Exploring abrupt climate change induced by comets and asteroids during human history

This week Rick Firestone shared a little known 2009 paper with the Tusk and some others. I was unaware of it and enjoyed reading it. The authors find a unique spike in fire at Akgol, Turkey ~13,000 years ago which they attribute to a horrendous inferno in a marsh, of all places. They cite Firestone (2007).

ABSTRACT: This study investigates changes in climate, vegetation, wildfire and human activity in Southwest Asia during the transition to Neolithic agriculture between ca. 16 and ca. 9 ka. In order to trace the fire history of this region, we use microscopic charcoal from lake sediment sequences, and present two new records: one from south central Turkey (Akgo¨l) and the other from the southern Levant (Hula). These are interpreted primarily as the result of regional-scale fire events, with the exception of a single large event ca. 13 ka at Akgol, which phytolith analysis shows was the result of burning of the local marsh vegetation….continued….


The source of ignition for the 13 ka event could have been climatic (lightning), volcanic (Late Pleistocene eruptions occurred in the vicinity (Fig. 5); see Kuzucuog˘lu et al., 1998), cosmic (cf. Firestone et al., 2007) or anthropogenic, since there is archaeological evidence for Epipalaeolithic hunter-gatherers in the Konya plain at this time (D. Baird, pers. comm.). This burning event, although potentially only of local significance, coincides with a positive d 18O trend between ca. 13.3 and ca. 12.8 ka associated with the climatic shift from the wetter interstadial to the subsequent colder, drier stadial. ~Page 381


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