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Independent confirmation: Young bucks at same school double-check National Academy member and YDB author Kennett's nanodiamond claims -- found 'em
Restored from the library fire 1/9/20
event January 27, 2014 comment 97 Comments


 The excavation at Bull Creek, Oklahoma, shows the paleosol — ancient buried soil; the dark black layer in the side of the cliff — that formed during the Younger Dryas. – UCSB


More recently, another group of earth scientists, including UCSB’s Alexander Simms and alumna Hanna Alexander, re-examined the distribution of nanodiamonds in Bull Creek’s sedimentological record to see if they could reproduce the original study’s evidence supporting the YDB hypothesis. Their findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

 “We were able to replicate some of their results and we did find nanodiamonds right at the Younger Dryas Boundary,” said Simms, an associate professor in UCSB’s Department of Earth Science.

The paper


UCSB Press Release

University of Oklahoma Press Release

Editor: Jay Melosh

What Killed the Woolly Mammoth? UCSB Professor Finds Evidence to Support Comet Collision


Alex Simms

Alexander R. Simms

Could a comet have been responsible for the extinction of North America’s megafauna — woolly mammoths, giant ground sloths and saber-tooth tigers? UC Santa Barbara’s James Kennett, professor emeritus in the Department of Earth Science, posited that such an extraterrestrial event occurred 12,900 years ago.

Originally published in 2007, Kennett’s controversial Younger Dryas Boundary (YDB) hypothesis suggests that a comet collision precipitated the Younger Dryas period of global cooling, which, in turn, contributed to the extinction of many animals and altered human adaptations. The nanodiamond is one type of material that could result from an extraterrestrial collision, and the presence of nanodiamonds along Bull Creek in the Oklahoma Panhandle lends credence to the YDB hypothesis.

More recently, another group of earth scientists, including UCSB’s Alexander Simms and alumna Hanna Alexander, re-examined the distribution of nanodiamonds in Bull Creek’s sedimentological record to see if they could reproduce the original study’s evidence supporting the YDB hypothesis. Their findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

“We were able to replicate some of their results and we did find nanodiamonds right at the Younger Dryas Boundary,” said Simms, an associate professor in UCSB’s Department of Earth Science. “However, we also found a second spike of nanodiamonds more recently in the sedimentary record, sometime within the past 3,000 years.”

The researchers analyzed 49 sediment samples representing different time periods and environmental and climactic settings, and identified high levels of nanodiamonds immediately below and just above YDB deposits and in late-Holocene near-surface deposits.

The late Holocene began at the end of the Pleistocene 11,700 years ago and continues to the present. The researchers found that the presence of nanodiamonds is not caused by environmental setting, soil formation, cultural activities, other climate changes or the amount of time in which the landscape is stable.

The discovery of high concentrations of nanodiamonds from two distinct time periods suggests that whatever process produced the elevated concentrations of nanodiamonds at the onset of the Younger Dryas sediments may have also been active in recent millennia in Bull Creek.

“Nanodiamonds are found in high abundances at the YDB, giving some support to that theory,” Simms said. “However, we did find it at one other site, which may or may not be caused by a smaller but similar event nearby.”

A “recent” meteorite impact did occur near Bull Creek but scientists don’t know exactly when. The fact that the study’s second nanodiamond spike occurred sometime during the past 3,000 years suggests that the distribution of nanodiamonds is not unique to the Younger Dryas.


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  1. “However, we also found a second spike of nanodiamonds more recently in the sedimentary record, sometime within the past 3,000 years.”

    So what happened 3,000 years ago?

    Is this evidence for another major North American impact event, perchance?

  2. Yeah, these people are laughable.


    Because they think that pointing at other spikes – in nanodiamonds or in GISP2 or whatever – and assume that nothing else happened, so that they think it means the YDB is a false positive. It could VERY WELL mean the exact opposite – but they point us right to the OTHER events. It can come back to bite them. The joke may well be on them. It all is so far over their heads…

  3. Steve,

    The Bos’ types of the science world have another problem. Their gradualist worldview is failing the test of reality.

    See —

    For decades, astronomers have thought the belt formed from the same cloud of dust and rock that made our planets. That theory was based on observations of just a few asteroids in the 1980s. Astronomers have seen a lot more asteroids since then.

    “There have been some really large surveys over the past decade or so that have expanded our understanding from a couple thousand asteroids to hundreds of thousands of asteroids,” says Francesca DeMeo, an astronomer at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

    When DeMeo and her co-author, Benoit Carry of the Paris Observatory, looked at all of these new asteroids, they found something surprising. Many of the rocks looked like they’d come from somewhere outside the asteroid belt.

    “What we see today in the asteroid belt is sort of this melting pot of asteroids that formed in all different locations throughout the solar system,” DeMeo says.


    “But this new asteroid survey seems to confirm that giving birth to a solar system is more chaotic and dangerous than anyone thought.”


    Asteroid Belt May Be Just One Big Melting Pot Of Space Rocks
    by Geoff Brumfiel
    January 30, 2014

    and see the Nature article:

    Solar System evolution from compositional mapping of the asteroid belt

  4. Steve,

    See also:

    ‘Rogue’ asteroids may be the norm

    Date:January 29, 2014

    Source:Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    A new map developed by astronomers charts the size, composition, and location of more than 100,000 asteroids throughout the solar system, and shows that rogue asteroids are actually more common than previously thought. Particularly in the solar system’s main asteroid belt — between Mars and Jupiter — the researchers found a compositionally diverse mix of asteroids.



    Closing Text —

    A shifting solar system

    The compositional diversity seen in this new asteroid map may add weight to a theory of planetary migration called the Grand Tack model. This model lays out a scenario in which Jupiter, within the first few million years of the solar system’s creation, migrated as close to the sun as Mars is today. During its migration, Jupiter may have moved right through the asteroid belt, scattering its contents and repopulating it with asteroids from both the inner and outer solar system before moving back out to its current position — a picture that is very different from the traditional, static view of a solar system that formed and stayed essentially in place for the past 4.5 billion years.

    “That [theory] has been completely turned on its head,” DeMeo says. “Today we think the absolute opposite: Everything’s been moved around a lot and the solar system has been very dynamic.”

    DeMeo adds that the early pinballing of asteroids around the solar system may have had big impacts — literally — on Earth. For instance, colder asteroids that formed further out likely contained ice. When they were brought closer in by planetary migrations, they may have collided with Earth, leaving remnants of ice that eventually melted into water.

    “The story of what the asteroid belt is telling us also relates to how Earth developed water, and how it stayed in this Goldilocks region of habitability today,” DeMeo says.

  5. Thanks, Trent –

    Comment 1: From the video: [DeMeo] “Jupiter would push and pull and tug everything else along with it…”

    Does anybody else here see anything ludicrous in that statement?

    Comment 2: I can put this into my collection of “Science Does It Again” items. That is for new discoveries that overthrow what they claimed they knew with certainty – and then had to go back to the drawing board. This one may get a bullet or star, even.

    Why? Because they have been pontificating for decades about how they knew exactly how the Solar System formed and how the Asteroid Belt came to be. That certainty was, of course, unwarranted.

    And what does this teach us? Not just us here, but everybody. That scientific reality is not certainty and that many certainties have – and will continue to be – wrong.

    Simply because the scientists pontificate a theory as real and correct does not make it so. As I’ve said before, 125 years ago their certainty about many things was every bit as insistent as today’s certainties, and yet scores upon scores of late 1800s certainties are now smirked at. Today’s scientists – with their extra evidence – laugh at the smugness and certainty of those silly people back then.

    I’ve repeatedly argued that the scientists of the year 2135 will laugh at many of today’s certainties.

    Which ones? We will find out along the way. In the meantime, a consensus should be looked at as having a GOOD chance of being wrong and thus assailing it is NOT silliness. Researchers SHOULD be looking for the weak spots in a paradigm – any paradigm. And when evidence comes up that suggests a paradigm is wrong, we should not back away, simply because today there IS a consensus.

    My speculation is that about half or more of what we think about the processes of the Solar System’s and galaxy’s and universe’s past will be overthrown. So it is all fair game. One might even do well to assume all of them to be wrong and go after all of them.

    After all, we are only about 200 years past the point when “Rocks can’t fall from the sky.” If we still believed that, internet or not, we here at CosmicTusk would never be coming here. Impactors wouldn’t even be being studied at all.

    Comment 3: I would also put caveats on the conclusions from THIS study as well. Almost every statement made about this finding is loaded with caveats and speculations.

    Comment 4: Don’t take any of the above to mean I am not glad to see this study! I’ve been railing against the paradigm about the formation of the Solar System for a long time. While this one seems to shoot down the old idea, it is also filled with holes right now, but at least it is tearing down the old edifice. THAT tearing down effect will make new ideas more welcome – and in science that is a good thing.

    Comment 5: The idea of asteroids forming at different distances and in different ways is a welcome questioning, but it is an immature idea at present, forced upon them by the previous WRONG thinking. The late astronomer Tom van Flandern has a list of reasons that the current paradigm (ten years ago) was wrong, and the list goes on for page after page. I don’t have access to his book now, but I’d like to review the list in light of this study – as to how many of his ideas now seem more likely to be true.


    Answer to the question in Comment 1:

    Jupiter’s gravity can not push anything. Gravity is not a push, but a pull. To hear a scientist say such a thing is more or less a joke.

    Concept wise, what they say about Jupiter swooping inward, that is also wrong. If Jupiter moved inward it would vacuum up asteroids and erase them from existence.

  6. Steve,

    Their theory has a Jupiter sized hole in it, alright.

    Exactly what could give Juputer an elypical orbit near Mars’ current elypitcal orbital _without eating Mars_?

    And exactly what would circularize Jupiter to the current elyptical orbit _without destroying/destabilizing Mars_?

  7. Yeah, circularization. That is the thing that I first noticed about Velikovsky’s “Venus as a comet” idea. Venus has the most circular orbit of all the planets, so how in 3500 years or so did it FIND its current orbit and what interaction circularized its orbit.

    And with Jupiter, what interactions of what inner planets could have rounded off its orbit? Good point!

    Now IF Jupiter came into the inner planets arena, it wouldn’t necessarily bother Mars much if Mars was on the other side of the Sun. But then we would be talking about a one-time excursion and a short term one, too – less than Mars’ 2.2 years. And the chances of that are what? One in 17 billion?

    ALSO: If Jupiter came inside Mars’ orbit, then its ellipticity would have also taken it out near Saturn. Would it screw up Saturn? Would it drag (“pull”) asteroids along with it?

    Nah, BIG holes in that idea. It is amazing how such total speculative crap can pass for science.

  8. Trent; I’ve done a little searching and found that approx 3000yrs ago there was a period of climatic change a large percentage of the existing cultures egyptian and middle eastern collapsed or were greatly diminished. Many of the folk tales and myths world wide tell of a time of great tumult and chaos, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, diminshed sun, extended winters. With the finding of nanodiamonds at that time frame I would( forgive me Steve) speculate that there was probably a oceanic impact that set all this in motion. I don’t know the travel distance of nano diamonds from an impact but if there is any correlation one might be able to back track to a general area and look further.

  9. Hi Steve –

    I am of the opinion that speculation can precede and almost certainly does usually precede
    the formal statement of a hypothesis.

    Both of which are just fine, and part of the scientific process.

    The problem is when people get confused about what they are doing.

  10. Hi Steve

    From the speculation with a doctoral colleague (in 2009) I started my research on the pallaeolagoons cosmogenic hypothesis. I have found evidence of their cosmogenic origin in all ponds fields I have investigated, I found impactites. Some with probable age of 12,900 years. Other fields of ponds can be 3,200 years. Other fields I still can not say anything about their ages. Data not yet disclosed (by Godbole) points to probable cosmogenia to Indian ponds. Yes EP, it is the scientific process. We know what we’re looking for.


  11. The speculation comes as a seed, but it itself is not science, no matter HOW reasonable the speculation may sound. It comes BEFORE the science. Many thousands of speculations come and go every year in every discipline – and every one of them sounds reasonable to the people speculating. The science is when experiments are devised to find out if the speculations are more than just guesses. As one of my PhDs said one day on a walk, “Intuitively, that sounds correct. How can we test it out to see if it is crap or gold?”

    As you said, Pierson, “FROM the speculation.” And how many other speculations have you had which were not correct? Only the correct ones are science. Otherwise it is like the ancient Greeks and the four elements and all the dead ends those mental guesses led to. ALL those done without experiment and data were speculations, not science. EXPERIMENT is science.

  12. Yes speculate is the base. Intuition is common in art and science, is a non-rational point (where pre-known information is not formally bind and respond to questions) and respond in a mysterious way, but it is different from delirium. I even believe that aliens have visited us, but they were not who taught us to master the fire of Prometheus. The Greeks speculated without telescopes (instruments) they helped us to understand the universe. The most powerful scientific instrument still remains the brain.

  13. Any of the tuskers: I’m trying to calculate the size and the speed of an impactor that has removed or displaced approximately 8,000,000 cu miles of earth surface. Does anyone know of a formula I can plug numbers into.

  14. Steve; I was on on a website and came across a relief map of Michigan that shows what may be the ground zero imprint of the Saginaw Bay impact. If you go to then click images, then type in Michigan relief map the map will come up. Look to the West south west of Sagainaw Bay and you will see a small round depression a couple of miles across. This map shows the ejecta butterfly quite clearly and this depression is inside the end of the pattern. If you get a chance, What do you think?

  15. Pierson; I alreaady know the volume of the crater I’m going baclwards and trying to find the size and speed of the impactor. I did play with the calculator and came up with a crater discription that sounds very close to what has been found in the crater floor. The crater is 600 mi in dia and 1200 mile long. Approximately 8,000,000 cu miles of earth displaced.

  16. What this article on this observational asteroid census data tells us is best summed up in these two sentence fragments:

    1) “…rogue asteroids are actually more common than previously thought.”


    2) “…everything’s been moved around a lot and the solar system has been very dynamic.”

    Everything else appears to be pure guess work without sound scientific analysis and testing of theoretical models against this observed asteroid census data.

    This is why I say Bos et al have had their ‘reality check’ bounce.

  17. Trent –

    Yes. If you read an paper on any of this Solar System formation carefully, you will see it is guesses piled up on surmises. It’s all based on data and evidence, yes, but the pieces are so fragmentary that the assembly of them is anybody’s guess. And that is what comes out. Every astronomer has a different overall view of the whole. In public they put on a smiling, agreeable collective face, but their papers are all over the place. And if you take out the “caveat” statements, there isn’t much to any of them.

    It is really embarrassing for the human race that we don’t have better minds on this. Bos makes his living making cartoons in a very tiny corner of their discipline and pretends on TV that he is an expert on everything. When each one is an expert in one tiny box, the overall is a bunch of leaving it up to someone else.

    It is VERY important to learn how the asteroids and comets formed. The Oort cloud source for comets is the “Piltdown Man” of solar system astronomy. Someone will discover before long that the cranium is from an ox and that the jaw bone is that of an ass. And here we are being told that what they had all agreed was the way asteroids were formed is now blown to pieces. NOBODY is even asking how igneous rocks came to exist floating around in space with no volcanoes around. Or how the nickel or iron molecules created inside supernova and blasted out as plasma could have re-formed into HUGE solid chunks with no gravity and no pressure around to force the molecules together. (I refer again to “strengthless bodies.”) The entire Solar System formation hypothesis is an inverted pyramid trying to balance itself on the apex, with elephants running around and dancing to hip hop music on top of the pyramid. There are holes big enough in all of it to drive a Mack truck through each one. But the circle the wagons if anyone outside asks what is going on with their theories and why every ten years or so they have to throw their hands up and start over again.

    A theory that has to be re-started all the time is no theory at all. It is silliness. It is one thing to find out more particulars and incorporate them so as to refine a theory. It is quite another to have to chuck it all out and go back to step #1. The former is adjusting it; the latter is screaming that the former work was totally WRONG. And then, even when then old one is thrown away, they act is if they knew the new stuff all along. The pedantry continues…

    As you say, “pure guess work,” Trent. And getting PAID to do it! Wouldn’t we all love THAT job!

    In R&D the guesses we made were not the science. The science was knowing how to determine if the guess was right or not. Granted astronomy is not a discipline that can be done in the lab. So we do need to give the astronomers a break there. But still they shouldn’t go around pontificating on stuff that is 90% filled with holes. They need to state how uncertain their guesses are. The phrase “so far” would good. As in, “From what we know so far, this is the way things seems to be.”

    Instead they crowbar every new piece of evidence into the old theory – until the old theory simply falls apart or blows up in their faces. Such as this paper. Though this paper also has so much conjecture that they should join Monty Python’s Silly Party.

  18. Hi Steve –

    Moving on from your views on “speculation”, I see you are having problems with validation of a hypothesis in non-experimental science.

    As I understand it, in that case,
    the hypothesis has to agree both with the observed data, and the rest of the laws of science as currently known.

  19. E.P. Grondine,

    I think the problem Steve and I have here is that the the hypothesis DOESN’T agree both with the observed data, and the rest of the laws of science as currently known…

    …and the experts in this area are dreaming up stuff that serves to divert attention from the implications of that fact.

    Well, if there is smoke, there darned well may be fire.


    [I THINK someone here posted that link in a comment long ago, but I let it slip a bit at the time and am reposting the link.]

    You’ve all heard me yammer about the question of the formation of comets and asteroids, how the planetary nebula IMHO did not have sufficient pressures or forces available to create rocks and chunks of metal, even if the molecules were floating around the Sun. All a planetary nebula has is velocity. And with the objects all going around in the same direction, the delta velocity isn’t really very high, so the idea of things going bump in the night and miraculously melting iron and nickel together – who in the world ever thought THAT one up?

    The linked blog post covers my own POV on it – but does it SO MUCH BETTER. The 3D models are great and VERY instructive.

    I agree with the late Tom van Flandern and Lagrange, and I think Laplace was wrong. There is no need for any Oort cloud. I have read van Flandern’s book, and he has a list of reasons why THIS hypothesis makes sense that goes on page after page after page. Laplace’s idea is present in almost every article any of us reads about comets or asteroids, because all those articles talk about the asteroids and comets as “being leftovers from the formation of the solar system.” Personally that always sticks in my craw. 200 years ago the politics of academia preferred one explanation over the other, despite so many lines of evidence favoring the opposition hypothesis and despite so many weaknesses in Laplace’s planetary nebula.

    There is some really good info in this post for those who are interested.

    I think the work done to show that all the Jupiter class asteroids plotted

  21. Steve; Here’s another idea that may also stick in your craw but it’s an idea. What about all this cometary and asteroid debris being left over from the intial Big Bang? All this debris could be spread over the entire universe and some of it gets caught up in the gravitational fields of planets in any of the solar systems out there, not just ours.

  22. Jim –

    I am not sure if you get my point.

    First of all, per the Big Bang theory, ALL matter is “left over from” the Big Bang.

    The current theory of how the heavier elements came to be is that they were forged in the explosions of supervnovas. Not regular novas, but supernovas. Supernovas need a star much bigger than our Sun. Some were forged inside those stars and were dispersed by the explosion. Some were transformed/transmuted by the explosion itself and also dispersed by the explosion.

    One shortcoming of that scenario is that the ejection velocity was not only high enough to escape the existing gravity at that star. THAT velocity is also higher than the escape velocity of our Sun. That means that any matter passing by might be diverted, but would basically go on its way past us. It wouldn’t slow down and get trapped. In fact, as it approached it would speed UP. (It would not slow down on its way here because with no matter in space, there is nothing to slow it down. Once impelled to move away from the supernova its velocity would remain the same until it hit something.

    So, the matter that is supposed to have populated the planetary nebula doesn’t stay here, even if it came in the right direction. It would have been like a Japanese bullet train whizzing by a hamlet and its rice paddies.

    Following their model (not mine) to its absurd conclusion, the other reality (as I see it) is that if the material wasn’t cohered together when it left the supernova (and plasma is NOT cohered, by definition), it was not going to cohere later on, when it was out in deep space with no atmosphere, no gravity, and no external pressure. It left as a plasma (the temps and pressures of the supernova dictate that), and by the time the temps had dropped, the particles were on diverging paths and would keep getting farther and farther apart. Because of the latter, the gravity would be diminishing with time. The particles would be loners. Thus, the supernova theory may explain that the pressures and temperatures to form heavier elements may hold water, but they don’t address the question of how the heavier elements got HERE, and were interrupted in their flight enough to stay HERE, and somehow took on a solid form.

    Don’t be swayed by those so-called beautiful Hubble photos of “nurseries” for stars, either. That is a different process altogether.

    And then, even if material was in a nebula around our Sun (or any star), their agglomeration is a half-baked concept. Oh, that concept allows them to blow it off and go on to sexier astronomical topics, but they haven’t thought it through. Whizzing around a star pretty much in lock step, the nebulous matter (which couldn’t have come from the supernova – see above) all has a very small delta-V to its neighbors. To be in the same orbit for any length of time they HAD to have just the right orbital velocity; otherwise they would have moved into a higher or lower orbit. Therefore, those orbiting together had the same velocity. What does that mean? That if the happened to bump into each other, it would have been a polite tap. That kind of force cannot possibly form solids by impact. I.e., they cannot hit at the right velocity to form solid metal blobs.

    This is born out by all the close-up images we have of comets and asteroids. We see what? Impact cratering. Just like on Earth, an impact with any velocity ejects many times more material than it adds. It is subtraction by addition. The impacts DESTROY the asteroids and comets, bit by bit. And moons, too. YES, the material ejected DOES eventually flutter back down to the surface – but as dust and smaller rocks, and the land with insufficient velocity to do anything but kiss the surface. After all, the comet’s or asteroid’s gravity is too small to create much impact for the returning ejecta.

    In terms of the main body/dust interactions, the combined body is a “strengthless” body. The slightest whiff or nudge or perturbation will cause the dust to drift off again. A snowball is far more coherent.

    So, how did solid iron-nickel bodies form?

    They MUST have formed while on/inside a full-sized planet or moon. Only there could pressures and temperatures have been sufficient to create blobs meters or tens of meters across. There had to have been a cauldron to make those iron-nickel meteors we find on Earth. They didn’t form like that on entry into our atmosphere. And since they could not have formed like that in the vacuum and cold of deep space, there is only one possibility remaining. Inside a planet. A planet with volcanoes and magma chambers and a molten core.

    So, is all this correct? Not all of it. Maybe none of it. I keep trying to engage someone in a dialog here, but nobody has risen to the bait. Another mind would be appreciated, to pick holes in it and show me where I am full of crap. Some of this may have simple explanations that I am overlooking.

    But I simply cannot understand how they can think such bodies that we see could have possibly been formed in the ways the astronomers assert.

  23. Interesting…

    Did I just run across an interesting date.

    Pangaea – the supercontinent that Wegener’s plate tectonics has led to – existed 300 Mya.

    [Wiki] Pangaea was a supercontinent that existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras, forming approximately 300 million years ago.[2] It began to break apart around 200 million years ago.

    What is so interesting about that?

    In the Michigan Basin the date of the layer immediately below the “glacial drift” Pleistocene layer is dated to the Pennsylvanian era, which ran from about 315 to 280 Mya. The Pennsylvanian was the second half of the Carboniferous era, which began about 360 Mya.

    Assuming all of that is correct, Pangaea (which was not the first supercontinent) was still converging at the beginning of the Carboniferous, and it stayed together till about the end of the Triassic era, which ended at about 206 Mya.

    Michigan was, according to this dating, part of Pangaea at the time the layers were formed that are immediately below the glacial drift layer in central Michigan.

    I am not sure what to do with that information, but something tells me it could be important… LOL

  24. Steve; From what I have read most if not all the planets are formed of the same basic mineral—Nickel Iron— If one or two planets have been destroyed by impacts , collisions or self destruction. One would have to assume that the general debris that bombards the planet daily is from these sources. Comets are another animal. The same concept should apply but why do they travel so far and where do they pick up their water (ice)? Are they possibly chemically active where they can pick up h2 and O in their travels or out of the vacuum of space? Next–On the Michigan subject: Can the sands from the Carolina Bays be dated to see if they match the layer under the glacial drift? Or dated to see if they match the sands from the Kankakee Torrent? On the 1st of Feb I posted about a relief map of Michigan that I came across that shows what I think may be the impact site of Saginaw Bay Impact or possibly YDB site. I don’t know if the “dent” is only in the glacial till or is it a depression in the substrata?

  25. Jim –


    We now know for certain that Mars has water/ice. We do not know where the “ice zone” is in the solar system, but it certainly includes Earth and Mars. How much farther out? Lagrange thought a planet blew up and so did a lot of other people. Unfortunately he died just as Laplace was claiming another source for comets and asteroids.

    Discovery Magazine: Ice Asteroids Likely Source of Earth’s Water APR 28, 2010:

    Astronomers have for the first time detected ice and organic compounds on an asteroid, a pair of landmark studies released on Wednesday says.

    The discovery bolsters the theory that comets and asteroids crashing into Earth nearly four billion years ago seeded the planet with water and carbon-based molecules, both essential ingredients for life.

    Working separately, two teams of scientists using NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii found that the 24 Themis, which orbits the sun between Mars and Jupiter, is literally covered in a thin coating of frost.

    It had long been suspected that the massive space rocks that bombarded our planet after the formation of the solar system contained frozen water, but the two studies, published in Nature, provide the first hard evidence.

    Still, a mystery remained: How could frozen water persist over billions of years on an asteroid hot enough to vaporize surface ice?

    First of all, they are telling us that comets are not the only planetoids that have water/ice. I’ve read enough to know that the boundary between comets and asteroids is not nearly as simplistic as we were taught in school. There are cometary asteroids. And a count of Apollo asteroids done some years ago found that 47% of Apollos had at least one characteristic of comets.

    Anyway, in the article, they are asking somewhat the same thing you are – except about asteroids instead of comets. Still, it begs the question:

    WHY would they have trouble thinking asteroids would have ice, when comets are considered icy snowballs, and many comets go very much farther away from the Sun than do asteroids? They certainly are both out in deep space where the ice should sublimate.

    And Mars was long thought to not be able to have surface ice because of the low atmospheric pressure. Yet, they found ice there, as well as evidence of what is almost certainly water erosion.

    Right now, though, we can at least say that, yes, ice exists in the area of the posited planet that Lagrange thought blew up. (That is also the region where that article showed that all the comets and asteroids converged in the past.)

    So, the process would be:

    Planet with ice > Blows up > Scatters water along with minerals, in chunks, out into space in all directions. Some did not have ice because some chunks of the planet would have simply not had ice in them.

    1. Those that blow toward the Sun dive into the Sun and are never heard from again.

    2. Those that are blown out along the ecliptic in either direction become asteroids.

    3. Collisions among this population reduce the asteroids to smaller and smaller bits over time.

    4. Those that are blown outward have sufficient energy so that some of them reach beyond Pluto, where they begin to fall back in toward the Sun as what we call comets.

    5. Those that are blown out of the ecliptic become comets, too – high inclination comets. Like Hale-Bopp, if I recall. Being the only comet I’ve ever actually seen with my naked eyes, I seem to recall looking northwestward – considerably away from the ecliptic.

    Sands of the CBs

    OSL testing is best suited for – guess what? – quartz. The CB sands are – guess what? – almost pure quartz. So testing and getting consistent results should be a no-brainer, right? Wrong. Depending where they sample the quartz sand they find different ages – by a LOT.

    OSL is based on the very last time the material was exposed to sunlight. Thus, (assuming) when all the quartz was blasted out of Saginaw (or wherever) and then got buried in a layer draping over the CBs, the clock got reset. Even a few seconds of exposure resets the clock. So why the difficulty in getting a good and consistent date for the sands? I don’t know. I have speculated that it had to do with the choices of sample depths, or perhaps that the quartz lets some varying and so far unknown amount of sunlight through to deeper layers, since it is translucent (it is used to make glass, without any pre-processing; it is THAT pure.)

    Relief map of Michigan

    YES, there is most certainly a depression in the bedrock geology of Michigan. It covers the entire lower peninsula and is essentially a round basin indented, called the Michigan Basin. If you think the relief map is amazing, the bedrock map is an archery bull’s eye target. See this link for many images of the map of Michigan’s bedrock: THEY ARE SIMPLY AMAZING.

    Pay special attention to the cross sections and the geological eras depicted.***

    A cuesta is where the edge of older layers is tilted up because the rest of the bedrock is depressed downward. The Niagara Escarpment is a cuesta. 85% of that escarpment is an arc up and around Michigan, with the center somewhere in the south central area of the lower peninsula. See the map at:

    The Michigan Basin is a true basin, low in the center and high all around the edges , and ending at cuestas for much of the perimeter. It is pretty damned amazing.

    I am tentatively thinking that the entire Michigan Basin may be THE crater – the crater everyone is looking for, for the YDB.

    ***Those cross sections of the Michigan bedrock show that there is a “glacial drift” layer in the center but not near the perimeter. That glacial drift layer is from the Pleistocene. The layer immediately under it is NOT from the Tertiary.

    Nor is it from the Cretaceous, nor the Jurrasic, nor the Triassic, and not even from the Permian. It is from the Carboniferous, 285 Mya. There IS not one layer from over 280 My of geological history. I have been asking, “Where did that material all go to?”

    The only way that material could be missing is if something removed it. Because it certainly would have to have been deposited. After all, Michigan has been part of the N.American plate since at least Pangaea. Trees and other plants must have grown there and died there, and animals must have died there. Where are their petrified bones or the sedimentary rocks that should be including them? Where are the fossils? You can’t have fossils if there are no layers of sedimentary rocks. All those rocks that MUST have been laid down are now GONE.

    If something MUST have been there and then when we look, they are not there, then something – some force – must have removed them.

    We can know WHEN that happened, because there ARE layers above the Carboniferous layer. A LAYER, to be more precise. That is the glacial drift layer. It was the first layer laid down over the Carboniferous layer – which should be impossible. The Pleistocene should be laid down upon the Tertiary (Pliocene). But there IS no Pliocene layer.

    The material was removed during the Pleistocene. Since what remains of that is labeled “glacial drift” it means that they have identified it as during or at the end of an ice age.

    We could ask if the ice sheets removed the layers below. Then we would need to ask why they removed Pliocene, Tertiary, Cretaceous, Jurassic, Triassic and Permian, but not Carboniferous. And why only in the Michigan Basin?

    OR we can posit that a BIG snowball came along at a low angle and went Whump!!!! onto the ice with enough remaining force to scour the Michigan Basin out as it depressed it into a bowl shape.

    I am certain I am not yet asking the right questions, but the questions I AM able to ask give me that scenario. As pieces are filled in, I expect the answer to get closer and closer to what happened. But for now, everyone is hoping to find a crater in Michigan, and here we’ve got not only a crater, but a bedrock bull’s eye to boot.

    Are they connected? Time will tell.

  26. Ice. I just found an image of Phoebe, a moon of Saturn, that has ice on it. No atmosphere, but the caption says: “The surface contains many ices (water, carbon dioxide) and yet is dark, with geometric albedo 0.08, as a consequence of dust mixed in the ice.”

  27. Steve; I don’t believe that the minds that be are looking for a depression that big. It doesn’t fit their thought range. I was looking at the Niagra Escarpment site and it is truly mind boggling. On that Michigan relief map site I also found a relief map of Lake Michigan and there appears to be 3 round depressions running down the length of the lake, each one is at a wider spot in the lakeshore profile. If you were to close lake Michigan you would find the 2 side shore lines match quite nicely except for those 3 round depressions. Kind like a mini plate tectonic event. On strengthlessness: If all matter has an electrical charge then opposite charges should attract each other even at high speeds. If to particles traveling at similar speeds come in proximitty or make contact with each other then it should be possible for them to “bind” if their charges are correct. This might account for the ability nto overcome strengthlessness and create bodies of some maass.

  28. Steve; While looking at the Niagra Escarpment map I noticed the finger lakes in NY and they all point to the crater in Lake Ontario. For me—COOL! I’ve been digging around for info on the Drake Passage and found some more bits that make impacts more appealing. The entire Drake Passage basement Basalts are the same as the Pacific Ocean basalts. This goes all the way to the Sandwich Islands which appear to be the Eastern terminus of the impact trench. This inturn is protruding into the Atlantic Basement Basalts which are totally different composition. My real issue for now is that the dates for formation of the Pasage seem to range from 60ma to 12ma. 60ma is pretty close to the Mexican-Gulf of Mexico impact. 34ma fits the iceing of Antartica and 12ma I belive was another climate downturn. Have to keep looking to see who has the best backing info.

  29. Jim –

    Yeah, there are the three depressions in Lake Michigan. Richard Firestone talked about those in his book, The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes. It’s worth buying, big time.

    I KNOW the powers that be are not looking for something as bug as the lower peninsula. That is my point: With ice impact by whatever sized snowball, low density, what DO you get as remnant evidence? That is so far outside their paradigm that it would take 100 years to convince them.

    Strengthlessness: Agreed on the electrically charged objects. As plasma, what happens as the particles fly out, growing slowly apart? Yes, they may electrically attract. But as the distance increases the attraction gets less and less (square of the distance) until a magnetic escape velocity is reached, at which time, no more effective attraction. But let’s say they do attract: Two small particles electrically attracted – does that make enough impact to fuse into a metallic rock? Take two magnets and let them attract and draw together till they hit. Do you see them melting into each other? Not hardly. My point is that the forces and temps involved just don’t create melting into metallic chunks like metallic meteorites are. And nickel is NOT magnetic. So scratch that one.

    Non-metallic and low-metallic chondrites are about 86% of all known meteorites.

    In the nebular theory, accretion refers to the collision and sticking of cooled microscopic dust and ice particles electrostatically, in protoplanetary disks and gas giant protoplanet systems, eventually leading to planetesimals which gravitationally accrete more small particles and other planetesimals.

    It is REALLY important to remember how SMALL the forces are out there, whether electrostatic or gravitational. What we see cannot have happened by the mechanisms proposed and widely accepted.

    It just seems to me that when people think about these things they only think so far and then get mentally lazy and blow off following through on the thought processes, assuming the rest will fall into place to give us what we find today.

    The devil is in the details. If one step fails, the process doesn’t work. That is the thing about processes – they have to happen in a certain sequence, step by step. If something happens out of sequence, some other result is obtained. Or NONE.

    More in the next comment… Interesting stuff…

  30. BTW, Trent –

    I sent that Mars impact to George last night asking him if he wanted to make a post out of it. Nice looking ejecta pattern, yes?

  31. Bear with me on this…

    In looking up chondrites to learn a bit more about meteoroids/asteroids, I found a few things pertinent to my discussion of asteroid formation.

    In carbonaceous chondrites, there is mention of the Allende meteorite, which is one of them. I then ran across a paper, Agee et al 2012 – Pressure-temperature phase diagram for the Allende meteorite*** the abstract of which reads:

    Piston cylinder and multianvil experiments from 1 to 27 GPa have been performed on the Allende CV3 meteorite to establish a pressure-temperature phase diagram that includes major phase boundaries and the silicate-oxide-sulfide melting intervals. Olivine is the liquidus phase up to ∼14 GPa, followed by garnet up to ∼25 GPa. Near 26 GPa a cotectic exists where garnet and magnesiowüstite are liquidus phases. Magnesiowüstite is likely to be a lower mantle liquidus phase in both chondritic and peridotitic (see also Zhang and Herzberg, 1994) compositions. Hence element partitioning tests that neglect the role of liquidus magnesiowüstite may be incomplete for describing planetary differentiation at pressures >25 GPa. Allende shows immiscibility between (Fe,Ni)-sulfide melt and FeO-rich silicate melt. (Fe,Ni)-sulfide is the lower temperature melt phase and is present at all experimental pressures and temperatures investigated. It is concluded that a terrestrial planet with a radius of ∼3000 km (maximum internal pressure of ∼30 GPa), and a bulk composition of carbonaceous chondrite, will upon magmatic differentiation form an FeO-rich silicate mantle with an Fe-Ni-S core. The silicate fraction of Allende in our high-pressure experiments is too rich in FeO to be a good match for the composition of peridotite xenoliths from Earth’s upper mantle. However, the major elements of a peridotite upper mantle may be derived from an Allende-like bulk Earth by a combination of lower mantle magnesiowüstite, perovskite, and sulfide fractionation and by upper mantle olivine flotation.


    Yes, that is a mouthful. I had to look up a LOT of those terms…LOL

    They are mostly talking about how the Earth formed from an accretion disk. But it is pertinent to this discussion. The Allende meteor is the one they are using for their lab experiments, trying to find what pressures and temps would have allowed that meteorite to be the way it is. Any time a lab does multianvil tests, you are talking huge pressures. A multianvil press is shown at


    Basically, the pressures discussed – 27 Gp equals about 3.9 million psi, about 40% of the pressure needed to create hydrogen fusion. That pressure does not exist out in space. In fact, in the page on Olivine has THIS!:

    Extraterrestrial Olivine

    Olivine has been identified in a large number of stony and stony-iron meteorites. These meteorites are thought to have originated from the mantle of a rocky planet that used to occupy an orbit between Mars and Jupiter – or they might be from an asteroid that was large enough to have developed a differentiated internal structure consisting of a mantle and core.

    The primary author on that paper also has another Agee 1990 – A new look at differentiation of the Earth from melting experiments on the Allende meteorite*** with this abstract:

    CARBONACEOUS chondrites contain approximately solar abundances of the non-volatile elements1, but are much more FeO-rich2 than upper mantle peridotites3 or hypothetical ‘chondritic’ mantle compositions4,5. If the Earth accreted from unfractionated, primitive meteoritic debris similar to the carbonaceous chondrites, how then did it become a fractionated, layered body with a crust, mantle and core? Here I report the results of high-pressure melting experiments on the Allende CV3 carbonaceous chondrite, which address this question and provide a new look at the Earth’s earliest stage of differentiation. Multi-anvil experiments at 24, 26 and 26.5 GPa show that FeO-rich magnesiowüstite is an abundant crystallizing phase at temperatures near the Allende silicate liquidus. If a chondritic Earth experienced a high-temperature molten stage, then during cooling and crystallization, FeO-rich magnesiowüstite could be segregated to the deepest levels of the Earth’s interior. Magnesiowüstite fractionation may thus have depleted the initial FeO content of the primitive chondritic mantle and contributed to the formation and growth of the Earth’s core.


    Note that he is using a meteor to derive pressures INSIDE the Earth.

    Even at they are addressing this and stating that the Allende meteorite either came from a planet or from an asteroid large enough to be layered and capable of generating the MILLIONS of pounds of pressure necessary to create olivine and garnet and magnesiowüstite, similar to the pressures in the lower mantle of the earth.

    In short, in doing this research, Agee is admitting that the Allende meteor, a carbonaceous chondrite, had to have formed inside a large planetary body.

    This begs the question:

    How does such a piece of heterogeneous, stony, crystalline material get from deep within a planet out to outer space, traveling around the Sun and possibly out to Mars and Jupiter?

    This is an important question.

    However, those explanations are not the only ones, and most likely not the most popular explanations. Wiki goes in another direction altogether, the standard “they was made out in space by runnin’ into each other, Ma” explanation. At least Agee understands the pressures involved and so does someone at

    Carbonaceous chondrites are about 4% of the meteors found so far on earth. The Allende meteorite is considered to be the most studied meteor in the world.

    Here is a list of the different materials found in this ONE meteor:
    SiO2 ~34.3%
    TiO2 ~0.16%
    Al2O3 ~3.25%
    Cr2O3 ~0.54%
    MnO ~0.19%
    MgO ~24.5%
    CaO ~2.65%
    Na2O ~0.46%
    K2O ~0.04%
    P2O3 ~0.25%
    Fe ~23.0%
    Ni ~1.45%
    Co ~0.065%
    S ~2.10%
    H2O ~0.11%
    C ~0.25%
    O ~36.5%
    And some ppm of the following: Li, Be, B, F, Cl, Sc, V, Cu, Zn, Ga, Ge, As, Se, Br, Rb, Sr, Y, Zr, Nb, Mo, Ru, Pd, Ag, Cd, In, Sn, Sb, Te, Cs, Ba, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu, Hf, W, Re, Os, Ir, Au, Hg, Pb, Bi, and Th.

    And some ppb of the following: Ti, Pb204, and U.

    A hell of a stew to put together, no matter how or when.

    It is nice to know someone else out there realizes that pressures and temps must be very high to create chondrites.

    While high pressures and temps are produced by hyper-velocity impacts, the results of impacts that can produce such pressures are the pulverization of the two colliding bodies. From what I’ve seen, impacts such as are on moons around the solar system produce much more debris than they produce fused materials. Impacts are a destructive force, not a fusing force.

    Can someone please find me a crater out there with globs of fused materials? To show me I am wrong?

  32. Steve G,

    If 86% of all known meteorites cannot possibly be made by the processes available to the only accepted current theory of asteroid formation.

    They don’t have a theory.

    They have an unsupported by the scientific evidence guess.

  33. Steve; That’s one hell of a list of components in that asteroid. I’ll bet there is at least 1/2 the elemental table there between elements and composites. I was doing great with the electrical attraction until that damn nickle came into play. It still should have an electrical charge. If you take 2 equal magnets and stick them together do you get one bigger (2x) magnet of the same attraction or do you also get 2x the attraction? If the attraction increasses with the size increase the the process of particle atraction would get stronger all the time. Then the next big ? is How or when does spin and compresion begin? One of these days you and I will have to get together and yack mano a mano. That would be much easier for me any ways. When I start typing my mind gets ahead of my fingers and get lost in my thought lines. We just had 3 more inches of global warming the other day.

  34. George; Maybe someone can put together a Tusk conference in a central location sometime. It would be fun and big time educational. There a lot of people who can interact one on one or in small groups to swap ideas and thgoughts.

  35. Steve G,

    The material composition both the Allende meteorite and of the asteroids in that 100,000 asteroid object census are not consistent with the physical forces available in “accretion theory” as currently envisioned.

    It appears that “accretion” is scientific magical-thinking hypothosis on the order of Luminous or Mechanical-gravitational Aether theories.


    That being the case, we are looking at the asteroid belt being the aftermath of a break up of one or more dwarf planets or larger planet sized objects.

    In short, we are seeing data supporting the return of catastrophism as a legitimate and regular part of Earth’s planetary history.

    There is a darned good reason the Bos’ of the world are running from this conclusion.

  36. Steve G –

    I don’t know if I am ready to throw out the accretion model yet. Am uncomfortable with the notion of exploding planets, if for no other reason than there aren’t enough large recent impact craters on this planet. Planets are big things, and the last substantial impact shower I know of (outside YD) is the end of the Eocene 35 MY ago with a pair of craters in the 90-mi diameter range. You blow a planet, and there is a LOT of stuff flying around for a very long time to come, as you have to accelerate it to escape velocity to clear the system.

    That being said, I do like the food for thought and the links to your blog and the MetaAstronomy site. Prefer to look at the problem from another angle that may or may not make sense. This is all head-scratching.

    We know here in the inner system, we have 4 minor planets (dwarf planets?) in Ceres (590 mi), Vesta (326 mi), Pallas (338 mi) & Hygiea (275 mi). Two of them are thought to be sources of significant population of other asteroids – Pallas & Vesta. We have seen that Vesta is chemically differentiated, meaning that during its formation it got hot enough so that there was interior melting. WAG would be that a 300 mi body was large enough to melt and stay melted for a while to differentiate.

    We also know of a LOT of relatively large bodies in the outer system – particularly those in the Kuiper Belt. 800 known trans-Neptunian objects so far, with estimates of 35 – 100,000 bodies larger than 62 mi in diameter. Large enough to be differentiated? Who knows, though we observe an active Saturn moon Enceladus around 320 mil with active geysers which are likely driven by tidal flexion. We also saw active geysers out of Triton (1,700 mi) which is thought to be a captured KBO.

    We also know that there are fairly large bodies crossing the inner system on a regular basis – Hale Bopp, the Taurus Progenitor and the Kreutz Progenitor are 3 in a mere 30 – 40,000 years or so. Two of those have decided to stay around for a while.

    We have seen active disks around other stars – Fomalhaut for instance, so we know accretion disks exist in planetary formation. Figuring out how they work is another thing entirely.

    Finally, there is at least one Space Station experiment I know of from 2004 where clumping was observed, so we have seen one possible beginning mechanism. Getting from a dust clump to a planet is another thing entirely.

    To the best of my knowledge, nobody has observed an Oort Cloud object yet. Additionally, the very important question of how you form a significant number of relatively large bodies that far away from the thick part of the nebula remains. There is not a lot of stuff out there, it is widely spaced out, and it is very, very cold.

    I am moderately comfortable with current explanation of the Late Heavy Bombardment with Jupiter and Saturn both gravitationally interacting until they arrived at a relatively stable resonance between the two of them. We see orbital resonances all over the place in the solar system.

    The thing I am wondering about is passing stars. If stars carry a retinue of planets, dwarf planets, comets and other trash along with them after formation, it makes sense that this stuff interacts with other clouds of stuff as stars pass one another. I ran across a web site that claims that over time, Proxima Centauri is not necessarily the closest star forever. One is estimated to come within 1 LY in in 1.4 MY, relatively quick in geologic times.

    Perhaps this periodic gravitational interaction is sufficient to rain trash on the inner system to the point where we don’t need an exploding planet as an explanation.

    Still need to do a lot to explain how the process actually proceeded as the system formed, as there is no simple path from a dust cloud to what we see today in our neighborhood. Thanks for the thought-provoking ideas. I haven’t said this worth a d__n yet, but writing it down tends to help order thoughts. Cheers –

  37. Hi

    Yes, the possibility of a big agglutination for the formation of the Moon is very interesting, and makes some sense, it comes to being stylish. but I still prefer to believe the interaction on Earth’s gravity to explain the difference in the profile of lunar crust and its composition. The core seems a drop.


  38. agimarc –

    Somehow I had not seen your last comment on this post. Sorry if I didn’t respond promptly enough.

    “You blow a planet, and there is a LOT of stuff flying around for a very long time to come, as you have to accelerate it to escape velocity to clear the system.”

    Yeah, a planet blowing up is a difficult idea to sell. I only come upon it mostly by default. And a BIG part of that is that I don’t think that ANY of the debris made it “clear [of] the system.” There is nothing inherent in the idea that dictates that ANY would have cleared the system. After all, explosive velocities in themselves shouldn’t be any higher than cometary velocities. This eliminates the idealogical need for any Oort cloud. There simply is a distance at which they lose outward velocity and fall back inward.***

    NONE of this is original with me, but it seems to have the least problems, physics-wise and planetary nebula-wise:

    – It is my understanding that a large part of the debris went pretty much straight into the Sun and into Jupiter.

    – That which went outward slowed down in the outer solar system and began falling back. That which went inward and yet didn’t hit the Sun rounded the Sun, to be flung back outward – with its explosion velocity being added to in a slingshot; those, also, ended up reaching the outer solar system before falling back inward.

    – That which went laterally in the ecliptic more or less became the asteroid belt. It’s more complicated than that simple statement, but that is the gist of it. Some went forward along the old orbit and some in retrogressive orbits – to play a game of chicken with each other. Their collisions would have broken them up into smaller and smaller bodies; eventually the retrograde ones would have been eliminated.

    – That which went UP or skewed up went into complicated orbits in high inclinations, and orbits that cross the ecliptic in somewhat sine-curve orbits.

    “That being said, I do like the food for thought and the links to your blog and the MetaAstronomy site. Prefer to look at the problem from another angle that may or may not make sense. This is all head-scratching.”

    Absolutely head scratching, yes. And what is the rule when brainstorming? Toss ANY idea into the ring. It doesn’t have to be correct or even well thought out. But it MAY trigger ideas in other people’s heads. If it has a germ of truth, even better!

    ***As to the Oort cloud, the claim is often made that a speculated passing star (for which they have no evidence whatsoever) “knocks” a comet inward. In saying that they either play fast and loose with the English language and/or physics. Gravity doesn’t PUSH or KNOCK anything anywhere. Gravity is solely an attractive force. So in one sentence they tell us two things for which there is no evidence whatsoever, one of which violates the laws of physics.

  39. agimarc –

    Good stuff. The differentiation thing is pretty important. For liquids not much gravity is needed to separate into heavier and lighter, given enough time.

    A 62 mile body is 100 km. 50 km radius. That is not enough depth to create sufficient pressure to melt nor enough pressure, either.

    Even Ceres, the largest asteroid, at 454.7 equatorial diameter also has INsufficient depth – with it gravity on the surface of 0.00015 of Earth’s surface gravity to create differentiation; the pressure is not enough. If it was liquid and stayed liquid long enough, the convection would perhaps do it, but then how do the melted/frozen materials reach the surface again? Sinking/rising through solids is MUCH more difficult.

    The Allende meteorite supposedly came from the beginning of the solar system, and as we find it it is only about 1 meter across. Again I come back to this paper from 1990:

    A new look at differentiation of the Earth from melting experiments on the Allende meteorite CARL B. AGEE, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.

    CARBONACEOUS chondrites contain approximately solar abundances of the non-volatile elements1, but are much more FeO-rich2 than upper mantle peridotites3 or hypothetical ‘chondritic’ mantle compositions4,5. If the Earth accreted from unfractionated, primitive meteoritic debris similar to the carbonaceous chondrites, how then did it become a fractionated, layered body with a crust, mantle and core? Here I report the results of high-pressure melting experiments on the Allende CV3 carbonaceous chondrite, which address this question and provide a new look at the Earth’s earliest stage of differentiation. Multi-anvil experiments at 24, 26 and 26.5 GPa show that FeO-rich magnesiowüstite is an abundant crystallizing phase at temperatures near the Allende silicate liquidus. If a chondritic Earth experienced a high-temperature molten stage, then during cooling and crystallization, FeO-rich magnesiowüstite could be segregated to the deepest levels of the Earth’s interior. Magnesiowüstite fractionation may thus have depleted the initial FeO content of the primitive chondritic mantle and contributed to the formation and growth of the Earth’s core.

    Exactly WHY are they looking at a meteor to study the deep Earth? Because they believe that meteors represent the earliest days of the solar system, the planetary nebula stage and shortly thereafter.

    But look at what they are saying:

    They are SUPOSING that the Earth must have had a molten period – as I argue above as being necessary (while impossible) for smaller objects – in order for the iron to sink to the core. And how do they do their tests? At up to 4 million PSI. TEN million PSI is FUSION!

    “If the Earth accreted from unfractionated, primitive meteoritic debris similar to the carbonaceous chondrites, how then did it become a fractionated, layered body with a crust, mantle and core?”

    This is EXACTLY the kinds of questions I am asking. 24 years ago they were still asking this question, and they keep asking it within the paradigm of the planetary nebula. Why is such a complicated question needed? This portion of the overall process should readily fall out of their paradigm. If it does NOT, then they should be asking if the paradigm is wrong.

    I mean, this is basic 7th grade logic: If your planetary nebula is pieces of solid matter falling toward each other, then at some point it transmutes into what we see today, and those transmutations should be part of the ORIGINAL concept. But the planetary nebula was formulated no later than Laplace in the first decade or so of the 1800s. Here 180 years later they still didn’t know HOW the Earth got fractionated into layers.

    And the point remains: How did the solids melt together? In 1990 they weren’t even sure if the Earth was molten during the forming.

    This and another paper talk about olivine and peridotite, both of which require not just MOLTEN conditions, but 4 million PSI.

    Can anyone here tell me with a straight face that a body 100 km across or 10 km across or 1 km across or 0.5 km across (like Chelyabinsk) or 5 meters across (like Allende)- could have self-generated molten conditions and 4 million PSI?

    The idea is ludicrous.

    Solid ricks do not form in the cold depths of space. They form inside planets.

    *** Not long ago we sent up a probe to the asteroid Itukawa (se image at with all the debris lightly laying in its surface. The idea was to get a sample of an asteroid. They sent a probe all that way and then almost came away with nothing. The sampling mechanism failed for the most part, but they thought that landing on the asteroid (a first, for which I applaud them mightily!) might have blown some debris up into part of the lander. When it returned they hailed it as the first samples of an asteroid.


    The debris laying in the surface was NOT the asteroid. It was stuff that migrated onto it over some probably very long period of time – but it was NOT the asteroid. You can clearly see in the photo that the asteroid is a SOLID peanut shaped rock. A rock with crap sitting in its surface. But the debris is NOT the asteroid.

    It is this kind of illogical logic that drives me up a wall.

    Granted, once the sampler failed, they had to try to save face at all costs, so they concocted a cock and bull story to keep from losing more funds for NASA. It fooled the public and the science editors – who evidently are as dumb as rocks themselves.

  40. Steve –

    No problem on timeliness of response. Gives more time for cogitation.

    If something large explodes in the system, that mass has to go somewhere. Stuff that remains in the ecliptic plane (assuming the explosion will interact with the planets and the sun on a more regular basis than stuff that goes out of the plane of the ecliptic.

    From an orbital dynamics standpoint, you model an explosion as the initial burn in a Hohmann Transfer. What is moved then goes into an elliptical orbit without the circularizing burn on the top. It still retains all its initial orbital energy / momentum that is added to (or subtracted based on vector sum of impulse) during the explosion. This means that there will be an enormous amount of material in orbits that are outside the plane of the ecliptic and we just don’t see that much stuff. This is why I tend to discount the notion that there have been large explosions in the solar system.

    I have not yet a clue how things heated up or did not. Expect collisions play a part. Early interaction with the accretion disk whether mechanical or electromagnetic may also be in play. So other than head-scratching, I have to start with what I know via observation which include differentiated smaller bodies and planetary disks. Figuring out how they work is another thing entirely.

    We know for a fact that an object as small as Vesta was differentiated. We saw it the last couple years via photos from Dawn. We saw the enormous excavation on the south polar region that showed some evidence of layering. And this was a 326-mi diameter body. I expect to see similar results at Ceres next Feb.

    When Voyager 2 passed Uranus in 1986, it took photos of Miranda, a mostly icy moon with a diameter of around 300 nm. Miranda looks like it was blasted apart and re-formed over time. It also appears to be differentiated. The question remains how, especially given its distance from the sun.

    So if bodies a few hundred miles in diameter can differentiate, the question becomes how? I expect there will be more than a few mechanisms.

    Respectfully disagree about Itokowa. It is thought to be a rubble pile. There are a lot of them out there. Rubble piles asteroids give the planetary defense guys fits, for how do you move a pile of gravel? But they are instructive in that they do demonstrate that there are impacts sufficient to disrupt but not completely shatter into dust at least some bodies out there.

    Yet another piece of the puzzle is olivine. It has been observed at Chicxulub. Question is whether it is excavated by the impact or created by the impact. My guess would be the former, but I have seen nothing to disprove the latter, and would need to see a lot more papers to embrace the latter.

    We see planetary disks and evidence of lanes in the disk tied to planetary formation. There is at least one disk I read of thought to be created by violent disruption of whatever formed earlier, meaning the process is not always additive.

    As usual, need more observations and more data. What we will get is more arm waving. But if we build upon what we see, I expect we will end up with a reasonably predictable and testable set of theories.

    All for now. More head scratching. Like you, I want to know how we got to be where we are today. Cheers –

  41. Steve, Agrimarc; I came across an item on Liesegang rings and maybe this might help with the concept of layering, Maybe not. This is explaining how agates, tiger eyes and other stones get their layered or ringed look. Their proposal is that ar created from a chem reaction not from concentric layers being added one at a time. This sounded alot like what you are trying to figure out. I have question that you might be able to answer for me: How does quartz form inside dolomite limestone? I thought quartz needed extreme heat and PSI to form the crystals and I can’t see limestone as creating those conditions. Any Ideas??

  42. agimarc – “This means that there will be an enormous amount of material in orbits that are outside the plane of the ecliptic and we just don’t see that much stuff.”

    That map argues against this statement.

    Yeah, I had always thought the asteroids were down close to the ecliptic, too.

    There is a LOT of stuff in high inclination orbits. And 99% of it centered at the orbit range of the asteroid belt.

    It just took somebody to MAP them.

  43. agimarc –

    No, Itokawa is not a rubble pile. It is a solid rock with rubble sitting on its surface. Big difference. Google Image it. It is two different things – mainly a big rock and minorly all the dust sitting lightly on it.

  44. agimarc –

    Also, the defense guys shouldn’t worry about piles of gravel. On entry the turbulence rips the gravel away into individual meteors which will burn up. Chelyabinsk showed us that even 50 meter objects pose little threat – that one ended up as a one-meter object falling into Lake Chebarkul.

    The atmosphere is a terrific defense shield – they can sit out in folding chairs and watch the brilliant and harmless fireworks display. Millions of shooting stars, all glowing into nothingness at the same time. They might even be able to read from the illumination…LOL

  45. agimarc –

    “Yet another piece of the puzzle is olivine. It has been observed at Chicxulub. Question is whether it is excavated by the impact or created by the impact. My guess would be the former, but I have seen nothing to disprove the latter, and would need to see a lot more papers to embrace the latter.”

    Look up how deep the melting occurs on meteors. It hardly goes deeper than a few millimeters. The bodies of meteorites show this clearly. The internals of Allende meteorite never experienced any great temperatures, and especially no great pressures. (The front face? Much different. Nice melting there – but STILL not enough to create olivine.)

    The olivine did not happen upon impact. Not enough impact to even break it. >4 million PSI on the front side would have vaporized it. Many fragments broke off in flight (from pressures far too low to make olivine), but the meteorite itself never vaporized, so the impact was much more like stuff falling at Chelyabinsk.

    I have looked high and low for an image of the crater, but so far nothing.

    “There is at least one disk I read of thought to be created by violent disruption of whatever formed earlier, meaning the process is not always additive.”

    EXACTLY. Look at any impact on asteroids or moons – show me ONE place where the impact AS SEEN is additive. All of them are subtractive. There is material removed. WHERE is one example of an impact actually adding anything? Dust on the surface doesn’t count. It’s got to be fused. The entire visual record is subtractive, but they tell us it was different in the past. Huh? That is the opposite of Uniformitarianism. And the relative (impact) velocities now should be more or less what they were back then, so how come NOW they take away, but in the beginning they added?

    I can’t figure it out, not from their starting point. Everywhere I look observations turn up dead ends, logically and experience-wise. Certain processes simply can NOT occur without great pressures and great temperatures. Those minerals simply cannot have been formed by the processes they put forward.

    Yeah, a lot of head scratching…LOL

    One of the tough problems is that in order to offer up alternatives one has to go into all of their theories and shoot them down, before one ever even gets to presenting the alternative. In the process, one loses one’s audience. Or get tied up in haggling over their theories. (And when you get even that far, they pull out the crowbars and argue all sorts of twisted logic to who how their thing could POSSIBLY have occurred.)

    The bigger the crowbar, the wronger the idea.

  46. Interesting map. Would be interested in seeing how those objects are grouped in families of bodies with similar orbital characteristics. The Jupiter Trojans don’t prove a lot as they tend to wander around the L-points rather than traveling in well defined orbits. Perspective on things at or near the L-points is entirely based on your frame of reference (haven’t said that well either).

    Will continue to disagree on Itokawa. One of the giveaways to internal structure is lack of craters. It either means that the body has been resurfaced or has some depth of regolith. Regolith that goes all the way thru to the other side makes it is a rubble pile. If I remember correctly, the debris field / rubble pile explanation was first offered as an explanation of why there was so much area on Eros without craters (NEAR, 2000). The internal dynamics are interesting in that whatever insult you do to the body imparts a shock wave that bounces around for a long time, smoothing things on the surface.

    The planetary defense guys are looking at objects in the kilometer to larger size, at which reentry of rubble piles gets to be pretty exciting.

    It looks like Miranda was put together via an additive process. We didn’t see the process, but we do see the result. Some of the JPL speculation has it disrupted up to 5 times before reforming as we see it today.

    We see additive processes going on in the shepherd moons of the rings of Saturn. We also see it via the “propellers” and other bodies in the ring plane itself. Saturn’s rings may be a pretty good testbed on accretion dynamics.

    The old lawyer rule of thumb is to when the facts are on your side, pound the facts. If you don’t have the facts, then pound the law. If you have neither, then pound the table (crowbars and tire tools). Hope not to go there. Cheers –

    Cheers –

  47. Jim –

    Having read a bit on Liesagang rings, I don’t see an exact application, but it was something to look at. If I might have overlooked something really significant about them, holler at me to look again.

    Those effects happen at ambient room temps and ambient pressure.

    The needs of differentiation within asteroids and comets is ultra-high temps and ultra-high pressures.

    What asteroids and comets actually have always had (in a non-electric universe, – which alternate I do not want to get into at this time) is vacuum and ultra-cold.

    Those are three very different conditions.

  48. Steve; As i was reading on the liesegang rings they mentioned the inclusion of quartz in the formation of some of this rock type. Wouldn’t you need extreme heat to liquify the silica to form Quartz. Another concept for the straification of the earths crust is like in the melting furnaces at work. As you are melting the aluminum the impurities seperate from the base metal and either come to the surface or fall to the bottom. I’m sure the earths furnace works prety much the same with different minerals and rock either rising or falling according to mass weight. As some materials combine they probably act as a flux to purify some of the molten materials. Also wouldn’t the spinning of the earth have a small centrifugal effect also causing the molten masterials to seperate according to mass weight. Unfortunatly I can also see this whole concept work as a mixing bowl for the earth’s molten soup. Maybe under Vacuum conditions you don’t need heat to form the ring like structures. Again at work we use vacuum vessels to aid in cooking off of liquids from some of our slurry products so we do not have to provide as much heat to the process.

  49. >>Also, the defense guys shouldn’t worry about piles of gravel. On
    >.entry the turbulence rips the gravel away into individual meteors
    >>which will burn up. Chelyabinsk showed us that even 50 meter objects
    >>pose little threat – that one ended up as a one-meter object falling
    >>into Lake Chebarkul

    Ummm…no Steve.

    A 10km rubble pile that got turned into atmospheric heat energy, without ground impact, is still conserving its total kinetic energy.

    That much heat dumped into our atmosphere simultaniously will show up as huge atmospheric blast overpressure and radiant heat scorching of the planet surface.

    Think of a 20 minutes visit inside a 500 degree F oven for an entire hemisphere.

  50. Jim –

    I don’t everything about this general subject, but I know enough to get myself in trouble…

    All of the rising and sinking you discuss there is in liquid state. So, that is one of my points – where does the heat come from to liquify? Some people suggest impacts. I can’t see that working, because all the impact evidence we see on asteroids and comets are subtractive – you lose way more material than you add. Plus something like 99% of the heat energy goes out in the ejecta. At no point in an impact does the entire body or large part become molten. Whatever goes molten DURING the impact has to deal with the immense forces tearing the crater apart.

    Differentiation needs a non-chaotic environment – a contained and sustained pressure and temperature both. That isn’t to say that heat and pressure in a snort-lived event doesn’t change things. Of course it does. But it isn’t going to result in layers laid down nicely. I would say that that is partly why impactites are recognizable as such, because of the evidence of chaotic formation. Nanodiamonds can be made via detonation or by sustained heat and pressure – and the results are different types of nanodiamonds, some ten or twenty times larger than others.

    As to the vacuum used, as I know it, vacuum causes boiling off at very much lower temperatures. It can also be used when no atmosphere is suitable, but then they have to deal with the low vaporization temp. There is more to it than that, but those are conditions to consider.

  51. Trent –

    Still just head scratching, and not arguing…

    A 10 km pile coming in as one body will wipe out humans forever – very possibly. That would ostensibly make a crater 200 km across – not far short of Chixculub.

    No matter HOW much heat 1,000 50-meter objects cause, or how many air blasts like Chelyabinsk, the human race will continue. We have about 336 cities at present with 1,000,000 people or more (791M people). The odds of all of those plus another 256 with 600,000 to 1,000,000 (192M). Then we have another 321 with 400,000 to 600,000 (159MM). And let’s add in the 340 with 300,000 to 400,000 (117M).

    That is 1253 cities with 1.26 billion people. More or less. There are 5.8 billion OTHER people on the planet.

    Even if every one of those cities got a Chelyabinsk at the same time (not gonna happen), no major damage. If each of 25% of those cities got 4 of those Chelyabinsk meteors, each is going to have four times as many broken windows. Even four of them are not going to add more than a blip to the heat content of the local environs of each city.

    NO ONE has stated ANY problems with heat in Chelyabinsk or any of the neighboring cities and towns.

    It is not correct to say that the incomings are going to conserve their heat energy. First of all, they don’t intrinsically HAVE any heat energy. The heat is the air ahead of them being compressed and then ablating the front side.

    Secondly, Chelyabinsk LOST 90% of its energy along its path inside the atmosphere. It hardly “conserved” any energy at all. By the time it “blew up” (disintegrated) there wasn’t a lot left to disintegrate. A 50 meter object was reduced down to about one meter across. The rest melted off for about 25 seconds or so, and the rest was fragmented.

    Other than glass cuts and some blown in doors, Chelyabinsk didn’t have any casualties.

    If that is the best a 50 meter object can do, we need to rethink our strategies and our concern.

    Now if Chelyabinsk had been 100 meters, it possibly would have reached the ground. As it was, it blew up at about 23 km up. It had a LONG way to go to the ground. The very thin upper atmosphere had used up its kinetic energy. The much thicker lower atmosphere would have done a lot toward airblasting it into nothingness.

    ABLATION is a BIG and very important process when these things come in.

    And more and more I am convincing myseelf that nearly all incoming bodies are low angle entries – like Chelyabinsk and Tunguska and all the other bolides we see videos of. VERY FEW of them have enough oomph to make it to the ground.

    WHY do I think they are almost all low angle? One reason is videos. Not many videos are of ground impacts. We almost always see objects going almost straight across the sky. I think I know why:

    The Earth’s gravity well is ~1.8 million miles in diameter. Anything entering any part of that cross section is STUCK and WILL spiral inward – unless it is going faster than 11.2 km/sec. Most objects out there are going 2 or 3 times that fast, so the effective gravity well for those is much smaller. But I don’t have numbers on it. My guess is about 10 times the diameter of Earth, but let’s set it to four times, to be conservative. We DID have that other fly-by the day after Chelyabinsk – plus other close encounters. Things happening to be traveling in the same direction (as most of the NEOs are) the RELATIVE velocity is much smaller. Because Chelyabinsk WAS one of those it did a good bit of wrap around as it spiraled in, and was only going 19 km/sec as it entered the atmosphere.

    Assuming that 4X figure isn’t bat sh** crazy, the effective gravity well for incoming objects is 4^2 larger than the Earth’s physical target area. That would be 16 times the area, with the Earth being one of them. But let’s even cut that down by four times. The gravity well target area then would still be four times bigger than the Earth, meaning that 75% of the objects coming in will MISS the Earth if they don’t get deflected. Those 75% will spiral around the planet to some degree and enter the atmosphere at some fairly low angle. Chelyabinsk was a 20° downward angle. Tunguska was estimated to have a 15° downward angle. Are those typical or not? Scientist often say that the average one comes in at 45°. I think they are likely to be wrong on that. I think it is more like 20°-30°.

    The longer they are in the atmosphere, the more spread out their energy signature will be along their trail. And all along that trail, they are giving up massive amounts of energy, spread over thousands of miles. Chelyabinsk’s path in the atmosphere was at least 4800 km long. 500 kilotons spread over about 5000 km times 90% equals about .09 kilotons per km – and 40 km up in the sky.

    If 3 out of every 4 come in like that – spiraling in at low angle – we have no problem, if they are rubble piles that break up as they approach or as soon as they hit the atmosphere.

    A lot off little objects do NOT add up to the same effect as one big one.

    Tunguska was 100 meters. THAT poses problems. Chelyabinsk was 50 meters. That was NOT problematic, just a good thrill. Cool fireworks.

    So, we have a range, a threshold. Unless it comes straight down, steep angle, punching through the atmosphere quickly, somewhere at around 60-70 meters the danger becomes non-city threatening. Maybe even 80 meters. That might be useful info to know some day.

    For the above reasons, if they are valid – and PLEASE argue the other side (if they aren’t I’d like to be rid of them) – I favor comet busting nukes as a mitigation strategy. (And I have some preferred strategies for doing that, too.) The main argument against it is: “But then you’ve got thousands of incomings!” But if they are 50 meters or less, we have no worries, as a species, and probably even if they are focused on one region. It doesn’t matter how many little ones there are. We will survive.

    It is the big suckahs we gotta not have a date with.

    Yeah, the big ones are gonna do us in. So we need to not let big ones hit us.

    Trent, throw some stuff back at me. Show me that Chelyabinsk was harmful to anything but windows and people unfortunate enough to be standing near them at the wrong moment. If every city had a meteor like that come by, what real harm is done? If a city has ten of them at once, then what? Besides lots of broken windows and garage doors, is it really a serious threat?

    Tunguska? Even Tunguska over a city I think is not city threatening. Dead? Yes. Perhaps thousands. But it won’t take the city back to the stone age.

    Would I want to be standing under it? Probably not…LOL But standing under a 50-meter jobby, yes. It would be cool. 5 of them? Sure! Five times as cool.

  52. Steve; I think your priority is off. Yes size does matter but timing is everything. If you don’t have enough lead time to set up an intercept launch You have a whole of S.O.L.! Another thought : As a species if the proper two are left the rest will come. Does the government have a list of possible–probable impactors? If so maybe they should start sending up expendable out of date nukes for target practice. We can even let the Russkies take few pot shots to downsize they’re arsenal that they, like us, don’t have. It would be good for the business I’m in, Aluminum Powder- rocket fuel. We can always make more powder.

  53. Jim –

    The database of NEOs includes those which pass close to Earth in the next 10 or 30 years, and so far none of those have them worried. SO, none to practice on, and for the most part they are out of range most of the time, anyway.

    Flowing one of the links above, some page said that on Monday a 27 km asteroid is coming within 2,000,000 miles. That one supposedly they almost missed it, until the last few days. Not sure how one can miss a body 27 km, so I am not convinced the web site even knew what they were talking about. That is nine times bigger than Encke.

    I am pretty sure that when it comes time to shoot at anything it will most likely be the Russians or Chinese who do it. My reasons for thinking that: As each year goes by the Chinese are catching up. The Russians have a less b.s. government plan, plus they are the ones who had Chelyabinsk last year, and they were going to ramp up their protection program because of that. NASA is underfunded and has to play a lot of suck up just to get a bone. And mostly they get boned because of that. They have too many possible projects and way too little money, so most programs get pushed aside.

  54. Darn! I was going to write that that object was 270 km across, but thought my memory was faulty, so I changed it to 27 km. But that was NOT what the article said. It said 270 km after all. (I should have checked!)

    But 270 km would be one of the 10 largest minor bodies in the solar system and would certainly have been seen long ago.

    Even more reason to doubt the veracity of the article…

  55. Hi Steve –

    “I don’t everything about this general subject, but I know enough to get myself in trouble…”

    Yes, and I need to apologize to you for my lack of time.

  56. Steve,

    A 20 meter diameter object has a 10 meter radius.

    A 10 kilometer diameter object has a radius of 5,000 meters.

    5,000/10 = 500 times larger value of “r” for radius.

    Assuming a uniform spherical volume for both objects allows the use of this formula:

    Sphere Volume = 4/3 pie r^3

    A 10 km object has 4/3 Pie (5,000)^3 internal area compared to 4/3 pie (10)^3

    Assuming a uniform and identical density of mass between two spherical objects, the 10km object has on the order of 125,000,000 times the mass of a 10 meter object, assuming a uniform and identical mass density between the two objects.

    0.5 megatons for a 10 meter object energy yield times a 125,000,000 larger mass, assuming a uniform and identical to heat conversion, comes out to 62,500,000,000 megatons.

  57. volume goes with the cube (raised to the third power) of radius. The same is true if you speak of diameter instead of radius, just a different coefficient.

    NASA takes major step in hunt for asteroids

    when you get to 1000 (one thousand) megatons that is a Gigaton. Continuing up the ladder of escalating energy, one thousand (1000) Gigatons is one Teraton of TNT equivalent energy or “yield” as they so politely call it in the nuclear weapons industry. The Chicxulub impact is believed to be on the order of 100 Teratons TNT equivalent.

    And although some impact specialists will have you believe that this or that value of “yield” is continental disruption vs global disruption vs extinction at this or that level, they actually don’t know. They have no valid data points because EVERY IMPACT IS DIFFERENT AND UNIQUE.

    So even the frightening energy level of Chicxulub’s 100 Teraton shot isn’t an exact guideline, or even a rough guide, because that same energy in a highly oblique shot to a thick ice sheet is a completely different story. It is truly mind bending to learn about the diversity of effects and variables coming into play in hypersonic impacts.

    If Tunguska was caused by a 70 meter object (estimate) and a 250 meter object just missed Earth last week, then that recent miss was ~3+ orders of magnitude more volume than the Tunguska object. So things get ugly fast as the size increases, given all other variables the same (speed, density, friability). But no two objects are the same either, just to keep us guessing.

    And all the modeling in the world using every computer on the planet still won’t divert a single cosmic projectile from impacting Earth if it is already on such a course. And even the best numeric simulation on the best computer won’t capture all of the detail of the shock from an irregular bolide on an irregular surface. Those computer simulations all have to start with a set of assumptions which are most likely not representative of 99.9% of all objects out there, because no two are the same.

    Continuing on this rant of overflowing optimism:

    Kinetic energy also goes up with the square of velocity, or the second power of velocity (V^2), so the faster the object, the more damage it can do. Coincidently, the faster the object, the less time between discovery and close approach if it is near Earth or Earth crossing. Although that is not always the case for huge and/or bright objects, its the sub kilometer-coal dust covered objects we need to look for with the most diligence. Especially the fast ones, which may often be from the furthest out in the solar system and correspondingly hard to detect and track.

    The reason the governments will finally step up to more resources for the search is one of money. The economic disruption of a land impact or the more likely impact tsunami is a serious factor to consider. Who is at risk the most? Countries with the most population near the coast, yes. But unfortunately, the countries with more infrastructure are the ones who stand to suffer the most economically from significant cosmic impacts.

    Poor nations with no infrastructure will still go on like they were before an impact. I’m not being snide or righteous, but that’s just the way it is. Why doesn’t the UN do anything about ethnic conflict in Africa? Think about it. There is no economic interest to protect in that case. Sad but true.

    So if you talk to politicians, always try to impress upon them the economic risk of cosmic impact. Nations like the USA and other well developed infrastructure users stand to lose the most from an economic standpoint. So –

    We should simply think of cosmic threat protection investment as the cost of doing business on our planet, simply because of the “wrong element” in our ‘local neighborhood’. Its like the money for the alarm on the shop at night. Especially because of the small and speedy faction of that “wrong element”.

    Worse than kids on skateboards, heaven forbid!


  58. Trent –

    Not to be obtuse, but it seems you are arguing my point for me: If larger is a LOT more dangerous, then smaller is not just a LITTLE less dangerous, but a LOT less dangerous.

  59. Tim –

    “Coincidently, the faster the object, the less time between discovery and close approach if it is near Earth or Earth crossing.”

    The direction of approach is important, too. A head-on collision is not as bad as a rear-end. And a rear-end should take longer to close the gap, yes? Basic physics, yes?

    Also, yes, infrastructure is what civilization is all about. Infrastructure is there to facilitate commerce. At ALL levels of civilization. There IS no civilization without infrastructure. That is THE advantage of our modern society – to each and every individual – from schools to streets to water to sewers to courts to hospitals to lines painted on streets to shops to goods distribution methods, etc. Take it all away and watch us look for caves or trees to live in. And then take ten thousand years to come back.

    (Digression…) But that is why arkies looking at graves, stone structures, and carvings on stone structures (especially monuments) miss the point – because of at least these things:

    1. Graves have nothing to do with infrastructure.

    2. Carvings and monuments don’t feed people or make their lives easier/better/more functional. The infrastructure of old societies is only minimally tied up in stone structures.

    3. Most of infrastructure is in laws and contracts (controlling behavior for the common welfare), and making and selling things; if taken down, a society will use up its “thing making” capabilities first, in trying to recover. Thus, those are the things least likely to survive long afterward. They will scavenge until there is nothing left to scavenge. So, (unless protected like at Pompeii or Akrotiri) what the society is about disappears quickly and is not available centuries or millennia later for arkies to find. Assuming that they can even minimally feed themselves, the most important persons in a reduced-but-surviving society after a hit are the engineer types and inventor types (including ingenious farmer types), the people capable of looking around and figuring out how to utilize what is left.

    Yes, I’ve put some thought into this, and everyone is entitled to disagree with me.

    A GOOD part of the preparations/mitigations should be putting some thought into how to rebuild. Mitigation, after all means to limit the negative effects. They may not end at trying to knock the incoming object into some condition less impactful.

    Pun intended.

    And, yes, like any other angle, getting politicians to understand the money side of it is likely the best way to go. Look at the reaction of Russia after Chelyabinsk last year. They saw how it could undo all that they are working toward (a richer, more western lifestyle). And money is at the root of all of that. I believe China also was rousted up about it; after all the meteor passed almost all the way across China just before exploding. A second or two here or there and it could have been Beijing or one of China’s other one hundred plus >1,000,000 cities instead of Chelyabinsk.

  60. Steve; Thanks for the shout out to the farmers. We are capable of fixing just about anything. It may not last long but it will get the job done. Bale twine and duct tape can conquere all. I saw a program last night, How The Universe Works, about the formation of planets. Their premise for formation is that when a star is born there is an immense amount of cosmic debris left over that circles the star. As this debris goes around microscopic particles bump into each other some stick some don’t, random choice. Each particle is charged so that is the attractant but the force of the bump determines whether or not they stick. This keeps going on until there is enough mass to actually attract larger pieces,and from there accreation takes over. At approx 500 mi dia the object can form it’s own gravity then the spinning process starts and the evening out of the sphere starts happening. the spinning is supposed to make the shpere start condensing until it is hot enough to melt the debris it has accumulated and then the crashing of other planets occurs some get eaten and some are physically destroyed until the field is cleared and there is nothing else left to crash and burn. This scenario only applies to rocky planets the gas giants are a whole another matter for another show. According to the show all matter in the universe is the same but how it comes in the form of planets is a crap shoot. Another item discussed was the formation of this planets magnetic field. The reason we have an atmosphere is trhe solid iron core of the planet. Some people in the scientific communtiy built a mock up of the earths core and surrounded it in a liquid sodium (Magma)then spun it and sure enough it created magnetic field. Spinning just the sodium or the iron ball produced nothing. Interesting. I’m sure you can shoot holes in the theories, I did, and ask the eternal question: But how did it all start?

  61. Jim –

    That account is mostly very reasonable and most of it is likely true. For planets.

    The 500 mile diameter thing doesn’t account for much smaller objects, though, does it? If they are too small to create the melting (which I am sure happens deep), then I hope you understand that that is exactly what all my questions are about. How does a 20 meter body have rock or metal that has melted and then cooled into a solid? And how does the matrix in meteors get mall fused together, with inadequate pressure and temperatures? The answer is NOT “lot of time.” If anyone answers with “time” then they are cheating with a vague process they don’t even know anything about – and with that answer they are admitting that they don’t know.

    But if a 20 meter body could not generate sufficient gravitational force to melt rock, then we have to explain its existence. That melting diameter is the dividing line: Smaller ones can’t melt themselves, and larger ones MUST.

  62. Jim –

    The peridotite and olivine in the Allende meteorite HAD to form at high temps and high pressures – much higher than to merely melt. The question I’ve been asking is:

    “How do they account for melting and fusing in an object that entered the atmosphere at only the size of a car?”

  63. Steve; I think the question should be where did the melting occur. The program stated that in the formation of this solar system at on time there were well over 100 smaller planets (don’t how they counted them )all careening around within the gravity of the sun. At this time in creation most were rocky molten masses.As some crashed into others they either were assimilated or the impact caused one or the other to disintigrate and instanatly cool forming the asteroids we see today by splattering into the vacuum and cold of space. I have a piece of aluminum that formed in the uptake stack of our melting furnace. It looks like a small hornets nest or a large tear drop. The operator of the furnace had a bad nozzle that was spattering and blowing gobs up the stack instead of particles. The gobs stuck together and formed the nest. I’ve also seen dross from furnace fluxing that looks alot like meteors. comes out hot and cools real fast before taking any particlular shape.

  64. Jim –

    Yes, where they formed is very pertinent, too.

    “At this time in creation most were rocky molten masses.” Where did the heat come from to melt them? And like I keep saying, SOME of the materials in them need ultra-high pressure as well. Collisions cannot be called upon for performing this miracle, because collisions IN THE PRESENT do not fuse objects out there – collisions rip them apart (look at craters; they are negative, not positive gains) – exactly the wrong thing to happen. To invoke collisions in the past is to negate Uniformitarianism, which says that the guide to what happened in the past is to look at what happens in the present. If collisions NOW break things up, then that would be also what was possible in the past. But they say it did the opposite. It does not compute. (HINT: The collisions was speculative when presented, but one that became accepted as fact.)

    What most people don’t know is that papers are still being written, with the authors floundering for an answer.

    As to your furnace being an analog for this, now take away the heat of the furnace and the gravity of the Earth. Now tell me either one existed back in the nebula. And it isn’t just the gravity of the Earth – you need to go hundreds of miles INSIDE the Earth to get sufficient pressure. It is the weight of hundreds of miles of rock above that creates the pressure. 100 miles inside the Earth is as far from being nebular as you can get.

  65. Steve,
    The heat to form these minerals came from the planetary nebula and ultimately from the death of the star that formed said nebula.
    The free atomic gasses that make up the nebula react to form the basic minerals, which then start to coalesce while the nebula is still very very hot, think physical vapor deposition as a manufacturing process. The hot gasses of the nebula will start to condense on a cooler solid surface.
    The larger chunks we see today come from the destruction of early planetesimals as they collided with each other during the very chaotic early eras of a solar system. The iron/nickle objects are most likely leftovers from the formation of the moon, the remnants of the core of the planet that collided with the young earth.

  66. Hi Steve –

    “Yes, I’ve put some thought into this, and everyone is entitled to disagree with me.”

    So have I, for over 17 years now.

    “A GOOD part of the preparations/mitigations should be putting some thought into how to rebuild. Mitigation, after all means to limit the negative effects. They may not end at trying to knock the incoming object into some condition less impactful.”

    We can stop them if we can find them early enough.
    The US plan for doing it was sent to the UN recently.
    Russia, Europe, and China will be sending in their plans soon.

    Aside from that, much better detection systems are needed for immediate warnings of smaller impacts.

    Feel free to disagree, but those are all facts.

  67. Ed –

    Link to the U.S. submission?

    You and I both know that if a 3km jobby shows up at any time in the next 30 years (perhaps 100 years), we have no defense. Finding them early enough is fine, but we have huge ones going by almost not seen till they pass. So, yes, we MIGHT have sufficient warning, and we might not. Ergo, it is prudent to not put all our eggs in one of the rocket solutions and pretend that that is all we need to do.

  68. CevinQ –

    “The heat to form these minerals came from the planetary nebula and ultimately from the death of the star that formed said nebula.”

    1. What evidence do we have that the planetary nebula was 3,000C? If so, where did all that heat go?

    2. And this doesn’t address pressure, which is ALSO necessary. It is significant that the Allende meteor paper I have referred to as actually studying the processes within the deep mantle of Earth, and that the authors specifically asked if somehow the meteorite had orginated inside a planet. That was option $1.

    3. The star that formed the nebula? Would this star have any name or evidence of ever having existed? If it went nova, why didn’t the material vamoose out of the solar system?

    This entire concept is one I’ve never heard a peep about. Please enlighten me; I am eager to learn about it…

  69. Steve; From what I had gathered the Earth or other rocky planetoids were not able to generate any heat until they hit the Magical Number of 500 mi dia. At that point they are supposed to be able to generate gravity which starts the condensing process which in turn starts the heating process as Gravity pulls more space debris into the forming planet the gravity gets stronger the heat gets more intense and the cycle continues until there is not enough material readily available to to keep up the building process then cooling starts. Collisions between mini-planets caused some to be assimilated and some to be destroyed. I would imagine that vast amount of the debris formed also fell in to the sun and was consumed.As the planets cooling continues the crust forms and as it gets cooler and cooler the crust starts to shrink squeezing the mantle and core keeping the heating going. Eventually the molten part of the planet will solidify and the planet will die. Our magnetic field will disappear and the sun’s cosmic rays will toast us and earth will look like Mars. This is most likely not in my lifetime. Sorry for the disjointed presentation.

  70. Steve; Another idea, kinda on the far side but; What was here before the Big Bang? Maybe all this cosmic debris is what’s left from the big one. All the universe is the original material and it just recombines as it travels outward. Now somewhere in the future if everything goes as planned and figured the universe will start collapsing. That’s going to be one hell of a show when all this matter comes flying back together. With that thought I will have another cup of bean juice and bid you aduieu

  71. Jim –

    On the Big Bang, you are talking with someone who agrees with astronomer Halton Arp who has argued since the 1960s that the Red Shift is not a Doppler effect and has been writing about it ever since. He lost several positions because he didn’t sign onto the expanding universe. And he had good reason. And without a connection between Doppler and the Red Shift, there IS no Big Bang. Thomas Gold and Fred Hoyle had the Steady State Theory, which has been all but abandoned, but I still see it as the best theory. I even have 3 or 4 proofs that the Big Bang didn’t happen. You can’t believe the size of the crowbar they use to fit stuff into the Bug Bang and expanding universe ideas.

    Quasars are Earth-sized objects (Maximum). The energy that reaches Earth signifies that they are either close or are very, VERY, VERY powerful. They hd to decide which. Their red shifts in the 1960s suggested VERY far away. But that freaked people out, because they seemed to be Earth-sized. How could something Earth-Sized be putting out that much energy – apparently the energy of an entire galaxy. The ONLY factor that said they were very far away was the red shift. But that is the factor they chose to go with. Arp has all kinds of evidence that they are NOT that far away – which solves the energy conundrum. I remember this clearly from the 1960s.

    They made the wrong choice. And went with the Doppler Red Shift, and shortly thereafter the Big Bang Theory was declared the winner over the Steady State Theory. Astronomy and cosmology have been on the wrong track ever since.

    Like Rupert Sheldrake says, “Science says ‘Give us one good miracle and we will figure out the rest. The miracle was the Big Bang, in which all matter in the universe was created from nothing, in one instant.”

    One disproof is that every once in a while they declare that they have found the farthest away galaxy, because its red shift says it is going at ninety-something percent of the speed of light and that it is therefore only several hundred million years after the Big Bang. The mistake? If one of them is that close to the Big Bang in TIME, then it also must be close to the Big Bang in DISTANCE, too. After all, if there is a big freaking explosion, it had to happen SOMEWHERE specific. But the geometry comes out impossible, and ALL the recent finds should be in the same small area of space. But they aren’t. Some are completely in different directions. They cannot ALL be close to the Big Bang in time if they are off in all sorts of directions. (I don’t expect anyone to follow that, BTW…) They play games telling us, “Well, NO, it isn’t matter that is flying out; it is space that is expanding.” That is B.S. There IS no space that can expand. Space is an empty vacuum. There is nothing to expand. They pretend like it is something mathematical, and that is horse crap. Math can’t represent nothing. Distance? Yeah, but it is distance through vacuum. THAT exists – but distance is NOT space. Distance is just numbers that they use to represent locations. They’ve turned nothing into something via the belief that what is in equations is necessarily real. Please, go out and pick up a meter. There is no such object. Not a meter of something – a meter itself. So, no, space cannot expand. And if it DID, we wouldn’t even be able to tell that it did, because our measuring sticks would also grow the same amount, proportionately. Ergo if the space were really expanding then the Red Shift would not even be detectable. The atoms (99.999999999999% empty space) would be expanding, too. It could be expanding and shirking right now and we would not be able to detect it. The fact that we DO see a red shift is therefore proof that it is not an expanding universe – and without the expansion, the Big Bang is impossible – an explosion that didn’t rapidly expand. Actually, that last is one more disproof. Even their expanding space doesn’t hold water – it is internally contradictory. It is all absurdities.

    And what has cosmology and astronomy given us ever since then? More and more absurd paradigms. Dark matter, dark energy, string theory (which has never and WILL never have ONE empirical experiment that can prove it is not false).

    It’s all just Jabberwocky:

    Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    Lewis Carroll, the author, was a mathematician – which is PERFECT. He saw over 100 years ago how math can confabulate and give results that are sheer nonsense. Like Big Bangs, expanding universes that can be detected, and quasars the size of Earth putting out the energy of entire galaxies. (I won’t even go into black holes…)

    Like the borogoves, I am all mimsy… LOL

  72. Steve; I believe you’re on to something there. Jabberwocky IS the language of science. Wordage wordage wordage when all is said and done was anything ever said?You told me a while back that you enjoy playing the devils advocate–You’re good at it. I throw out ideas and you punch them out and hand them back to me. You make me think like I’ve never thought before. I’m still chasing the Drake passage idea and gaining some headway. I’ve got to get some time to sit down and collect all the data I’ve accumulated all over the web and organize it. Then I’ll bring it to the Tusk for a thorough ripping,shredding and general clubbing and start again. Hopefully if I can make an intelligent enough presentation and get some confirmation that this is the case then the concept of an ice sheet impact causing YDB might not be so hard for others to swallow

  73. Yeah, Jim – don’t give up on the Drake Passage conjecture. You are onto something there. All those arcs (and in some cases actual circles) in that pattern could easily mean something. It is VERY significant that not enough Earth craters have been identified; a great part of that is the conservatism of geology – they don’t even WANT to find any, so they do much more than play devil’s advocate: They are obstructionists (deniers, if one wants to think that, though I loathe that phrase; it is rife with suggestions of Holocaust deniers). They simply do everything in their powers to pretend that zero catastrophes have ever occurred except millions of years ago.

    Comparing the Drake Passage to Chicxulub is a no-brainer on the surface (no pun intended), as a likely impact event. 70%+/- of all impacts should have been oceanic, so SOMEWHERE out there – down there – are impact craters. Why not start looking? And if looking, why not look at anyplace that has arcs and circles? SOME of them will eventually prove out to be impacts, so why not begin the process of searching for them?

    One aspect of the Drake Passage’s characteristics is its location, there right where three plates intersect. To me it is an awfully big coincidence. Especially as the southern edge is the edge of the Antarctic plate. It begs the question: Did the fault line exist before or did the impacts have something to do with creating the fault line?

    That may sound like heresy. The tectonic plates are treated as if they have always existed. The heresy is to ask if they may NOT have existed forever. If they are floating islands (an almost silly idea, if you ask me) as Wegener envisioned and the geologists think at present, is it so sacrosanct an idea that the idea should NEVER be questioned at all? In engineering, NOTHING is unbreakable. You can always apply sufficient force or impulse to an object in order to break or cut or bend it – at least in theory – and no other engineer would bat an eye. There is no such thing in engineering as an immovable or unbreakable object. Why should the Earth’s crust – whether tectonic plates or not – be such magical un-crackable things? After all, the Atlantic plate has the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and the Pacific has its East Pacific Rise – so obviously magmatic force can dent/penetrate the plates. And from what we have all learned, the greatest force that has ever been applied to the Earth’s crust is impacts. Why should we not even consider that an impact might crack the crust?

    Not all heresies are correct. But then, some of them have been shown to be, though the conservatives in scientific thought resisted them with all their might. We live in a present in which science says it only looks at evidence (and only objectively), but with the Daulton Gang and the Bos we’ve seen how silly the objections and the willing blindness can be. So, rather than cater to winning them over, we should simply go where our intellects and evidence tell us “There be dragons!” and let the chips fall where they may.

    Jim (and everyone else), if you haven’t yet ever done so, do a Google Image search for the Drake Passage. The assortments of images will amaze you. There has been a LOT of scientific work done in that area. Ignore the interpretations but let your eyes inform your effort.

  74. Steve; Thanks for the encouragement. Either Trent or CevinQ gave a claculator for sizing theoretical craters. I used it in reverse to come up with a possible impactor size, speed and angle. Size 75-100km, Speed approx 75000 mph and angle 35-45 degrees. This accounts for the main crater and trench. The others are up to 66% smaller but probably same speed and angle. I had figured that the main impact had displaced approx 67 million cubic ft of earth either into atmosphere, space or shoved it across the ocean floor. Tim Cullen from the Malaga Bay site has commented on this idea and has suggested that the kinetic energy from the impact may still be going on causing all the vucanism in that area, He even posted a image showing all the earthquake and volcano activity in the Passage. It was very impressive. I’ve gotten a lot of help and info from the Malaga Bay site but I have to figure how to bring it over here and as I’ve said before organize it.

  75. Steve: Brain f–t alert!!! In previous post I mentioned 67million cubic ft of earth, That was supposed to be 67 million cubic miles of earth. Minor technical error.

  76. Jim,

    It was CevinQ’s calculator.

    All I did was a straight forward scaling from Chelyabinsk to a 10 km body with the working assumptions assumptions of
    1. Spherical shape,
    2. Identical trajectory,
    3. Identical material density and,
    4. Identical energy release profile,
    to get a “ball park,” to a half an order of magnitude, plus or minus, energy release number.

    Needless to say, those are some _seriously flawed_ real world assumptions for any other impact.

  77. February 2, 2014 at 21:13
    It looks like the Scotia Plate is the trench with the East Scotia Ridge marking its eastern boundary while also being the western boundary of the volcanically active Sandwich Plate which is “moving rapidly eastward, at rates from 65 to 90 mm/yr” with the South Sandwich Trench at the leading edge… so arguably the kinetic energy of the very low angled impact is still be dissipated.

    Take a look at the full USGS poster [at the link below]… you might see it differently….

    USGS poster of the South Sandwich Islands, Scotia Sea, Earthquake of 20 August 2006 – Magnitude 7.0
    Steve if you go to the above link you will see the poster they’re talking about

  78. steve; Apparently the link didn’t come with the article. This transferring from site to site is puzzling for me. My problem. I would imagine you can go to USGS and lookup Sandwich Islands Scotia Sea Earthquake of 20 August 2006 Magnitude 7.0 that might do the trick or go to Malaga Bay and lookup Drake Passage Impact event. Scroll down some and youi should come across it. If not I will try to import the poster again. Sorry

  79. Barry –

    Sometimes our minds work in funny ways…

    I don’t mean to take this off topic in any way, but something funny just occurred to me about the Main Belt object P/2103 R3. Two teams found it on the same day, which, of course, always brings up the question of how they can tell an object is a new object.

    THAT made me think of air traffic control computers, which keep tags on planes as they move around the radar screens. (An even further diversion would be to ask when are they going to make those 3D…)

    You can probably see this coming:

    Other than putting their minds to it, it seems like only a matter of time before they tag minor bodies and those tags then stay with the object forever. Impossible? Probably not. Difficult? I think yes, because we lose line of sight of the bodies all the time, with the Sun and daylight, etc. But the system can be a worldwide system with a main server dealing with them. Plus, once the orbits are known, the tags can follow the expected orbits and tell us if the orbits have changed. Yes, there are many, MANY thousands of them to track – but that is what big honking computers can do for you.

    I saw the other day that Rolls Royce is floating the idea of un-manned container ships, with 100,000 ships out there at any given time. That would use GPS, of course, but between something like that and air traffic control systems, one would think it is entirely possible. And perhaps a really nice plumb in someone’s hat (NASA? Are you listening?) to go get the companies that make air traffic control systems and see what it all entails.

    Hahahaha – remember when it happens that you heard it here first.

    Back in the early 1990s I had the idea of what is essentially an early version of car GPS systems. That was using microfilm type cards for maps and accelerometers to note changes in motion and time. Clumsy compared with what came, but five years later a Japanese firm popped up with a slightly higher tech version and I wished I’d gone and patented it and gotten in on the ground floor of that. The GPS versions only became possible because someone pushed and was able to convince the U.S. military that it ws not a security thing and to free up a lesser version of the GPS systems they had developed. That was the big tipping point. I would have enjoyed being part of that.

    This tagged asteroid system could very much simplify NEO detection by allowing them to automatically ignore known ones. Then when they spot a body moving across the background star map, it would be a new one. (Allowing for orbit changes due mostly to, but not limited to, Jupiter.)

    If a system like this currently exists, sorry to waste this comment!…LOL

  80. I will take a stab at what might have happened to P/2013 R3, just as an exercise in thinking about such things. Total speculation, based on the article.

    From the last paragraph, it sounds like it might have been a strengthless body. No collision was apparent, and its orbit didn’t pass near enough to a planet to tidally dismember it. (Strengthless bodies are the most susceptible to this, one would certainly think.) Since it’s fragmentation seems to have gone slowly, and it had a cloud around it.

    Objects in space have previously been observed to break up for a variety of reasons; they can be torn apart by a close encounter with a larger object such as a planet or the Sun, directly smashed in a collision with another object, be torn apart by the pressure of internal gasses sublimating (turning directly from solids to gasses) as they warm, or be torn apart by rotational stresses.

    The only two of those which seem likely are collision and rotational stresses. I’d reject the outgassing model because it is so far from the Sun. And if it had rotational stresses existing beforehand, they would have likely already dispersed it to a much larger size, so let’s consider that one not terribly likely, since it would have to have serendipitously happened just before discovery. Possible? Yes. But not very.

    I’d target a collision of P/2013 R3 (as a strengthless body) with a quite small body as a prime possibility. It is, after all, VERY close to the Ecliptic, where the most bodies should be – and the small, undetectable rocks number in the gazillions. This could have done BOTH – dispersed material AND caused rotational stresses. It wouldn’t take more than a rock at a relative velocity of a few km/sec (maybe much less) to jar the body enough for material to start slowly moving away, especially from an off-center collision. Off-center is most likely, anyway. I am talking SMALL. Smaller would mean lower impulse to the P/2013 R3 main body, so the whole thing could happen in slow-motion.

    A peek at Itukawa asteroid shows a non-strengthless body (quite solid, in fact) with LOTS of debris lying on its surface, so let’s consider something in that direction, too. A nudge by a rock could easily jar stuff off its surface and out into a cloud.

    For both possibilities, it is certain that in time the cloud of material could and would re-settle onto the object.

  81. Trent –

    Taking up where we left off, about the fragmented vs intact big impactors, I am reading Hills and Goda, 1993 “The Fragmentation of Small Meteors in the Atmosphere.” It’s one of a ton of papers I am trying to get through right now. I can email it to you, full text.

    The fragmentation of a small asteroid in the atmosphere greatly increases its cross-sections for aerodynamic braking and energy dissipation. The differential pressure across a meteoroid disperses its fragments at a velocity that increases with atmospheric density and impact velocity and decreases with meteoroid density. At a typical impact velocity of 22 km/s, the atmosphere absorbs more than half the kinetic energy of stony meteoroids with diameters, Dm<220 m and iron meteoroids with Dm<80 m. The corresponding diameter for comets with impact velocity 50 km/s is Dm<1600 m.

    If we apply this information to Chelyabinsk, which was 17 m across, we see that this is what happened. All that flaring along its path was not only simply material ablating, but energy being removed, too. The papers about it talked about it having lost 90% of its energy before the flaring.

    So, if 1/2 of a 220 meter stony meteor’s energy is “absorbed” by the atmosphere, does 90% of a 17 meter stony meteor sound about right? I think so.

    The Abstract continues:

    Most of this energy dissipation occurs in a fraction of a scale height, which causes large meteoroids to appear to “explode” or “flare” at the end of their visible paths.

    The important phrase I think is “appears to.”

    The dissipation of energy in the atmosphere protects the Earth from direct impact damage (e.g., craters), but the blast wave produced by the dissipation in the atmosphere can cause considerable damage to structures on the ground.

    While Chelyabinsk didn’t cause considerable damage, this seems to be true.

    The area of desruction around the impact point in which the over pressure in the blast wave exceeds 4 pounds/inch^2 = 2.8×10^5 dynes/cm3, which is enough to knock over trees and destroy buildings, increases rapidly from zero for chondritic meteoroids less than 56 m in diameter (15 megatons) to about 2000 square miles for those up to 80 m in diameter (48 megatons). (The minimum diameter of the Tunguska impactor of 1908 is about 80 m.)

    ZERO area of destruction of buildings up to 56 meters.

    This is all good news, because it says that if we can fragmentize a meteor down to below 56 meters, the destruction zone is basically zero.

    The area of destruction produced by stony asteroids between 70 and 200 m in diameter is up to twice as great as it would be without fragmentation.

    And this agrees with what I was saying – fragmentizing an object means less total damage, even if all of it still impacts into Earth’s atmosphere.

    Crater formation and earthquakes are not significant in land impacts by stony asteroids less than about 200 m in diameter because of the air protection.

    So below 200 meter stony object will not create much of a land impact crater scenario? I found this quite interesting. At the same time, Tunguska, at 80 meters, never even made it to the ground, so this is at least somewhat in the right. ballpark

    The situation is similar for the production of water waves and tsunami for ocean impacts. Tsunami is probably the most devastating type of damage for asteroids that are 200 m to 1 km in diameter. An impact by an asteroid this size anywhere in the Atlantic would devastate coastal areas on both sides of the ocean. The atmosphere plume produced by asteroids with high-entropy gas forms a new layer on top of the atmosphere. The dust entrapped in this hot gas is likely to have optical depths exceeding Tau = 10 for asteroids with diameters exceeding about 0.5-1 km. The optical flux for asteroids 60 m or more in diameter is enough to ignite forests. However, the blast wave from an impacting asteroid goes beyond the radius in which the fire starts. The blast wave tends to blow out the fire, so it is likely that the impact will char the forest (as at Tunguska), but the impact will not produce a sustained fire. Because comets dissipate their energy much higher in the atmosphere than asteroids, they illuminate a much larger region and the blast wave is weaker, so they are much more effective in producing large fires. This suggests the Cretaceous-Tertiary impactor was a comet rather than an asteroid.

    All stuff worth noting, perhaps.

  82. There is an article on Vance Haynes and the Clovis type site in the current issue of “American Archaeology”.