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

Mayan Match: Baillie discovers correlation between ice core chemistry spikes and Mayan Long Count Calendar

Restored from the library fire 1/11/20

Mayan Calendar

Mike Baillie fan passed along this fascinating discovery last week and I hoisted the paper to the Tusk immediately.  Mike is on to something mighty interesting. Nowhere has anyone noted the corellation between the two early Mayan “Baktun” transitions and spikes in ice core chemistry from Greenland.

Calendrical genius that he is, Mike even reverse engineers the data and finds the Mayan calendar — baring incredible coincidence — serves to memorialize the two events as well as perpetuate a useful chime for the future.

It is hard to grasp given his sparse abstract, but if I understand Mike Baillie correctly he infers that the Maya calendar writer long after the two extraordinary events divided his calendar so that the first event would mark the end of an inaugural cycle representing a number of days which — if repeated four more times — would coincide with the 2nd event. These five cycles were then followed in the calendar by an additional eight cycles of equal periods reaching to our own time.

It would be as if you were amazed at the appearance of Santa Claus, began counting the days since you saw him, was startled by his return, and later decided these visits were so significant that your calendar itself should be divided so as to determine good times to look out for the jolly old fellow. He may or may not come — but it is the right time to look.

How amazing. Mike has used well-scrubbed, expensive, empirical data from the end of the earth to place one of the silliest cultural phenomena of modern times into a rational, objective context. I would be less startled by a hi-res photo of the elf himself. Stay tuned…

Download the PDF file .

37 Responses

  1. Let’s just hope the next Baktun doesn’t roll in with a bang. I’m thinkin’ “We’re still here!” might be a great theme for a new years party this year.

  2. Mayan Catastrophism jokes:

    I damaged my car parking when I Baktun to the truck behind me.

    Then I Baktun filled till I threw my neck out.




  3. Hahahaha. Mike Baillie is a scientist and you guys are comedians.

    Do this instead: Grab an oar and help unpack some of the science.

  4. Indeed, to give credit where it’s due: If there is a list of required reading for our favorite subject, Ballie’s work, including his book, ‘Exodus to Arthur’ should be in the top five.

    On the serious side, if the Mayan calendar is in fact based on a reoccurring cosmic catastrophe as some have proposed we could be facing some rough times over the next few years.

  5. The science does depend upon some crucial assumptions

    1) That Ammonia can be formed in sufficient quantities by impact
    2) That the ammonia anomalies in question are due to impacts
    3) That the ice core chronology is correct.

    The first assumption has been demonstrated by Mellot to be reasonable, and indeed previously suggested by Baillie as being markers of extra-terrestrial events. Having an ammonium/nitrate signal at AD 1908.5 date in GISP2 implies that such an assumption is strong, since it is estimated that the energy of the Tunguska event generated enough Nitrate to deplete one third the ozone layer.

    The second assumption is reasonable, especially to catastrophists. To catastrophists it would seem highly unreasonable to think that out of the 5000 odd years since 3000 BC, we have had only one impact event generating Ammonia/nitrate within the ice cores. Especially when one considers that the impact rate of Tunguska class objects is between 1 every 1000 years (as conservatives believe) or 1 ever 300 years as per catastrophists. There is a chance that some of these signals could be terrestrial events such as large scale biomass burning (which of course could be impact related!). Just because one event is extra-terrestrial does not necessarily mean that others should be, at least not without further lines of evidence.

    the third assumption is very important, since the correlation relies upon the integrity of the GISP2 core. There is much debate amongst the chronology community regarding the absolute dating of the ice cores especially with respect to dendrochronological evidences. Even between different ice cores there is difficulty in matching signals in different epochs. For example, Baillie himself advocated that the GRIP core was correctly dated due to its replication, and that there was a problem with GISP2 chronology, but has since changed his mind and argued that there may be flaws in GRIP chronology, and hence GISP2 may correctly dated (which is the raw data presented in the above article), since volcanic markers in GISP2 match historically recorded eruptions back to 44 BC. Before 44 BC in time, the integrity of the chronology may break down, especially given the number of gaps in the ice. So a third option is always that neither GRIP or GISP2 is correctly dated before the 1st century BC.

  6. even so volcano eruptions in no way rules out a large impacts as the trigger mechanism for the larger and largest and even multiple eruptions and other subsequent effects of both kinds of events or all world wide events happening with in minutes of each other . that would depend on how large the impact was and the effects of the pressures created. non of which has been even asked , much less proved or disproved .

  7. When I talked to Dr. Mellot he also stated there were some fundamental issues of molecular ammonia diffusion in the core that needed to be addressed to determine precise timing and magnitudes of the events. He had done some preliminary calculations but no longer had core samples to study and calibrate against and was more or less moving on. Surely cores are still around though, if somebody wants to pursue that line of research, just as those enigmatic Willmette bed cores are still laying around somewhere if anyone wants to take a look at those to differentiate catastrophic verses steady state flows and precise timings of the Eastern drainage route during the Younger Dryas.

  8. Interesting observations. Does this mean that the Maya constructed their calendar based on 2 impact events – 2719 BC & 1142 BC? Assuming the 1577 years are some sort of period, add them forward and you end up with 435 AD, which missed the mid 6th century festivities by over a century. Do it again and you end up with 2012, which overshoots Tunguska by a century. Note also that there were a pair of spikes around Tunguska. Where is the second blast? Subtracting backwards you get 4296 BC, 5873 BC, 7450 BC, 9027 BC, and perhaps the YD itself at either 10,604 or 12,181 BC.

    Wish I knew more about the 10k years between the YD and 0 AD. If there is something that we intersect periodically at a 1577 year frequency, it would tend to make large spikes. Unfortunately on two of them line up. And the largest one plotted is the most recent which makes me wonder if the ammonium and nitrate gasses tend to diffuse as we farther from when they were injected into the atmosphere. Fun stuff, though. Cheers –

  9. Thomas, Mellot has moved on to other interests and recently published this in Nature with regards the AD 774/775 enrichment of 14C.

    agimarc, there is no suggestion in the article that there is a 1577 year periodicity, merely that if these events are impact in origin, and if the Mayans or predecessors noticed them, then they may have used their number system to construct a calendar based upon these two events.

    As I mentioned above, just becuase one NH4 spike (1908) is likely caused by impact does not mean any or all of the others are too. Even if some of them are impact markers, based solely upon the NH4 signal, we cannot know which ones are impact in origin, and which ones are due to terrestrial processes. Thus the 1862 peak may not be from an impact.

  10. Did you hear about the butcher who Baktun to his slicing machine?

    He got behind in his work.

    I am now completely doomed for these utterly disrespectful bad jokes if there really is whatever form of apocalypse this month. So I’d like to apologize to my family now if I’ve gotten us all killed by repeatedly tempting fate! Sorry family.

    Naturally I believe the Mayans had a culture of excellent scientific astronomers. And that’s not a bad thing for such an incredibly ancient culture. That’s right up there with modern efforts reaching the moon, if you look at what the Mayans had to work with. Rocks. Jungle. Night sky. Genius Astronomers. Pretty cool. Try learning that one without books, optics, clocks, or any knowledge of Newtons Laws, not created for thousands of years after the Mayans had their calendar up and running strong.



  11. Ok, thanks for that, and I notice the spelling is Melott. I will read it directly. Oops, I accidentally posted this on another forum. The calculations I am aware of pertaining to the year 774-775 presumed intense solar flare energetic proton event are here.


    I’m guessing this more or less agrees with Melott, but I would have to read it to be sure. A lot of it is flare discharge geometry but there also appears to be a lot of variation in solar flux composition as well.

  12. In Temple XIX at Palenque the Maya recorded a catastrophic event that occurred in 3300 BC (about 200 years prior to the end of the last Mayan calendar cycle.) They described it as the decapitation of a crocodile star followed by a catastrophic flood. This flood “myth” was also described in their historical chronicles called the Chilam Balam. It stated that first fire and rocks descended followed by an avalanche of water. This sounds like an eyewitness account of an oceanic impact event and associated mega-tsunami.

    I decided to check the ice core records and tsunami records and sure enough, 3300 BC is listed over and over again as the date for a major catastrophic event on Earth that included multiple impacts and mega-tsunamis. I found myths all over the world from China to the Middle East to Greece that described this event identically to the Mayan flood myth.

    Thus the fact that the Maya were able to record the exact date for this event suggests the long count calendar is more ancient than anyone believes possible. If it was invented in 1142 BC then how did they record the exact date of an event that occurred in 3300 BC?

    I think the most interesting part of Mike’s new research is the association between baktun endings and impact events. I assumed the long count calendar was designed to encode a 5,000 year cycle between major impact events but this new research by Mike Baille suggests it also encodes other impact cycles.

    I discuss this Mayan flood myth in my book .

  13. I meant to say, I discuss this Mayan flood myth in my book Mayan Calendar Prophecies: Predictions for 2012-2052.

    I also note in this book that the Maya had another calendar, the short count calendar, which tracked a 256-year cycle that could coincide with the recently discovered ~300 year cycle of Tunguska-class impact events. (Read: Asher, D. J., et al. “Earth in the Cosmic Shooting Gallery.” Observatory. http://www.arm.ac.uk/preprints/455.pdf
    The only known Mayan prophecies are associated with this short count calendar. Their most dire prophecies were reserved for the twenty year period between 2032-2052. These prophecies state: “This is a time of total collapse where everything is lost. It is the time of the judgement of God.”

    This eerily coincides with NASA estimates that three separate asteroids have a chance of slamming into earth during this time period: Apophis in 2036, 2007 VK187 in 2048, & 2011 AG5 in 2040.

    I also discuss in my book that the Aztec Calendar Stone also appears to encode known impact events including the 1014 AD event and 536 AD event.

    Thus it appears that both the Aztec and Mayan calendars were designed to keep track of these catastrophic events and forewarn future generations when to expect the next one.

  14. Hi Gary,

    here is one of the problems with your above post. The AD 536/540 and AD 1014 dates are NOT known impact events. Most will be familiar about the argument for AD 536/540 event being possibly impact in origin (due to lack of volcanic signal in the ice cores). However, the 1014 date only suggested by Mike Baillie in “New Light on the Black Death” because of elevated ammonium in the GRIP ice core, as well as the coincidence of an inundation of the British coastline that same year. It suddenly became a “known impact” when Ted Bryant latched onto the date and claimed it was impact induced with little cosmic evidence to back it up.

    Mike at the time he suggested the AD 1014 date believed that the GRIP ice cores were correctly dated due to replication with NGRIP and DYE3, and that the GISP2 core was in error. However, since publishing this Mike has argued that in fact it may be GRIP that is in error (See his papers “Proposed re-dating of the European ice core chronology by seven years prior to the 7th century AD” GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 35, L15813 (2008) and “Volcanoes, ice-cores and tree-rings: one story or two?” ANTIQUITY, 84, 202-215 (2010)).

    Basically, Mike argues that the european ice workers (GRIP) have dated their cores as too old by about 7 years based upon comparison with dendrochronological data of bristlecone pines and Irish tree rings. The ice core workers find volcanic events at AD 515, 529, 533.5 (+/-2), and 567.5, but bristlecone pine frost rings occur at AD, 522 536, 541, 574 suggesting that the ice cores are 7 years too old. The consequence of this is that if one move the ice dates forward 7 years, we now have volcanic events at AD 536 and 540, with no need to invoke a cosmic vector to explain the tree ring and environmental downturns.

    This 7 year shift also has ramifications higher up the core, depending upon when this error is introduced. If one compares GRIP and GISP2 (American) ice cores across the 11th century AD, we see that the only elevated ammonia signals at the beginning of this century occur at AD 1014 in GRIP and AD 1020/1021 in GISP2. If these are the same signal then we see again the possibility that GRIP is 7 years too old with comparison of GISP2.

    So the upshot of this is that AD 536/540 and AD 1014 are not known impact events, only suggested or hypothesised impact events. The Eurpoean ice core workers are insistent that their GRIP core is correctly dated, tying it to an anchor date of AD 79 Vesuvius eruption, which they claim to have found tephra in this layer (see Greenland ice core evidence of the 79AD
    Vesuvius eruption http://www.clim-past-discuss.net/8/5429/2012/cpd-8-5429-2012.pdf and Mike’s reply here http://www.clim-past-discuss.net/8/C2434/2012/cpd-8-C2434-2012.pdf). To summarise the argument, if the ice core workers are correct, then there is a volcanic signal at AD 536 but non at 540 AD, and hence a cosmic agent could be proposed for the 540 AD event. If Mike is correct, then we have volcanic signals at 536 and 540 AD, and no need to introduce a cosmic hypothesis as per occam’s razor, and Mike weakens his own argument for a cosmic scenario. It does not mean to say that there was no cosmic vector involved, but just there is no requirement for one.

    The second problem is your misunderstanding of Asher et al’s paper. When they state that the Tunguska class impact rate is of the order of 1 every 300 years, they are not stating a periodicity. If i state that a person blinks once every two seconds, this does not mean that they will do so regimentally. You could blink twice or three times in this interval, or there could be 4 or 5 seconds between blinks, but when averaged out the rate is 1 every 2 seconds. It is the same when inferring impact rates. we do not talk about a regimented periodicity, but rather an average rate of impact based upon the probability of an event. In the case of Asher et al they are suggesting the probability of a Tunguska class impact in any given year based upon stochastic impacts is 0.0033 which amounts to an average rate of 1 every 300 years. So this is not a ~300 year cycle, merely an expression of the mean expected time between encounters of Tunguska class events, and like blinking, there could be two or three in any 300 year interval, followed by nothing for a thousand years.

  15. I am going to agree with Jonny. because there is no way that tugunska was bigger than what was happening that caused the 1142/ really Bronze Age Collapse = BAC real time .

    about 3200 years ago thing that caused the bronze age collapse and burnt the tops of three continents and then buried them in mud then when they immersed from the water like a turtle. .
    there could not have been any ice cores in Greenland period , Greenland did not sit there then.
    so it might be circumstance that it fits some man made ideas about history. but that has never made anything ever real.
    that little spike at 1142 doesn’t not look even kind of close to what was really happening that was the cause of the Bronze Age Collapse. BAC in time! someone is someday going to have to explain BAC in time!
    and Not do it with their stupid ideas and limited understandings of other peoples political and social structures!

  16. You need to check your facts Chicken. Greenland has been right where it is today for millions of years. And the only thing that may have changed in 3200 years is the nuber of humans living there, and the amount of ice.

    That is, unless you’re tryin’ to stuff your young-earth creationist tripe down our throats some more.

  17. ok so where is Santerini ? where is Thera on his chart ? so what those volcano’s were is smaller events , less ash than Tugunska ? it isn’t there and neither is what happened to create the collapse! it can’t be there because Greenland wasn’t there then.

  18. Chicken little, You have wandered into fantasy land again. Greenland has existed right where it is today for millions of years longer than the human race itself has existed.

    But perhaps a little humor, and amusement will do us all good.

    Do tell. Where do you think Greenland was for the last few millions of years? And how do you think it came to be where it is today?

  19. Chicken, you dont see Santorini/Thera in the data in Mike Baillie’s article because the data presented is just ammonia and nitrate indices which are not volcanic markers. The markers for volcanic activity come in the form of electric conductivity measurements (ECM) and Sulphates. It is thought that Thera erupted in latter half of 17th millenium BC, possibly around the 1620’s. If you look at the sulphate in the GISP2 ice core at this time you find elevated sulphate at a level in the core core dated between 1622.3 and 1624.7 BC, which is close to the 1628 BC Bristlecone pine frost ring. This is the same sulphate signal that I used to argue that that the core may be dated 5 years too young.

  20. Well,536 AD may not coincide with a known impact….but it does coincide with a massive eruption by Krakatoa about that time…make of that what you will


    Mass extinction of lizards and snakes at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary.
    Nicholas R. Longrich, Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar, Jacques A. Gauthier (Harvard, Yale)

    Abstract: The Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary is marked by a major mass extinction, yet this event is thought to have had little effect on the diversity of lizards and snakes (Squamata). A revision of fossil squamates from the Maastrichtian and Paleocene of North America shows that lizards and snakes suffered a devastating mass extinction coinciding with the Chicxulub asteroid impact. Species-level extinction was 83%, and the K-Pg event resulted in the elimination of many lizard groups and a dramatic decrease in morphological disparity. Survival was associated with small body size and perhaps large geographic range. The recovery was prolonged; diversity did not approach Cretaceous levels until 10 My after the extinction, and resulted in a dramatic change in faunal composition. The squamate fossil record shows that the end-Cretaceous mass extinction was far more severe than previously believed, and underscores the role played by mass extinctions in driving diversification.

    [Sorry, not directly related to Mike Baillie’s post, still of interest IMHO — George, is there another way to post this on your page in a place that is more suitable?]

  22. Here is another paper I just ran across that some of you may be interested in. Although it appears to be off topic for this post as well, I’m also posting it here only because this is the most recent post and it represents another diagnostic technique, maybe. Since I am unfamiliar with weathering rinds and have not read the paper, then obviously I am unable to comment on it.

    Weathering Rinds: Unlikely Host Clasts for Evidence of an Impact-Induced Event

  23. George,
    thanks for your appropriate prose about Mike Baillie’s amazing abstract: You greatly helped this retired math prof. Here is what you wrote in decimal figures:
    2219-1142 = 1577 = 4 x 394.5
    2012 = -1142 + 8 x 394.5

    Chicken, the BAC shows up in Mike Baillie’s 1159 – 1142 BC tree ring records. But, as tree ring dire times of 1159 – 1142 BC end precisely at the second ice core spike of NH4/NO3, the BAC does seem to relate to both.

    Very confusing! I asked Mike about this, and he emphasized there was no connection to tree rings, this Mayan post was nitrate and ammonia only, and he was going to travel and we should wait with questions until he returns. . .

    Perhaps Prof Baillie could elaborate. . .

  24. Thomas Lee Elifritz:
    these words are from your link, the abstract therein and should be pleasing to Dennis Cox:

    “thick carbon encrustations and partial to full shock-melted/contorted grains – in weathering rinds from the Western Alps, France”

  25. Indeed! Thanks Hermann.

    As a matter of fact, I live and work in the shadow of a small mountain called Campbell Mountain here in central California that’s painted up with ‘weathering rinds’ that look more like the fusion crust on the outside of a meteorite than the product of normal weathering.

    What’s more, in addition to the entire southwest face of the mountain being almost completely welded and vitrified you’ll typically find large house sized boulders coated with the stuff. And these boulders have the kind of deep thermal fracturing you would normally only expect to see in boulders that were belched from the throat of a volcano as volcanic bombs, and which cooled very quickly from red hot.

    The thing that makes them so enigmatic is that there has been no volcanic activity on the western side of the Sierra Nevada pluton in more than 200 million years. So there is no conceivable terrestrial heat source for almost perfectly pristine burnt facies that look like they’re only a few centuries old.

    Is sent a specimen of the rock coating to Rich Firestone, and his detailed PGAA analysis turned up some interesting properties for the stuff. It’s got a very high iron content of 13%, and about 400 times the normal terrestrial abundance of nickel. In fact, the chemistry of the stuff has a lot in common with a meteorite; perhaps a urelite.

    If it is impact related, and I am convinced that it is, than the burnt facies, and blast-effected materials at Campbell mountain and the surrounding foothills describe a geologically recent impact event. And by an impact mechanism that’s different from anything that’s ever been described before.

  26. Jonny,
    from your first comment (am trying to catch up on Baillie’s Mayans):

    It is estimated that the energy of the Tunguska event generated enough Nitrate to deplete one third the ozone layer.

    This seems paradoxicalL: The incoming Taurid comet fragment came into contact with only a small portion of the atmosphere. Most of the ozone layer was far removed from the impact void over Siberia.

    Would it be reasonable to hypothesize that frozen nitrate was carried down as part of the impactor in sufficient quantity?

  27. Dr. Burchard,

    The way I understand this process, the fireball burns lots of atmosphere (mostly nitrogen and some oxygen, some hydrogen in the troposphere as suspended H20 vapor, and possibly more H20 from the surface from snow in the case of Tunguska?) and you get lots of nitrates (N03- ions) and ammonia(NH3), much of them lofted by the convective fireball plume itself as well as some being shot back up the entry path which remains a relatively low impedance escape route for some moments after the passage of the astronomic visitor.

    Naturally the bolide itself may contain ice for this process as well, but it wouldn’t really need to bring any substantial nitrogen to the party, since the keg-o-nitrogen is already at the party venue….

    Then the higher lofted fraction of this fireball effluent reacts with the relatively low volumes of ozone in the tenuous stratospheric layer where that UV blocker resides. Can’t recall the stoichiometry but we can play with that using the Stoichiometry Calculator at Online Science Tools (of course!):


    That’s actually where I had to go to spell stoichiometry correctly. Estimate of Tunguska object mass plugged into burn reaction(s) may yield mass estimate of burn effluent produced.

    Anyway I think thats the drill, or the meat and potatoes of it regarding the Ozone layer depletion, as I understand it. I will also add that I am in no way affiliated with Online Science Tools dot com to the best of my knowledge, but I do remain a huge fan of learning about cosmic impact science of all types, so everyone please elaborate here on whatever else I’m missing – thanks.


  28. Hi Hermann,

    Thomas has the crux of it, in that it is atmospheric chemistry that generates Nitrous Oxide which is the agent that destroys ozone. NO is created from atmospheric oxygen and nitrogen though a “burning process” above temperatures of around 2000 Celsius. NO destroys ozone through a catalytic process (meaning that it is not used up by the reaction), and so 1 gram of NO can destroy 100-200 grams of Ozone.

    In 1978 C Park (“Nitric oxide production by Tunguska meteor”, Acta Astronaut. 5, 523-542 (1978)) used an aerodynamical model of the Tunguska impactor including its wake chemistry and estimated that a yield of at least 19 million tons of NO produced at altitudes between 10 and 50 Km in the impactors wake and fireball, and about 30 million tons of NO between 10 and 100 Km altitude.

    Later in 1981 Turco et al (“Tunguska Meteor Fall of 1908: Effects on Stratospheric Ozone” Science 214, 4516, 19-23 (1981)) simulated the effects of such a mass of NO deposited within the atmospheric column between 10-100 kilometers. Their calculations suggested that as much as 45% of the ozone layer was destroyed from the Tunguska impact. it was fortuitous that at the time of the Tunguska event, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory where conducting a long term project to try to measure variability of the solar constant. This was made at the wavelength of particular ozone bands, and so could be used by Turco et al to estimate the observed column density of ozone between 1909 and 1911 which is in rough agreement with astronomical estimates at the time of 30 +/- 15 % reduction. They found that it was recovering between the years of 1909-1911 at a rate that was consistent with their model. Furthermore, extrapolation of the data set indicated a reduction of ozone of 30 +/- 15 % at 95% confidence level, again consistent with their model calculation.

    Turco et al’s paper can be read here https://facultystaff.richmond.edu/~sabrash/110/Tunguska_Meteor_Fall_of_1908.pdf

  29. Here is another paper just out on the Arxiv, that may be of interest to the group. Again I apologize that I can’t comment on it because I have not yet read it.

    Earth and Mars crater size frequency distribution and impact rates: Theoretical and observational analysis, William Bruckman, Abraham Ruiz and Elio Ramos

  30. To: Johnny,
    thanks for your excellent comment on NO acting as a catalyst destroying vast amounts of ozone world-wide in 1908 as a result of the Tunguska impact. By giving a rational cause, you have removed the paradox that I thought I had found.

    The depleted ozone may have led to some world-wide increase in melanoma, but if nothing shows up in medical statistics of the time, this would alleviate ozone layer concerns.

    To: Thomas Lee Elifritz,
    thanks for the Bruckmsn et al reference. Here’s an excerpt from their interesting abstract:

    for energies of one megaton or larger we find near one impact every three years for Mars, an interesting and concerning result for future Mars explorations. The corresponding calculations for our planet give a probability of one impact per 15 years, while for a Tunguska like event, of about E=10 megatons, an estimate of one per century is obtained for Earth.

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