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

Extraordinary or ordinary?: West responds to CBS about latest paper



We agree with them that glass could be formed a lot of different ways. We don’t have a problem with that,” said Allen West, a retired oil and gas executive who is one of the leading proponents of the theory.

“You can get them from grass fires but you also get melt glass from lightning, volcanic eruptions and you also get it from cosmic impacts. The trick is being able to tell them apart.”

West said house fires don’t explain why they found evidence of particles from the Syrian soil and in North America that contained rare minerals like suessite, which melts at 4,100 degrees, and corundum, which melts at 3,200 degrees.

No building fire can create those temperatures, a fact that refutes their hypothesis that this glass was produced in low-temperature building fires,” he said. “The sad thing is that these guys ignored all the high temperature evidence.”

So it’s clear the debate will go on.

West said he and several other supporters of the impact theory are readying papers that will provide further evidence of additional cosmic minerals at the sites, as well as more evidence shoring up the dates of the impact sites.

“The only time these melted minerals are seen in glass is when there was a cosmic impact or an atomic bomb blast,” West said of the new findings. “We can pretty much rule out an atomic bomb in Syria at that time.”

Questions raised over theory that an asteroid caused the Big Freeze, CBS, Michael Casey, Jan 7, 2015

This week’s paper was in critique of this YDB team paper in PNAS:

77 Responses

  1. The straw _inside_ adobe mud-brick burning as hot as a blast furnace?

    Before the Bronze age? (Let alone the Iron age?)

    If fact, before agriculture?!?

    Who is this Yo-Yo trying to kid? My six-year old could do better science.

  2. From the CBS article (from which George gleaned the quotes from West above) it is obvious that neither CBS nor West caught the two Super Bloopers

    1. That you can’t have house fires until someone invented houses. That was 11,600 years ago, according to the development of civilization given out by Nat Geo. Uh… fellahs, 11,600 ya is not before 13,000 ya but AFTER.

    2. As Trent is going ape sh** crazy over, burning adobe bricks by igniting the minimal amount of straw that has mud moiled all around it is f-ing stupid on a Dumb and Dumber level.

  3. Trent –
    I still have yet to read the paper. I am going over the comments at WUWT. I totally missed that being posted, so I have a lot to cover there. Probably after 4 days no one is paying attention anymore.

    So far (20% of the way through the comments) no one has said anything intelligent or pertinent, which is strange for that blog.

    But I want to say that mud and bricks may or may NOT have been used in the earliest structures. At Gobekli Tepe, only 97 miles north and 1,000 years after the YDB, the construction was two things: Massive 1-piece stone columns and STONE. Google “Gobekli Tepe” and switch it to [Images]. Then browse the images. The smaller wall pieces are all irregular. That means STONE, not mud bricks.

    With Gobekli Tepe being THE oldest structures found so far in the world, Gobekli Tepe and its methods have to be considered. And since it is only 97 miles away ALSO, that vaults Gobekli Tepe and its methods of construction up to “Extremely likely” status.

    As an example, go see http://www.wondercabinet.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Gobekli-photo.jpg for a GOOD photo of the construction at Gobekli Tepe.

    Now, over to WUWT again…

  4. There is mention of “building earth”, both in the Abstract and in the Introduction under the discussion of vitrification, in paragraph 3.):

    Vitrified earth has been reported at many Neolithic sites around Europe and in the Near East. Stevanovich (1997) estimated that intentional house burning could attain temperatures in excess of 1000°C. Tringham (2005) further discusses this phenomenon. In Turkey, finds of vitrified building earth associated with house burning have been reported from the Neolithic Catal Hoyuk (Catalhoyuk Archive Reports 2005 and 20011) and at the Bronze Age site of Tilmen Hoyuk (Marrochi et al., 2010).

    Note the use of the word “house”.

    That seems to be pretty much it, for their research into burning of houses or buildings.

    From that, they amazingly draw the conclusion that “…melting of building earth in ancient settlements can occur during fires reaching modest temperatures.”

    Basically, what they are describing is the making of glass from the sand that is in the soil when a building burns.

    They don’t even question whether or not buildings even existed at 13,000 ya.

    They also do not question if burnable buildings existed.

    They also do not question where such fires could come from, other than the assertion that in “intentional building fires” vitrification of the soil below (building earth) has been seen to occur.

    At a time before agriculture, before the first settlements, people were not only erecting buildings but also evidently committing arson or war-like torching of such buildings.

  5. One good and informed and observant comment at WUWT:

    Duster January 7, 2015 at 11:12 am
    This article is interesting and all, but, they total failed to replicate the original studies. The “scoriae” they investigate is not the same materials cited as evidence of an impact event by Firestone and crew. As I personally have reservations about an impact triggering the Y-D, I find the “critical” studies like this one very irritating. They fail to investigate the actual kinds of evidence that were cited by either the original “impact” paper or the follow ups. That is, the presence of nanodiamonds, the presence of carbon microspherules, iron droplets and other materials that would indicate an actual impact. Instead, they are looking at debris from cultural layers, where they know they will find soot and other by-products of household fires, and then report that they did not find evidence of an impact. Worse they look at material that they know spans several millennia where evidence of the “event” would be constrained physically to a very specific stratum. Bad science is not constrained to climate science.

    Reply by Steven Mosher January 7, 2015 at 4:12 pm
    Bad science is not constrained to climate science.
    and neither are bad skeptical tactics.

  6. Having gotten through the WUWT comments, I commented there many times (but 3-4 days late).

    Not much to recommend. Lots of comments that missed the point of the article or what underlies the skepticism or the work being criticized.

    Out of about 170 comments there were only about 40 that were on topic or knowledgeable about either side enough to pay attention to. Some guys who are completely closed-minded – but I got in my punches.

    I have ZERO doubt that West and the others will rip this one to shreds, too.

    This one actually had lab results, though. Except that their choice of materials was wrong, so they – like Surovell – were measuring the wrong samples in the wrong way.

    The bit about burning buildings and vitrification were based on a faulty premise (not counting the wrong materials to begin with). They assumed another mechanism to produce SLOs (not “scoria”) – one that Bunch had already considered and rejected.

    Discussing vitrified forts is a hoot, because NO ONE has a handle on the vitrified hill forts of England and Scotland. The sources referenced were merely some of the ideas about them. But they don’t matter,anyway – because there WERE no such structures at 13,000 years ago.

    I say that latter even though I think Gobekli Tepe suggests that there was a LONG history of building buildings and complexes that predate Gobekli Tepe by several hundred years, if not quite a bit more. The idea in archaeological circles that hunter gatherers built Gobekli Tepe is even stupider than this paper was.

    Hunter gatherers who could square up building columns? Who could lay out round buildings (and others) and make T-shaped columns out of solid stone? With what tools? With what manpower? And who even BUILD with column and beam concepts?

    That site did not crop up out of a group of hunters who decided one day to start building things on what is almost – for ancient peoples – a monumental scale. Anyone who thinks so has never built anything but houses of cards in his life. On a moron scale of 1 to 10, thinking like that about who built Gobekli Tepe is a 500.

    And too bad Abu Hureyra is at the bottom of the Euphrates now, because it seems to be almost certainly from either the same or a competing culture. We might be able to learn a lot more from that site.

    One thing I LIKE about the paper is that it points out and names other sites over there in that area of Syria and Turkey that just might have some good impact evidence.

  7. Trent –

    Dang. What I try to do there is to sound serious and present the science soundly. A lot of people think of that site as not serious science, and I don’t want to feed into that belief. I think the science there is very good, thorough and well presented. I want the YD impact idea to be taken seriously, so I want to not sound like some one-track minded tin foil hat sloppy thinker.

    I didn’t see anyone there really supporting the paper too much. Some don’t like the YDIH, and I disagreed with them.

  8. Steve; Just got back to work from a frozen (Global Warming, Thank you A.G.)weekend and missed all the silliness. If these are educated individuals then I’m glad I decided to work for a living instead of talking out my rectal orfice. You guys are missing the point completely: It takes one hell of a fire to roast a haunch of Mastadon to just medium rare. Any more or less just doesn’t taste right. Sorry for the ridiculous post here but it was that or throw my PC into the melt furnace here and ruin some good Aluminum.

  9. Steve G,

    Too open a closed mind takes a blunt object at high velocity.

    If there is evidence of wide spread human-caused blast furnace temperature remains in Syria associated with the Gobekli Tepe, _THAT_ should have been the focus of the technical paper, as that would represent a huge breakthrough in our understanding of the dawn of civilization.

    Instead the authors mumble about debunking YDB theory.

    It is worse than bad science, and should be treated as such.

  10. did any of these “scientists” go out and building a straw/brick house and burn it down ????????

  11. Trent –

    Certainly they have not debunked anything. They have taken aim on one weak point (in their minds, anyway), and didn’t even understand THAT one. In the process the skeptics missed on their aim, because they targeted something that wasn’t even what they thought it was.

    Allen West in his comments pointed out that they missed the boat.

    Basically, they have put up a straw man argument. Dennis may disagree with that characterization, but I think it fits. Pointing at glass and the ways glass is made and then doing all sorts of lab tests on the wrong materials – this means that they didn’t even understand the materials points – even if they incorporated a materials guy into their arguments. If they give him the wrong materials, selected wrongly, then he can only work with what he’s got.

    Let’s see if I can come up with an analogy…

    Let’s say that Bunch and Wittke found round bronze rods. Then Thy et al said that square brass is made by five different means. Then Thy went off, studying the brass squares, finding that the brass wasn’t round and determined that Bunch was ignorant concluding that brass squares were found. And the Thy also determined that the brass that Wittke found wasn impossible. All the while Thy nis talking about breass instead of bronze. What is one to conclude? That Thy debunked anything? Or that Thy got the idea of brass in his head and took it for bronze?

    Scoria is NOT scoria-like objects. Scoria is volcanic. But it is not glass. It is like pumice.

    The other term Thy uses is “Siliceous scoria”, and this is a nonsense term. It doesn’t turn up in ANY Google.Scholar search – except in the pro-YDIH papers as “siliceous scoria-like objects” and in Thy’s paper and articles discussing Thy’s paper as simply “siliceous scoria“. Thy invented the term and then said Bunch and WIttke were wrong in saying that scoria or “siliceous scoria” is made from impacts.

    Only Bunch and Wittke said no such thing.

    Bunch and Wittke were careful to designate the SLOs as “LIKE” scoria. It was a strange material they had not encountered before. It was LIKE scoria, but it was glass. Thy confused this newly observed material with scoria. And then he designated HIS understanding of it to actual scoria.

    …I am now looking through the materials and geographic evidence Thy presents. I’d like to know exactly why he thinks what he found is what Bunch and Wittke discussed – even if Thy left out all the rest of the evidence. . .

  12. Things just jump out at me sometimes, when I am not even looking for those exact things…

    Thy on his page 3 shows a map with several sites near the Euphrates. I noted this map when I first read the paper. In looking up a source paper Thy referenced (Moore et al 2000), I found a paper, “Late Pleistocene and early Holocene climate and the beginnings of cultivation in northern Syria” Willcox et al. (2008) at http://arkeobotanika.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/46425311/Willcox%2009%20Holocene%20Syria.pdf.

    In that paper was a map that had some of Thy’s sites. Having looked at Thy’s map, I wondered if this earlier regional map matched Thy’s.

    No. In fact, it doesn’t.

    Some of the sites are the same, but the site Tell Qaramel is located differently on Thy’s map. I went to check out the location, and lo and behold Thy misplaced Tell Qaramel. Willcox has it placed correctly on his map.

    Thy’s Tell Qaramel is off by about 30-35 MILES too far north.

    THIS kind of sloppiness really pisses me off, when a group of scientists can do a paper presenting supposedly prcise and exact data on a subject, and then they make a simple map with simple tags for locations, and then they can’t even place the tags correctly.

    Now 30-35 miles is pretty much half a degree of latitude.

    Thy cannot measure latitude within 30 miles. How sloppy can one BE?

    And we are supposed to take his other numbers at face value.

    When someone misses the mark – literally – by half a degree on a map, it makes me not trust his other numbers, no matter how many decimal places are shown. Half a degree is a LOT.

  13. David –

    Even if those scientists did build a mud brick house and burn it down, don’t bet that you can trust the results.

    Why do I say that?

    Years ago Egyptologists tried out some of their ideas on building the pyramids, and another group tried out erecting an obelisk. As I recall, both groups off camera actually used front end loaders to do most of the lifting. They claimed that they were running out of time allotted out in the field and had to use the front end loaders out of convenience, but that they had proven the principle. Yeah, right…

    Their “exeriments” were flawed, and their results tainted.

    So if someone goes out and burns a mud brick house down, “keep your eye on the pea”. There will be something crooked in Denmark.

  14. Steve,

    If the paper really does have such latitude and longitude issues, its credibility is toast on everything.

  15. Tom –

    That was more or less my point, but it doesn’t QUITE mean that we throw out everything Thy came up with. But it DOES mean that we have the right to be at least a bit more skeptical of his other points. We have the right to suspect that he didn’t do due diligence an ANY particular point. IOW he shot himself in the foot.

  16. Steve; If you have an airburst you have instant insane heat and incredible winds to drive it. (explosive concussion) I would guess you could have enough intense burning to glassify clay and incinerate mud. Add to that the fact that there would be more than one impact not necessarily at the same moment I could see vast areas of landscape being toasted. This would make more sense than someone burning down every “house” in the middle east within a week or so or even over a century or so

  17. Steve; I just found and used a site called GPS Visualizer Free hand drawing. I was able to enter my 4 set points and connect the dots from Drake Passage to Mt Ashmore Australia, to Chesapeake Bay to Popagia Russia. They line up perfectly using 2 passes around the earth. I thought there might be a crook or 2 in the line but NO! This was laid over a GE map so I could enlarge it or shrink it and it still worked. As soon as I’am able to save it and send it I will. I can’t believe it actually came out. 4 separate hits at 34mya and they all line up.

  18. Jim –

    Thanks for that GPS Visualizer mention. I will check it out for myself.

    That is very interesting that those points line up 2 times around the Earth. NOW you just have to show that an object CAN wrap around 2 times. Keep at it. I am not sure that can happen, but I can certainly be wrong!

    If you are right, you are onto something.

  19. Jim –

    On the airburst, just in case you are thinking that there is something inside the object that “explodes”, from what I’ve learned, that just isn’t the case. I learned a LOT after Chelyabinsk, and I haven’t seen anything since then to make me change my mind about what I learned then…

    …Each particle of a meteor which enters the atmosphere is where the action is. But ONLY AT THE FRONT FACE. If we had no atmosphere, we all know the object would just descend until it hit the ground, right?

    So, why does the atmosphere make a difference? Right: Friction. Just like what burned up the Space Shuttle over Texas.

    The damned thing is going so fast that the air can’t get out of the way fast enough. The object compresses the air ahead of it, and it compresses it a LOT. And this is even at the very high altitudes, where there aren’t that many air molecules.

    The air, as thin as it is, gets so hot that it, in turn, heats up the front face of the meteor. That front face gets so hot so quickly that the rock or metal begins to melt. Then it keeps on heating up until it vaporizes.

    When we see the trail of the meteor, the glowing part is this vaporized rock or metal. It has expanded rapidly, so technically we can say that it is an explosion. Each melted bit of material that vaporizes is a small explosion. And all along the path of the meteor these small explosions are happening. The material is melting, and being pushed around the sides of the meteor, where they immediately fall behind, making the bright trail. A trail of explosions.

    Small meteors – micrometeors – basically do that and fade quickly. Then we see shooting stars. Large meteors continue on, losing material off their front face. This material is RIPPED off the face violently by the air turbulence. Otherwise it would just sit there in a pool of liquid rock or metal. But the same compressed air that is heating the front face material is also pushing back.

    Whatever structural flaws exist in the meteor mean that when the front face melts enough, the flaws will be exposed to the turbulence and the stresses of that air pushing back. When enough melted material has been removed, the flaws cause the meteor body to break apart. Pretty much just like the Space Shuttle did over Texas.

    What happens at that point? Just like the Space Shuttle, WE see a flare-up, which looks like an explosion. But remember that the particles have been exploding the whole time the meteor has been in the atmosphere. So why do we see a flare-up? Is something internally igniting, like gunpowder?

    No. The flare-up is because with two or more meteor fragments now exposed, there is more surface area exposed to the heating up from the compressed air in front of the bodies. More surface area means that, to our eyes, it looks like an explosion. And, yes, each particle IS exploding, just like they have been, all along the flight path. But compared to the explosion that happens if the objects hit the ground, this is NOTHING.

    It is not enough explosion to create impact cones or shocked quartz or lonsdaelite. If it was, the meteor body would be blasted to nothing in a second. But it is not. And it does not. Remember that the Chelyabinsk object kept on going and landed in the lake at Chebarkul? As much violence as occurred at the big flare-up, that object was still intact. The remnant meteor had a finite “strength of materials”. That means that if it was exposed to more force or impact than that finite level, the object would have been disintegrated. But it wasn’t – it kept on going, even though most of the main body was driven away.

    This is the same process that Boslough is invoking to produce his cartoon-like thermonuclear-looking mushroom cloud. But from what I’ve learned, this flare-up/breaking apart/vaporization is not going to produce a mushroom cloud or nuttin’ purty like Ol’ Bos shows.

    Even if it happens at his Goldilocks height above the surface, it is not going to do NEAR the damage that an actual surface impact would cause.

    YES, they can do a lot of damage, but don’t take that to mean it is ANYTHING like an actual impact. Not nearly the force. Not nearly the temps. The temps will be the same as the temps had been all the way along its path. (Note that the big flare-up at Chelyabinsk didn’t change colors. It just got bigger. Higher temps should give higher frequency light. But it didn’t.) That means that the outward pressure was pretty much the same, too. Each particle still vaporized, but it didn’t vaporize MORE just because others around it were.

    So now, let’s apply all that to your scenario…

    The instant heat and incredible winds – do they exist? Yes. Are they equal to an actual impact? No.

    Add to that the idea that an object large enough to cause major damage would be large enough to make it to the surface. Anything small enough to airburst before solid impact is going to have a magnitude or two less energy given off, compared to an actual impact.

    After Chelyabinsk I realized that an airburst over the ice sheet was inadequate to do the things people suggested could happen. I concluded that it needed an actual impact on the ice to have the results needed to kill off the mammoths in two hemispheres. An airburst wasn’t going to do it.

    So can an airburst toast an entire region? First of all, the angle of entry would have to be low for the object to be close enough to the ground to toast the area. Right? It has to pass low without hitting locally, otherwise we would be talking about an impact, not an airburst. If it is a steeper path, then the time it is in the “burn zone” height is almost zero – in that case about the time anything felt the burn the object would be in a crater after impacting. (Unless we invoke Bos’ Godlilocks height…) If it gets down to 500 meters, it is pretty much going to impact.

    If it is a very low angle path then it will be inside that zone longer, giving it time to break apart before impacting the ground. At a 10° downward path the time in any height zone is 5.7 times as long as a vertical path. At a 5° path, the time is 11.5 times as long.

    One last item…

    Remember WHY the air, as thin as it is, is heating up the meteor? Friction. And what is that friction doing to the speed of the meteor? It is slowing it down. Just like entering the atmosphere slows down the Space Shuttle. So when people tell us that the object will give an explosion at some multiple of Hiroshima, it is necessary for them to also tell us if that number is based on the size of the meteor AT entry to the atmosphere or at the moment of the airburst. Remember also that the object was losing its material to vaporization as soon as it entered the atmosphere, os it is considerably smaller at airburst than at atmospheric entry. I read one value for Chelyabinsk that it had lost 90% of its mass by the moment it airburst. That is a big damned difference. AND it was going several km/sec slower. Braking will do that.

    So, with kinetic energy lost during its flight path, size/matter lost due to ablation, and the explosive force per cubic inch the same as it was the whole flight path, some of the ideas we have about the potential damage from airburts are, I think, over-exaggerated in our heads.

    At least that is what I am thinking these days. As I said before, Chelyabinsk really underwhelmed me. While impacts are really, really bad, I am convinced that airbursts have limited regional effect. Knocking down lots of trees? Sure. But killing a region? I don’t think so. Toasting it? To some extent, yes. City killer may be the upper capacity of an airburst. It is not going to take out Texas or even New Jersey. If it was big enough to kill a region by airbursting, I think it would be big enough to make it to the ground, where it can do the worst damage.

    …And burning mud brick or stone edifices, just by radiance? Heck, to be big enough to even consider that, the shock wave would be big enough to blow down the building, before it caught mud or stone on fire.

    …Sorry again for a long comment…

  20. Hi Steve –

    The reaction is not solely “at the front face”.

    You can read extensively on the physics of bolides in the meteorite list archive.

  21. This doesn’t exactly deal with the YDB event, but it’s some pretty bad science.


    “A team of researchers from the University of Exeter, University of Edinburgh and Imperial College London recreated the immense energy released from an extra-terrestrial collision with Earth that occurred around the time that dinosaurs became extinct. They found that the intense but short-lived heat near the impact site could not have ignited live plants, challenging the idea that the impact led to global firestorms.

    These firestorms have previously been considered a major contender in the puzzle to find out what caused the mass extinction of life on Earth 65 million years ago.

    The researchers found that close to the impact site, a 200 km wide crater in Mexico, the heat pulse — that would have lasted for less than a minute — was too short to ignite live plant material. However they discovered that the effects of the impact would have been felt as far away as New Zealand where the heat would have been less intense but longer lasting — heating the ground for about seven minutes — long enough to ignite live plant matter.

    The experiments were carried out in the laboratory and showed that dry plant matter could ignite, but live plants including green pine branches, typically do not.

    Dr Claire Belcher from the Earth System Science group in Geography at the University of Exeter said: “By combining computer simulations of the impact with methods from engineering we have been able to recreate the enormous heat of the impact in the laboratory. This has shown us that the heat was more likely to severely affect ecosystems a long distance away, such that forests in New Zealand would have had more chance of suffering major wildfires than forests in North America that were close to the impact. This flips our understanding of the effects of the impact on its head and means that palaeontologists may need to look for new clues from fossils found a long way from the impact to better understand the mass extinction event.”

     They obviously ignored  The billions of tons of incandescent material that fell back to earth.

     They also seem to have ignored the previous work that show the impact was at a very low angle, which caused most of the material from the crater to thrown to the Nw almost as a wave. The evidence for massive fires can be found all over north America.

     They also seemed to have forgotten that due to its low angle trajectory , the passage of the object through the atmosphere generated enough heat to cause the atmosphere to heat up to nearly 400 degrees, worldwide.

  22. I haven’t kept up with the lataest but presume it’s still an open question as to whether the object in question was a meteor or a comet/ comet fragments.
    If the latter then look at the energy released when comet SL-9 fragments exploded in Jupiter’s atmosphere. One single fragment released energy equivalent to 600 times the world’s nuclear arsenal. That was just one of the 20-plus fragments.
    Also consider secondary effects of the explosion. Is it possible that such an event could cause a release of large amounts of flammable methane clathrate deposits or geological gases such as hydrogen sulfide which later ignite causing intense fires over wide areas as suggested by the Usselo Horizon? Multiple fragments impacting over a wider timeframe would also explain the dating anomalies of that layer.

  23. Ed –

    Go look up “fusion crust”.

    No links provided. You never do, so turn about is fair play.

    Fusion crust.

  24. CevinQ –

    Abstract only at: http://jgs.lyellcollection.org/content/early/2015/01/19/jgs2014-082.abstract

    Yeah, bad science. That article showed a heating device. Fine. Where is the shock wave device?

    First a quibble: Chicxulub’s crater was 180 km across not “200 km”, as stated.

    The explosion would have had such a shock/blast wave as to strip off and shred any pine needles from trees as the trees were themselves shredded.

    Supporting this: At Tunguska almost all the 80 million trees had their branches stripped.

    A-bomb test videos show pine trees being bent by the blast wave of A-bombs (Kt unknown at this moment). So they have SOME evidence that such blasts don’t necessarily ignite the nearby pine needles.

    On the other hand, Tunguska – only a 50 meter AIR BURST – not only didn’t just BEND the trees, but it also broke them off and uprooted them. By the millions.

    Now, Tunguska did not ignite those trees, either. But we are talking about a LOT of Tunguskas.

    According to the calculator at http://www.convertalot.com/asteroid_impact_calculator.html, an impactor at Chicxulub needed to be about 34 km across (using 16 m/sec speed). One would expect, then, that such a 34000 meter object would air burst (if an air burst would have been possible) with an impact of 2.2 quadrillion kilotons of energy – equal to ~100 million Hiroshimas. According to that calculator.

    And these people did a lab experiment that was the equivalent of that?

    And the lab still exists?

    So, let’s see how many Tunguskas were in the Chicxulub event:

    Using the same calculator, and assuming Tunguska to be an actual impact, the Tunguska object would have “only” been 109 Megatons. As an airburst its kilotonnage would have been far less. Wiki’s references give its kilotonnage at 10 to 15 megatons. (This educates us a bit on the ratio of airburst energies and surface impact energies. In this it is about 10 times more.) Let’s go with the 12.5, the average megatonnage from Wikis source.

    Chicxulub, then, would be equivalent to about 170,000 Tunguskas.

    A: The trees would not only be broken off. The trees would probably be shredded into toothpicks.

    B: Toothpicks are a fair analog for pine needles, wouldn’t you think?

    C: Those toothpicks would be carried way from the crater, perhaps for hundreds of kms.

    D: The fire? Once the toothpicks are lofted, they have PLENTY of time to ignite – once the maelstrom allows flames.

    E: Fires cannot really stay lit when the wind is too strong.

    F: These guys didn’t figure on the pine needles being swept away, giving them more time to ignite.

    G: These guys didn’t include a shock/blast wave to carry the pine needles for hundreds of miles, giving them time to ignite.

    Like ALL experiments, if you don’t set it up right (plan it right), your conclusions are pretty much silliness.

    * * *

    I would LIKE to be happy that these academics included engineers in their study, as they assert. However, their one engineer is not a real-world engineer, but an academic.

    Academic engineers aren’t really engineers.

    I’ve seen several times that academic engineers have their heads in the ivory towers as much as the other scientists. (Rory M. Hadden, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter) His biography shows nothing but academic work. Put him down as a pseudo-engineer, at best (and an academic like the Bos, from what I see). He has no real-world experience, where his “engineering” has had to stand the tests of the real world.

    Does that sound like I am being snooty? I am not.

    On the contrary, I am being blue-collar. FYI, every individual engineer in industry is treated like a white-collar office cartoonist by machinists and machine builders and welders, etc. – until the engineer proves himself with designs that actually WORK. IT IS A TRUE GAUNTLET. Put up or shut up. And any engineer’s designs don’t work until he grasps real-world causes and effects. This guy does not appear to have ever done any real-world work.

  25. Dave –

    Really good points, sir.

    The largest SL9 fragments have been determined to be between 1.0 and 1.3 km. The largest, Fragment G, landed on July 18,1994, and even in the 2.5 gravity of Jupiter, had a plume larger than the planet Earth – just from an atmospheric burst. It is assumed that none of the fragments made it to the surface of Jupiter. What we all saw was the top of the atmosphere effects.

    But with a plume bigger than EARTH?!

    No one seems to have translated that to what it would have done on Earth. To me, that is a HUGE oversight of the scientists involved.

    The SMALLEST SL9 fragment was about 130 meters across – about the size of Tunguska.

    One thing also not mentioned so far is that we have no reason to think that SL9 was in any way out of the ordinary as far as size and mass is concerned.

    …Your clathrate possibility is a good insight. Clathrates are known to be jarred loose from simple undersea avalanches, and not so big of ones, either. An impact on or near a clathrate deposit – where it is held by compression in solid form – could very conceivably begin a methane release. Global warming people talk about such releases in the arctic under the permafrost. That sort of trigger is much less severe than an impact might be.

    Scientists tend to look at things as simplistic, with no complicating factors. But what happened at the YDB may EASILY have had complicating factors. Like possible multiple impacts, varying possible impactors (as you note), the depth of time would have hidden many pieces of evidence, the science of impacts is in itself in its infancy, at this time most of the known history of impacts is hidden, etc.

    I think that oversimplification is a hazard of the job of being a scientist, for more than one reason:

    1. With today’s level of science – and MATH – they can’t HANDLE anything but simplistic models.

    2. Their peers frown on injecting “what-ifs” into studies – which intimidates them into staying with safe and simple approaches (like the one CevinQ pointed us at today – which ridiculously claims to have refuted something that it did not refute at all, in its oversimplifactions).

    3. Three, grant money doesn’t go to people with too much speculation in their work.

    4. Science has only recently allowed for interdisciplinary studies; before that everyone stayed in within the confines of their discipline and laughed at people who crossed lines. While this bodes well for the future, they don’t have a good handle on it yet.

    5. Complicated/complex things that happened in the past will be LOOKED at first by simplistic-minded researchers, looking for a simple and uniformitarian explanation.

    6. Uniformitarian explanations are given easy acceptance, high standing, and also “prior claim”, by default, over catastrophist explanations. Catastrophism “explainers” then have to not only present THEIR case but have to first knock off the uniformitarian King-of-the-hill, as well.

    7. There is a higher bar to jump over over for catastrophist explanations. Catastrophism is met with skepticism, while unformitarian explanations – no matter HOW strained they are – are accepted since they agree with fundamental ideas about gradual natural processes.

  26. “But with a plume bigger than EARTH?!

    No one seems to have translated that to what it would have done on Earth. To me, that is a HUGE oversight of the scientists involved.

    The SMALLEST SL9 fragment was about 130 meters across – about the size of Tunguska.

    One thing also not mentioned so far is that we have no reason to think that SL9 was in any way out of the ordinary as far as size and mass is concerned.”

    Sorry you can’t make any comparisons with that event and earth.
    Earth is not Jupiter and all elements of the equation would be completely different.
    and there are way to many unknown elements in that to make a formula of some kind that would in anyway be true for here. though that doesn’t stop the arrogant from doing it constantly .
    but I would’t trust it.. between just the different gravity, and depth and weight of that atmosphere , and ignitable elements in that atmosphere . everything is too dissimilar and would require way to many assumptions and guessing to in anyway truly calculate any sort of formula or even a comparison. well they couldn’t get any kind information that would aid any formulas that would be helpful for here in our world.
    They may be able to make a formula with lots of guessing and tons of assumptions that might kind of work for Jupiter. but it would still be loaded .

  27. Cosmic Billards said

    “Sorry you can’t make any comparisons with that event and earth.
    Earth is not Jupiter and all elements of the equation would be completely different.”

    You don’t know much about nuclear weapons, do you?

    Late Cold War Nuclear Targeting 101 — Any weapon yield over 200 kilotons is a waste of nuclear material.

    There is a diminishing return in increasing nuclear yield.

    Over 200 kilotons most additional weapon nuclear energy yield is wasted above the atmosphere and not for blast and other effects in it.

  28. Steve; The line around the globe was closer to 1 1/2 if that makes any kind of difference. I used the center of the trench at Drake Passage as an impact point and the southern tip of Chesapeake Bay for that and the others as close as I could get info on and it still seems to work. I’m in awe of the fact that this object broke up a minimum of 4 times and still left incredible crater sites. Also to consider is that it may have made multiple water hits in its travels. I still trying to see if I can extend the track lines beyond Popagia to see if there are any other possible land falls or does it just link up again at Drake Passage. It shouldn’t reconnect because the orbit and a half is actually spiraling northward. IN the other post I sent out the explosive concussion should have had a question mark inside the parenthesis. OH well

  29. cb: “but I would’t trust it.. between just the different gravity, and depth and weight of that atmosphere , and ignitable elements in that atmosphere . everything is too dissimilar and would require way to many assumptions and guessing to in anyway truly calculate any sort of formula or even a comparison. well they couldn’t get any kind information that would aid any formulas that would be helpful for here in our world.”

    This is so ill-informed that I should ignore it.

    “Between just the different gravity” – Changing the gravity in an astronomical calculation – since when is that a problem?

    “and depth and weight of that atmosphere” – DUH, neither of these is even a SMALL problem.

    “everything is too dissimilar and would require way to many assumptions” – Uhhh, like, Jupiter’s gravity is not an assumption, but a KNOWN. Ditto Earth’s gravity.

    Where did you get your math and science education? In a box of Cracker Jacks?

    In this equation – 6 x A = B, just because we change the value of A, that doesn’t mean that because the new value is “dissimilar” we are too dumb to figure out the new value of B.


    Please take your New Age anti-science, anti-math, anti-physics, anti-logic, anti-facts attitude to a website where people are dumb enough to actually believe one thing in your comment.

  30. Steve G,

    Another flaming datum for multiple asteroid impact events.


    Big asteroid that skimmed Earth has its own moon: NASA

    “Radar images from NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, California show that the asteroid itself was about 500 feet (150 meters) smaller than expected, and measured about 1,100 feet (325 meters) across.

    The asteroid’s small moon was approximately 230 feet (70 meters) across.”

  31. Steve – you’re gonna love this one. One of the results from Dawn at Vesta is a growing notion that a bunch of the asteroids are pieces of something else (mostly Vesta), but of other planetesimals and comets. Read it in passing. Will locate the link which has temporarily escaped. Cheers –

  32. Trent –

    Cool link.

    The late Tom van Flandern was castigated when he proposed that asteroids and comets could have satellites.

    As usual, once they are shown to be wrong, the mainstream incorporates the new reality and pretends that they had ALWAYS thought that way. And don’t give credit to the “maverick” or “gadfly” who said it in the first place. Thus, some of Velikovsky’s ideas are presented by others or discussed with no mention of the “V” name.

  33. Trent – (continuing…)

    Several things about that article about Vesta and the HED asteroids…

    1. Social comment #1: Once again science has a “reality” – this time for 37 years – that is taken as THE reality, and which is subsequently found to be incorrect, once more evidence is brought to the fore. This SHOULD be normal in science – the march of progress and all that. And if all along they had understood that their then-current interpretation was only tentative, then that would have been well and good. But it was actually seen as THE truth. And now it is not THE truth any longer. Enuff on that…

    2. Social comment #2: DO be aware that throughout the article the evidence is one thing and the interpretations are another. The evidence is the evidence, nothing more an nothing less. The interpretations are – as they should be – presented as tentative understandings, as they try to piece together the evidence into a gestalt. So, take the evidence as real. And take the interpretations as ad hoc efforts to comprehend. I applaud such hesitancy. And I DO applaud the efforts to fit the facts into an overall understanding – as long as they don’t take themselves and their interpretations too seriously. (And by “they” I also include MYSELF; I don’t take my attempts too seriously – I know my information is only partial, and ANY new fact might blow me out of the water. And if so, ces’t la vie!)

    3. Note the mention of my favorite asteroidal/meteoroidal material, olivine. I am pursuing that in one of the links at the moment. More later, perhaps… I will remind that olivine is closely related to diamonds and has nearly the same extremely high pressure and temperature requirements to form. Millions of p.s.i., PLUS thousands of degrees C. One paper determined that that takes a planet of at least 2,000 km in radius to deliver the minimum pressure (for now I take that as true, until I learn otherwise).

    4. Note the 80-km depth of the one crater. That requires an impactor of 8-km, delivering a crater 160-km across. That means about 2,000 km^3 of material removed. REMOVED. Not accreted. As in NEGATIVE accretion.

    5. “The HED meteorites are among the oldest materials in the solar system; their parent body melted and crystallized at the same time that the formation of Jupiter and the disk-driven migration of the giant planets also occurred.

    Do not take this at face value. It is not fact, but interpretation, presented as fact. Just like the interpretation presented as fact mentioned in 1. above was taken as fact for 37 years and is now rubbish.

    This is based on the assumption that the accretion theory is correct. But think about that 2,000 km^3 excavated out of that crater on Vesta – it took only an 8-km object to remove that material. THAT is not accretion. And there is no reason to accept as fact that such impact>craters would not have been the reality in the “oldest” period in the history of the sloar system.

    6. I am happy that the astronomers are looking at the HED asteroids and their composition vs the composition of Vesta. At the same time, Vesta WOULD have a coating of regoliths (dust and boulders), just like comet Itokawa and the recently looked at asteroid. Looking at what is on the surface is NOT necessarily looking at what the subsurface materials are. That would be like looking at a paint job and determining that the material underneath is all paint.

    To whit: “Spectra taken in the early 1970s had shown that Vesta’s colors matched those of the meteorites…

    Spectra can only look at the surface materials, not what is underneath.

    If Vesta has considerable HED material on its surface, and if HED asteroids are in its vicinity, then it is not unreasonable (IMHO) to speculate that HED bodies all the way down to dust-size had perhaps been captured by Vesta’s gravity and then fallen to the surface and covered it.

    7. I would also point out that they are assuming that Vesta is monolithic and homogeneous at varying depths, including the surface layers. They correctly (IMHO) assume that at varying depths the materials change. But Vesta is 525 km across and along the surface the distance would be about 825 km to the other side of Vesta – the distance from Munich to Naples or to the English Channel; no one would assume that the mineralogy at either of those places is the same as at Munich. This I would argue is a false assumption: Vesta should have a varied surface mineralogy; it should not be assumed homogeneous.

    8. I DO respect and agree with the thinking that Vesta may have had entire layers of its surface removed in the billions of years they think that it has been in existence. Especially on bodies which have craters appearing to cover the surface, it should be assumed for those that what we can see now is only the REMAINING surface, and that the original surface may have been many kilometers above what surface wee see now. Thus, the current surface should be seen as previously subsurface materials.

    This would lead to the conclusion that looking at the surface of any two bodies and comparing their APPARENT material composition is a flawed idea. A. The surface may not BE the original surface. B. The surface spectrum can only see the regoliths. C. The body’s surface mineralogy is not homogeneous.

    9. “Dawn revealed two overlapping deep impact craters on Vesta’s south pole; current models calculate that these impacts must have excavated material from a depth of at least eighty kilometers. But there is no abundant mantle olivine visible in that basin, nor elsewhere on Vesta, nor in the Vestoid family asteroids. If the HED crust of Vesta is at least 80 km thick, it ought to manifest itself in other ways such as Vesta’s density structure and bulk chemical composition.

    I don’t agree. Olivine can only form below 2,000 km. Thus looking at the 80-km depth of these craters is not going to see olivine, unless the olivine had migrated upward. This might not happen on a body as small as Vesta. It also might not have happened to a degree that the probe could see. And – MAINLY – olivine also should not even HAPPEN on a body as small as Vesta. But they DO say “no abundant mantle olivine visible in that basin”, so that remains an open question at this time, I guess.

    10. If the “HED meteorites” (which I am certain is a bogus term in itself) contain a considerable amount of olivine, I submit that they came from inside a much larger body than Vesta. But how would such materials get from inside a large body to flying around in the asteroid belt? I’d say to ask Tom van Flandern, but he isn’t alive anymore.

  34. Allen West: “You can get them from grass fires but you also get melt glass from lightning, volcanic eruptions and you also get it from cosmic impacts. The trick is being able to tell them apart.”

    Yeah. Sometimes when you have a lot of evidence the evidence narrows things down by itself. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes more evidence makes things more confusing, at first glance.

    But scientists are there to look PAST the first glance, the first gut feeling, the first impression. Scientists are not there to give us the easy answers, but to give the correct answers. That doesn’t mean they always succeed, but they have at least a modicum of training in pursuing the information and weeding out the less significant from the more significant. Learning the scientific method and using the process of elimination, plus having training in logic – these all help.

    “The trick is being able to tell them apart.”

    One has to think that when there is a LOT of evidence in many disciplines, the trick IS to “tell them apart”. Which explanation can work with all the evidence – without ANY of the evidence contradicting the tentative explanation? Getting explanations that explain PART of the evidence – that is EASY. But then as we add other pieces of evidence, the explanation can fail on some of that new evidence. It fails because of an absurdity that arises (e.g., a value that means travel faster than light), or because a temperature is simply too high (for, say, coffee beans to stay uncooked), or because a needed pressure doesn’t exist and can’t exist, under the circumstances (like in outer space), or because you get a time anomaly/anachronism, or because a condition is too acidic or alkaline for a certain material or life form. Or many other impossibilities. When impossibilities come up, the explanation fails to deal with EACH PART of the evidence individually, and if it can’t deal with ALL of them separately, then it has to fail the overall.

    Proper skepticism:
    1. It is normal and ethical to point to individual evidences that appear to cause an overall explanation to fail. In such cases, it is necessary to make sure that the proper protocols, methods, and logic are used. Poorly taken samples cannot falsify an explanation/hypothesis.

    2. It is normal and ethical to call attention to perceived weaknesses in the logic within a hypothesis. In such cases, it is necessary to make sure of one’s logic and deduction and induction. Sloppiness in any of those does the skeptical arguments now good.

    3. It is NOT necessary that a skeptical argument replace a perceived failure with an argument/hypothesis of its own. Skepticism of one piece of evidence need only address the piece of evidence itself and ask if THAT agrees or fails the overall explanation/hypothesis. Extending one’s rebuttal to a new hypothesis is not necessary at all, and widens the discussion into areas that are not necessary for the skeptic’s rebuttal to succeed or fail. (As an analogy, in order for a criminal defense lawyer to create a reasonable doubt, that lawyer does not need to produce an alternate suspect to replace the one in the docket.) A skeptic introduces new hypotheses at his peril.

    4. A skeptical argument/rebuttal of ONE part of a broad hypothesis does not necessarily void the entire hypothesis. This is the one major failing of the YDB skeptics. Any original hypothesis may be generally correct while having SOME of the specific points wrong. Most original hypotheses DO have some points wrong, due to inadequate evidence at the time it was introduced. It is not necessary to throw the baby out with the bath water. For example, Firestone went through the supernova idea and the CB inclusion before finding out that theses did not fit the evidence well enough and needed to be discarded.

    5. It is best if any group of scientists are their own strongest critics/skeptics. It is necessary – as Richard Feynman says about the scientific method – that they challenge their own ideas, to find weak spots and find arguments that will falsify their work. And THEN they need to transparently PRESENT their own challenges and to show WHY those arguments or alternative explanations do not suffice. This openness lets any reader of their papers to recognize that DUE DILIGENCE has been done – as well as to allow skeptics to avoid duplication of the failed approaches.

    Due diligence in science is a BIG deal – but it is one in which the skeptics of the YDIH do not seem to be willing to follow in their earnestness and eagerness to ridicule ideas that they are antipathetic toward.

    One of the admirable things about the YDB “team” is how reserved and civil they are (at least in public!) toward their critics. The YDB team seems to be doing their best to keep the discussion on a high plane.

    To this end, the YDB team doesn’t come out loudly to out-argue the sketics. Instead, the YDB team takes their time to gather their rebuttals of skeptics and they do it in journal papers and journal letters. SO far the YDB team as not gone out and gotten friendly science editors to lambaste the opposition in the public forum – even though, in the end of each very public skeptical attempt, the skeptics have been shown to be wrong. But in each case what is left in the public perception is that the loud skeptic yellers have ‘had the last word”. But actually, every skeptical arguments has been met and defeated – even though the public and science editors (LAZY science editors, may I add) are not aware of such successful rebuttals.

    Which bring us to…

    6. Science is not a debating society. Eventually the facts speak for themselves and the wrong interpretations get tossed in the dumpsters. It is NOT only in the 14th through 19th centuries that paradigms get busted. And they get busted by FACTS, new facts.

    In the study of history, there is a strong predilection to believe that any participant is entitled to his opinion and that no one opinion is 100% correct. They argue endlessly about past events and persons and motivations and intrigues – and who is to tell, when no one has a time machine with which to go back and check?

    But history is not science. History can’t FIND the incontrovertible facts in most cases, do a variety of interpretations are accepted and lived with. Science can’t do that. Certain physical laws simply prohibit some things from having been possible.

    As Allen West points out, “…house fires don’t explain why they found evidence of particles from the Syrian soil and in North America that contained rare minerals like suessite, which melts at 4,100 degrees, and corundum, which melts at 3,200 degrees.

    ‘No building fire can create those temperatures, a fact that refutes their hypothesis that this glass was produced in low-temperature building fires,’ he said. ‘The sad thing is that these guys ignored all the high temperature evidence.'”

    And “‘The only time these melted minerals are seen in glass is when there was a cosmic impact or an atomic bomb blast,’ West said of the new findings. ‘We can pretty much rule out an atomic bomb in Syria at that time.'”

    An atom bomb in Syria 12,800 years ago, of course, comes under the heading of an anachronism – meaning that any hypothesis including atom bombs is wrong.

    But also to not be overlooked is that the temperatures for making suessite and corundum tell us all that the skeptics either were poor readers of the YDB paper or that they CHOSE to pretend that suessite and corundum were not found. In either case, West was able to demolish the skeptics’ arguments simply by pointing to the things that the skeptics conveniently or ignorantly left out (but in his usual civil manner).

    That is like a criminal defense lawyer conveniently omitting the fingerprint evidence that put his client at the scene of the crime. The opposing lawyer would be all OVER that. And would probably NOT be too civil about it.

    I enjoy the YDB’s shredding of the cherry picking of the skeptics. And the manner of the shredding. It gives me confidence that we are watching reals scientists in action.

  35. If they are seeing olivine out there (likely spectroscopically), there’s gotta be other ways to form it than on the interior of planets. Note that for the record, we form diamonds other places than inside planets (impacts anyone?). Kimberlites are thought to be between 150 – 450 km deep for diamond formation, well within the range of planetesimal / dwarf planet sizes observed. And olivine has been found in Comet Haley in 1989.


    I find the story to be more interesting because of the switch from constructive to destructive processes in the inner solar system. When did that happen and why?

    From Jupiter inward, we believe that Mars, Earth, Vesta and Mercury all suffered very large caliber impacts (comparatively moon to Mars caliber objects) during the latter stages of planetary formation. Venus probably did also, though with its resurfacing, it is difficult to prove it. At least two of them hit Vesta which is why it is no longer round. This does not count the inbounds scattered during the Late Heavy Bombardment.

    While we continue to disagree about the exploding planet, we are both left with the old chicken and egg question – which came first and why?

    If there is an exploding planet, where did it come from and why? Accretion is the Occam’s Razor response on my side of the argument, especially since we are seeing accretion disks around other stars.

    Conversely, if there is no exploding planet, what finalized planetary formation, switched off the accretion and switched on the current era of destructive impacts?

    Lots of unexplained processes, which we are finding more about daily.

    Next up to bat is Ceres, starting right now as Dawn slides into an orbit around it for the next half year or so. Nobody expected Vesta to be so differentiated. Ceres is farther out, and looks like it will have significantly higher composition of ices than Vesta. Cheers –


  36. agimarc –

    Actually the olivine is found in meteorites, right here on Earth, not by spectroscopy. Good guess, though; you are thinking. I found it first in the Allende Meteorite, one of the biggest ever found.

    And you are correct in guessing that there may be another way olivine can form other than deep inside planets. The one paper (I can find it again if you ask…) determined that it needs a planet 2,000 km in radius to develop all the necessary requirements for olivine and peridotite formation. I didn’t check their math. (I may not be able to…)

    However, no one has any alternatives, except for the exploded planet guys and the electrical universe guys. Of those two, I side with the former.

    As to the change from constructive to destructive, my point about the accretion theory is that it couldn’t have happened by the mechanisms that it asserts. Velocities much higher than bullet speeds – how those can be constructive I can’t see, hard-headed guy that I am. And they don’t seem to propose any other.

    “The current era of destructive impacts” – by initial definition and one that still is invoked (when they see it working for them), the uniformitarians claim that “”the present is the key to the past’ and is functioning at the same rates” [Wiki] is a tough one to swallow, because in this case they invoke exactly the opposite.

    I give Geology some credit for seeing that periodic catastrophes DID happen. The late paleontologist Stephen J Gould argued for that, too, in his Punctuated Equilibrium.

    But those don’t really include the accretion theory of planets.

    I am arguing – tentatively – that the change-over you are thinking about never happened – because 20-70 km/sec impacts then on the same kinds of materials as exist today would have been just as destructive then as now.

    But where does that leave us, if not an exploding planet to form the comets and other minor bodies? And, bigger question yet – the one that accretion may not answer – is how the HELL did the planets form, if not by accretion.

    Hell, I agree with them – that accretion makes sense.. But when I look deeper into it, it seems to fall apart! I don’t think it was the Finger of God, which, “having writ, moved on”.

    I think we area a long way from an answer. Partly because the accretion theory is most likely wrong, from a dynamics and impact force POV. Without that, where are we? Until we give up on that idea, we are NOWHERE. And only at the beginning…

    Yes, we ARE finding more about the processes, and frequently. But when put into the wrong paradigm, those processes get interpreted within the wrong paradigm. IMHO they will all have to be re-thought out at some future time.

    Seriously: I don’t KNOW the answers. I am asking questions that come to mind, and not much more.

    Oh, and don’t ever feel like you have to agree with me. If you point out where I am asking the wrong things, I am happy to discard any wrong thinking.

  37. Following your Dawn Mission to Ceres link, there is this:


    OUCH! and OY VEY!

    They show “gullies” on a Vesta crater slope of about 30-60° and start talking about water?

    My first reaction is to hip-shoot a speculation of my own:

    Since that large impact crater was formed, other impacts on the asteroid generate quakes, which cna jar loose avalanches.

    For those of you that don’t know about it, there is a principle in engineering of mined materials which are stored in piles. The principle is called the “angle of repose”. That is the maximum steepness of the slope of a pile of ore/dirt/rubble. If the pile gets steeper than that, the materials avalanche down. Lower than that angle, the pile is seen sa “safe” from such debris flows.

    And those debris flows – like any avalanche – flow in essentially the same manner that water or molten lava or snow avalanches do. Those flows will create gullies when the geometry/geomorphology is right, and I have to think that the geometry is often right.

    “”We’re not suggesting that there was a river-like flow of water. We’re suggesting a process similar to debris flows, where a small amount of water mobilizes the sandy and rocky particles into a flow,” Scully said.”

    No. Water is NOT necessary to start debris flows. They happen in ore storage areas all the time. Quakes can do it as well, as well as wind erosion (on Earth). Water will AFFECT the angle of repose, but dry materials flow, too.

    “The leading theory to explain the source of the curved gullies is that Vesta has small, localized patches of ice in its subsurface. No one knows the origin of this ice, but one possibility is that ice-rich bodies, such as comets, left part of their ice deep in the subsurface following impact.”

    No, I would not think so. Hyper-velocity impacts occurring NOW do not leave materials (except in the minds of astronomers); it all gets taken out with the ~250-fold excavated materials and thrown into space.

    Barely ANY of the material found in craters and impact sites on Earth is from the impactor. Only very solid materials are left, and then as meteorites. If they find material inside the crater, it is much, much, MUCH more likely to be target material than impactor material. Imagining that ice could withstand the impact and get applied to the crater without melting and/or vaporizing away – that is pretty Pollyanna…

    But for meteors (asteroids) and comets, the density of any approaching that of water are considered too friable to have done more than get obliterated. And the heat levels engendered would vaporize any water available in a comet. Even the Bos knows that. Water has a density of 1.000 by definition, and friable comets are in the low-density range that can be well below 2.00. Rocks area at about 3.0-4.0 density.

  38. Steve –

    I saw the Vesta gully / water article and took it as a data point.

    I think water / ices can be introduced by impact and stay around. It would be the only way water ice suspected at the lunar south pole and at the pole of Mercury would exist.

    If you are an accretion kind of guy (which I am), one of your best models is the rings of Saturn, as the shepherd moons accrete ice particles.

    You asked about the switch over from additive to destructive processes. To me it makes a certain amount of sense making the gross assumption that sometime into the process there is a ring of stuff with various larger bodies building. If you have a ring, the relative velocities between close particles is low. As those particles are grabbed by growing bodies by electrostatic / gravitational forces, the average velocities of the remaining particles slowly increase. The wider lanes get swept by the growing bodies, the higher relative velocities of the inbound particles (chunks by this time?) get. Eventually the average velocity differences between bodies switches the game from constructive to destructive impact. If the body is really big, there is no such thing as a destructive impact (think Jupiter or Saturn sized).

    As I have said, we have visually seen these disks, complete with lanes in the dust. More later. Cehers –

  39. agimarc –

    I gotta ask:

    How are Saturn’s rings an example of accretion, when they are all broken up rubble? That one I don’t get. To me they look like an example of collisions breaking up things, not accreting them.

    I don’t argue that comets don’t bring ice to minor planets and planets. Whatever ice is in the comets would get melted or vaporized on impact, but then would refreeze. But I would expect it to NOT be inside the impact crater that THAT comet made.

    Could the water there be from the ejecta of another impact? I guess so, but that ejecta is going to be spread out over 360° in the region around that other impact site and that area might be quite large. That would suggest to me that the H2O is spread damned thin.

    …I didn’t actually ask about the switch over from accretion to destruction. I was responding to your own comment. I’d never given the idea much thought before you brought it up.

    As to rings being a part of the accretion “cycle” I don’t dispute your thinking that the relative velocities will be lower. But remember that bullets travel at only up to about 0.5 or 0.6 km/sec, and those speeds are destructive, too. So, my take on it is that the collision velocities need to be like 0.2 m/sec or less.

    To all of that I am going to interject my other “problem” with accretion – the REALLY early stages. Remember , this is material ejected from supernovas, right? That one is the escape velocities of supernovas (from which the heavier elements came). That is thought to be about 10,000 km/sec. I described once in a comment that at those speeds it takes about 3.75 HOURS for a particle to cross the entire solar system. I remember the 3.75 hours, so maybe the 10,000 km/sec was even LOW.

    Now, what does that do for me?

    Normal velocities of objects in the solar system only get up to about 70 km/sec. That leaves 9,930 km/sec of velocity for particles to lose somewhere along their paths across the galaxy. With a near complete vacuum, that is a hard thing to accomplish. No friction, no external forces. What did the braking of 99%+? Where did the energy get dispersed to? And HOW?

    With those velocities, the Sun simply could not have captured ANY of it. If it could, I wish someone could explain to me how the laws of escape velocities was breached.

    In addition, what organized all that matter in the rings to be going around in the same direction? In order to HAVE those low relative velocities between particles? it is nice to talk about those low relative velocities now. It is another thing to discuss how that condition came to be in the first place. Explaining the getting from the supernovas to that condition is the hard part.

    I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, and I don’t know… LOL

    And then there is the metamorphic rock crystals within meteors/asteroids that can’t form without super high temps and super high pressures. How did those get INTO those small bodies?

    Yes, high temps and high pressures exist in impacts – but only in a destructive sense. And THERE we come to the question of how did the solar system switch from constructive impacts to destructive?

    I posit that no such switchover occurred, because such high velocities as exit now and existed in the deep past

  40. Steve G,

    Another Rosetta article here:


    “…Preliminary results indicate that the comet is much harder than anticipated (surprise). Philae’s landing site seems to be covered with several centimeters of ash-like cometary dust (surprise).

    Those just-released science results from Rosetta are also full of head-scratchers. The composition of the comet’s ice implies that comets like 67P could not have provided Earth with the water that filled its oceans billions of years ago (surprise). There is almost no detectable ice on the surface yet the comet is shedding considerable water from somewhere just below. Comet 67P’s surface is marked with smoking pits, ripples and dunes that look like they were sculpted by wind, sagging depressions, giant boulders, and long fractures. Some of the dust “grains” flying off the comet are actually human-size chunks two meters (six feet) wide.

    Surprise, surprise, surprise.

  41. Here’s a fun link via Universe Today to Mike Brown’s page. He lists some 1187 dwarf planets (Kuiper and Oort bodies) down to 102 km in diameter. Whomever or whatever formed this system was busy. Links follow. Cheers –




  42. Steve –

    Due to the proximity of Saturn’s rings to its Roche limit, tidal forces keep them from forming a single or multiple bodies. Instead, the accretion process tends to ebb and flow, with bodies growing for a while and then disrupting due to impact.

    Take a look at shepherd moons Atlas & Pan. Saucer shape is due to accretion from ring particles.


    Take a look at the propellers embedded in the rings.


    Things slow down when crossing a shock wave. They also heat up a lot. When the wave front hits a cloud of cold gas / dust / other stuff, it injects energy of motion into the cloud, essentially kicking it. Not everything riding behind the shock slows down and stays until it impacts and passes the wave front. Cheers –

  43. So…a planetary roundness rule of thumb?


    “A good signpost suggesting which worlds have likely experienced internal geology and which ones haven’t is whether the world is round. If a world is round, that means it’s massive enough for the force imposed by its self-gravity to overcome the strength of its component materials, reshaping it. How big you have to be to get round depends upon your internal composition; it seems to be above 600 kilometers (at least) for rocky worlds, but only 400 kilometers for icy ones. Pluto (2330 km), Ceres (990 km), and Charon (1207 km) are all big enough to be round. As of this time next year, we’ll be getting our very first views of three round worlds, turning them into places with geography and geology for us to explore.”

  44. Steve; In the job I have we have to flow alum powder which is down to 3-4 microns. We use vibrators to move the powder from hoppers to feeder screws then to vibratory screens. when the vibration is just right the powder flows like water. Without the vibrators it sticks or rat holes like crazy. Here on earth whenever there is a earthquake you’ll inevidibly have an avalanche or two. So you have figure that in lesser gravity it would take very little impact vibration to kick loose a rubble flow.

  45. Trent –

    Way cool stuff about 67P.

    Yes, during the period of accumulating information/data/evidence, it SHOULD be “surprise, surprise, surprise”. Why wouldn’t it be? Because there are so many ways that science thinks it has all the major stuff known. If they would recognize that we are at a point EARLY on the continuum, there would be no surprises, because it is a time of exploring the unknown, and surprises should BE the norm, not the other way around. What causes the “surprises” is the pressure to jump to conclusions, WAAAAAAAY too early. Hardly a paper exists in the last 10-20-30 years that doesn’t exhibit this (professionally dictated)NEED to jump to conclusions. And everyone is trying to ace out everyone else. Perhaps that existed in the days of the botanists collecting butterflies and birds and bugs, but I don’t think so. People were satisfied with the fact that it was early in the game and that conclusions would be premature.

    So, every time I hear of surprises I am myself NOT surprised. It is just new information, and that is all. It is ONLY the EXPECTATION that things will fit in with their premature “conjaculations” that brings surprises.

    No duh.

    The YDIH/YDB skeptics ridicule the YDB team for what they see as premature “conjaculations”, but they don’t see that the paradigms that they themselves hold to be true are every bit as premature.


    IMHO, It is another necessary step along the way.

    There is field called scientific history, or some such. I look at today’s science as part of that history, not the finishing chapter to “Ho, Hum, another piece to fit into our boringly finished science.” NEW PIECES, NEW PIECES, NEW PIECES. What is so hard about THAT?

    Techie comment to follow…

  46. From the article Trent posted a link to:
    The composition of the comet’s ice implies that comets like 67P could not have provided Earth with the water that filled its oceans billions of years ago (surprise).

    Dagnabit! Can’t these people EVER stop trying to make each and every new discovery into THE ABSOLUTE AND EVERLASTING ONLY WAY THINGS ARE OR COULD POSSIBLY BE?

    OY VEY!!!!!

    Thus really gets boring. Of COURSE 67P isn’t going to represent ALL comets. WHERE IN THE HECK did they get the idea that it WOULD? Aren’t they smart enough to realize that ONE comet may not represent all comets. WTF, PEOPLE?

    ¡Ai caramba!

  47. agimarc –

    He lists some 1187 dwarf planets (Kuiper and Oort bodies) down to 102 km in diameter.

    WHAAAT?! Did they actually claim “Oort bodies”?

    The Oort cloud as of a few months ago was seen as still a hypothetical that had no actual empirical proof to it. I’d think that someone here would have raised a big flag if in the last few months the Oort cloud had had some empirical evidence that it actually exists. In lieu of that missing commentary here, I have to ask if this guy is seeing something that isn’t really there.

    As to “someone being busy making all those smaller objects”, Tom van Flandern’s (and Lagrange’s) exploding planet explains those without batting an eye. In fact, IT PREDICTS THEM.

    If people are dealing with the wrong paradigm then much new evidence is a surprise” – i.e., NOT predicted. In the past that was a sign that the paradigm was wrong. If the paradigm is correct, then it PREDICTS new evidence correctly.

    I will let you guys take that from there…

  48. Hmmm… Agimarc, something doesn’t compute…

    You said the thing talks of Kuiper and Oort objects.

    A search of the caltech link shows no mention of Oort. Kuiper belt objects Mike Brown discusses to some extent, but has LOT of caveats about a lot of things, and he goes on about roundness, which doesn’t seem something to waste one’s time about. He mentions Oort not once. Not in that link, at least. Nor in the main sub-link.

    Not one of the three links you gave mention Oort, so I have to ask where that came from.

    At the moment I am thinking that Oort is NOT part of the discussion of Mike Brown’s list. That would suggest that the empirical evidence of the Oort cloud is still ZERO.

  49. Trent –

    ““A good signpost suggesting which worlds have likely experienced internal geology and which ones haven’t is whether the world is round.”

    THAT I would completely agree with, for what my opinion is worth.

    “If a world is round, that means it’s massive enough for the force imposed by its self-gravity to overcome the strength of its component materials, reshaping it.”

    We-e-e-e-el, I would give this one a partial thumbs up. “to overcome the strength of its component materials” is a rather vague phrase. Basically, I think that it is clear that much of the present “knowledge” of planetary formation is based on assumptions that are VERY difficult to empirically test, so, though they know more than you and I do, I wouldn’t take any specific rationale as the absolute reality of it all. IOW, I don’t see that as being the reason why a planet would or wouldn’t be round.

    Like I said, though, roundness per se doesn’t seem to be a real factor in much.

    As to the rest of that quote, it doesn’t address the presence of metamorphic materials like olivine and peridotite. I’d suspect that the NUMBERS are probably real and close to the solar system facts, though. Roundness does not equate with metamorphism, not necessarily, and perhaps not even necessarily directly proportionately. It sounds possible and maybe even reasonable, but not necessarily so.

    The last line you quoted sounds like b.s. and wishful thinking. A whole three round worlds – it sounds like they are ITCHING to jump to some really “paradigm friendly” conclusions.

    So I sound skeptical?

    Why the hell not? People are skeptical of the YDIH for a lot less reasons than I’ve just laid out.


    BTW, guys, IMHO this is a great thread. It’s directions and its participation.

  50. I believe I had read a long, long, long time ago that water came into being very early in the earths life from lightening strikes combining H and O2 to form water. I’m not sure if that scenario is valid anymore but I thought I would bring it out just to make more room in my crowded head. I would have to guess that the lightening was from another source of static electricity because–no water, no storms as we know them. The static would have had to come from the turbulence created by the thermally active earth and the gaseous atmosphere. Possible?

  51. Steve G,

    There are a lot of globe type objects that are lack a uniform density and a perfect center of mass.

    Geology doesn’t necessarily result in such things.

  52. Trent –

    I don’t disagree. I’ve often wondered at the roundness of planets.

    I’d also heard long ago that the true circularity/oblateness of the Earth is more perfectly round than a billiard ball. So I went and did the numbers, and damned if it isn’t right at the roundness of a billiard ball, just like they said. I looked up the standard tolerances for billiard balls and compared that to shirking the world to that size.

    I took the most extreme points on the surface of the Earth – the Mariana’s Trench and Chimboarazo, the highest peak on Earth (from the center). Using those, the tolerances versus a billiard ball are pretty much in the same ranges. Since those are such narrow points, when we look at more normal variations, the Earth is quite a bit more truly circular than a billiard ball.

    I won’t go into the numbers now, but if someone asks, I can show my work…

    Mars has much higher peaks and deeper canyons, I think I remember. So its sphericity is less true than the Earth or a billiard ball.

    As to what causes such circularity/sphericity, though, I am at a loss.

  53. As to CG being at the perfect center of objects, I also agree with you. And it SEEMS reasonable that at a certain size the forces will balance out to reconfigure – but getting to that size is my bugaboo.

    With impacts being destructive now, the laws of physics cannot have changed. Or could they? Not in my book.

  54. WOW, I got it.

    For those interested in inserting links to any text, that link was done with the following HTML string (no idea if this is actually going to display as I intend it):

    put your text here

    Where for the link the href VALUE – between the first two quotation marks is the full URL INCLUDING THE “HTTP://”, such as


    And put you text after the rel=”nofollow”>, such as:


    For those who do HTML all the time, you have no idea how many times I’ve tried this <b?unsuccessfully in so many ways, over a very long period of time.

    No idea why my brain couldn’t manage to get it right before…

  55. Nope… it didn’t display like I was trying to get it to. And I have to go out for a good while. Back to it later. But at least I know how to do it now.

  56. As it turns out, there is something called the inner oort cloud. Think of it as a connecting thick disk-ish region that connects the Oort cloud to the Kuiper belt, meanign it contains objects much closer than the 5,000 AU Oort inner limit. So far, at least 4 bodies including Sedna are thought to be Oort residents. Cheers –


  57. Inner Oort cloud… Not once have I ever seen the Oort cloud discussed without them mentioning that the Oort could itself is theoretical. Now we have people saying there is an inner Oort cloud, and I suppose an outer Oort cloud, or at least a Main Oort cloud. If it is theoretical they can divide it up any way they want to, I guess. And then also start giving it more qualities – anything to make things fit it or make it fit new observations.

    There is probably 10,000 times as much evidence for the Younger Dryas Impact event than there is the Oort cloud, but WOW are the two treated differently! The YDIH has to jump through hoops and prove the same empirical forensics over and over and over, but the Oort cloud – with not ONE empirical piece of evidence – is accepted as fact, even though they caveat it all over the place.

    In other words, if you present a uniformitarian hypothesis it is given an easy pass, but if you posit a catastrophist hypothesis, there is a long gauntlet to run though.

  58. Steve – Everything is theoretical until you start piling up observations and data.

    You got a lot of largish bodies in the outer solar system that the planetary types are trying to shoe-horn into various boxes – Centaurs, Plutinos, KBOs and Oort Cloud Objects. The definitions are sufficiently malleable so that it drives everyone nuts at the beginning, and for my money, we are most certainly at the beginning of figuring out what is in the outer reaches of the solar system.

    Think the YD impact stuff is bad? Try being a manmade global warming skeptic for a while.

    The new guys, whomever they are or whatever they think they know will have to be bulletproof in order to upset the existing world view, or wait until all the opposition dies off like Wegner (plate tectonics) did. Either way, if we are right, we win. If not, we figure out why not and proceed to the next event and try to do it better. Cheers –

  59. agimarc –

    Hahahahahaha . . . about trying to be “a manmade global warming skeptic for a while”.

    That I AM, in spades.

    I think the CAGW* science is horribly weak. I started out accepting it all at face value. Then one day about 1999 I decided to start looking into it, just to see what the scientists had found. Ay caramba, they had NOTHING!

    They had never – and still have never – done a simple process of elimination to exclude NON-human causes.

    If you ever watch them debate this issue, all the supporters do is holler about “Most of the scientists believe it, so you should, too – and don’t listen to those either guys because they don’t know their science”. Then you hear the skeptics bringing up actual scientific data, over and over, and you can see that the skeptics are the ones using science, while the “warmists” are just saying, “Jump on the wagon with everyone else.”

    I have been, then about 15-16 years on that, and I haven’t seen ONE paper that I trust that supports it. I literally can talk all day on why it is bogus, and in that day I will bring in probably 100 different scientific points, that if asked, I can back up with data.

    From “The Divergence Problem” to “Climategate” to the Little Ice Age to the Medieval Warm Period to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation to “the 17-year Hiatus (and counting…)”, and a lot more points, I can argue till I am blue in the face.

    In all the debates on it that I have been involved in (mostly one-on-ones), the warmist side still has yet to bring up an actual true piece of evidence. No, the oceans are not rising faster. No the storms are not getting more severe. No, the droughts are not worse. No, glaciers are not going to melt in the Himalayas by 2035. No, the Arctic Ocean is not more melted than before. No, the amount of ice at the poles is not less than before. No, no animals are going extinct in ways that can actually be tied to human activities. No, the oceans are not going to boil (Jim Hansen, back in about 1988). No, our grandkids will not have dead world. And NO, the global temps will not be 5.8°C higher in 2100.

    Global warming? It is a naturally occurring event. Humans have nothing to do with it. That is my well-informed opinion.

    Glad you agree! And don’t give up! The skeptical side will win out.

    *Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, to those who don’t know the abbreviation…

    If this was too much global warming stuff, my apologies.

    Agimarc, if you want to write me to compare notes, my email is [email protected].

  60. The models are wrong because of the initial assumption that without GH gases the troposphere would have been isothermal. We know this assumption is made because we know the 255K temperature is at about 5Km altitude, and yet they say the surface would have been the same 255K. From there they get their sensitivity by assuming water vapor makes rain forests about 30 to 40 degrees hotter than dry regions and carbon dioxide adds a bit of warming also. In fact none of that happens.

    The assumption regarding isothermal conditions is inherently applying the Clausius “hot to cold” statement which is just a corollary of the Second Law which only applies in a horizontal plane. That we know because it is clearly specified (as here) that the entropy equation is derived by assuming that changes in molecular gravitational potential energy can be ignored. It is those changes which actually cause the temperature gradient to evolve, so we must always remember that sensible heat transfers are not always from warmer to cooler regions in a vertical plane in a gravitational field
    So they cannot prove that the Clausius statement they use to get their assumed isothermal conditions is correct in a vertical column of a planet’s troposphere, and so they cannot prove the fundamental building block upon which they built the GH conjecture.

    Any questions are probably already answered here: http://climate-change-theory.com

  61. PhysicsGroup –

    I wrote that comment with trepidation, because this is not a global warming site or GW skeptic site. This is about the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis and related impact and meteor phenomena. I erred in commenting to the extent I did. I do not want to hijack this to another topic. Or to encourage that to happen.

    Thanks for your feedback, though.

    And thanks for the link. Perhaps I will follow up on this there.

  62. I ran across something disturbing today…

    I found out that the USGS Geologic Time chart that I used in discussing the Michigan Basin’s missing deposits is not THE source to be used. At least I don’t think. There is an International Stratigraphy organization that puts out a geologic time chart, and that seems to be the standard.

    No big deal?

    Well, it FURTHER turns out that the two organizations’ charts don’t agree. For the end of the Pennsylvanian epoch of the Carbonaceous Age the USGS gives 286.0 Mya. The Int’l Stratigraphy group gives 298.9 Mya. That is a whopping 12.9 million years difference.

    I’d suspected that there was a sizable uncertainty range on dates given back that far into the deep past, but 12.9 million years is more than just a little uncertainty, IMHO.

    What flabbergasts me the most (well, maybe not THE most) is that I checked with the USGS, and they still have the same chart up that I’d used before. So it isn’t just a matter of some updates. One of the two groups is using wrong dates. Maybe both.

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