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Carolina Bay presentation from Davias wows Asheville GSA

Is that a lake on a ridge?

SURFICIAL QUARTZ SAND DEPOSITS ON THE ATLANTIC COASTAL PLAIN: EOLIAN, FLUVIAL OR MARINE? THE CASE FOR A CATASTROPHIC DELIVERY MECHANISM

DAVIAS, Michael, Cintos Research, 1381 Hope Street, Stamford, CT 06907 and GILBRIDE, Jeanette L., Cintos Research, Raleigh, NC 27613, [email protected]
Regions of the Atlantic Coastal Plain are often capped by a surficial sheet of quartz sand. For example, the Pinehurst Formation sands are mapped as a separate unit, distinct from the well-provenanced terraces below. The Goldsboro Ridge sand is also distinct, resting on the Sunderland formation. From the Carolina Sandhills eastward to the coast at Wilmington, a nearly continuous and occasionally thick (up to 10m) sheet of high purity quartz sand is blanketed across the intervening terraces and scarps. While the Coastal Plain surfaces show evidence of eolian reworking, studies of the deeper extents of these sandy deposits often mention difficulties in determining their geomorphology, although deemed as gradualistic eolian, fluvial or marine. Marine deposition is appropriate at the coastline, supported by glacial-driven sea level transgressions; but they contain no shell fragments. Inland, deposition on interfluvials during flooding of is reasonable; but these are coarsely skewed, showing no sorting or channeling and minimal clays. At higher elevations, workers implicate eolian deposition on undissected terrain; but delivering coarse sand upslope from distant drainage mandates powerful winds. Oriented ovoid Carolina bay depressions have evolved in these sand sheets, seemingly without deforming or altering the antecedent strata and paleosols they rest upon. They are present in prodigious quantities and may represent diagnostic markers for these distinct sand deposits. In an attempt to identify a universal mechanism for the materialization of these sand sheets, we speculate on an aerial deposition, mobilized and delivered as a “rain” of pulverized distal ejecta emanating from a cosmic impact. The bay depressions may be artifacts of steam outgassing, frozen in time as the sand transited from liquefaction to lock-up, preserving an arrival vector in their orientation. Using data from our LiDAR-augmented geospatial survey of 30,000 Carolina bays, we note systematically varying orientations and robust adherence to archetype planforms. A triangulation network, built using bay orientations and considering the Coriolis steering of trajectories, suggests a probable source impact site. While such a catastrophic mechanism is unorthodox, our survey data and analysis suggests further research is warranted.

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2 Responses

  1. As usual, Michael Davias here is thorough. He is the mapper of the CBs, all 45,000 of them, as to their sizes axially and cross-axially, and to their individual orientations, their regional orientation variations, and their types (which he came to separate himself). I laughed at his use of the term “tortured” regarding Gamble and Daniels and their explanations. The Carolina bays will seemingly always engender tortured explanations.

    I have offered to Davias the additional surprising quality of the CBs as being not only oriented statisitcally to some distant centroid, but also sorted by distance to a genuine circular arc center point. By distance, as well as by heading. It got not a peep from Davias, and I was disappointed that he discounted it. The CBs appear to form an arc, as any quick look at their dispersal will show. I had the idea that their arc would prove to be in some elliptical pattern. But I was wrong. Distance-wise, they actually DO follow a truly circular arc pattern – around one single geographic point – to within a very few percentage points.

    By comparison, the orientations of CBs point, not to a single point, but to a large region in the upper Midwest.

    This single point and distance-based arc even more strongly suggest an ejecta sheet rising outward and returning to Earth in their very narrow band at an average distance of about 1243 kms +/- 50 kms. This screams at us about a distant impact in the upper Midwest.

    But I will also say that this conflicts with other factors I have considered. So, at this point in time I am only dropping this idea out there as nothing more than a teaser. Was it a distant impact? I honestly cannot say.

    Michael Davias does thorough at a level equal to the Comet Research Group’s work on the YDB impact. His observations and data cannot be argued against, anymore than theirs do. Oddly, though, with such high levels of evidence, it still is not conclusive as to what the hell happened, or even when. That lack of fossils and carbon within the coastal plain sands is a very big hindrance.

    I m reminded, BTW, of a CosmicTusk article about bald cypresses lying recumbent within the coastal plain sands, something like 10 meters down. Bald cypresses with wood fresh enough to make furniture out of. What do they tell us, within the scope of uniform deposited sands.

    Another point: There is a term called “unconsolidated soils”. Unconsolidated means that there are no layers. Layers exist in soils (and ice cores) and ice sheets due to annual and seasonal variations in the rate of grain deposition. Years are distinguishable because of winter-vs-summer variations. Where there are layers, years can be counted, very simply. Where there are no layers, though, what does that tell us that is different? Unconsolidated soils exist within drumlins (usually) and within mucks in Alaskan valleys. And also within permafrost. And within sand dunes. The causes of these unconsolidated soils varies and is up for discussion. I usually say that they are unconsolidated because in each location the soils were deposited at the very same time. Even when the soil depth is several meters, I assume one depositional event. I may be wrong, but I don’t think so.

    Michael, in his ever careful way, calls them something different. But I read it the same way. When sand deposits are unconsolidated, to me that means one depositional event. Not over centuries or millennia.

    I would point out that Davias is almost certainly correct in deducing that aeolian sand dunes are later than the Carolina bay forms being created. But the orientation of those sand dunes shows a consistency – a preference for being toward the NE. Being an observer of weather maps – mostly on TV weather shows – I can say that the weather systems in the Southeastern USA come mainly from the southwest – from the Gulf of Mexico, driven by the change from tropical easterly winds to the temperate winds we see farther north. Those weather systems come off the Gulf and head right at the CB region, by way of Alabama. Yet, the CBs themselves do NOT orient to these easily observed dune directions and their weather systems. Along with other arguments, this counter-orientation – to generally NW-SE bay axes – discounts aeolian as a possible explanation for Carolina bay formation, regardless of any other suggestive factors. The winds come from a right angle to those long bay axes.

    I see a great positive, if Michael Davias is getting attention. His work is always solid. We are lucky to have Michael in our midst. On our side, no less. Which is, we think, on the side of logic and science and objectivity.

  2. Reading further in Michael’s presentation, in the discussion about the sand deposits draping over the terrain of the coastal plain, I am reminded of Chris Moore’s work on sections of Carolina bays, several years ago. I noted and commented on this draping that lay over the bottom of bays but also over the rims and out into the outer areas. This IMHO can only exist like that if the sand was laid down later than the rim formation. Or if, somehow the land was pushed upward and if only the elliptical rims were upthrust while inside the bays were NOT. And this latter seems absurd. So we are left with sand being laid down as if from above. And since the sand is nearly ubiquitous in the coastal plain (not only at Carolina bays), the sand deposition seems to be disconnected from the bays and their formation.

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