was that he could draw dinosaurs in the sky by joining up stars; and another’s objection to our long-running Taurid complex studies was that “colleagues who do dynamics” find them unreasonable. Anonymous colleagues giving unspecified reasons: maybe more Kafka than Mouse.

CT: Outside astronomical evidence what do you personally find most convincing of catastrophe in human times, given the array of evidence you have reviewed over the decades?

BN: It’s always hard to evaluate evidence in fields outside one’s own, but to me the continuing accumulation of impact proxies by independent groups – melt glass, nanodiamonds, Greenland platinum spike and so on – provides compelling evidence that a cosmic input of some sort occurred at the onset of the YD cooling. And the finding by the Belmont group of a second nanodiamond peak a few thousand years in the past is exciting: it strengthens Marie Agnes Courty’s long-running contention that of a more recent event at 2350 BC, again coincident with a widespread cooling, and drought, sufficient to bring about the collapse of the earliest civilisations.

CT: I understand you have several writing projects underway. What can we expect to see from you in the future?

BN: A review article Centaurs as a hazard to civilisation by a bunch of us is due for publication in the December 2015 issue of Astronomy & Geophysics, an in-house journal of the Royal Astronomical Society. We have things to say, inter alia, about the Chapman/Harris/Morrison model. Once published, I anticipate it will become widely available.

I have a popular science manuscript, provisionally entitled Cosmic Roulette, which covers the issue of humanity’s vulnerability in the cosmic environment. Tusk-like material is, of course, a conspicuous feature of the book. I still have a chapter or so to finish off.

I’ve also resumed my fiction writing after a long layoff due to research commitments, and have completed two thriller manuscripts. The Younger Dryas boundary issue plays an important part in The Doomsday Vault (the fictional scientists therein have no connection to any real ones!), and Meltdown is partially set in the Syrian desert.

All three manuscripts have now gone to an agency, and I’m awaiting their response.

CT: Bill, thank you so very much. I am a horrible novel reader but certainly will be reading The Doomsday Vault. And pimping it here on the Tusk!

BN: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to have my say.

Carolina bays identified as hydrogen seeps in new paper

I heard have from this group of researchers on and off as they have tested for anomalous hydrogen in Carolina bays based on their work on similar features in Russia. They are very professional and quite certain their test data supports the hypothesis that bays are surficial expressions of hydrogen seeps from down under — not cosmic, mind you — but fascinating nonetheless. They even identify what they suggest is the birth of a new bay at iconic Jones Bay State Park. This is the first time I know of anyone identifying a bay in the making over non-geological times.

See the baby bay below? Trees are down and it looks like someone cut a circular timber plot in a state park, and left the timber. Unlikely but not impossible. Since they include data indicating a significant hydrogen spike from the baby bay in their paper, I am curious why they did not include any ground photos of the feature, since it was apparently hiked to — with instruments.

Come to think of it, this baby bay would be great candidate for some drone footage with my latest craft. I have been meaning to ‘drone’ bay country and it is certainly the season. I will reach out to them and see if some photos of the ‘little baybito’ might be helpful.

Finally, since hydrogen is a relatively valuable commodity, perhaps this could be good news for southeastern North Carolina. Bay country could use a natural resource, other than hogs and turkeys.

Evidence for natural molecular hydrogen seepage associated with Carolina bays (surficial, ovoid depressions on the Atlantic Coastal Plain, Province of the USA)


A study of soil gases was made in North Carolina (USA) in and around morphological depressions called “Carolina bays.” This type of depression is observed over the Atlantic coastal plains of the USA, but their origin remains debated. Significant concentrations of molecular hydrogen (H 2 ) were detected, notably around the bays. These measurements suggest that Carolina bays are the surficial expression of fluid flow pathways for hydrogen gas moving from depth to the surface. The potential mechanisms of H 2 production and transport and the geological controls on the fluid migration pathways are discussed, with reference to the hypothesis that Carolina bays are the result of local collapses caused by the alteration of rock along the deep pathways of H 2 migrating towards the surface. The present H 2 seepages are comparable to those in similar structures previously observed in the East European craton.


Carolina bays are surficial, consistently oriented, oval-shaped depressions that occur widely across the southeastern Atlantic Coastal Plain, Province of eastern North America (Brooks et al. [2010]). They are well defined on satellite images (Figs. 2, 3, and 4) and densely cover parts of the Coastal Plain in North Carolina (NC) and South Carolina (SC). They vary in size, ranging from ~100 m to 8 km in diameter (Lake Waccamaw, NC, USA). Slightly elevated rims (~1–3 m), commonly consisting of sand, surround these features. Although some bays have continuous elevated rims, the rims do not usually completely encircle the bays but often form a crescent. The long axes of these elliptical features are preferentially oriented NW–SE (Figs. 1, 2, 3, and 4). Bays of various sizes may overlap, and small bays are frequently present inside larger bays (Fig. 2). In areas undisturbed by anthropogenic activities, these bays can include densely vegetated wetlands or open water lakes. These features were originally called “bays” because of the bay trees that inhabit these wet depressions or pocosins. Now, the term “bay” indicates a wet oval-shaped depression. Locally, these features are also called cypress domes, Grady ponds, citronelle ponds, wet prairies, sandhill ponds, etc. (Folkerts [1997]). In anthropogenically modified areas, the bays are commonly drained and cleared for agriculture or other purposes. Even when modified, most of the bays are still easily discernable in satellite and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) images because of their characteristic morphology and relief and the soil bleaching on their rims. Hundreds of thousands of bays occur along the Atlantic Coastal Plain from New Jersey to Florida (Prouty [1952]), and in NC, the bays cover as much as 65 % of the land surface of the Coastal Plain (Prouty [1952]). Eyton and Parkhurst ([1975]) summarized the physical characteristics of Carolina bays.

Younger Dryas Boundary identified in Chile


Paleomagnetism and Mineralogy of Unusual Silicate Glasses and Baked Soils on the Surface of the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile: A Major Airburst Impact ~12ka ago?.

Pierrick Roperch, CNRS, Paris Cedex 16, France 

Abstract ID:


Abstract Body:

Unusual silicate glasses were found in northern Chile in one of the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert. The scoria-type melted rocks are littered on the ground at several localities distributed along a longitudinal band of about 50km. The silicate glasses have a stable natural remanent magnetization carried by fine-grained magnetite and acquired during cooling. At one locality, fine-grained overbank sediments were heated to form a 10 to 20 cm-thick layer of brick-type samples. Magnetic experiments on oriented samples demonstrate that the baked clays record a thermoremanent magnetization acquired in situ above 600°C down to more than 10cm depth and cooled under a normal polarity geomagnetic field with a paleointensity of 40µT. In some samples of the silicate glass, large grains of iron sulphides (troilite) are found in the glass matrix with numerous droplets of native iron, iron sulphides and iron phosphides indicating high temperature and strong redox conditions during melting. The paleomagnetic record of the baked clays and the unusual mineralogy of the silicate glasses indicate a formation mainly by in situ high temperature radiation. Paleomagnetic experiments and chemical analyses indicate that the silicate glasses are not fulgurite type rocks due to lightning events, nor volcanic glasses or even metallurgical slags related to mining activity. The existence of a well-developped baked clay layer indicates that the silicate glasses are not impact-related ejectas. The field, paleomagnetic and mineralogical observations support evidence for a thermal event likely related to a major airburst. The youngest calibrated 14C age on a charcoal sample closely associated with the glass indicates that the thermal event occurred around 12 to 13 ka BP. The good conservation of the surface effects of this thermal event in the Atacama Desert could provide a good opportunity to further estimate the threats posed by large asteroid airbursts.

New Paper: Younger Dryas Boundary impact date constrained within 100 years



UCSB press release

Daily Mail

Red Orbit

Tusk regular Garcia makes hurculean effort on WUWT

Paper below in response to ham-handed 2014 attack from Meltzer – Holliday

Download (PDF, 7.57MB)


Bayesian chronological analyses consistent with synchronous age of 12,835–12,735 Cal B.P. for Younger Dryas boundary on four continents


A cosmic impact event at ∼12,800 Cal B.P. formed the Younger Dryas boundary (YDB) layer, containing peak abundances in multiple, high-temperature, impact-related proxies, including spherules, melt glass, and nanodiamonds. Bayesian statistical analyses of 354 dates from 23 sedimentary sequences over four continents established a modeled YDB age range of 12,835 Cal B.P. to 12,735 Cal B.P., supporting synchroneity of the YDB layer at high probability (95%). This range overlaps that of a platinum peak recorded in the Greenland Ice Sheet and of the onset of the Younger Dryas climate episode in six key records, suggesting a causal connection between the impact event and the Younger Dryas. Due to its rarity and distinctive characteristics, the YDB layer is proposed as a widespread correlation datum.


The Younger Dryas impact hypothesis posits that a cosmic impact across much of the Northern Hemisphere deposited the Younger Dryas boundary (YDB) layer, containing peak abundances in a variable assemblage of proxies, including magnetic and glassy impact-related spherules, high-temperature minerals and melt glass, nanodiamonds, carbon spherules, aciniform carbon, platinum, and osmium. Bayesian chronological modeling was applied to 354 dates from 23 stratigraphic sections in 12 countries on four continents to establish a modeled YDB age range for this event of 12,835–12,735 Cal B.P. at 95% probability. This range overlaps that of a peak in extraterrestrial platinum in the Greenland Ice Sheet and of the earliest age of the Younger Dryas climate episode in six proxy records, suggesting a causal connection between the YDB impact event and the Younger Dryas. Two statistical tests indicate that both modeled and unmodeled ages in the 30 records are consistent with synchronous deposition of the YDB layer within the limits of dating uncertainty (∼100 y). The widespread distribution of the YDB layer suggests that it may serve as a datum layer.


To Australia with love, Michigan

Davias and Harris are wowing them again this week at the Geological Society of America. I will try and get a hold of their wonderful presentation and post…..


Download (PDF, 24MB)



Saginaw bay impact



Michael Davias, Stamford, CT and Thomas Harris, Lockheed-Martin (Retired), Orbit Operations, Valley Forge, PA
Pleistocene Epoch cosmic impacts have been implicated in the geomorphology of two enigmatic events. Remarkably, in both cases spirited debates remain unsettled after nearly 100 years of extensive research. Consensus opinion holds that the Australasian (AA) tektites are of terrestrial origin despite the failure to locate the putative crater, while a cosmic link to the Carolina bays is considered soundly falsified by the very same lack of a crater.
Likely >100 km in diameter, these impacts during geologically recent times should be readily detectable on the Earth’s surface. The improbability that two craters have eluded detection informs a hypothesis that a single impact at ~786 ka generated AA tektites as distal ejecta and Carolina bays as progeny of proximal ejecta. The AA astroblem search is focused on SE Asia despite a strewn field encompassing >30% of the Earth’s surface. This spatial scope implies to us that interhemispheric transits should be considered, as does findings that AA tektites were solidified in a vacuum, then ablated on re-entry at ~10 km sec-1. A Coriolis-aware triangulation network operating on the orientations of 44,000 Carolina bays indicates a focus near 43ºN, 84ºW. Referencing the work of Urey and Lin, we propose that a near-tangential strike to the Earth’s limb generated the 150 x 300 km oval depression that excises Saginaw Bay and opens Michigan’s Thumb. That region was likely buried under deep MIS 19 Laurentide ice at 786 ka. Schultz has shown that oblique impacts into continental ice sheets yield non-traditional astroblems, and multiple glaciations have since reworked this site, making identification more challenging. Hypervelocity gun tests show that oblique impacts produce a vertical plume of ejecta, biased slightly down-range. Ballistic trajectories reflecting such a plume deliver tektites to all AA finds when lofted at ~10 km sec-1 and parameterized with the proposed depression’s location and 222º azimuth. Chemical and isotopic characteristics of AA tektites suggest they were sourced from sandstone and greywacke of Mesozoic age, which is congruent with Michigan Basin strata lost when The Thumb developed. The distribution of proximal ejecta may explain anomalous pulses of regolith in moraines and sediment loading in regional drainage basins recently dated ~800 ka using 10Be/26Al methods.

Saul/Paul on the Road to Damascus: Cosmic Airburst?

saul damascus


The early evangelist Paul became a Christian because of a dazzling light on the road to Damascus, but one astronomer thinks it was an exploding meteor

NEARLY two thousand years ago, a man named Saul had an experience that changed his life, and possibly yours as well. According to Acts of the Apostles, the fifth book of the biblical New Testament, Saul was on the road to Damascus, Syria, when he saw a bright light in the sky, was blinded and heard the voice of Jesus. Changing his name to Paul, he became a major figure in the spread of Christianity.

William Hartmann, co-founder of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, has a different explanation for what happened to Paul. He says the biblical descriptions of Paul’s experience closely match accounts of the fireball meteor seen above Chelyabinsk, RussiaMovie Camera, in 2013.

Hartmann has detailed his argument in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science ( He analyses three accounts of Paul’s journey, thought to have taken place around AD 35. The first is a third-person description of the event, thought to be the work of one of Jesus’s disciples, Luke. The other two quote what Paul is said to have subsequently told others.

“Everything they are describing in those three accounts in the book of Acts are exactly the sequence you see with a fireball,” Hartmann says. “If that first-century document had been anything other than part of the Bible, that would have been a straightforward story.”

Falling meteor may have changed the course of Christianity, New Scientist, April 22, 2015

Download (PDF, 414KB)

Getting its propers: Younger Dryas Boundary takes center stage in Fall 2015 bestseller from Graham Hancock


Magicians of the Gods from Amazon

The Joe Rogan Experience

The Tusk has a large library of books related to catastrophism. I love them all. From the laboratory inspired to the ridiculously speculative, the range of publications touching on what happened 12,800 years ago is delightfully enormous. Unfortunately, many of these books have painfully small sales — sometimes in inverse proportion to their attention to the Younger Dryas Boundary event.

But that is changing this year. The world’s most popular alternative historian Graham Hancock has written “Magicians of the Gods.” By all accounts the book is an attentive study of the Tusk’s favorite planetary disaster and its consequences, and gives direct credit to the research of Kennett, West, Bunch and the gang for providing an empirical basis for many years of speculation and inference by others. Hancock is presenting the new publication as a bookend to his enormously popular bestseller twenty years ago: Fingerprints of the Gods.

The YDB subject needs attention of all kinds in order to be widely appreciated and further researched. Thankfully, the science journal press has been (somewhat) busy for nearly a decade publishing point and counter-point to the YDB claims. And mainstream science reporters pay attention from time to time.

Yet surprisingly, the popular and hyper-speculative “New Age” press has lagged behind with scant attention paid to YDB data despite support for many traditionally wild claims. You can find out more about the YDB at Google Scholar or than the “Alternative” section of your local bookstore.

So, love him or scoff, Hancock is a welcome figure to the Tusk. He is a big deal and in our camp. Fingerprints of the Gods sold millions. His fans are everywhere and will soon be curious new experts in the Younger Dryas Boundary phenomena. Perhaps it is juvenile, but I enjoy the thought of the The Bos and his “Requiem” chorus cringing before the wave of attention this book will bring. Our subject is going precisely nowhere but up in the imagination of the public.