Podcast: Tusk appears on ‘Den of Lore’ to discuss the YDB and Carolina Bays with host Chris George Zuger

Temple Trauma: Tepe Telegram sneers at Sweatman and Tsikritsis; ignores probabilities; S&T respond

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Open Letter: Napier on Defant and the Joe Rogan podcast

Bill Napier sent the Tusk a note regarding Joe Rogan’s unforgettable debate-style podcast on the Younger Dryas Boundary Hypothesis. Bill’s message is posted below my rant here. His informed correction of Marc Defant’s self-styled skeptical authority on comets is priceless and instructive.

A cultural genre of all-purpose professional “skeptics,” like Defant and Shermer, have emerged since James Randi kicked off their gig forty years ago. Like many fashions, professional skepticism served a role and had its day, but then devolved into a vanity-infested quasi-intellectual troupe of know-it-alls PhD’s — in something — who nonetheless are regularly consulted by the media and listened to concering all things “science.” (Somehow “science” persisted for 400+ years before their preening website and yearly convention).

As a generalist myself, and an expert in nothing, the Tusk has no problem with generalist commentary and skepticism. I consider myself a skeptical generalist and my wife would agree. But experts in a particular subject  — volcanology in Marc’s case — should exhibit and disclose some humility before and perhaps after they harrumph, guffaw and dismiss the long-published data-driven conclusions of expert workers in other subjects — especially when the subject is controversial and concerns a worldwide threat. If they do not declare their relative ignorance, they are “dangerously misinformed” — precisely what they purport to eradicate.

Defant showed zero humility and spoke of comets with the familiarity of a volcanologist. He should be ashamed to dismiss the work of Bill Napier, Fred Whipple, Clube, Asher, Palmer, Steel, etc. etc etc, without explaining or perhaps even knowing of their work first.

Dafant makes a complete hash of comet science. He tells us that the comet impact hypothesis is incorrect because comets break up only under the relatively short-term influence of a planet (his example is “Shoemaker-Levy 9,” a profound recent event for which he cannot recall the name) or the relatively momentary drag of a planetary atmosphere. He may or may not know it, but Dafant’s received wisdom (in keeping with his fellow Skeptic Mark Boslough) is 1960’s grade school comet science.

The published truth is horrifying. Some comets begin to disintegrate when they are thrown into the inner planetary system, generating streams of debris for millennia. The Taurids being a major complex of such material. They are increasingly less noticeable when they degrade, but still dangerous in proportion to the “spread” of the debris, the size range of the objects, and the approach of our planet within the stream.

As Napier and his colleagues have maintained for decades, and all but proven, a monstrously large comet entered our solar system roughly 20,000 years ago, began disintegrating, and left a stream of debris we encounter annually ever since. 8000 years later, or ~12,875 years ago, we orbited through a particularly rough patch of the Taurid stream that caused world-wide doom, with pieces and parts of all sizes — but still a fraction of the original beast — crashing into mother earth and causing extinctions. Other impacts of various sizes have occurred before and after that event depending on our trajectory as we pass through the lumpy haze of the relict comet around late June and Halloween June each year. The comet did not disintegrate in the atmosphere or because of our planet’s gravity.

Under a cloudless night sky outside Flagstaff, Arizona, I once asked Mark Boslough, a fellow-traveler of Shermer and Defant, what he thought of Whipple’s clear evidence and Napier’s concern regarding progressively disintegrating bodies in short-period orbits. Boslough said he did not know what the hell I was talking about. Neither does Defant.


I’m not into lost civilizations or sacred geometry, but I am into cometary science and have a few comments on this aspect of the recent Joe Rogan podcast. In a weird inversion, Graham Hancock and Randall Carson were much closer to orthodox science than Marc Defant and Michael Shermer.

Marc Defant told us that “the comet guys are getting hit pretty hard,” but alas, he backed this up with a blatantly wrong description of comet evolution. Comet splitting occurs spontaneously, doesn’t require tidal disruption a la Shoemaker-Levy 9, and has nothing to do with breakup in the terrestrial atmosphere. It can occur anywhere along the orbit and is the dominant mode of comet disintegration. The mass fraction lost in a splitting event is of order s/R, R the radius of the comet in units of 10 km with s generally in the range 0.7 to 1%, depending on the model. The splitting frequency depends on the perihelion distance, and for a comet in an Encke-like orbit it amounts to one such event every 3 or 4 revolutions (orbital period 3.3 years). In the case of a 100 km comet in such an orbit, 15% active surface, fragments amounting to a mass several times 10**17 gm will detach during each splitting event. Hundreds of such events are expected over the lifetime of the comet. The material spreads out along the orbital track, but an encounter with say 10**13 gm of fragments is possible and is energetically equivalent to running through 1000 Tunguska-sized fragments. Long dormant periods are also possible for comet fragments. These can last for up to 40% of the active lifetime of the fragment, during which it looks like an asteroid.

I was glad to see Randall Carson mention Fred Whipple as a pioneer of Taurid/Encke studies, preceding the “British school”. All the cometary astronomers of that generation (Whipple, Sekanina, Kresak, Stohl) realised that the Taurid complex was debris from an exceptional comet, and recent large-scale surveys of the meteor sky (both radar and visual) have confirmed and quantified the work of these early pioneers. These surveys yield direct observational evidence for the hierarchical disintegration of an erstwhile exceptionally large comet in a short-period, low-inclination, Earth-crossing orbit. The celestial mechanics calculations of Steel and Asher provide the timescale: the comet was around and disintegrating at least 20,000 years ago, maybe much longer.

I should mention that, although the “British School” have a substantial literature and about two centuries of combined experience in comets, the above is distilled from a very much wider group of contemporary astronomers in the Americas, Russia, Europe and elsewhere.

Marc and Michael seem to have been misled by unrefereed nonsense from a few people with no expertise or track record in cometary dynamics, and ignorant of its extensive, long-running literature. A little skepticism might have been called for!

A final comment: I agree with Malcolm LeCompte that the issue may not be as simple as a single big impact. But platinum and iridium are created in, and ejected from, supernovae and were present in the protoplanetary disc within which comets formed; these elements are diagnostic of an extraterrestrial input but not particularly of asteroids.

We don’t need a rubble pile asteroid (in any case we’d see the debris and we don’t). A meteor hurricane, with imbedded Tunguskas, may be enough.
Whether we’re dealing with one or two very large impacts, or a bombardment of smaller ones, or nothing at all, is a matter for the Earth scientists. But if the evidence on the ground calls for an ET event 12,900 years ago, the comet guys — the real ones — can supply it.

Bill Napier

The Cosmic Tusk Carolina Bay media file

Click here for a public link to the file

The Tusk has had several requests for Carolina Bay images lately, including drone video for a forthcoming episode of “What On Earth?”, the most popular show on Discovery Science. In the process of putting my material together in one place, I realized how cool it would be to share my meager but unique collection with anyone who wants to look it over or use in some way.

What also intrigued me is the incentive a public archive would provide for me to obtain more drone coverage of bays. I am lucky to have nearly limitless access to drones in my work. (They come in very handy when you manage 120,000 acres of evolving ecology at 50 locations). In the old days, for work and bays, I hung my head out of Cessna’s with a Cannon, which quickly turns from great fun to very old.

So, in the last few years, as drone technology improved, I constantly felt the need to get out there and nail the bays with these incredibly intelligent, nearly self-flying, perfectly balanced and steady, aerial cameras. But how best to share? I hate the idea of tediously selecting a half-dozen pics and maybe a video or two from a trip downeast and posting them individually with custom narrative.

After some consideration, my belief now is that it is much better to just throw it ALL out there in a single permanent public file and let people “have at” the material. Less selecting, editing and narrative for me — and more bays for you. So, now that I have a proper approach, I plan to drone-the-hell out of bays well into the future and add the material to this file as frequently as I can.

I should note that while this is MY comprehensive bay file, it is hardly a comprehensive treatment of the bays in general, and probably will remain uncomprehensive for some time. Considering their stupefying range and number across the US, and several documented morphologies, the file at this point is mearly snapshots (many of them very bad photos or taken under poor conditions) from a relatively few North Carolina locations and do not cover the subject adequately.

But this collection is surely the best available archive right now from which people can peruse — or use — Carolina bay pics and video. So, have at, and please use the images in any way you like. No license from or attribution to the Tusk is required for any use whatsoever of this media.




Hancock on the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis since 2007

Entire essay on grahamhancock.com

I just discovered a 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 to me 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 wishes it had written 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 all the papers and rebuttals, charges and counter-charges, requiems and refutations since Mexico in a single narrative. Graham thankfully, as former journalist, had 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-noted Hancock provocations. Advanced pre-diluvium civilizations, post-cataclysm wisemen and future threats of impact 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

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


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.

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

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Wonderful Supplementary Information for the paper below

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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.


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