The Tusk is going slightly off-topic to cover the fascinating discussion of Citizen Castastrophists Hermann Burchard and Han Kloostermann concerning their belief that volcanic hot-spots are caused by impacts in deep time (deep time being the off-topic part).
From [email protected] Fri Apr 30 00:48:59 2010
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 2010 00:48:50 -0500 (CDT)
From: Hermann Burchard
To: Johan Bert Kloosterman
Subject: Catastrophist Manifesto
after reading your Catastrophist Manifesto (& comments)
and some of the web sites about your life (kayaking in
Brazil for nine days past mostly rhyolite!), I thought
that maybe I could persuade George Howard to have TUSK
embrace a wider scope in the sense of temporal extent
and older impacts and including what you seem to call
the North American school, which rejects for the most
any major comet or asteroid impact influences, unless
I mistake your intentions, which seem to refer to the
“punctuated equilibrium” crypto-uniformitarian view:
Punctuated by what? Mass extinctions again and again
attributed not to ET comets and assorted space rocks
but to “Deccan flood basalt volcanism”, “Sibirian
traps flood basalt volcanism”, and “CAMP flood
basalt volcanism,” the last just this week timed
to the end-Triassic extinction, mirabile dictu.
Well, punctuated by those ornery comet impacts,
of course, giving rise to impact volcanism that
produces the flood basalts, including Kerguelen,
etc etc, and Yellowstone, too. The mechanism
has been well explained for Yellowstone, not
in an impact scenario, unfortunately, by Steve
Sparks, who was on BBC Horizon with this,
years ago, and has written numerous papers
on explosive volcanism, which is the main point.
The volcanism results when the impact cavity
enters the mantle, most likely to occur for
thin crust like oceanic or Western US, which
is why several resurgent calderas from impacts
(I contend) are found in the Western parts of
this country, including Yellowstone, Long Valley,
Valles (near Los Alamos) or LIPs on ocean
As an example by expert geologists (which I am
not as a mere applied math guy), I attach a PDF
by Chatterjee (Lubbock, Texas) et al, including
Richard Donofrio, from whose company web page
I downloaded the PDF, which includes a beautiful
graphic of the 400 km Shiva crater off of Mumbai
which happened within minutes i.m.h.o. of
Chicxulub by fragments of the same comet.
I had sent this PDF to George for posting on the
TUSK but he hasn’t done so for the obvious reason
I suppose of exceeding his brief.
Hermann G W Burchard
PS. Sorry about Mr V and paranormal for
which I never had the least bit of interest..
Herman, I’d also like to see data on older impacts included –
but who decides is Howard.
I don’t like the word “punctuated” because it was introduced
by Gould c.s., crypto-uniformitarians in my view. It sounds
as if somebody who had a car-crash, total loss, speaks of
having had a puncture. They just were afraid to use
catastrophe, as the geologists of the early 20th century
were, and spoke of diastrophism. There were some cautious
catastrophists then, Joseph Prestwich, Termier, Obruchev, and
also in Germany I think (von Seidlitz?). Prestwich, an early
friend of Lyell, converted to diluvialism (NOT biblical!)
Velikovsky was more of a scholar than of a scientist. He
collected some 25 Earth-reversal myths (1950), and thought
that the Earth in prehistoric times had decelerated, then
accelerated in the opposite direction, not giving a damn
about the energy problem
But the (Velikovskian) physicist Peter Warlow WAS preoccupied
with the energy problem, and came (1980) with the tippetop
model. Slabinski’s debunking of it was uncritically accepted,
generally, and especially by Leroy who has his trauma of
having been a Velikovskian. Warlow thought, Velikovsky-wise,
of the fly-by of a planet-sized body, as a cause for the
But physicist Stig Flomark (U of Stockholm) calculated that
internal energy could be sufficient, thus getting rid of the
Deus ex Machina.
I have continued the search in worldwide myths, and found
more than 60 of them (including those published by
It is the perfect mechanism of geomagnetic reversals, the
mantle turning over around the nucleus which keeps its
position to the ecliptica. ( the planet-within-a-planet model
is academic consensus, since the 1990s).
Conclusion: I might be rather more “alternative” than you
thanks for that endorsement (partial) which I am
forwarding to George and Leroy.
But you say nothing about impacts causing LIPs??
Continue to have trouble with tippetop dynamics,
and believe impacts cause pole reversal. E.g.,
the Australasian tektite strewnfield is timed
reliably to the Brunhes-Matuyama reversal.
When you kayaked in Brazil, the rhyolite you
met was from the Central Atlantic Magmatic
Province (CAMP)? This is considered the
largest LIP. It has parts on four
continents bordering the newly formed
Atlantic Ocean. A comteary impact at the
Azores likely was the cause, splitting
open the new ocean at the Newark Palisades
along the Hudson River and causing the
Azores hotspot. A recent paper timing this
to the end-Triassic mass extinction by
Whiteside (Brown U), Olsen (LDEO) et al
in PNAS is attached (PDF), but these
authors do not mention ET impacts either.
I have no trouble with tippetop mechanics.
I don’t believe impacts cause pole reversals.
I know about the Australasian strewnfield correlation with
the Br-Mat. reversal.
1) Tippetop mechanics don’t exist. Some mathematicians have
worked out a few formulae, 50y ago, and have surmised that
the resistance of the table or floor is essential for the
reversal to occur. As far as I know purely theoretical,
nobody has tried to vary the variables, such as size,
density, angular velocity, and the amount of mass lacking at
the top of the top. And the roughness of the table-top.
Perhaps I am wrong here, if not it seems an example
of blindly giving prevalence to theory over empiry.
2) The term pole reversal should be avoided, because most
people think then of axial shift.
With an 180-degree axial shift , N becomes S, whereas W and
E continue W and E.
But with a tippetop reversal N becomes S, and E becomes W.
The Sun will rise in the W, as in the famous Herodotus quote
(Book II, 142). (1 out of 60+ stories).
Perhaps some impacts cause reversals. But for all those
geomagnetic events and reversals I trust in Flodmark.
3) The Australasian strewnfield is famous for the absence of
a crater. I wonder whether the tektites could have formed by
the aura of a post-perihelium comet when it all of a sudden
meets the resistance of a planet, whereas the cometary
body itself is only nearly-hitting, and flies by.
Comet and asteroid impacts when striking at
oceanic or thin continental crust (Western
US) are capable of excavating deep initial
cavities, 1/10 as deep as diameter, that may
penetrate into the mantle beneath the crust.
The result of the inital impact explosion
and excavation relieves pressure sufficiently
so that magma erupts in flood basalts, and
volatiles dissolved in the mantle can be set
free coming out of solution which leads
to series of further explosions, resulting
in a “resurgent caldera,” tied to a “hotspot,”
or magma chamber in the upper mantle.
The controversial, older theory is that these
hotspots sit atop “mantle plumes” that rise
from the core-mantle boundary (Morgan, 1971).
Attempts to prove this using seismic tomography
have largely failed due to the homogeneity
of the mantle with only slight variations
in seismic velocity (perhaps the mantle
is “transparent” to seismic waves) and also
the inherent mathematical difficulties of
inversion of the Radon and related transforms.
Seismic tomography has recently been used to
prove the Yellowstone hotspot is shallow
For the impact volcanism theory, which at
present is considered heterodox by official
geology, see the Shiva paper abstract by
Chatterjee, Donofrio, et al (PDF attached
once more). Steve Sparks, Bristol U, has
worked on explosive volcanism, but not in
an impact context (although he has
consulted with BBC Horizon on the
Yellowstone hotspot and its resurgent
There are a number of stereotypical surficial
features that accompany this process that
begins with a space rock penetrating to
the mantle, with quite a few examples on our
planet existing for observation.
Feature #1. The initial impact crater, often
obscured by the flood basalts or later orogenies,
plate tectonics, or erosion, yet perhaps still
showing up in gravity and/ or magnetic anomalies.
Feature #2. A Large Igneous Provinces (LIP), of magmatic
lavas covering a large area of the planet.
Feature #3. Magma chamber in mantle or hotspot.
Feature #4. The track of hotspot, as the crust
slides over it and the resurgent caldera erupts
again and again.
Feature #5. Splitting open of oceanic tectonic
plates, and generation of new oceanic ridges or
spreading centers. The continued spreading
may simply be a consequence of isostacy*,
the response to gravity of the plates and
depressurization of the mantle under the
opening between plates once the split is
created in the initial impact event and
subsequent magma flood along the entire
– – –
*) I believe there is some recent work
in this direction contradicting the Morgan
plume model; gravity cited on Wikipedia as a
cause for the Marianas Deep, where the
oldest, heaviest part of the Pacific plate
Forthcoming book by G Foulger, Durham U:
Plates vs Plumes: A Geological Controversy,
by Gillian R. Foulger,
ISBN: 978-1-4051-6148-0, Paperback, 472 pages,
September 2010, Wiley-Blackwell, Â£32.50 /
â‚¬37.40 / $65.00
(Gillian may be using gravity/ isostacy approach,
judging from the title, not sure, she ignores
impacts, see her webpage mantleplumes.org which
is anti-plume while keeping an open mind.)
– – –
EXAMPLES: These should all be considered
heterodox (non-orthodox) to standard
a) Impact at Azores at end of Triassic:
(a.1) Crater not apparent, could be in Azores,
buried under eruptives.
(a.2) Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP)
the largest LIP on Earth. See the map in the
paper by Whiteside, Olsen, et al. attached.
(a.3) Azores hotspot.
(a.4) Track absent or obscure due to lack of
plate motion over the spot.
(a.5) Split open the newly created Atlantic
Ocean, created Atlantic Mid Ocean Ridge and
spreading center. Hudson River Palisades
familiar witnesses of break-up events.
b) Impact at Mumbai/ Seychelles at end of
(b.1) Crater in part near Mumbai. See
Shiva paper by Chatterjee attached.
Part of the crater is the Seychelles.
(b.2) LIP is the Deccan plateau
(b.3) Reunion Island, Mascarene Islands
(b.4) Maldive, Laccadive Island chains
(b.5) Split open Indian Ocean, created
Carlsberg Ridge, a part of the Central
Indian Ridge spreading center driving
India into soft underbelly of Asia.
c) Siberian Impact at end of Permian.
Suspect two fragments of comet breaking
up just before impact in tidal forces
of “impact focussing.” Other frags
possible impactors at additional sites
(Emeishan, SW China, claimed to be
(c.1) W Siberian Basin, S Kara Sea,
Ural Mountain is partial crater wall,
had been peneplain in Permian, exhumed
at 250 M yrs BP. Eclogite band along
entire mountain chain witness to burial
to at least 10 km depth prior to
exhumation and reheating. U Stanford
PhD thesis Mary Leech on Uralian events
and geology (no impacts mentioned).
(c.2) LIP is Siberian traps with Putorana
Plateau the initial heavy outpouring,
plus of course W Siberian Basin, S Kara
Sea underlain by largest basaltic
volumes on Earth.
(c.3) Hotspot Mt Kilauea, Hawaii.
(c.4) Track: See my earlier blog on
Cosmic Tusk. Tarduno claims he proved
(2003) the kink in the Hawaiian sea mount
chain resulted from move of the magma
chamber in the mantle, the hospot having
been at more Northerly latitudes prior
to 85 M yrs BP, the age of the Detroit Sea
Mount, the last one clearly visible before
the cusp in the Aleut-Kuril trenches. His
method is to prove increasing orientation
toward the vertical of magnetic field lines
frozen in rocks as we move toward older
(c.5) Split open the ancestral Pacific
Ocean, in fact creating the extant basin
which covers half the planet, the hotspot
still centrally located, never mind
Tarduno, with a large segment of crust
obliterated, sea surface level lowered
by ejecting H2O along ballistic trajectories
into space, with “great loss of life” —
sounds catastrophic to me.
d) Impact at Modoc Plateau, NE
California, early Miocene.
(d.1) Crater/ caldera in NE California in
Modoc plateau, central peak “Chalk Mountain,”
located at coordinates 40.994,-121.809 on
Google terrain map (not satellite; terrain
recently placed in new menu portion), near
Burney, CA. Some remnants of concentric
multi-ring uplift craters are still barely
visible. Should consider later Cascadian
and Cordilleran orogenies and Mt Shasta
volcanism obscure early Miocene impact
structure may have been 100 miles across.
This was an oceanic impact near the
cratonal margin at the time 17 Ma, the rebound
erupted in diatomaceous earth, hence “Chalk
Mountain”. Caldera was found in work for
Colorado School of Mines MS thesis by
Tom Bowens, who now works for a mining
company involved with the Magadan gold mines,
— last heard of as VP Exploration,
Fortress Minerals in Vancouver, B.C.,
and traveling to Siberia a lot.
(d.2) LIP is Columbia River flood basalts
(d.3) Yellowstone caldera in NW Wyoming
(d.4) Hotspot track traced to the Nevada/
California state line by Nash-Perkins of U
of Utah. See their map (was attached to
earlier email). They counted 143 (!)
caldera eruptions over the 17 M yr life
time of the hotspot.
(d.5) May have created spreading ridge
along NW American coast? More importantly,
has continued to “split” the continent
along Nevada Basin-and-Range terrain,
which amounts to accordeon folds of very
thin crust, spread out by the passage of
Yellowstone hotspot along its track, the
extent of thinning going far beyond
Nevada, including basaltic traps in