Pic of the Day: Davias and Perigee Zero stun planet with Carolina Bay image


Update#1:  Larger image now linked to small above;)

Mike Davias brought some attention today to one of the Tusk’s favorite subjects: Carolina Bays. His wonderful LIDAR image of the bays — above and first revealed here on the Tusk — was selected as today’s Goddard Space Flight Center Earth Science Picture of the Day.  Applause!

These enigmatic features have long puzzled me, along with every other sentient being who has bothered to take a close look at them.  While not surely created simultaneously from above, the bays still manage to defy conventional explanations despite many tortured efforts to explain them away.  The contention that these features are nothing more than ghosts of old lakes is ridiculous.  I have worked very, very intimately with these lands — and these suckers are not simply old ponds.

For one, our team cored a bay in this photo. “Howard Bay,” as it were. Howard Bay was never a lake.  All the way to the bottom throughout the feature there is not one scintilla of organic material.   All pure sand.  How could it be that a lake once existed there but no lucustrine evidence remains?  (I’ll dig up some of the old data and post later).

Furthermore, the standing explanation, elucidated by Dr. Andrew Ivester (before returning to work in his father’s auto parts business) does not stand to reason.  Ivester claims the bays were simple lakes formed on-again off-again through the recent ice-ages.

CORRECTION: Dr. Ivester contacted me and neiher he nor his father work in the auto parts business.  My bad and faulty memory from a brief chat we had in ’06 or so in Savannah, GA, at Southeastern GSA conference.  Back to our regularly scheduled blog…

On the basis of 45 OSL dates from and sedimentological analyses of rims of Carolina bays in Georgia and South Carolina, Ivester et al. (2007) concluded that a single Carolina bay was actively modified between 12,000 to 50,000 BP; 60,000 to 80,000 BP; a
nd 120,000 to 140,000 BP. His conclusions is collaborated by the OSL dating done by Brooks et al. (1996, 2001), Grant et al. (1998), and Ivester et al. (2002, 2003, 2004b) on other Carolina Bays and the fact not all Carolina Bays are as perfectly aligned as they are claimed to be. In any one location, the orientation of their long axes varies by 10 to 15 degrees as discussed in Johnson (1942), Kacrovowski (1977), and Carver and Brooks (1989). Plate 3 of Kacrovowski (1977) also shows the long axes of Carolina bays becomes, at best, distinctly bimodal and exhibits two greatly divergent directions and, at worst, completely random and lacking any preferred direction within the northernmost part of their distribution, i.e., Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties, Maryland. Wiki on bays

How the hell then did the bays retain their symmetrical organization through these distinct climatic ages?  Would we not see some genetic and temporal relationship between bays of one age versus those formed in another?  How exactly did winds conspire to form bays of the same alignment from one age to the next?

There are problems with a simultaneous creation mechanism as well.  With the exception of nanodiamonds galore, there is little evidence of a cosmic interaction.  If something did happen suddenly, it was of a nature we do not yet fully understand.

But waving off the ET hypothesis with an admonishment that all is known — and there is nothing here to see — is simply not an option for the Tusk. I wish Davias and many others well in their effort to unlock the truth.  And I look forward to sharing every twist and turn with you here.

  • Hi George,

    Time will tell. But I’m betting they are impact related. And my money is on all of the bays being formed within seconds of each other by impactites of ice that were tossed from the Great Lakes region when the Laurentide ice sheet took a major, multiple fragment, hit.

    And if we consider Pete Shultz’s experiments with oblique angle, hyper-velocity, impacts into ice at NASA’s Vertical Gun Range, we can see that craters are not necessarily expected at a point of origin for an ice impactite that formed a bay. But hydrothermal explosions in the ice sheet powerful enough to toss such large fragments of the LIS so far, would have most certainly left their marks.

    Instead of craters, perhaps we might look for evidence of random melting, or partial melting, of the surface. And in the presence of a lot of water.

    Remember, the LIS was on the Canadian Shield. The bedrock is archaean. And it’s been volcanically stable for more than 2.5 billion years. That’s more than half the age of the Earth. So, any so called,’volcaniclastic’,’volcanogenic’ or any other type of igneous rock, or migmatite, that’s at the surface, and that returns an age since melt that’s measured in millions of years, or less, should be seen as a red flag.

    Conclusive evidence would be in the presence of significant siderophile, or platinum group, element enrichment in any so called ‘volcanogenic’, or ‘volcaniclastic’ specimens that also return a geologically young age.

  • Terry Egolf


    While it does seem that the bays are cosmic impact-related, the physics of their formation is quite problematic. The lack of solid impact debris (other than the unconsolidated sand itself), their highly variable axis orientation (within limits), and their shallow profiles all speak against a conventional impact origin.

    I got ahold of P. L. Sachdev’s book Shock Waves and Explosions to better understand the physics of air bursts and shockwaves, which have been proposed as mechanisms for their formation from explosively vaporizing ice or hydrogenous mixes. The book is quite technical and the math is way beyond me, but his conclusions are illuminating. The problem really boils down to what kind of physical process is scalable over three orders of magnitude to produce such consistently-shaped features?

    Congratulations, Mike!

    Terry Egolf

  • Hermann Burchard

    according to Michael Davias, the Carolina Bays were formed by ejecta from the Saginaw impact going on orbital trajectories and then coming down to form the bays, see his webpages for details. Does this agree with your views, and with Sachdev theory?

  • Steve Garcia

    The aeolian hypothesis – has anyone ever SEEN a negative landform IN THE PRESENT being formed? This is such a ludicrous hypothesis in my mind. To believe that such formations could be as aligned as they are ion the aeolian concept is far less supportable than the ET hypothesis. For one thing, if wind, how do they get to be elliptical? What wind can do that? Some tornadic configuration? If so, then why only on flat ground?

    And why are the Rio Cuarto ones (accepted by most – but not all – for the moment as ET) so elongated, as opposed to the CBs? The similarities would suggest similar causes. What is different about Rio Cuarto that makes those acceptable as ETs but the CBs are not?

    For those who don’t know it, the Rio Cuarto field extends for about 300 miles to the SSW (about heading 210°), far beyond the few indicated by the studies I’ve seen.

    I would argue loud and long that any study of one should include on site study and mention of the other – if for no other reason than to differentiate them. The main obvious difference is the ellipticity of RC vs CBs. IMHO, the similarities (“on the surface” at least) seem to outweigh any differences. IMHO, any explanation of one of them needs to explain why the other does or does not have the same characteristics.

    I am not in any way suggesting the two fields of ellipses occurred at the same time. But they seem to have had the same type of cause.

  • Steve Garcia

    Oops! Congratulations to Davias on the choice of his image.

    It IS a really good and remarkable image. But it is also extremely informative. I am sure that is what he was going for, and he got it.

  • Hello for All

    Yes, the images demonstrate a great technical work, it’s a work of great refinement, Mike Davias reveal invisible structures that may be important in conducting research on the Carolina Bays.

    Two structures (and others thousands) caught my attention in the Pic of the Day:

    1 – the closed structure on Rennert its bay is virtually filled with sediment, the level difference between the highest parts of the border and the bottom is only about 2 meters.

    2 – Moreover, the open structure on Shannon, yet virtually invisible in Google Earth the bay is very clean of sediments, it’s drained by a small river, the level difference between the higher parts and lower is about 7 meters, it may be possible to have easier access to rocks at the bottom of this structure, perhaps, to identify impactites.

    However, considering that the impacts probably occurred over a few meters of ice before reaching the ground, the impactites may have been carried in downstream floods.

    Rennert structure http://maps.google.com.br/maps?hl=pt-BR&ie=UTF8&t=h&ecpose=36.15476383,-105.17662394,2864.51,0.259,0,0&ll=34.798113,-79.069663&spn=0.044826,0.076818&z=14

    Shannon structure http://maps.google.com.br/maps?hl=pt-BR&ie=UTF8&t=h&ecpose=36.15476383,-105.17662394,2864.51,0.259,0,0&ll=34.840859,-79.117441&spn=0.044803,0.076818&z=14


  • Terry Egolf

    Herman and Steve,

    Yes, I am familiar with Michael’s Saginaw Impact Manifold analysis. We continue to have an informative and productive correspondence on the subject.

    As Steve noted, there is no credible geologic process observable today that is producing such features. So we can infer that they had to be produced by an essentially unique (or at least rare and likely catastrophic) event some time in the past.

    I am confining my personal studies to possible cratering mechanisms, including explosive vaporization of ejecta near ground level. Sachdev’s book addresses only mathematical non-dimensional modeling of shock waves in air. So I will have to go elsewhere to obtain quantitative results. As Michael notes on his website, this is truly a multidisciplinary problem. We need physicists who have specialized in soil mechanics to model the forces needed to create shallow sub-elliptical depressions in the surface of unconsolidated sediments. We need to extend the work of scientists like Sachdev, Bottke, and others to model “soft” cratering processes and then compare the results to what we observe in the field. Only after such studies affirming that certain ejecta phenomena could have caused Carolina bays, which can vary in size from 10s of meters to 10 km, are we in a position to begin looking for the impactor. Otherwise, this is all just a bunch of inferential handwaving.

    Remember that correlation, especially from a heuristic methodology, is not proof. For example, I found a pair of largish, well-formed Carolina bays in SC that overlap each other. Their major axes diverge by more than 15 degrees. So if they were both created by the same event/process, how could this happen? It’s well and good to correlate the trajectories of “fields” of CBs to a common point, but “the devil is in the details” as they say. I believe we need to start at the features and work backwards to the source.

  • If you prepare a scale model of a sedimentary surface, using layers of clay, silt, and sand, and you set off an explosion in a layer of ice near your test surface, the resulting ejecta of slush, water, and ice, will give you oval ‘splatter’ craters.

    When everything dries out, the ‘ejecta’ disappears. And there is nothing left, but the marks it made. You are left with groupings of nice, clean, flat bottomed, oval craters in your test surface that are a perfect scale match for the Bays every time.

  • P.S. There is no shortage of experimental data on the physics of hypervelocity impacts into ice. Or the random, non-cratering, nature of the resulting hydro-thermal explosions, and sub-ice surface scarring. Peter Schultz, at Brown U. has done many such experiments at NASA’s Vertical Gun Range.

  • Dear Terry Egolf

    The angular difference between the elliptical structures can be explained by multiple (impactors) events on different local time (LT) values on Carolina area, and not all at the same time, not instantly. Perhaps a shower of meteoroids (meteor) possibly the course of a few hours or more a day for others regions in the U.S. and on the planet.

    However, even in other regions of the U.S. others events may have occurred in the same universal time (UT), the resulting structures will have different angles, since they occurred at different local times (LT), but simultaneously (UT).

    This model serves to explain the elliptical structures caused by a meteor coming from the southern celestial hemisphere and the north. Which way would the best?



  • Hi Pierson,

    There are hundreds of structures in the american southwest that are a perfect match for your Paleolagoons in South America. Better yet, most of the ones we see in New Mexico, and West Texas are in semi arid, desert climates. And they are almost perfectly preserved. I think we can make a good case there for a combination of airburst phenomena, and direct kinetic impact, for the formation of them. The proof with be in field work, and a detailed study of the isotopes in them.

    But I think the CB’s are a horse of a different color. Your discriptions of an oblique impact are good. But if you want to say that the objects that gouged the CB’s were meteorites, not secondary impacts of impactites, then you’ll have to account for the complete lack of meteoritic material, or impact melts, in them.

  • Terry Egolf

    I understand that “resulting ejecta of slush, water, and ice, will give you oval ‘splatter’ craters” is the current mantra for a celestial impact origin of the CBs. But just how do these ejecta hold together while being lofted for 6-800 miles through the atmosphere at transonic to subsonic speeds? I’m a visual learner. I would like to see a best-guess illustration of the moment-by-moment life history of just one of these objects from impact to splat. What happens when you throw a cup full of ice water out the window of a car moving at 60 mph? Now do the same thing at 600 mph. I’m not a professional physicist, but I just don’t see that effect scaling up to the point that an object making a 60 m divot is going to behave the same way one that makes a 9.5 km divot. Unless the object is solid, it just isn’t going to hold together. Solid ice will create normal impact craters. And if it falls like low-velocity slushy buckshot, you aren’t going to get really large, uniformly oval shallow depressions. It is going to form something akin to a shallow, easily-erased paint splatter pattern. Sandy, wallboard-paste ejecta (formed by some unexplained mechanism) creates oval depressions, but they also leave something behind in the depression–shocked quartz and other materials that are not native to the surrounding terrain.

    This is why I believe we need to examine the physically-feasible mechanisms of Carolina bay formation first, and then look for a source that can generate that mechanism. (And I don’t buy the fish-pond, or subaerial blowout models, either.) You folks that participate here regularly are far better read than I on the 19 +/- theories of the origins of CBs. They exist. SOMETHING created them. What credible physical process was responsible?

    Terry Egolf
    Greenville, SC

  • There is no credible ‘uniformiitarian’ explaination for the Bays.

    Water won’t hold together for the trip. But large fragments of ice will.

    There are no craters at the points of origin. But the hydro-thermal blast burns, consisting of surface melt formations that grade from migmatites, which were sedimentary deposits heated almost, but not quite, to the melting point, and in the presence of a lot of water, to pristine flows of fine grained, felsic, ‘volcaniclastic’ rock in locations on the Canadian Shield where there is no trace of a volcanic system to account for them are not hard to find.

  • Steve Garcia

    Terry –

    Would Sachdev mind if you popped in an excerpt or three here?

    I have no idea what Sachdev said exactly, so it would be educational if you could summarize his conclusions.

    It sounds like you are saying Sachdev is discussing a direct impact of an overhead bolide exploding. If so, is there any way such a bolide could create aligned cratering and all of them aligned toward the same point 800 miles away?

    Total brainstorm speculative guessing:

    …In trying to envision that, my head is spinning. Might a less explosive bolide be a possibility? With a less energetic explosion, the downward velocities might allow for them to carry forward before impacting. A nearly tangential predominantly icy bolide might explode high enough, due to being in the atmosphere a long time. This would be similar to the ones we’ve seen in videos, but perhaps enough lower to cause it to explode instead of just be a fireball going by. But high enough and in thin enough atmosphere that the explosion isn’t very energetic. The fragments would not be disintegrated too much by the explosion. And the lateral speed then might be the main vector. The fragments then would have time to spread out before impacting the surface, and most of them would still be aligned, more or less, with the point of explosion as they hit. But the pattern would have a small fan effect to it. And none of them would impact until they’d traveled a good distance. After all, at, say, 3 miles per second, that is still 10,800 mph. It would thus cover the 800 piles in something about 4-6 minutes. The explosion would turn much of it to water, at least briefly. I don’t know if the atmospheric cold would have time to affect any water.

    That brings up a question I’ve had: The possible Saginaw or Lake Michigan ice sheet impacts – would the ice ejected have any chance of melting while in flight?

    As you can tell, I have little appreciation for some aspects of all of this. I don’t know how to compute any of the energies or temps/pressures involved. I am here to learn more than anything else, and my way of learning is to ask a bunch of questions and hope they lead somewhere. In this case, it is to try to conceive of some way the CBs and RC fields could be the same, while understanding that RC is accepted as a direct impact site.

  • Steve Garcia

    @Terry (Dec 20, 9:06 am)-

    It took how long for Tunguska to be halfway understood? It wasn’t a prototypical “hard” meteor, and as long as people were locked into that thinking, Tunguska was just something that amazed people and invited speculation. Now with other evidence, people are beginning to see that there may be several – possibly dozens – of different types of impact events.

    The Carolina Bays may take as long as Tunguska to decipher. We don’t even know if we are asking the right questions yet. Firestone and his group seemed to have a decent explanation – pretty much from out of left field – but it soon enough came up against incongruities. The aeolian speculation (I won’t dignify it with the term “hypothesis”) was never tenable. Any attempt to identify them as direct impacts from objects or atmospheric explosion also (as you point out) has to explain why some are misaligned. As you also say, the devil IS in the details.

    (Firestone’s group seems to have found a definite impact event, but the evidence leads in so many directions, who knows how long it will be before it is sorted out? And the skeptics are having a field day, though much of what they are throwing at Firestone isn’t any more valid than Firestone’s group’s work. In the end, the differences will be resolved, but in the current chaotic situation it all looks mutually exclusive. It can’t remain that way forever; they are all bits of real evidence in a real world, so somehow they all fit. Maybe not together, but in the same universe…LOL)

    As a design engineer, I am well aware of how best laid plans often go awry. With machines and equipment, what usually happens is that I end up having to LISTEN to what the yet-unformed system is telling me it will allow. I don’t say that facetiously. You can’t squeeze ten pounds of feces into a five-pound bag. But it is also true that the right question(s) very often cannot be asked early in the game. We do have to listen to what the Bays can tell us.

    In interdisciplinary efforts that right question or group of questions is even MORE difficult to find. What happens then is that we have to go through a data-gathering period. And each new batch of data/evidence may appear to contradict what we have in hand already. I think it is best to NOT try (too hard) to arrive at a hypothesis at this time, regardless of our yearning to try to see the gestalt of it all. All we can do is say that “so far” we have these bits and pieces, and that we don’t have enough to really understand it.

    Science doesn’t like doing that, though. Science is about the search for understanding, and to not understand can make scientists feel inadequate. Hey, that is part of growing up: life is what it is, not what we want it to be.

    …I had typed up my immediately preceding comment last night, then inadvertently left it sitting, unsubmitted until just a bit ago. After submitting that, I looked and you had mentioned “soft” cratering processes. I see we were thinking the same thing there. But we don’t have quite/nearly enough info yet. Some keystone bit will turn up at some point. But if we don’t have the other pieces, the keystone piece is unusable. If we are all not careful, we will come up with some silly idea like Agassiz’s ice ages!

  • From ‘Palaeolithic extinctions and the Taurid Complex’ by Bill Napier, we read:

    The fragmentation of comets is now recognized as a major route of their disintegration, and this is consistent with the numerous sub-streams and co-moving asteroids observed within the Taurid Complex.
    -W. M. Napier

    There are libraries of data indicating a multiple fragment event. But there is not one shred of evidence to indicate it was a single bolide that did not begin to break up until it hit the atmosphere.

    Clube & Napier’s work on the Taurid complex is as empirical as anything you can dig up with a trowel. And since the Taurid Complex is the astronomical model we are working from, has anyone considered that, if it was typical daughter of the Taurids, the YD comet was probably already completely broken up into a stream, or cloud, of fragments like comets Linear, or SW-3, before it got anywhere close to the Earth?

  • chicken little

    there is only a few possible conclusions that agree with eye witnessed and recorded history.

  • Steve Garcia

    @Terry (Dec 18 10:38 pm):

    The problem really boils down to what kind of physical process is scalable over three orders of magnitude to produce such consistently-shaped features?

    This brings to mind fractals, which maintain the same form at all magnitudes. I wonder if that might be a clue. I DO NOT want to bring in chaos theory, partly because I don’t know enough about it, and partly because it has been conjoined with a lot of thing and doesn’t seem to really explain any of them in testable ways.

    But perhaps there is some common ground. Certainly impact models appear to develop some fractal-looking turbulence.

    —- Utter speculation follows—-

    So that brings up the question sequence: Hurricanes spin off tornadoes. We assume tornadoes are round. Round is a special case of ellipticity. Do KNOW for a fact that tornadoes are round versus elliptical? Is it at all possible that some kind of perfect storm didn’t spin off weird tornadoes?

    For the CBs that seems more likely than the RC bays. It seems within the realm of possibility that a super-hurricane came up the East Coast (like the Perfect Storm of 1991*) and spun off tornadoes, and that the tornadoes had some alignment to the path of the hurricane. This would put it only a little bit outside what is presently known.

    But that would demand that we see this happen in the present – or at the least come up with a model-able hypothesis of how the tornadoes happened to have affected single specific spots and not others.

    THEN one would need to try to apply such a scenario to Rio Cuarto – a site that is already accepted by most as an impact site.

    Still speculating… I wonder if there may be something inherent in the the soil in the bay locations, perhaps some geological event had occurred that left something akin to salt domes (which are circular) and an intrinsically weak surface that would be subject to some sort of “toupee removal” process by high enough winds.

    That does not address the impact tell-tales, though. (I am trying to see what, if any, merit there could possibly BE in the aeolian arguments. I am extremely, extremely doubtful – but if I can see some new perspective on it, then I will consider it in some extreme or modified form.)

    Anyway, thinking outside the box is fun to do. Once in a great while it leads to something. So far, not clicking yet…

  • Terry Egolf


    Like I mentioned before, I’m a visual learner. The first time I looked at the KMZ file of North Carolina CBs that George had posted on his Carolina Bay site, it looked to me like foam bubbles from a viewpoint well above the Google Earth sphere. So my first thought was, what could have created huge bubbles in the soft sediments? As George knows, I’m a YEC, so I immediately thought of a Genesis Flood-related process. Based on some work done by Emil Silvestru, an eminent karstologist, I imagined thermal decomposition of deeply buried limestones off the east coast releasing high pressure carbon dioxide into the upward-tilted aquifers underlying the coastal plain. As the lithostatic pressure lessened, gas bubbles expanded and broke through the impermeable rock strata and burst through the surface sediments. If this had occurred near the end of the recessional stage of the Flood, and while the coast was still under water, the flow off the land could have lengthened the craters in the direction of flow. Now THAT is what I call thinking outside the box! Non-uniformitarian catastrophism at its best. Heh.

    But, alas, I am now more inclined to think that CBs are probably some kind of cosmic impact phenomenon. At this point, I don’t really care about the timing of their formation, the YD event, or what happened to the North Am megafauna or Clovis people. To get up to speed about all that would take me years of reading and studying the pertinent papers and allied sciences. I want to confine my amateurish research to a credible causal mechanism for the CBs, and to at least, in part, erase the word “enigma” from their descriptions.

    By the way, Steve, Sachdev’s work is completely theoretical. He doesn’t relate his results to any real-world phenomenon, other than, perhaps, the modeling of nuclear weapon blasts. In the chapter most pertinent to soft cratering air bursts, titled “Spherical Blast Waves Produced by Sudden Expansion of a High Pressure Gas”, and after pages of high-level calculus involving nonlinear partial derivatives, he provides a variety of graphs comparing various parameters of the blast wave over time after the blast. His main intent, it seems, is to compare the accuracy of his methodology with other workers solving the same kind of problems since the ’40s. None of which is very useful for our purposes. Considering that it was printed under the Chapman & Hall/CRC imprimatur, his book is intended more as a technical reference for other theoretical mathematicians than for practical problem solving.

    I sent a much more useful paper to Michael titled, “Interpreting the Elliptical Crater Populations on Mars, Venus, and the Moon” by William F. Bottke, Jr. et al, 1999. While these craters are assumed to be created by solid meteoroids, his team addresses the likelihood of low angle impactors causing them. He concludes that low angle impacts are not as likely a cause for elliptical craters as their frequency suggests, especially for planets with atmospheres. His paper also addresses the mechanism of the butterfly debris patterns surrounding many elliptical (and not so elliptical) craters. One thing that struck me right away is that the butterfly patterns are not usually much more than one or a few crater diameters wide. The Carolina bays are located many times that ratio distant from the suggested Saginaw Bay impact site. And I have also read that on planets with dense atmospheres, the patterns were more likely semi-fluid flows of ejecta that formed irregularly lobed blankets of materials. If that happened here, there should be a lot of places between the Southeast Coastal plains and Michigan with layers of non-native sediments overlying older formations. Just a thought.

  • Hi Terry,

    You state that you are a Young Earth Creationist at heart. I don’t consider myself a creationist. But I am a Christian. And an old fart who’s spent every Sunday singing bass in a great big Baptist mega church choir for many years. So I’ve got a very sound understanding of where you are coming from.

    Impact science is learning, growing, and changing, faster than any other branch of the Earth sciences. Since you cite ten year old work in a field that’s changing so fast that almost anything older than 5 years becomes background material for the history books. And you casually reject all of the current scenarios, and theories by impact scientists, and lay people, who’ve been working on the geomorphological problems of the formation of the bays for years as implausible, (many of us have invested thousands of hours, and compiled significant libraries of experiment data.) perhaps you would be so kind as to describe for us the boundaries of the box you are carrying “plausible” around in?

  • Terry Egolf


    You misunderstood what I wrote. I haven’t rejected anything. What I tried to convey, but failed to, apparently, is that I am quite open to any credible theory that will explain the origin of Carolina bays. And it is because of the many thousands of hours of experimental research and study that you and others have done that I do not believe I have the time to “catch up”, if you will. My digression into describing my initial naive Flood hypothesis was simply that, a digression.

    At the same time, I believe that locking yourself into a particular paradigm (e.g., a cosmic impact ejecta origin), especially after having invested thousands of hours of work, naturally makes you more skeptical of competing hypotheses. But none of these has provided even the beginnings of a physically cogent explanation for their origins. There is just too much conflicting data. That is why most scientists who have studied them call them “enigmas”.

    But I suspect that your objection to my approach stems more from my public declaration that I’m an adherent of a YEC view of earth’s history than anything else I have mentioned here. It’s almost like dropping metallic sodium into water. A YEC tries to become involved in a serious discussion about some geologic anomaly, and an explosion occurs. (At least I didn’t write in all caps and babble on for several paragraphs….)

    In a number of places here at the Tusk are scathing criticisms levied against uniformitarian scientists who fail to grasp the evidence for a cosmic impact cause for the YDE and their attempts to marginalize the neocatastrophists. You might be right. But biblical creationists were the original catastrophists who have been marginalized by the uniformitarians for two nearly centuries. But you are still working within a uniformitarian framework. You still speak of Pleistocene ice ages, a YDE 12,900 years ago, etc. Those dates are all based on dating techniques that are themselves based on unprovable, uniformitarian assumptions.

    Not once, until my little anecdote to Steve Garcia, have I brought up anything having to do with biblical creationism. My comments pertained to reading the scientific papers I have access to (dated as they may be) and bringing up legitimate objections to our approach based on a lack of a credible physical mechanism to account for the Carolina bays. I’m not trying to evangelize anyone, and I would appreciate at least a respectful hearing of what I have to contribute, and direction to pertinent resources, as you have done. If that is not possible, then George can block me.

    You have to admit, though, that if you include a recent global flood about 5500 years ago, and an even more recent single Ice Age into the range of possible scenarios, a whole new set of hypotheses present themselves. I have the freedom to explore those ideas, but you don’t because they don’t fit into your scientific paradigm. For example, has any scientist every considered enormous submarine methane clathrate deposit explosions as a CB formation mechanism? Of course not. None of the scientists in the CB bibliography were young-earth creationary geologists. There are even videos of small clathrate explosions online that were recently observed by divers. The advantages of such a model include: a phenomena that can be modeled, a suitably unique event, no impact debris remains behind, no orientations controlled potential ejecta trajectories but rather by local current flows, overlapping bay ellipses are possible, a variety of bay elliptical shapes are possible, and contemporary phenomena that can be studied to understand the scaling problem (huge deposits of methane clathrates exist off the coasts of the Carolinas). The biggest sticking point a neocatastrophist would have with this hypothesis is the starting conditions.

    I am enjoying our exchange of ideas here, and I assure you I am learning more from you and everyone else than you are from me. I hope this may continue in a congenial atmosphere.

    [email protected]

  • Hermann Burchard

    A detailed analysis of Saginaw Bay ejecta should help explain the 15 degree deviations of Carolina Bay principal axes, or butterfly bays. My understanding is that the ejecta were ice blocks to become slushy stuff when exploding on impact (Bob Kobres’ beaver boiler). The diameter of Saginaw Bay is on the order 20 miles, but the crater in the glacial Laurentide ice shield may have been larger, so this should allow for ice block ejecta on transonic orbital trajectories to scatter some, sufficient for the observed 15 degree variation.

  • Pingback: Reader Spotlight: Terry Egolf « The Cosmic Tusk()

  • I don’t have a problem with the idea of Noah’s flood. The global flood scenario is an archetype that is found in one form, or another, in the religions, myths, and legends of almost every culture on Earth. The great flood is story that is so widespread, I have no doubt that it happened; probably more than once.

    It isn’t hard to come up with a very plausible model either. If an ocean impact were to flash a few tens of thousands of cubic miles of of water to steam, mega-tsunamis big enough to inundate whole continents would be an expected part of the event. All of that water vapor has to precipitate back out of the atmosphere sooner, or later. And we can expect that it might take weeks to do so after a really big event. So ‘forty days, and forty nights’ of torrential rains everywhere on Earth is also extremely plausible after effect of a large ocean impact.

    And there are other workable models that could produce such a flood. The sudden destruction of a large part of the Laurentide Ice Sheet in an impact event could’ve raised see level by a couple of meters, literally over night. And that sudden rise would be undetectable with current dating technology. Imagine a global tsunami where the flood waters rise, and never receded. And since C14 really can’t date anything to a resolution better than +/- 100 years, that sudden bump would not be detectable, except as a minor blip in the 100 year averages.

    The fiery rain of stones that took out Sodom, Gomorrah, and ‘the cities of the plain’ is exactly what we would expect under a large impact plume, as ejecta falls back to Earth. In fact, a very compelling case has already been made that the Sumerian Planisphere is an eye witness astronomers account of the overhead passage of an Aten class asteroid that hit Köfels, in Austria, in an oblique impact. And that the Köfels impact caused the impact plume that did the deed to the cities of the plain.

    Some Christian folk I’ve talked to see that work as disrespectful of literal Biblical truth, and a threat. I see it as a validation. Indeed, the way I see it, the fact that Lot was warned that there was no time to look back, only time to run for his life, remains a miracle to me.

    The biggest problem with the YD impact hypothesis, as written in the original 2007 Firestone paper, is that no one has ever come up with an impact model that can plausibly explain how a 4 mile wide object can have enough time in the atmosphere to break-up, and distribute fragments over a continent sized area without making a crater. I’ll take Mark Boslough’s side on that one, and say that it’s physically impossible.

    But, at that time, the YD impact hypothesis was not working from any well defined astronomical model. But last year, when Bill Napier published ‘Paleolithic extinctions, and the Taurid Complex’, he provided the missing piece of the puzzle: The YD comet was already completely broken up long before it got here. Instead of loosing a lot of sleep looking for a big crater, imagine the planetary scarring that results when the Earth’s orbit takes it through the debris streams of a giant, fragmented comet.

    Instead of one big crater we should expect to find a lot of little ones. And multiple signatures of airburst phenomena. Mark’s more recent work, and his airburst simulations using Sandia Labs supercomputer, as well as the work of Horton Newsom at UNM has also made it clear that a full gamut of effects, from geo-ablative airburst, to small ballistic/kinetic impact craters should be expected. And that, in the case of small craters, airburst phenomena are expected to be a significant part of the overall effects.

    Another part you may not be aware of, is that while we are waiting for lab results on field work that’s been done so far, and much field work remains, with the exception of some peat growing in the cracks, and depressions, the giant, hydrothermal burns, and surface melt formations, at the locations where the LIS got hit, are almost perfectly pristine. And they are not hard to spot once you know what to look for. Ther are many of them. And if you extend a line through the long axis of a Carolina Bay, it will cross one of those hydrothermal burns every time. So the idea that iceberge sized chunks of the LIS were the impactites that gouged the Bays is not as much of a stretch as you might think.

    And in West Texas, and New Mexico there are vast fields of too many nice, round 100 meter depressions, complete with raised rims, and ejecta curtains to count. And that no one would hesitate to call an impact crater anywhere else in the solar system.

    There are many perfectly pristine, oblique impact structures in some of the dry lake beds in northern Nevada that can be reliably dated to the late Pleistocene/early Holocene by beach lines lying across the ejecta plumes. Those craters point to 24 degrees north.

    And when we look downrange from there, in the early holocene sediments of the Red Rock River valley in southwest Montana, we find another set of oval craters with exactly the same trajectory. And that can be dated by an ejecta splash that’s lying across an ancient meander of the river. Look a little further downrange and you are looking at what would have been glacial lake Missoula. The question I have for those places is this: Did that impact event trigger Harlan Bretz’s mega flood, and gouge the channeled scablands of eastern Washington?

    When you put the pieces together, and you realize that there is a good chance that all of the above may have happened in one day, it makes the scariest Biblical story of catastrophe, or Armageddon, sound like a childrens bedtime story.

  • Steve Garcia

    Why is this not taking my comment?????

  • Steve Garcia

    Terry –

    This was an interesting and thought-provoking idea, about bubbling.

    When the waters receded, they would have done so at a less than glacial pace. Year to year, it would have been relatively difficult to see or measure. As the coastline receded, then at some point each bay would have been straddling the high and low tides. Not only would the bay have seen the incoming and outgoing tides, but wave action every minute or two.

    It seems not possible that the waves would not have completely erased the sand rim of that at-risk bay, all 360° of it. I have spent much less time on beaches than you, a submariner, would have done, but I know that any competition between sand and waves is always won by the waves. The best we would see is a high tide sand dune. How that could turn into an ellipse I can’t see.

    Nice try on that aspect, but I can’t see it working. Not if the solid surface were underwater. But it takes my mind to something else… (see next post, IF this posting thing can be made to work – I’ve tried posting 6 or 7 times here, to no avail.)

  • Steve Garcia

    FINALLY! That was a partial post…

    Next, hopefully it will take the rest of it.

  • Steve Garcia


  • Steve Garcia

    Terry, your bubbling idea brings to mind the hydrate fields under the coastal waters.

    This seems like something worth looking into. We have so far only a little understanding of hydrate “patches”. It is certain that the water pressure helps keep them from bubbling up, and what allows them to bubble up is a release of the pressure for whatever reason. So far, all the studies have been focused on hydrates currently under the water. If the coastal plain was at one time under water, then one would think that hydrates were underlying those areas, too. And since they do bubble up from time to time, it makes sense that they could bubble up under above-sea-level coastal plains, too.

    You suggest they bubbled up while under water, but the transition from under water to dry land I don’t think is tenable. Therefore, perhaps considering that they might have bubbled up AFTER the land emerged may make more sense.

    To widen our overall picture, let’s consider the New Madrid quakes of 1811-1812. One of the phenomena of those was what are termed “sand blows.”

    Those have some vague resemblance to the Carolina bays. Mostly in their dispersal, not in their particulars. Not in their shapes, nor do they have elliptical shapes. They also do not have sand rims, nor (I am certain) will there be any impactites.

    But I think you are on to something here. Not necessarily as “the” solution, but as something not previously considered that might shed light on the subject. Everyone has seen the bays as either wind-formed or as coming from above, and here you are saying, “No! Look below, too, if for no other reason than to rule it out.”

    Now, sand blows as seen in New Madrid and elsewhere don’t show the same characteristics, but what if the action came from hydrates, instead? What would we see? I don’t know.

    But let’s speculate a bit…

    If a hydrate bubble came up from below, what could cause that? Taking a lesson from the sand blows of New Madrid, we might certainly consider earthquakes. And what do we find? Charleston, SC, is the site of one of the biggest quakes in U.S. history, on August 31, 1886. Like New Madrid, Charleston does not lie on a plate boundary, for what that is worth. That quake is estimated to have been 7.0 on the Richter scale, give or take a bit. But Charleston is right smack in the middle of the CBs, looked at in a north-to-south direction. It is on the coast, certainly. But the bays go all the way to the coast, so Charleston is not outside the bay region. (But it is not necessary that the epicenter be IN the CB region, but only that the hydrate region be shaken.)

    Quakes are considered one of the triggers for sub-oceanic hydrate releases. I believe that both the pressures involved and the fracturing contribute to the releases, both causing and then allowing a path for the gasses to find their way upward.

    Sub-oceanic hydrate releases DO occur as bubbles.

    If hydrates are released as rising sub-surface bubbles under sandy coastal plains, what would the process look like?

    All of this is hypothetical:

    …Imagine a quake, that shakes for 30-40 seconds.

    – The soil around and above the hydrates would liquefy to some extent.

    – The trapped hydrates would begin ascending through the liquefied soil.

    – The rising bubble would tend to assume a round shape, as viewed from above. The rising would not be terribly fast, due to resistance to flow through the sandy soil. It would be something like quicksand, but in reverse: things do not sink quickly in quicksand, but slowly – and only quicker if agitated. The quake itself would represent the agitation factor.

    – If it reached the surface, what would be the effect?

    – The bubble would lift the soil, more or less in the center, since the surface would act as a beam of sorts and the weakest point is the furthest from its supports (which support is at the edges of the bubble).

    – The lifting would be a slow (compared, for example, to an airburst or impact) and relatively gentle billowing up.

    – The bubble would burst upward and somewhat outward, throwing the more or less sandy soil into a rim, but most of it being splayed out beyond the rim. Much, but not all, would remain within the bubble area and fall back down.

    – Most of the soil would not go outward, but enough so that when the bubbling is complete, the average ground elevation would be a bit lower than before.

    – Over some number of decades or centuries, in flat areas the sandy soil inside would level out, from water accumulating and not having an outlet. In un-flat areas, erosion would erase the bubble and blend the surface in with the surrounding terrain. This would – like the impact hypothesis – tend to explain why the CBs are not found except in flat areas.

    – What are now seen to be overlapping impacts – how do we deal with them? If a bubble came up after an earlier one, and would it not cut off the first one somewhat, just like we see?

    – Now, as to the elliptical shape, how do we get that? I would suggest that the alignments of the ellipses might align to elevation, with the southeastern-most end being lower and the northwestern-most end being higher. I do NOT know this as fact, but would use it as a falsification prediction. The SE ends are the ones with the higher rims, so this would seem to make sense. I am suggesting that the alignments may not be due to anything more than the “lay of the land.” This is easily determined, isn’t it?

    I admit I am probably wrong on this. It is all just taking off from Terry’s idea.

    Other thoughts come to mind, but that is enough for me to at least consider this as a possible direction of inquiry.

    The first order of inquiry would be to look at the slope of the land at CB sites, to see if it supports this idea of alignment.

    The second would be to research the literature to see if hydrates have ever been known to rise up under dry land, as they do under the sea.

  • Steve Garcia

    I finally, on the 10th try, got that to take.

    It was definitely something it didn’t like in a URL.

  • Steve Garcia

    @Terry wrote:

    …how do these ejecta hold together while being lofted for 6-800 miles through the atmosphere at transonic to subsonic speeds? I’m a visual learner. I would like to see a best-guess illustration of the moment-by-moment life history of just one of these objects from impact to splat. What happens when you throw a cup full of ice water out the window of a car moving at 60 mph? Now do the same thing at 600 mph. I’m not a professional physicist, but I just don’t see that effect scaling up to the point that an object making a 60 m divot is going to behave the same way one that makes a 9.5 km divot. Unless the object is solid, it just isn’t going to hold together. Solid ice will create normal impact craters. And if it falls like low-velocity slushy buckshot, you aren’t going to get really large, uniformly oval shallow depressions. It is going to form something akin to a shallow, easily-erased paint splatter pattern. Sandy, wallboard-paste ejecta (formed by some unexplained mechanism) creates oval depressions, but they also leave something behind in the depression–shocked quartz and other materials that are not native to the surrounding terrain.

    All really good points, many of which were bothering me, too.

    You have ice impacted with tons of heat generated at the point of impact, and that heat flashing out faster than the ejecta is traveling. What do we have in flight – water or ice? If slush, forget it, it would be sheared into a trillion Mr Misty’s. If water, what happens when it goes 10 miles high? What shape does it take on? Certainly not teardrop shaped. Does it turn to ice? As it descends, does it melt again?

    I’ve had concerns about all this.

  • Steve Garcia

    @Pierson Baretto wrote:

    The angular difference between the elliptical structures can be explained by multiple (impactors) events on different local time (LT) values on Carolina area, and not all at the same time, not instantly.

    I have a problem with different ejecta arriving at different times at the same location from the same initial impact.

    Later arrivals argues for higher ballistic trajectories. I believe the term for the “apparent” ejection point is “surrogate impact site.” The surrogate is the one they would align with if the Earth was not rotating. From that surrogate impact site the rotation of the Earth must be taken into account. I’ve seen the figure of 15 minutes used elsewhere for these as an average, meaning the impact site is really 1/4 of 15 degrees eastward from the surrogate impact site.

    With some CBs being 15 degrees misaligned from ones nearby, the surrogate site is s full degree shifted, east or west. That represents a full 45 minutes difference, if my off-the-cuff math is correct. The ones 15 degrees west would have to be the last to arrive.

    It does not make sense that an ejected mass could take 4 times longer in the air from the same starting point and still land at the same point.

    It also does bring up the question if all the later arrivals are on top, when there is overlap. Is this actually the case?

    Also, if they arrived later, they would have higher ballistic trajectories, therefore would have less ellipticity. Is this what we observe?

    (I hope I made all these points clearly…)

  • Has anyone considered that ice sheat impacts would most likely have been the work of a cluster of fragments producing multiple, simultaneous start points for the impactites that gouged the bays?

  • Terry Egolf

    I want to publicly thank Dennis and Pierson for their highly informative visual websites documenting many instances of geologic features that sure look like impact craters. I would say that the Earth Impact Database keepers have some work to do.

    Being a novice in this area, I think it might be helpful if the Tusk were to offer a “Neocatastrophist’s Glossary” for visitors to this site. I have found it difficult slogging through some of the posts and papers here dealing with terms like “geoablative” and “impactites”. These examples of very specialized jargon may mean something to the author (not picking on you, Dennis), but they communicate little to the uninitiated. You folks are trying to get an intelligible and important message out to the thinking public. As an author, I am extra-sensitive to written text that fails to do that job. Some of what is written here comes across as arcane (or even pseudoscientific) gibberish to those not familiar with the material. I’m not trying to be overtly critical here, but rather am offering constructive criticism to make the message clearer.

    Here are some suggested glossary entries in no particular order:

    Younger Dryas Event (what is it?; why is it called that?; what evidence is there for it?)
    black matt (what is it?; where is it found?; how do you recognize it?; why is it special?)
    nanodiamonds (what are they?; are there different kinds?; how are they formed?; do certain kinds develop under only certain conditions?)
    Taurid complex
    Carolina bay (and all its synonyms)
    Saginaw Bay Impact Manifold (what’s a manifold?; what is a heuristic analysis?)
    [some readers might even find it useful to know the difference between all the different possible celestial impactors like asteroids, meteoroids, comets, bolides, meteor swarms,etc.]
    impact chemistry

    And I think it would be useful to include a declaration of your scientific presuppositions and paradigms under which you are operating.
    (You will find similar declarations at church websites–there, they are called statements of faith.) It helps new readers understand where you are coming from. By your own admission, you are operating on the fringe of but still within uniformitarian science. Such a declaration would help readers better understand your reasoning approach, and at the same time affirm that you are still working within observational and inferential science.

    1. Geologic paradigm and the geologic column
    2. Role and limits of various dating techniques (OSL, C-14, thermoluminescent, oxygen isotope, paleoarchaeology, geochronology techniques)
    3. Interpretive models
    4. Data sources
    5. Accessible and comprehensive bibliography of relevant research

  • George Howard

    I’ll work on it for 2010.

  • Hi Terry, I’ll take a shot at a couple of those.

    ‘Geo-Ablation’ can be described as the flash melting, ablation, and relocation, of surface materials by large airburst phenomena. While in motion, the superheated particles, and fragments, of rock are in atmospheric suspension, in an atmospheric pressure-driven, version of a pyroclastic flow.

    ‘Ignimbrite’ comes from the Latin for ‘Fire Cloud Rock’. It is more commonly known simply as ‘Volcanic Tuff’. And it is important to note here that impact melt is frequently mistaken for volcanic tuff.

    In the absence of an impact crater, the standard uniformitarian model always assumes volcanogenesis of such materials. Even when no volcanic system can be identified. In such cases, the assumption was always been that it would “fall to future generations to find the vent”. Or words to that effect.

    We have folks like Mark Boslough, at Sandia Labs. doing super computer simulations of airbursts large enough to be capable of significant planetary scarring, and geo-ablation. And at UMN, Horton Newsom is working out the expected chemical markers of airburst melts. And we have very sound evidence from astronomers, Victor Clube & Bill Napier that the Earth has probably been hit by swarms of cometary debris big enough to produce such effects over a continent-wide area in the geologically recent past. But, to the best of my knowledge there isn’t anything in refereed literature yet describing the physics of the mass movements of airburst melts during an ablative airburst event.

    The different motive forces during the formation, and emplacement, of geo-ablative airburst melts, and their volcanogenic cousins result in distinctly different patterns of movement, and flow, that get frozen into the high velocity material as it comes to rest, and solidifies.

    The startling thing, is that it turns out that, If the materials are on the surface, and in good condition, those emplacement motions can be read like a dance chart. And in good satellite images, the directionality during emplacement of most of the pristine sheet “ignimbrites” in central Mexico, and West Texas can easily be determined to a resolution of as good as 1 meter per pixel. The difference between the flow patterns of a gravity attracted, pyroclastic density current, of volcanic tuff that was pulled from a higher altitude, to a lower one, and those of airburst melt that was ablated, and pushed from behind, from an area of high pressure to an area of lower pressure, can be determined with a very high degree of confidence.

    It goes to fluid mechanics.

    Whether volcanogenic, or Exogenic, such materials are always a signature of violent, explosive , motion. And forensically, they can all be thought of as the blast effected materials of a explosive event. If you want to understand an explosive event after the fact, you should begin by identifying, and studying, the motions of the blast effected materials.

    The motions of an unconstrained fluid are defined by the motive force. The lines of flow describe the lines of force. And when those lines of flow become frozen in time as a pyroclastic density current of flash melted stone comes to rest, they become a permanent, and faithful record of the forces that melted, and moved, it.

    The truth really is written in stone.

    While it is possible to identify emplacements of ablative airburst melts visually with a good degree of confidence, that process should only be used to suggest candidate locations for field work. Final confirmation has to come from good field work. Good, supporting evidence, will be in the presence of significant ET chemistry.

  • chicken little

    here is an incredibly clear and precise impact story and it is even probably very the source of the carolina bays!


    so if the Guanches remember the story it wasn’t 10,000 years ago , but one of the two or three events that are well recorded and yet to be explained by any of the sciences < yet those events that are eye witnessed all over the world .. Events no one can in anyway prove are not with in the last 4300 years give or take a few years , but definitely not 10000 years ago ..
    because all those 100000000 of years created by scientists who love to pretend they own them , are using carbon and soils levels for dating things.
    years they can not prove exists .
    years they made up before any one of them had stones to explain anything real and re(a)lavent recorded history ..
    someday someone has to make them responsible to recorded history first …. or they will just continue to be ignored and irreverent .
    because every culture except their own, knows beyond any doubts stuff happened that they aren't explaining…. can't explain … and won't explain!
    now days they are just irrelevant to every reality but their own !

  • Terry Egolf


    I think you may be on to something. I learned about those terms you mentioned by visiting your blog linked through your ID. My suggestion for a glossary would allow all that interesting information to be found in one place, instead of having to wade for hours through a dozen personal websites, plus online dictionaries or other references, in order to understand what you are saying.

    George, I’m looking forward to seeing your work, and would be happy to do some editing, if you like.


  • Thanks Terry,

    If you use the ‘Save Image’ feature in Google Earth, you can use Photoshop to stitch together a grid of close-up images to produce a single, very high resolution, image map of any given area. And computer memory is the only constraint to size. The image map called ‘Southwest Montana’ in the Tusk’s document vault is an example of such a map. It was made from 25 Google Earth images stitched together. I put that one into a PDF so you can zoom in up to 800% and it won’t get pixilated.

    I made a large, 100 megabyte, image map like that of a portion of the Chihuahuan desert in central Mexico, and the vast, pristine, and continuous, inter-flowing emplacements of the Chihuahuan Ignimbrites that I had printed full size professionally. And that covers a whole wall. Then, using a sheet of clear plastic, I traced a map with little arrows wherever the direction of flow was legible. It’s a little tedious. But the process is one that almost anyone could duplicate. And a flow map, and emplacement motion, study like that becomes a kind of ‘Rosetta Stone’ for learning to understand a kind of catastrophic geologic process that’s never been described before, and is hotter, and more violent than anything ever imagined before.

    That motion map does not describe volcanism. It describes central Mexico as the primary impact zone of a giant, multiple fragment, geo-ablative, airburst storm worse than anything this world has seen in many millions of years. The hundreds of small craters in New Mexico, and West Texas, we see awaiting confirmation, were only the cheerleaders dancing on the outskirts of the parade.

    I Know of a group scientists who have collected more than 800 specimens of the ignimbrites in west Texas. But as far as I know they haven’t tested the isotopes in them. There has never been a formal study of the emplacement event of those “ignimbrites”. And except for a short, 80 km stretch along the highway between Chihuahua City, and El Paso, Texas. they are completely unmapped. And of their origin there is nothing in the literature but speculation. But, of the fact that, exogenic, or not, they were emplaced in an inconceivably violent explosive event there is no doubt.

    In spite of their assumed ancient age, they are in pristine condition. And they are the undisturbed capstone of the terrains of almost all of central Mexico, and up into West Texas, and New Mexico.

    No matter the source of heat, and pressure, that melts, and moves it, a pyroclastic density current is never in motion for more than a few seconds before it comes to rest. So that if two opposing, or colliding, flows come together at the same time they will inter-finger, or flow together like two rivers flowing into one. And if they are separated in time, even by only few seconds, in a super eruption that goes on for days, one flow will be seen to have overtopped the other.

    There is well over 50,000 square miles of continuous, random-colliding, inter-flowing pyroclastic density currents down there without a single over-topping flow…. This could only be true if it was all in motion at the same time, and emplaced in the same inconceivably violent event.

    They had to come up a way to get a few hundred thousand cubic miles of ‘Tuff’ up in the air, and in atmospheric suspension in a pyroclastic density current at the same time. So, the favorite theory that most geologists agree with, is that they were erupted in a theoretical kind of super-giant eruption called an Ignimbrite “flare up” event, when extensional forces in the middle of the continent are thought to have caused fault-grabens to open up, and transform into vast fissures, hundreds of miles long. Those fissures are thought to have closed again without a trace.

    It’s an interesting theory. But one that held up only so long as it was unquestioned. And no one has come up with an even remotely believable explanation for the crazy mantel physics required for those magic trap-door fault-grabens-turned-fissures that open, and close without a trace.

    The region may be poorly mapped geologically, but the search for oil, and mineral resources means that countless seismic surveys have been done. As well as a lot of aeromagnetic, and tomographic work. And no seismic, aeromagnetic, tomographic, ground penetrating radar, or any other data, has ever implied, revealed, or confirmed, the location of even one of those rifting vents. Much less the existence of a super-giant magma chamber under central Mexico, and West Texas, big enough to account for more than 350,000 cubic miles of eruptive material in a single sudden event.

    Once you figure out that you can easily map their emplacement motions, and you figure out that atmospheric pressure was the motive force, not gravity, you realize that your motion map is a proxy for the directionality, and intensity of the explosive conditions above. And that were driving the flows.

    And once you have made yourself a motion map like that you will never be able to take uniformitarian assumptive reasoning seriously again.

  • Terry Egolf

    Dennis wrote, “…you will never be able to take uniformitarian assumptive reasoning seriously again.”

    I don’t take uniformitarian reasoning seriously as a presuppositional basis for everything I read and write.

    Speaking of uniformitarianism, you might find this paper interesting: Untangling Uniformitarianism, Level 1: A Quest for Clarity. It is a paper written by John K. Reed, Phd in geology. He makes some interesting observations about the state of uniformitarianism today.

  • Actually, I should have used ‘gradualist’ assumptive reasoning, instead of ‘uniformitarian’ assumptive.

    It’s not so much a philosophical issue with me, as an objection to the tendency by many geologists to assume all geomorphology must be the result of slow, and gradual processes we have witnessed in “recorded” history. And that large scale catastrophic, and sometimes exogenic, geomorphology does not happen at all. Or is at best, ‘highly unlikely’.

    So it’s a thought process that I have been calling ‘Mutual inter-assumptive confabulation’ that gets used in lieu of real science, because an old paradigm has gone unquestioned for so long that it has taken the weight of empirical fact, that I have a problem with, not some philosophy called “Uniformitarianism”.

    I have learned that, when investigating potential catastrophic mass movement, or geomorphology, anytime a question is answered with a sentence that begins with the words, “Most geologists agree that_______”, instead of citing experimental work, or data, it should always be followed up with simply, ‘Why?’

    Question everything. Assume nothing.

  • Hermann Burchard

    Dennis, you put it very well: “‘Mutual inter-assumptive confabulation’ that gets used in lieu of real science.” True not just in geology, but also in other areas of science. Still, everywhere good honest work is being done, we can cite YDB results of Firestone et al, as our favorite example. — In math, clean-up was powered by incredible progress lasting for over a century in pure math, spilling over into applied math, my area, and in all ages, physics has contributed greatly to math, proving that math occurs “in nature.”

  • Thank Hermann,

    I agree there is some very good work being done. And the best is being done by intensly curious, open-minded, folk whose only assumptions are that they don’t have all the answers yet. And are still questioning those they do have.

    And I know math, and Earth the sciences, had come a long way by the time I came along. And I tend to take the knowing of some of the things I learned at a very young age for granted that weren’t always common knowledge. But never the less, it always amazed me, the fact that ‘Math occurs in nature’ had to be ‘proven’.

    We have but to look around to see that fractals are everywhere, like a mathmatical web of life that’s unfolding in a predetermined order, or plan. So it almost seems like needing to ‘prove’ the sun rises, and sets. Some empirical facts should simply be observed, noted, and accepted.

    But, as long as we are talking about the math, do you know of any good papers on the fluid mechanics of pyroclastic density currents? And in which the math could be modified to use high velocity atmospheric pressure, as the motive force, instead of gravity?

  • Terry Egolf

    My epiphany about how science is done occurred after reading Thomas Kuhn’s seminal The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. I highly recommend it, especially to those who are trying to instigate a revolution in a well-established science like geology. Dennis said it all in his previous posts. You are butting up against the reigning scientific paradigm that is satisfied for the most part doing the puzzle-solving of normal science. (All these terms are defined in Kuhn’s book.)

    Let’s hope it doesn’t take an asteroid impact to change the direction of this particular area of science!

  • Terry I couldn’t get that link to work. But when I looked at the shortcut embedded in the link,I see that the problem is probably a cut and paste error.

    It looks like the complete URL of this comment page got pasted on the left end of the link you intended.

    But it was a good read. And well worth digging for the correct URL. Here’s the repaired link for those interested.

    Untangling Uniformitarianism, Level 1: A Quest for Clarity

  • Terry Egolf

    Sorry about that. HTML isn’t a second language for me.

  • Hermann Burchard

    Dennis, about “papers on the fluid mechanics of pyroclastic density currents” try Stephen Sparks, Bristol U, “over 300 papers” on explosive volcanism (nice Wikipedia page). Terry, the matter of sci revolutions is overdone. Great sci is done by career university-educated people, few like Oliver Heaviside self-taught. Even Albert Einstein, often cited for an unusual career, read math and physics, graduated HS at 17, Zurich Polytechnic at 21, PhD at 26 from Zurich U. Dennis, you need an academic job.

  • Hi Hermann

    What all those papers on the fluid mechanics of pyroclastic density currents have in common is that all of the models they describe are volcanogenic, with gravity as the motive force. None of them considers the possibility of an geo-ablative airburst model with atmospheric pressure as the motive force, and an exogenic heat source.

    I’ve done a few experiments of my own using short bursts of compressed air, and various kinds of materials spread out in a layer on a concrete slab. But I found out that I look funny without my eyebrows. And the smell of burnt nose hair stays with you for a long time. So the set of hyper-thermal experiments I wanted to do in a big kiln is on hold until I can build something a little safer.

    I also got the kids involved. I took a large cookie sheet, and covered with a thin layer of runny oatmeal. And I set it in the middle of six ten year olds. Each of them had a long straw they used to blow short puffs of air to simulate an airburst. The kids quickly learned to recognize the patterns of movement, and flow, in an unconstrained, atmospheric pressure driven fluid. And even to direct, and control, the direction of movement. And they taught me that you can’t keep your attention on doing good, objective observations when you have oatmeal in your ear.

    You can easily get good visual examples of the kinds of flow patterns to look for. And that result as things come to a rest. But the math to describe what I see in physics terms, or to scale it up to something miles wide, is over my head.

    But who me? In an academic job?

    Nah, those doors tend to be closed to an autodidact. I don’t have the credentials. Besides, I wouldn’t be worth a damn in a classroom, or laboratory. Too many people, and the walls are too close. But I could happily spend the rest of my life as an ordinary crater hunter, and getter of rocks, camping out, and doing field work, in the middle of nowhere.

    Like an ass into the desert, go I forth to do my work.

  • Steve Garcia

    Not that this is from a new paper or anything, but this passage struck me as incredibly two-faced, coming from a uniformitarian geologist. It dates to 61 years ago.

    In the Arctic Coastal Plain of northern Alaska, where permafrost is present at a depth of a few inches, 50 to 75 per cent of the surface consists of lakes and marshy ponds. Observations from the air reveal that most of these thousands of lakes, scattered over an area of more than 25,000 square miles, are elongated. Their long axes range in length from a few tens of feet to more than nine miles and are strikingly parallel, the orientation ranging from N 9? W to N 2I? W (Robert F. Black and William L. Barksdale: Oriented Lakes of Northern Alaska, Jauorn. of Geol., Vol. 57, I949, pp. 105- 118). Such “remarkable parallelism . . . is a rare phenomenon and, so far as is known, is duplicated in such a marked degree only by the Carolina ‘Bays’ of the Atlantic Coastal Plain Province of the United States. The uniformity of alignment of the lakes is so perfect in many parts of the Arctic Coastal Plain that their orientation has been used as an aid in air navigation.” Some of these lakes “are believed to be the result of uplift and segmentation of lagoons,” aligned in rows between former beach ridges. Most of them, however, are a result of thaw subsidence, as described above. Since such caving in cannot of itself account for the regional orientation of the lakes, the authors suggest that it was controlled by prevailing winds in the direction of elongation of the lakes. This would require that during the pleistocene the prevailing winds of the region were, for some unknown reason, either northwesterly or southeasterly, in contrast with the present prevailing northeasterly winds.
    From Anastavia van Burkalow, ‘The Geographical Record, The Geographical Review, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Jan., 1950), pp. 139-151 — http://www.jstor.org.ezp.slu.edu/stable/pdfplus/210997.pdf (full article behind a paywall, but this was the only applicable part to the CBs)

    The last sentence of this article is what I take exception to.

    Uniformitarians all claim that nothing happened in the past except as it is also happening in the present. So any alternative or catastrophes in the past are argued by those controlling the dialog on the basis that they aren’t happening in the present, therefore any suggestion that they happened in the past is un-scientific and unacceptable – and often said with a sneer.

    But when uniformitarians don’t see it happening in the past it is completely acceptable to speculate on something in the past being different from the present – IF IT HELPS YOUR ARGUMENT.

    Here it is winds. No they are northeast, but – based on nothing except hopeful speculation – it is okay to guess that MAYBE they came from a different direction in the past.

    And this argument is put forth with NO convincing evidence whatsoever that in the present – anywhere on Earth – that such winds do what is asked of them. There is no p[lace on Earth where they can show that wind vortices or eddy currents scour such ellipses into the ground. It is obvious that near Point Barrow, Alaska (which is where those “aligned lakes” are located) has only a few weeks a year when the ground is not completely frozen, but somehow the wind came consistently from one direction and in some sort of dust-devil, elongated cyclonic manner was able to carve out elliptical lake beds. So the author dreams up speculative magical winds and aligns them in some hocus pocus way that suits his arguments, and actually believes that his fantastic (literally) past history is science.

    The only non-similarity to the “aeolian” genesis of the CBs is the cold in Alaska. The rest of the argument is straight out of the Carolinas.

    The early-to-mid 1950s seems to have been the time when this hypothesis was accepted as the last word on the cause of the CBs until Firestone’s group, so though this is from a long time ago, it was also the state of the art until the recent challenge.

    But this straightforward aeolian genesis wasn’t sufficient at the time. Douglas Johnson had to throw the simple hypothesis out the window except for salvaging it with what became the “complex” theory, also known as the “artesian-solution-lacustrine-aeolian hypothesis.” Pardon to the long dead Johnson, but that is about the equivalent to the Windows operating system and its patch-upon-patch cobbling. An entire string of events were dreamed up, since no single one was up to the task. And even that in-order string of events doesn’t have modern analogs, so once again, it is okay to dream up non-current phenomena; as long as you are a uniformatarian that is perfectly acceptable.

    So the rule is thus that only uniformitarians are allowed to speculate on past phenomena that don’t also occur in the present. But catastrophists are skewered at the stake for even bringing into the argument such current events like SL-9. And if we try to bring in possible past events the likes of which haven’t occurred since the invention of uniformitarianism circa 1840, Katy bar the door. In other words, they can bring in anything they like, but catastrophists can’t bring in any arguments at all – well, you know! because they are catastrophists, after all!

  • Steve Garcia

    Lack of a spell checker and a review capability here kind of sucks.

  • Steve Garcia

    There we go again: I meant to type in “preview,” not “review.”

  • Steve said:

    “Lack of a spell checker and a review capability here kind of sucks.”

    If you compose a comment in ‘Windows Live Writer’, you can get around that all too common problem. In ‘Live Writer’, simply edit your comments in ‘Edit’ mode. Then switch to ‘Source’ mode, and Copy & Paste the source code into the comment block of your choice.

  • "And this argument is put forth with NO convincing evidence whatsoever that in the present – anywhere on Earth – that such winds do what is asked of them. There is no p[lace on Earth where they can show that wind vortices or eddy currents scour such ellipses into the ground. It is obvious that near Point Barrow, Alaska (which is where those “aligned lakes” are located) has only a few weeks a year when the ground is not completely frozen, but somehow the wind came consistently from one direction and in some sort of dust-devil, elongated cyclonic manner was able to carve out elliptical lake beds. So the author dreams up speculative magical winds and aligns them in some hocus pocus way that suits his arguments, and actually believes that his fantastic (literally) past history is science."

    As a matter of fact, no one has ever even made ‘bays’ form in the lab with vortices under controlled atmospheric conditions. There is not one shred of experimental data that indicates the Bays could have formed by Aeolian processes.

    Although, there are easily repeatable experiments that show how how ejecta consisting of a slushy mixture of water, and ice, can do it.

    Uniformitarian/Gradualist assumptive reasoning is no substitute for real experimental data.

  • Hermann Burchard

    The Point Barrow lakes are much less regular elliptic in shape. Similar structures all along the Siberian coast. Look at the Lena River Delta, its Western part, near 73.3,124.5. The prevalent N-S orientation could be related to soil deposition??

  • Terry Egolf

    Re: Pt. Barrow and Siberian Potholes

    The density of these features suggests that they are related to the bedrock. They are so close together, you would think an explosive or impulsive process would have had a fratricidal effect on earlier features. But each is clearly incised into the ground. The Alaskan lakes clearly appear to have been elongated by glacial movement toward the coastline. The long axes of these features more-or-less align with the slope of the terrain. The Siberian lakes are interesting because the GE photography preserves the bathymetry. Those look like flooded karst features rather than impact craters. Any idea what the underlying bedrock is in these areas?

    In any case, they are dramatic surface features that don’t seem to forming anywhere else in the world today.

  • chicken little

    if anyone find out what they think they learned here, scream please!

  • Hermann Burchard

    climate disasters, likely caused by Earth’s orbit meeting the Taurid debris stream (comet Encke progenitor), in turn did lead to historical disasters:
    1. Fall of West Rome from Goths etc invasions
    2. Viking raids & Carolingian collapse
    3. Black Death, end of Yuan Dynasty
    4. Thirty Years War (Wars of Religion?)

    All these have been chewed over for years. Michael Bailey most recently wrote the key book on the Black Death story. Prof Richard Muller, Berkeley, long ago had chart “Climate & History.” http://muller.lbl.gov/

  • Steve Garcia

    Dennis: “If you compose a comment in ‘Windows Live Writer’, you can get around that all too common problem. In ‘Live Writer’, simply edit your comments in ‘Edit’ mode.”

    Workarounds, schmerkarounds, Dennis – everyone knows we can do workarounds. We shouldn’t have to do that. Blogs exist for people’s typing in on them. Blogs should facilitate that process, not require people to go ex post bloggo in order to get their comments to not look illiterate.

    It also does not have any easily-used formatting. And the html tags – I have never once gotten the URL one to work. It is like working on a retarded DOS 3.1 system.

  • Steve Garcia

    Hermann – Yeah, I saw that about the Alaskan elliptical lakes. Lots of them didn’t seem to have any alignment or ellipticity at all.

    And I asked the same question you bring up about soil deposition, about the CBs, if I understand your point. I frame it in terms of general topographical slope, so it may be different, but somewhat related. But even if the general slope or soil characteristics orient more or less properly, it wouldn’t account for all of the individual ones being aligned – SOME of them would align considerably differently.

    Rio Cuarto being an acknowledged impact site, it would seem to be the one that the CBs should be compared with, as far as alignments go. In a rudimentary examination of Rio Cuarto, the orientations varied nearly 30°, which is comparable to the CBs. This would seem to argue for an impact origin for the CBs, too. Other features are admittedly different, especially the depth of the RC craters, which are scores of feet deep, approaching 100 feet at least, based on photos I’ve seen.

    I thought Firestone’s group suggested a reasonably viable hypothesis of the CBs as secondary impacts of ice ejecta. But I can’t buy into it without someone dealing well with the consistencies of the ellipses. I am trying to word this properly to get my thoughts across, and it is not easy:

    Finding some magical combination of low velocity level that would produce un-disintegrated and possibly un-melted ejecta could perhaps give the results seen on the ground on the CBs. Any explanation that covers the coastal plain CBs also needs to be translatable to the ones on the Great Plains.

    With 19+ ideas out there, it is clear that people are floundering in trying to explain the CBs. What that usually would tell me is that we don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle identified yet. The missing pieces might be currently unknown processes (perhaps subterranean). I do not think it is because known processes are simply being misinterpreted in the way they are being assembled into a whole concept – if adequate information existed, someone would have put it together already. Some very good minds have tried to explain these, and if all the needed info was out there, it would have been solved by now.

    That is why out of the box – and Occam’s Razor – explanations are fine. They may lead to someone having an “Aha!” moment.

    So far, no brass ring…

  • chicken little

    herman I know what it says. so thank you anyway.
    what I want to know is what it doesn’t say!
    like why did they only measure to 2500 years, when they say there are trees 5000 and 6 000 years old in America?
    though most of the oldest trees appear to be either 2500 to say 3200/3500 years old. I sure wonder why those ages?
    why did they use the magic number of around 2500?
    no I am concerned with what it doesn’t say!
    since recorded history says the world stop turning or reverse 2800 and 3200 years ago and no one has explained how many tons of pressure it takes to stop the world from turning and then what the effects of that much pressure would be on the surface of such a event. … why didn’t they count to ten thousand? 12000 etc why?
    and why not tell us what the trees show of just about 2770 and 3200 years ! and really might have been something 2000 years ago. but that would take a lot of explaining and well I don’t see well and MY FINGERS HATE TO TYPE!
    why those magic numbers of 2500? they couldn’t find older tree? … they couldn’t peice ages of trees rings together to make a history? or maybe it is not as exact a science as they would hope we all might believe?
    especially since they are using carbon dating to age some of those puppies..

  • Hermann Burchard

    tree rings have yielded amazing detail on climate of long ago, see Michael Baillie’s books (sorry, his name misspelt last time).
    About “the world stop turning or reverse 2800 and 3200 years ago,” is that some Velikovskian baloney (sorry)? In his period fall the Trojan War, Homer, and King David. It’s a dark age of history, but still, much is known from archeology. The Philistines whom King David fought are part of the Sea People.

  • One of the “Most Geologists agree” explanations I’ve heard for the features like Point Barrow, and other similar places in the far north, is that those thousands depressions you see are related to arctic wetlands, such as river deltas, and permafrost conditions. Annual thawing, and re-freezing of the upper surface is credited by many for the formation of the thousands of small depressions in the permafrost that become small lakes for a short time in the summer.

    Kotzebue, Alaska at 66.896250, -162.590803 is home to the Red Dog Mine. It’s a wonderful place. If you don’t mind freezing in the long winter, and being eaten by swarms of very large mosquitoes, and biting flies in the short summer. The pennensula it sits on, and the river delta east of there, on the mainland side of the sound, is a clear example of that process.

    If you spend a year up there, and see the process at work. The explanation almost fits. But I could never quite get comfortable with the question of why so manu of the ones in the far North, near Point Barrow are perfect ovals, all oriented the same way.

    It’s clear the permafrost is only part of the story. Something else happened up there too.

  • Steve Garcia

    Dennis –

    That is the issue, the orientation. That is the stumper, there just as with the CBs.

    That and the ellipticity. Look at the Beaufort Sea coastal area (at 69°15N, 133°30W) and you’ll see the same kind of ponds/lakes, but there they are all a jumble, both in shape and in orientation.

    The same thing is happening at all these places – EXCEPT orientation and ellipticity. As at the CBs. But it appears the ellipticity and orientated-ness might be the only things they have in common with the CBs. But I only say maybe. What is seen on GE can fool you. It does not appear likely, but:

    A friend thought he’d seen some strange and apparently ancient canals and landform markings on the Louisiana coast and all up and down the Atlantic coast from SC to Maine. We thought they were ancient because we could find no account of them being built by modern man and the total miles of canals was mind-boggling, so the Indians could not have dug them. I had to admit that he had found something very remarkable looking, so I pitched in and wow, did it look like he’d discovered something weird right under our noses. Because the narrow parallel-type canals he’d found often had no outlet at the downstream end, it appeared that they were built to funnel fresh water in upstream of the mouths of their adjacent rivers, for some kind of agriculture. Only after putting much effort into these did I find out that they were mosquito abatement drainage ditches. The lack of outlets at the seward end was because decades after digging them, they filled them in and blocked them off. Why? The canals had changed the ecosystem and the indigenous plants and animals had been replaced by others, so they found ways to keep the mosquitos down, even with the canals closed off.

    It never occurred to me that there might have been a second step to making them the way they are now.

    Another type of canal looked on GE like some sort of hieroglyphics. After discovering the mosquito ditches, I was determined to find a recent explanation. These features were the weirdest looking things on GE, I swear. I eventually found that they were muskrat nests.

    Still a THIRD type of canal was all along the LA coast, in particular – very WIDE and often very long canals. Some were 500 feet wide and 40 to 1020 miles long. 500 feet being almost 2 football fields LONG, these seemed like so much volume of digging that it was superhuman. We could see also lot of complicated patterns, mostly straight, but some quite circular. Those I found out were made by the oil companies for their exploration drilling barges. That seemed to be ruled out by a flaw in our thinking. But, one more time, an extra piece of information suddenly made them all explainable.

    Google Earth simply made us misinterpret what we were seeing. The facts at our disposal could not be assembled into a coherent modern explanation – not until one extra fact was added to each type. And then each mystery was solved.

    That experience taught me to not trust what I see on GE. GE can be a good pointer, but relying on what we see on GE made us waste a lot time. I would seriously advise, Dennis, that you go to those sites, and the sooner the better. You do need to make sure what you are seeing isn’t just an artifact of the 3D terrain and/or elevation rendering programs in GE.

    The oriented lakes in Alaska are REAL, though. Pilots actually use them for getting their bearings. And the CBs are real. But we – everybody, really – are missing some vital bit of information. It may come to pass that the CBs’ orientation and ellipticity and the Alaskan orientation/ellipticity have the same cause, perhaps some effect at a later date. That is sort of what Douglas Johnson’s “complex theory” was asserting – but he was not able to attribute them to just two steps. He ended up with at least four. That level of complexity seems unreal to most people, though. Johnson’s complexity theory was the last effort at explaining them in the academic literature until Firestone’s group came along in about 2004. That was about the 1950s. An ET explanation had already been thrown into the mix by 1933, and since it implied some sort of catastrophe, the uniformitarians had to come up with a better explanation. So Johnson was putting patches on patches upon patches in order to squeeze the CBs into the post-Noachic thinking. I totally do not think he succeeded. Yet, to science, one of their own had pronounced it solved. They had found a speculation they could use, even if it had gaping holes in it. They were able to pretend the CBs were explained. That is really all they wanted.

  • Terry Egolf

    Anyone here have access to ESRI’s ArcGIS applications or something similar? Steve’s comments reiterate an idea that needs investigation, and that is the relationship of CB orientation to the lay of the land. ArcGIS has a slope analysis tool that can create a vector field showing ground slope for drainage basins.

    If nothing else, we could rule out that CB orientation was related to general ground slope, and thus modification by retreating sea level.

    After informing Emil Silvestru of these features, he basically said a similar thing–unless you can make ground observations of these features, and completely characterize their surface and subsurface structures and composition, they are nothing more than interesting aerial imagery.

  • Steve Garcia

    Terry –

    I actually do not think the slope is it. Even if the general slope of the land is one direction, the slope at each individual bay/lake could not align the same in all those micro/mini-locations. Yes, falsifying the idea does rule out the idea, though. So as an exercise, yes it would be useful.

    My youngest son is an urban planner who does have access to ArcGIS. He uses it in his work. I can ask him to do this. Is there a best output image format to display it? I am not trying to get a publishable paper out of this (not that I can), but just something to look at and see if it is worth pursuing. Do you agree? (I may not be able to get him to do it, either.)

    If the elevations are in 1- or 2-foot increments, I think the bays would show up, but I have no idea what resolution the elevation data would be in.

  • Steve said:

    “That experience taught me to not trust what I see on GE. GE can be a good pointer, but relying on what we see on GE made us waste a lot time. I would seriously advise, Dennis, that you go to those sites, and the sooner the better. You do need to make sure what you are seeing isn’t just an artifact of the 3D terrain and/or elevation rendering programs in GE.”

    Thanks Steve,

    In fact, As far as Kotzebue, and Point Barrow, are concerned, I have been there. Back in the ’90s, I used to work for a company out of Spokane, Washington called Garco Building Systems. They specialize in industrial-scale pre-fabricated steel buildings, and structures. They ship to, and erect, structures at remote locations all over the world. We built, and installed, a large ore storage facility for the Red Dog Mine, near Kotzebue, Alaska. We also put up structures at Point Barrow.

    The point I was raising is that the excepted explanation for the thousands of small lakes up there being the result of the interaction of arctic wetlands, and permafrost, only accounts for the smaller, irregular shaped, ones. It’s my belief that something else caused the large, semi uniform, NW – SE oriented oval, or ‘Carolina Bay’ type structures. Because permafrost conditions were clearly not involved in the formation of the ones in the Southeastern US.

  • George Howard

    Been to Point Barrow as well, twice. Co-Del with congressional members both times. Anyway, those frost lakes, and bays, have zero in common.

  • Steve Garcia

    George and Dennis –

    Thanks for the info George, but can you say say why not? I would rather not deal with them if they are intrinsically different and off topic.


  • That place up north can be confusing. There are countless frost lake features, caused by a process related to the interaction of permafrost, and Arctic wetlands. And the Carolina Bays very clearly have nothing to do with such a process.

    But I don’t believe the oriented, oval, ‘Bay-like’ features in the far north were formed by that same process. I think something else happened up there, in addition to the wetland/permafrost process that forms the countless, random, little ‘frost lakes’.

    I think the ‘Bays’ up there were formed by some as yet undescribed process. And that they may be related to the same process that formed the ones down south.

  • Steve Garcia

    Dennis –

    Yes, I would have to agree with you, intuitively. Thanks for the info that the lakes in general are caused by some interaction of permafrost and wetlands. I would ask – have they identified the mechanism?

    That is re the un-oriented ones. That is what I read you to say before. And it makes sense intuitively.

    I do have one argument with you about your assertion that the oriented lakes must have had some different mechanism. But one dangling characteristic would be that the oriented ones seem to be in exactly the same kind of topography as the non-oriented ones elsewhere (not to mention some small amount of mixing of the two). A prima facie argument could easily be made that, since the general conditions are the same, the non-oriented and oriented lakes must have the same basic cause, with the oriented ones being a special case. I’ve brought that up before. If you look at the “river delta” locations and spread of the lakes (both types), at both Lena and Pt Barrow (both oriented) the field extremities are remarkably similar to each other and to the Beaufort Sea (non-oriented) areas.

    That one oriented lake locale would be like a non-oriented lake locale could be seen as a coincidence, though I’d be skeptical of arguing an ET origin. (I’d LIKE it to be ET, but won’t leave my critical faculties at home or fudge my reasoning to get that result.) That TWO oriented fields on opposite sides of the Arctic Ocean are like a non-oriented field at the same latitude and along an Arctic Ocean coast AND by/at a river delta – that points me toward a terrestrial origin for those oriented lakes.

    I will repeat that I do agree with Hermann and you about them all having a different cause than the CBs.

  • Terry Egolf


    I received something called a Geomatics certificate from a community college a few years ago when I had a plan to switch careers and get into GIS. Never worked out. But we were trained for two years on ArcGIS products, and one project we completed was a drainage basin analysis. A series of tools we used produced an area slope map whose resolution was a function of the elevation data density. I believe the data was extracted from a DEM. The end product was a drainage basin model with computed stream beds and basin divides. You could evaluate the fidelity of the model by comparing the locations of the computed stream beds with where they actually exist on aerial photography.

    That was with ArcGIS 2.9. There are probably much more robust tools available now that are easier to use. Your son would likely be familiar with them or be able to obtain them if his company is licensed for that kind of support with ESRI.

    As for publishing a paper, why not?


  • Steve said,

    "Yes, I would have to agree with you, intuitively. Thanks for the info that the lakes in general are caused by some interaction of permafrost and wetlands. I would ask – have they identified the mechanism?"

    Yes they have. That kind of terrain is called "Thermokarst Topography".  And it’s caused by local melting of ground ice and the subsequent settling of the ground.

    Here’s a couple of good links

    Thermokarst from the March 2004 issue of EU(RO)CK 

    And there is some good info on Permafrost in a page on http://www.Alaskool.org

  • Hermann Burchard

    Ready to bet Bob Kobres, aka “abob” or even “bobk” on his UGA webpages, would have some interesting, trenchant commentary to above discussions. He is, to me, the grandfather of recent interest in CBs. But, alas, from his Olympian heights, he probably doesn’t even notice this blog.

    Bob’s recent email: [email protected].

  • No altitude involved, Hermann–just waiting for actual field work to resolve some of the issues about features such as the C-Bays. I’m pretty sure that beaver had a strong presence where C-Bays are now found and that an external event gave their ponds a too regular form but whether the event caused steam explosions due to heat and overpressure or simply desiccated the area–I don’t know. The coordinates below, plugged into Google Earth, will show some impressive contemporary beaver activity.



    The beaver is Nature’s archetype ecosystem engineer; its clear-cutting and dam building activities dramatically alter the structure, function, and chemistry of wetlands. Research done by Drs. Justin P. Wright, Jones and Alex Flecker has shown that between one third to one half of vascular plant species in riparian areas in New York State’s Central Adirondack Mountains depend on beaver-created habitats. When beaver make dams, they create a wetland while simultaneously destroying the streamside environment. Few plant species can live in both habitats; at the local scale, beaver engineering eliminates one set of plant species and replaces it with another. At the landscape scale, however, beaver markedly enhance plant biodiversity by increasing habitat diversity.

    Future research in Chile’s Tierra del Fuego region, where beaver were introduced in the 1950’s, will shed light on how exotic ecosystem engineers affect plant diversity. The study will provide a contrast to the Adirondacks, where beaver have been making habitat for plants for thousands of years. Prior to beaver introduction, species in Tierra del Fuego had no history of beaver-induced riparian disturbance. Will beaver create a biological “desert” because there are no native plant species that can adapt to beaver wetlands? Will exotic wetland species invade the areas? Or will formerly rare native wetland species flourish in response to the wealth of new habitat created by beaver?

    Patagonia—On a crisp spring morning, park ranger Ricardo Cid is leading me toward a stream in the Laguna Parrillar National Reserve. At the southern tip of mainland Chile, fifty kilometres south of the city of Punta Arenas, nearby Lake Parrillar is the glimmering centrepiece of this 180-square-kilometre park. The lake is flanked by snowcapped mountains, marshes, and dense woods. Deep in these woods, rangers uncovered a threat to southern Chile’s ecosystem last year: six very large beavers, the descendants of rodents brought here decades ago from Canada. “It’s our worst fear,” Cid tells me. “Six may not be a big number, but they are like canaries in a mineshaft.”

    Beavers aren’t native to South America. Sixty years ago, breeders imported twenty-five male-female pairs from Canada to the Argentine side of Tierra del Fuego island with the idea of raising them for fur. The beavers were freed into the wild and, unfettered by nat­ural predators, began reproducing. Soon they were swimming across the Beagle Channel and colonizing other islands. There are now an estimated 100,000 beavers in Tierra del Fuego, including 61,000 on Chile’s islands in the region. Until recently, they remained offshore, separated by the Strait of Magellan.

    Each lake is usually formed by just two beavers. They chop down trees with their razor-sharp teeth and use them to dam rivers.

    They do this to protect themselves from possible predators – even if there aren’t any – and to give them easier access to food, primarily tree bark and other vegetation.

    Now, if you consider that there are estimated to be up to 250,000 beavers on the island, you begin to get an idea of the environmental havoc being wreaked here by the world’s second-largest rodent (the capybara is number one).

    Yet beavers are not native to South America. Around 50 of them were introduced here from Canada in the 1940s. Argentina’s then military rulers hoped that they would multiply and create a fur industry – in earlier centuries beaver pelts were among the most valuable in the world.

    TIERRA DEL FUEGO, Argentina (CNN) — A stealthy invader from the north is wiping out large areas of native forest on Tierra del Fuego, an island at the southern tip of South America.

    The invader, the North American beaver, has proliferated from only a few pairs 50 years ago to at least 100,000 today.

    The Argentinean government imported the original beavers to raise on commercial fur farms. When the project failed, the beavers were released. They quickly spread across the island.

    They have since chewed their way through river valleys and stream beds, felling the trees they need for food and building dams, which create even greater damage.

    Over the last century, exotic species have dramatically altered Tierra del Fuego’s terrestrial and freshwater environments. Introduced beaver populations have expanded rapidly in the absence of top predators, causing extensive damage to forests and altering natural water flows.


    Hermann Burchard to Bob, George, Leroy, E, Dennis, Rich, Bill
    show details 1:54 PM (6 hours ago)

    just posted on Cosmic Tusk an invitation, sort of, for you to comment on
    Carolina Bays discussion, including Point Barrow, Alaska, and Lena River
    Delta cheap imitations:

    Ready to bet Bob Kobres, aka “abob” or even “bobk” on his UGA
    webpages, would have some interesting, trenchant commentary to above
    discussions. He is, to me, the grandfather of recent interest in CBs. But,
    alas, from his Olympian heights, he probably doesn’t even notice this
    blog. Bob’s recent email: [email protected]

    Sorry! But I had felt the need to disturb your peace..

    NOTE: Below copy of 1991 Bob’s letter to Eugene Shoemaker, of some
    historical interest (underneath my signature), concerning his familiar
    boiled beavers (not mentioned by that later name).

    Hermann G W Burchard
    Prof Appl Maths Emer
    Oklahoma State University
    Stillwater OK 74078-1058

    – – – –

    April 11, 1991
    Dr. Eugene M. Shoemaker
    U.S. Geological Survey
    2255 North Gemini Drive
    Flagstaff, Arizona 86001

    Dear Dr. Shoemaker:

    Enclosed is another barrage of Carolina Bay information. “A Re-evaluation
    of the Extraterrestrial Origin of the Carolina Bays” (1975) is a research
    paper I learned of only recently; the authors make several valid points.
    Unfortunately, they evoked “Tunguska craters” (following W.K. Hartman’s
    “Moons and Planets” 1973) to illustrate the geomorphic results of low
    altitude shock waves which they believe sculpted the Carolina Bays.
    Though more recent investigators attribute the Tunguska depressions to
    permafrost melt, this does not negate the premise of Eyton and Parkhurst
    that the Bays were formed by fragments of Tunguska like stuff coupling
    energy to the ground in a blast wave fashion.

    Disregarding dynamics, the energy to bring a volume of permafrost through
    the transition to a liquid state sufficient to cause slump or compaction
    is about 1/7 of what it would take to bring an equal volume of wet sandy
    soil to a steamy explosive state. I suspect, however, that wet soil would
    absorb radiant and mechanical heat from a blast more efficiently than
    could frozen ground, and so would respond more violently to a given blast
    type energy input.

    The physical common denominator of areas where bays are found seems to be
    wet plastic soil. I believe it was the abrupt phase change of water to
    steam that excavated these shallow features. This would occur in three
    steps with intervals determined by the impactor’s terminal flare height.
    Step one is the arrival of radiant energy from the phase change which
    produced the terminal volatilization of the impactor. This would elevate
    the wet soil temperature to a degree dependent upon radiant energy yield,
    the pulse width or duration of liberation, and radial distance from the
    source. Step two is the arrival of a blast or over-pressure wave (the
    interval between S1 and S2 increasing with terminal flare height). Step 3
    is the arrival of the ballistic wave which, if steps 1 and 2 were within
    limits (the terminal flare was low enough to produce an explosive phase
    change in wet soil) would disperse soil elevated in the steam explosion.

    Assuming this three step process would yield a bay like structure the
    remaining problem is getting the terminal flare of the impactor to occur
    close enough to the ground. I believe this trick could be accomplished by
    a comet like mass density object of sufficiently large mass and low impact
    velocity. The paper by Levin and Bronshten (“The Tunguska Event and
    Meteors with Terminal Flares,” included) seems to allow such arrivals.

    I am curious to know if you think the above a feasible scenario. In the
    midst of preparing this packet I received correspondence from Leroy
    Ellenberger indicating that he had written to you of Gault’s idea that the
    Bays could be formed by ejecta from a glacial impact. This would seem a
    needless complication if large terminal flares can occur within a few
    kilometers of Earth’s surface.

    Sincerely, Robert E. Kobres

  • Terry Egolf


    Can you define ‘flare” as Robert uses it in his letter? Is it a thermal phenomenon, as in a road flare lighting off, or is it an aerodynamic one, like an aircraft flaring out its approach when landing? Somewhat confusing and the context doesn’t give many clues as to how he is using he word.


  • Hermann Burchard

    Did you notice the 1991 date of Bob’s letter to Gene Shoemaker?

    This was an amazing THREE YEARS before comet S-L 9 impacts on planet Jupiter. This event awakened a lot of people.

    Not only were these guys way ahead of the rest of us but ahead of Mother Nature, or, of a pointer to humankind by God’s Finger.

    It was a full ten years later that I wrote to Benny Peiser about the 4th century climate catastrophe, likely of ultimate Taurid causation (because of coincidence with 365 tsunami that destroyed Alexandria) leading to the Visigoth invasion. Michael Baillie later found Northern oak tree ring confirmation of over a decade of very bad weather including 365. The Danube was so “swollen from the incessant rains” several miles wide (Edward Gibbon) that the Goths needed help from the Roman army to cross over, bribing them anyway they could. Emperor Valens was killed at Adrianople in 378, his army annihilated. This was recorded as the end of the Roman Empire by St Jerome. He had escaped to Jerusalem, while St Augustine went back to his native Hippo (he was an ethnic Berber). — Sorry, getting off Carolina Bay context in my amazement about the historically significant 1991 date of Bob’s letter.

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