Holiday – Meltzer: First abstract thoughts…

Sorry, been at camp in the mountains this weekend, here is the paper:


It appears from the abstract and email chatter that Meltzer and Holiday have embarrassed themselves again here. Long time deniers of an ice age American catastrophe, I suspect their tone and attention to detail will match co-author Vance Holiday’s shrill and poorly composed 2011 submission to the Tusk.

I have seen a devastating graphic conflicting their findings, and heard tell of a response paper well underway. But instead of attempting a substantive response here let me stick my neck out with a social science take.

The claim that 27 out of 29 sites were misdated and\or misinterpreted by over 50 researchers in dozens of papers and many labs is half-too-cute. Colleagues of Meltzer and Holiday, like YDB co-authors Goodyear, Bement and Daniels — not to mention Stafford — have poured over data and draft after draft of papers supportive of the YDB dates and endorsed them all as good science.

That many people can be wrong (many more are now, or this blog would not be) but that many established scientists are unlikely to put their careers at risk to make easily identified errors when providing controversial data.

The people who do put their reputations at risk are those who lose their reputations if established understandings of history are incorrect (with regard to impacts or otherwise). Holiday and Meltzer know the story of Ales Hrdlicka. Their very own field was viciously opposed by this detestable and bitter man just eighty years ago, who insisted the early data supporting the presence of Ice Age humans in North America were wrong — ALL wrong! — just like they do today.

American paleo-archeology has a tendency to produce very determined — and fearful — opponents to new data. It must have something to do with the paucity of artifacts and evidence they are forced to accept. If you spend thirty years studying evidence that could fit in a dump trunk a lot of personal id is invested in their interpretation. That makes it even more painful to accept change — and it shows by their overreach here.

Stay tuned…


According to the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis (YDIH), ∼12,800 calendar years before present, North America experienced an extraterrestrial impact that triggered the Younger Dryas and devastated human populations and biotic communities on this continent and elsewhere. This supposed event is reportedly marked by multiple impact indicators, but critics have challenged this evidence, and considerable controversy now surrounds the YDIH. Proponents of the YDIH state that a key test of the hypothesis is whether those indicators are isochronous and securely dated to the Younger Dryas onset. They are not. We have examined the age basis of the supposed Younger Dryas boundary layer at the 29 sites and regions in North and South America, Europe, and the Middle East in which proponents report its occurrence. Several of the sites lack any age control, others have radiometric ages that are chronologically irrelevant, nearly a dozen have ages inferred by statistically and chronologically flawed age–depth interpolations, and in several the ages directly on the supposed impact layer are older or younger than ∼12,800 calendar years ago. Only 3 of the 29 sites fall within the temporal window of the YD onset as defined by YDIH proponents. The YDIH fails the critical chronological test of an isochronous event at the YD onset, which, coupled with the many published concerns about the extraterrestrial origin of the purported impact markers, renders the YDIH unsupported. There is no reason or compelling evidence to accept the claim that a cosmic impact occurred ∼12,800 y ago and caused the Younger Dryas.


  • At this point I do agree that there were more than one impactor. The figures I came up with were for one single impact. You could assume that the multiples all added up to the size of the single I calculated. As I read through your feet to the fire link I noticed that you mentioned that the Andes are a realtively young range therefore they didn’t exist at that time. Instead of a mountain range being moved there may have only been flat plain making the numbers I calculated totally bogus. Bummer! Seeing as how the impacts aren’t exactly in a string like Ganymede this may have been a close up airburst of a huge variety. I think that would account for the lack of a line up that a high altitude breakup would present. I’m also 99% sure that these are impact craters, as you said what else in nature makes circles. Maybe volcanos, but those would be whoppers, I’d hate to see one that size go boom.

  • Steve Garcia

    Jim –

    Don’t take my word for it on the Andes. I’ve heard that asserted, and I favor that, so I tentatively accept it as fact, regardless of what the mainstream says at this time. The Andes rising late does not mean that there was all flat there before, nor when it actually happened. I’ve heard that the Himalayas also are young (at least part of them), and that they were elevated earlier, but raised to new heights. True? Again, I am acting on it for now as if it is true. I may not have made it clear that it is one view of them both rising. The Himalayas being kicked up is part of the thing I’m working on now. The Andes seems to be a stretch as far as fitting in – and me being one who laughs at crowbars, I don’t want to be a crowbar user myself. So when something is a stretch, I put it on a back burner and hope I run across something to clarify it – one way or the other.

    You are right in doubting that the circles could be volcanic. A 1200km caldera? That is almost the distance from Chicago to NYC. Or in Europe from Paris to Budapest. That puts it in the realm of extraordinarily doubtful.

  • Steve Garcia

    Oops! One more thing:

    It is not just that there is A circle there, but four or more. So any solution has to explain thy four or more are lying in an arc. That is the main reason I think the simple “plate pushing into another plate” is inadequate. It leaves too many features unexplained.

    At the same time, “features” fall into the qualitative side of things, and qualitative is usually not adequate science. So circles alone is just doing the Aristotle-Plato thing and going by “describers” (qualities). For philosophy class that may be enough, but not for science. As pointers, though, the circles are important. But science wants things that can be measured.*** SOME FORCE created the arcs and circles. The final test would be empirical samples tested in labs. But taking samples from the sea floor at depths of 4000 meters in the area down there is such a NON-picnic, I think it may be a long time before samples can/will be taken.

    *** There are so MANY statements in so many papers that are not about measurements but about interpretations. And if there is one thing LESS useful in science than features/qualities, it is bloody interpretations. And it is not just US at CT that disagree with various interpretations – among academics most topics have pro- and con- sides. Why? Weighting of the available information/evidence/facts. Ergo, a variety of interpretations. When multiple interpretations can’t be right, that means that most interpretations must be wrong, doesn’t it?

    Take the megafauna extinctions: Ill, chill, or overkill? Or impact?

    Take causes of the Younger Dryas: Climate change? Impact? Milankovitch cycles? Heinrich events? D-O events? Which are causes? Which are effects?

    The only things of value are the forensics – the actual measurements or counts. Of pollens, of impact markers, of tree ring counts, of bones above artifacts or below (and by how much), etc.

    All we hear about are the interpretations, but interpretations are like anuses – everybody’s got one. As long as we accept that the way WE put things together in our heads is only tentative, we are doing fine, and being humble. We will have holes in most of our ideas, as do they. At some point in time, when the conservatives stop blocking progress and honest inquiry, someone will find out the REAL story of the YDB and the CBs and other conundrums. I think that time is a lot farther out there than any of us would like.

  • Steve;The time frames we’re dealing with are absolutely mind bending. Continents come and go, mountains rise up and fade away, seas dry up then refill and we think that just because we can see and envision so much that it is a god given fact. When all we know is just the instant before we might realize we have to blink our eye. Humbling doesn’t come even close. I’m sure that when the Antarctic ic sheet melts,( and it will! Al Gore says so!)the evidence for the impact will be there just waiting. I was checking on ice core dates but none is even remotely close to a million yrs much less 34 million yrs. I’ve found no references to impact relics on any of the islands or mainland tip of S. America, but if no one is looking you sure won’t find them. I would guess that since the impact came from west to east that the vast majority of impact debris and melt would have traveled in the same direction taking it out over the ocean.

  • David L Ulricch

    thought I would add this to the mix. A geologist got it right in the early 1900s and he was shot down.