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

Holiday – Meltzer: First abstract thoughts…

Restored from the library fire 1/1/20

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.


55 Responses

  1. George,

    This Holiday-Meltzer paper may have been overcome by events.

    See below —


    North America’s Oldest Skeleton Discovery: 13,000-Year-Old Body of ‘Naia’ Discovered in Mexico

    Lydia Smith
    By Lydia Smith
    May 15, 2014 19:00 GMT

    One of the oldest human skeletons in North America has been discovered by a team of international scientists in an underwater Yucatán Peninsula cave.

    Named “Naia”, the teenager fell to her death in a large pit called Hoyo Nego, meaning “black hole” in Spanish.

    Patricia Beddows, a cave-diving researcher from Northwestern University, said: “The preservation of all the bones in this deep water-filled cave is amazing – the bones are beautifully laid out.”

    “The girl’s skeleton is exceptionally complete because of the environment in which she died — she ended up in the right water and in a quiet place without any soil. Her pristine preservation enabled our team to extract enough DNA to determine her shared genetic code with modern Native Americans,” she added.

    The skeleton, which is now covered in water, is estimated to be between 12,000 and 13,000 years old, suggesting Naia lived in the late Pleistocene or last ice age.

    Naia measured 4ft 10in tall and was delicately built. Her estimated age of death was 15 or 16 years old, based on the development of her teeth.

    The near-complete human skeleton, which has an intact cranium and preserved DNA, was found lying 130ft below sea level near a variety of extinct animals, including an elephant-like creature and relative of the mastodon called a gomphothere. These remains helped scientists establish the age of the skeleton.

    In order to assess the age of the skeleton, the team analysed tooth enamel and seeds dropped by bats using radiocarbon dating and calcite deposits found on the bones using the uranium-thorium method.

    They used similar methodology to date the remains of a variety of gomphothere found near the skeleton, which were found to be around 40,000 years old. The more than 26 large mammals found at the site included saber-toothed cats and giant ground sloths, which were largely extinct in North America 13,000 years ago.

    Naia’s age was further supported by evidence of rising sea levels, which were as much as 360ft (120m) lower during the last ice age than they are today.

    The research was led by the Mexican government’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and Applied Paleoscience.

    “Hoyo Negro is a very complex site,” Beddows said. “By understanding the formation of the shallow caves and the shaft into which the girl fell, we know that the girl and the animals visited a site that looks almost like it does today, except that the water level was down in the bottom of the shaft.”

    “These discoveries are extremely significant,” said Pilar Luna, INAH’s director of underwater archaeology. “Not only do they shed light on the origins of modern Americans, they clearly demonstrate the paleontological potential of the Yucatán Peninsula and the importance of conserving Mexico’s unique heritage.”

    The discovery was published in the journal Science.

  2. George,

    Science mag link and abstract below —



    Because of differences in craniofacial morphology and dentition between the earliest American skeletons and modern Native Americans, separate origins have been postulated for them, despite genetic evidence to the contrary. We describe a near-complete human skeleton with an intact cranium and preserved DNA found with extinct fauna in a submerged cave on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. This skeleton dates to between 13,000 and 12,000 calendar years ago and has Paleoamerican craniofacial characteristics and a Beringian-derived mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup (D1). Thus, the differences between Paleoamericans and Native Americans probably resulted from in situ evolution rather than separate ancestry.

  3. I caution everyone about the dates, to not interpret them literally.


    Because it appears that for some ignorant and ill-conceived reason – and I use the two phrases advisedly – the people continue to use radiocarbon dates that are uncalibrated. WHY they do this, I do not know, because the lab that does the testing gives both dates usually.

    The values of 12,000 C14 BP is about 13,800 cal IntCal 13 – about 800 years before the YDB. The 13,000 is about 15,650 cal IntCal 13. (My quick interpolations.)

    I seriously do NOT understand why they continually DO this. Without calibrating the dates are completely misleading.

    For your reference: http://www.radiocarbon.org/IntCal13%20files/intcal13.pdf

    If anyone sees anything in this that is incorrect, please educate me….

  4. Sorry! My comment was going to be that this girl was at the very end of the Pleistocene, but she was still considerably before the YDB.

    In fact, those dates puts her well before Clovis Man (13,500 to 12,800 cal IntCal13). Meaning, it seems, that SHE herself is proof that Clovis Man was not the first.

    And BTW, when they say “calendar years” my full understanding is that they are talking radiocarbon C14 BP – uncalibrated.

    Basically, if they don’t SAY calibrated, they mean the other.

    “This skeleton dates to between 13,000 and 12,000 calendar years ago and has Paleoamerican craniofacial characteristics and a Beringian-derived mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup (D1). Thus, the differences between Paleoamericans and Native Americans probably resulted from in situ evolution rather than separate ancestry.”

    First of all, DO NOTE THE WORD “PROBABLY.” (With extreme prejudice…LOL)

    But that last sentence is just BIZARRE. “In situ evolution” – once again, we see the almost ubiquitous homo sapiens sapiens exceptionalism. Evolution is always seen as extremely slow and plodding – EXCEPT when applied to homo sapiens sapiens. Sapiens can DO anything! Sapiens can morph in a few ones of thousands of years – nay even in HUNDREDS of years! Sapiens can go from an Asiatic cranial morphology to a COMPLETELY Euro cranial morphology in the VERY FEW thousands of years after they arrived in N America. And they DO it with no reasons even SUGGESTED for such morphological changes.

    Where do they come UP with these idiots? And so consistently?

    Again, with the gradualist crowbar, stretching the tenets of gradualism any time it is convenient.



  5. Steve,

    You missed a very important point.

    This find of a Paleoamerican in Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico essentially kills the “Mega-fauna overkill by Clovis Man” theory.

    If she is pre-Clovis/Pre-Tusk, Paleoamerican humans were co-existing with mega-fauna for centuries without the extinction of the mega-fauna.

  6. Oh, please also note that the authors of the report completely left out the possibility of land subsidence in explaining why this cave was below sea level.

    The Yucatán Peninsula is predominently limestone and has suffered long periods of rain alternating with drought, so geology there _is not_ a constant compared to sea levels.

  7. Trent –

    What in the paper proves co-existence of human and megafauna? The gompothere (?) was dated at 40,000 years.

    Her being there 3,000 years early is a better measure of co-existence, but I don’t see it proving the overkill wrong. It actually gives humans more time to spread out and cover the continent. Don’t get me wrong: I think even with the time the Overkill is a pathetically stupid concept. But I can’t see any Overkill advocates seeing this as damaging. Most will probably see it as helping their case.

    But maybe I am missing something…

  8. Steve,

    Life in the form of a newborn (1 May) cuts into Tusk kibitzing.


    As for the “Mega-fawna Over-kill Hypothosis,” consider that humans in Mexico 3K prior to the black mat means mammoths north of there who left bones in the black mat faced a minimum of 300 generations of human predation (assuming an arbitrary 10-year per generation of mammoth) prior to their extinction.

    “Overkill” doesn’t work on that time scale given those that push it are using historic extinctions like the Passenger Pigeon, Moa and the Do-Do as their exhibit “A” for their work.

  9. Trent –

    Agreed. Their basic premise is so f-ing stupid an ill-thought-out. Any 3rd graded could pick holes in it.

  10. Hi

    Humans only arrived here in the Americas very recently. Moreover, the entire ecosystem of the Pleistocene evolved with their magafauna fully adapted more than 1 million years.

    From what little I have read and learned from studies of archeology in northeastern Brazil (the most eastern corner of South America) through the study of ceramic, lithic artifacts, rock art and its themes, showed that there were several waves of migration distinct cultural human populations over the last 30 millennia. Global climate variations may be associated with these waves of migration.

    Paleoindians are rare, but until the monent I think that few researchers believe the are an evolution in situ. The waves of migration are consistent with the observed facts.

    Indigenous peoples (the last 500 years) will integrate ecology in that sit, their hunting and fishing or sub-subsistence agriculture are not predatory. No cases of extinction of animal or plant, but the increase of biodiversity, as with Amazon peoples. From time to time the communities are divided and will settle in other territories. The logic of extinction may be associated with small territories such as Europe, with small area and large population. The fight happens there since prehistory between homosapiens and neandertal.

    The prehistoric Indian preceramic, nomadic, hunter collector moved in small groups able to survive what nature provides, with techniques, instruments and small population quota to extinguish adapted megafauna an extremely dangerous even for good possessed rifles or any type of equipment for mass killing, selective, regional or in global basis.


  11. WOW. Where to begin…

    In the process of reading this paper, I am first of all UTTERLY AMAZED that the authors just went right into “RESULTS” without giving ANY explanatory evidence that they had done any lab work themselves, nor sample gathering.

    HOW IS IT POSSIBLE to get a paper accepted which does not even HAVE protocols or methods spelled out?!

    OY VEY!

    They first take up more than a page of valuable journal space just making assertions, and then with no further ado they go right into RESULTS. Holy sheit, Sherlock.

    Continued in the next comment…

  12. Steve & Dennis; I recently sent to each of you copies of pictures of rocks I have turned up here in Ill. Originally I thought they were Dolomite but Hcl testing revealed these were not at all reactive. Further searching I came to the conclusion these were Rhynie Chert, but I don’t know how they came to Ill. Now while browing on Cosmopier I came across pics of sand particles from Abu Hureyra, Syria that seem like an exact match for the rock that I have. The sand particle shows both the glaze look and pin holes that I have on my rocks. If either of you have the time to look at Cosmopier check out the pics and let me know you think. If you agree that this is indeed close enough to call the same then what the hey is it doing in my back yard? And say prayer for all our fallen vets, thanks

  13. Dennis, Steve: I jumped off the last post without further directing you through the Cosmopier site. Once on site scroll down to NEW 2012 headline, then the next lne is for High impact temps and products. Click there and scroll to page 7 of 10 and the pics are there.

  14. Pierson Barretto; I was on youir cosmo pier site and was impressed with your info base. If you get a chance, look at The Drake Passage on google earth. Thre was definitely a cosmic hit there. From the size of the trench it was a very low angle but highspeed impact.

  15. …continuing…

    Meltzer’s paper references a letter in PNAS by Ives and Loese erroneously entitled The Chobot site (Alberta, Canada) cannot provide evidence of a cosmic impact 12,800 y ago.

    Chobot is the Ablerta site (Buck Lake) where a Czech couple found all sorts of Clovis artifacts. Firestone went there and found evidence for magnetic spherules as well as the black mat, along with at least one Clovis point himself.

    Wittke responded to the on several points, one of which is, “We also agree that some lithics at the site are non-Clovis, but Chobot has three acknowledged Clovis points, which are more than at many Clovis sites.” For all of us amateurs, that means that ONE Clovis point establishes a site as a Clovis site. This is something I suspected but was not certain of.

    I am going to rip into the paper on other points than those Wittke addressed:

    Because the great majority of diagnostics postdate the Clovis era, most accompanying artifacts are undoubtedly from later time intervals too (e.g.,

    Shaking my head here… This is an amazing assertion to be made without providing ANY data or evidence of what is actually AT Chobot. The reference given (3) does not even DISCUSS Chobot; it has to do with OTHER sites. Ergo it is non-relevant other than to ballpark this point. As an actual piece of contrary evidence it is worthless.

    But putting the term “undoubtedly” in here – WITHOUT DATA FROM CHOBOT – is the height of REALLY BAD SCIENCE.

    Then preceding that by “…most accompanying artifacts” – what in the hell is THAT? “…most” has no place in science. “Most” has no value, no quantification, and is a vague term that means NOTHING.


    There, fluted points postdate the YDB; this could also be true of the Chobot fluted points.

    In an article with a title claiming that Chobot “cannot provide evidence…” What in the hell is a comment saying “this could also be true of … Chobot” doing in here? “CANNOT” is a firm contradiction. “Cannot” means proof against, not an iffy, mealy-mouthed “could also be.” And it is in itself not evidence at all but an interpretation – WITHOUT actual CHOBOT evidence even being addressed.

    It is mere speculation, based on other sites, not the one in question. The letter says “Chobot cannot” – not the other sites. Therefore SOME evidence of what is at Chobot is required of this letter. At no point do they ever actually address Chobot evidence, except to say that there aren’t enough Clovis points – which argument Wittke blows away.

    Wittke et al. illustrate a sampling column of 23 cm depicting a 1-cm-thick YDB layer as 12 cm beneath a carbon rich “black mat layer”(figure S5A and figure S5B in ref. 1).

    This is REALLY bad. WOW. This is absolutely an ERRONEOUS STATEMENT, even contradicted by the very next sentence in the article which states that the layer in question is “…at a depth of 12 cm below the surface.”

    While this is almost certainly a typo, it is pretty typical of the sloppy work done by “YDIH” opponents. They didn’t even proofread their text. If not a typo, it is an outright error.

    …but the “black mat” is simply the surface leaf litter and humic materials (the LFH horizon typical of Luvisols and Brunisols)

    NO supporting evidence or source for this supposition has been presented in the letter. This comment is simply a speculation by the authors. At best it is an interpretation, but one given without supporting evidence.

    Shame on the editors for not requiring its deletion from the letter. Suppositions have no place in a journal.

    …the underlying “YDB” layer likely reflects pedogenically translocated clays and organics, residues from slope wash, or deposits from a recent higher stand of Buck Lake.

    ONCE AGAIN, we have here a wishy-washy, iffy un-solid assertion/speculation. It “LIKELY” is this or that? What kind of solid evidence is THAT in a paper entitled “Chobot… cannot provide”?????

    “CANNOT” means ABSOLUTELY NOT. CANNOT requires SOLID and unambiguous evidence AT THAT PARTICULAR SITE, not references to other sites. Not INTERPRETATIONS.

    We see no support for the assertion of an age “of no less than 12.8 ka” based on
    “archaeological stratigraphy” (1) and find compelling evidence to the contrary.

    The letter, in fact, does no such thing as showing a failure to support the assertions by Wittke. All it does is wave its hands around and say, “We don’t agree!” – but without giving ANY solid evidence to the contrary.

    They “find compelling evidence to the contrary” simply because they do not want to accept the premise. So they band together and – using words and nothing more than words – attempt to scuttle someone else’s work. They provide NO evidence AT THE SITE. They provide NO evidence from laboratory samples that they themselves have gathered.

    All they have is words.

    For a bunch of people who don’t even DO their own science, this is the best they can do – to wave a read flag with a title claiming something that their paper in itself does not actually do. Or come close to.

    They assert a negative. And then within their text they provide none. They provide a series of “likely”s and “could have”s and point to other sites. They provide no actual evidence from Chobot.

    It continually amazes me how BAD the science is on the anti-YDB side. How these guys ever got their PhDs is beyond me.

  16. Oh, as to the one passage

    Because the great majority of diagnostics postdate the Clovis era, most accompanying artifacts are undoubtedly from later time intervals too

    This is really insulting to Wittke and his co-authors. As if Wittke didn’t already KNOW that there is later artifact evidence and didn’t make any effort to weed that out.

    If they made such an obvious assertion on school playground, they’d be likely to get a fist full of knuckles.

  17. <<<>>>>

    “a review of the original” — as a very interested armchair retired guy who thinks the history I was taught in school is a bunch of junk — this tells me these “experts” were just toooo damn lazy to do “original” research. That should be an embarrassment to PNAS.

    I have Meltzer’s book (the blue one) and several years ago made it through most of it. I stopped at the point where he said the Clovis people “ran” to the east coast of the continent in less then 500 years or so. I guess my question would be “did they know which way was east…..”

  18. David –

    You got my point. This wqhole gaggle of so-called scientists – at least on the YDB – do NOT do their own work and are mainly a bunch of Monday morning quarterbacks, sniping that the coach didn’t try for a field goal midway through the 2nd quarter. In their own disciplines – and I mean that – they may be okay, but here they are so over their heads that they KNOW they con’t go out and get their own samples and lab results. (Though lately I halfway suspect that they HAVE and don’t dare publish any of it, because it simply doesn’t give them the results they want.)

    Actually, when I went to see what work Meltzer does, I wasn’t impressed. But I am still working through them, so I should temper that assessment for now.

    Meltzer doesn’t know SQUAT about impacts, being “just” a Clovis guy. And (so far) he DOES seem even-handed there, at least vs other Clovis thinkers. But he seems to still accept that the Clovis points did – as you say – come from the NW, from over Beringia. Even though NO Clvois is found up past the “ice free corridor” – and that is a MAJOR point against them.
    If you are new here, welcome. If not, I missed your earlier appearance(s).

    PNAS is the journal that a lot of the pro-YDB papers have been published in, and there was a time about a year ago that some people were attacking them for being an “easy” mark. It is perhaps possible that they are bending over backward in an attempt to look balanced. At the same time, it is also possible that that is one of the things the attacks were meant to accomplish – to allow less-than-stellar papers attacking the YDB papers.

    I agree with you. Certainly all parties to these “kibitzing/Op-Ed” papers should be embarrassed. It’s not science. It is more like office politics.

  19. David –

    If you have seen my blog, I point out a bit about “Clovis mainly in the East”, while pointing out the cherry picking of mammoth kill sites almost exclusively way out west. It’s as palin as the nose on your face that Clovis was essentially killing OTHER game in the east, making it hard to make any claim about them even NEEDING to kill mammoths, even though the evidence shows that occasionally they do. Meltzer himself digested Clovis kill sites down to only FOURTEEN. Not exactly sweeping the continent, those 14 sites.

    See http://feet2thefire.wordpress.com/

    One more point:

    In researching those posts, I rean across a paper that plotted human sites at both ends of the ice-free corridor, and the results were that NO ONE came through before 8,000 years ago.

    Then there is the Yucatán discovery last week or so of a girl dated to about 15,000-16,000 years ago (roughly calibrated by ME based on the C14 dates), which actually EXTENDS the human-mammoth overlap period by at least 2,000 years. So Meltzer’s “They came out of the West, Pardner!” meme is just silly. Outdated at the least.

    The western focus on Clovis man is wrong-headed. Clovis sites were 90%+ in the East. Bounded by Texas in the west and mostly by the Ohio River in the north. Don’t take either too literally, though.

    By coincidence or not, Clovis was very partial to the area near the Carolina bays, though I am being won over by the CB<<YDB thinking, little by little…

  20. Pierson; Yes the elongated trench with the rounded headway on the east (Sandwich Islands. Just off the east side of the Islands there is a deep trench, I believe a subduction zone, But the entire sea floor to the east almost to Africa shows signs of having been shoved forward. Also the entire floor of the Drake Passage is of the same basement rock as the Pacific Ocean floor Not the Atlantic ocean where it resides. MY hteory is that the Andes Mountains before 34mya went all the way to Antarctica uninterupted. A cosmic event occurs and pushes the entire landmass eastward into the Atlantic Ocean. This in turn fractures the South american and Antarctic plates forming the Scotia plate and pushing it under the Atlantic plate. If yoiu look to the immediate north and slightly west of the Drake passage you see another set of possible impact craters some wher laid down before the main hit and others overlap the main crater. At the same time as the Drake Passage opening there were at least 3 more major impacts. I believe they were all in North America, I’ll have to check my notes again for sure. There was also a major extinction event at 34mya and that is the approximate dating of the start of the glaciation of the Antarctic region. These are my major points so far. You had sent me a calculator for predicting crater sizes and I reversed engineered it to find the size,speed and approx angle of the impactor. If yoiu are interested I’ll dig up my findings and send them to you. Thanks Jim

  21. I have seen that research regarding the correlation of elephants and clovis points. Impressive. As he points out “if the point had been found in the east….?”. I am a “Firestone” believer and have done my own “unprofessional.. ie armchair” research and don’t understand how the current picture can be maintained. The N.A. continent had to have been a total firestorm. I just can’t picture why people like Meltzer ignore the “Carolina Bays”. All a person has to do is find a “mudpuddle”, drain the water and then throw a stone at it. You get “Carolina Bays”. They call it “the splatter zone”. This policy of “uniformitarianism” has to go.

    It also brings to the table whether or not Hapgood had a case. And as a further kick in the behind, the ignoring of facts is a disgrace. As the science of “craters” moves forward, the archaeologists and “historians” are going to find themselves out in the cold.

    It also goes with the territory of the 540 A.D. meteor. That one is in known history, has been proven and then “ignored”. WHY.

  22. Although my initial impression of the Meltzer et al paper was quite good, as it looked as if much thought and effort had gone into the paper,on further investigation I was not at all impressed. The authors primarily seemed to date the last Clovis artifacts found to the younger Dryas onset. This is of course is not the point at all! Even when the last animal fossils are attempted to link with impact dates, they fail simply because, rarely are the last fossils found, the last animal that was alive. Secondly, and just as important, as William Napier and many other scientists will attest,the nature of most of the impact events in the recent (meaning late Pleistocene on) are of what are described as cosmic showers, whereby possibly only a few regions at a time are severely affected. Overall however, in time it seems that a large part of the globe was affected to the extent that it was cause or greatly contributed to the demise of so many ice age flora and fauna.

  23. Jim & Pierson – I think the Drake Passage would not be a candidate for a impact if for no other reason than its sheer size – around 500 km across, which would make it the largest impact crater ever found, over double that of Chicxulub / Shiva. It is also bounded in time by continental drift, as the continents opened up some 90 – 100 MY ago to create the Atlantic Ocean.

    Appears Antarctica is pushing NE into the South Atlantic, which crushes the Scotia Plate. Probably even formed it.

    If something that big hit in the last 100 MY, we’d have a major extinction event.

    The end of Eocene craters are in Chesapeake Bay, off the NJ Coast and Popigai in Siberia, the largest at some 100 km across. Cheers –

  24. Wow. I am so sorry. That was one of the worst written posts of all time. I have tried to clean it up.

  25. agimarc –

    That was an interesting comment, “If something that big hit in the last 100 MY, we’d have a major extinction event.”

    It might be a contender with Chicxulub, actually. Chicxulub is widely accepted partly BECAUSE there is no other contender in that general time period. At the time (the 1980s) ANY crater was being looked for. Chicxulub was the one found, and all the work went into it. Still, many did not really ever accept it. And now everyone just assumes that they were correct at that time.

    Truth be told, at the time, I thought Chicxulub wss NOT the correct one. What are the odds that the first one found would be THE one? It seemed a bit too pat for my tastes.

    I tentatively think that the Drake Passage WAS a crater chain. That it is on a tectonic plate boundary is not completely unfeasible at all.

    (I’d get into a tectonic plate discussion here, but that would be like three levels off topic here!)

  26. George; Thanks for trying to polish the lump. I found it to be interesting but it did seem to be rather simplistic versus other papers and informational posts I have seen. I’m still trying to find the author to see if there is any other reasearch on that subject that might clear it up. I’m also concerned about the 65ma date assigned to the Drake Passage opening because everything else I’ve come across for dating has called for a 34ma date. Just a minor dating discreptancy. Please don’t lump Pierson in on this one. He doesn’t deserve any bad rap for this link.

  27. Steve –

    Shiva is the other suspected impact site. It sits off the west coast of India. About the same caliber impact as Chicxulub, though not yet confirmed as an impact structure. It is really, really big.


    Interesting thing in the discussion is that I have come to the opinion that Large Igneous Provinces (LIP) by themselves are not sufficient to cause an extinction event. They need a large caliber push – impact event, close supernova, something else to climate push over the edge into an extinction event. The Cretaceous event had 1-2 large impacts (and those are only the ones we know of or suspect) and a LIP in the Deccan Traps.

    The end of Eocene had at least 3 smaller impacts (Popigai is 100 km across) and a smaller LIP in Afar that led to a small extinction event. There was also a caldera outbreak in Colorado and perhaps in Utah within a few million years of that time. Global climate cooled down for millions of years after that time.


    I think the key to what happened around the Sandwich Islands and when is the movement of surrounding plates. We know that South America is moving generally westward. The Pacific Plate is moving generally NW. The Nazca Plate is being subducted under the Andes. Australia is moving generally North, swinging thru Indonesia perhaps to impact somewhere in SE Asia. What is unclear is the movement of Antarctica during all this. I have seen all manner of suspected movement from generally East to North and North East. And it is the interaction of Antarctica with South America that defines what they are calling the Scotia Plate. What we kind of know is about the time South American separated from Africa and about the time Australia separated from Antarctica. That defines the earliest time an impact can take place. Any earlier, and it is not in open ocean.

    And as usual, this is all head scratching and arm waving at its worst (best?). Cheers –

  28. agimarc –

    Thanks for all that. I tend to not really go into impacts a million years old or older. My thinking aligns with Napier and Clube, that the Encke progenitor is the nasty boy on the block in recent weeks. The others are interesting, but I personally don’t see their application to current risk assessment. No offense intended.

    All that said, I AM very suspicious of the plate movements as currently understood. I’ve actually gotten the notion that a (maybe recent) impactor caused a mantle/crust shift and that the plates crashed into each other with enough force to break off pieces. You could call it crushing them together if you like. The Nazca plate I consider one of the strong candidates for having been broken off. Same thing with the Cocos plate and the Caribbean plate and the other small ones between NA and SA. I am probably full of crap on this, but I want to see where it goes.

    Your mention that the Nazca plate is being subducted brings up the point:

    How long has the Nazca plate existed? How much longer will it be around?

    With Antarctica’s movement, I’d suggest that – since from the South Pole all directions are north – that any movement of the plate should say “North along the X°E/W meridian.” NE and E and N or NW don’t mean anything. NE relative to what? The simple was is to simply talk about which way is the S Pole going. North along which meridian?

    In passing, I’d also suggest that if the Scotia plate is being ground between the other major plates, that I’d expect to see all sorts of chaotic conditions there. Instead I see several circular geomorphic features, all lined up in an arc. That doesn’t exactly sound like the chaos one would expect. While that doesn’t convince me of anything, it makes me stop and wonder.

  29. Steve –

    No offense observed or taken. We appear to be similarly cranky and feisty. So what, as that seems to be a Good Thing.

    Agree that YD / Taurus progenitor is the current problem. I go to the other places as much to put things into perspective as to test observations and theories of how big things work as anything else.

    Plate movements among the major and minor plates are pretty interesting. You want some bizzaro plate / planet interactions, take a look at the multiple plate / platelet interactions in Indonesia, particularly that south of the Philippines.


    I think I am more sanguine about impacts changing plate movements if for no other reason that it is bound by the E = 1/2mv2 construct. In my mind, there is an awful lot of mass to be moved by an impact if it is to move a plate. Note that I am assuming that the plate and upper portion of the mantle are moving as a unit until they collide with another unit – which is yet another gross assumption.

    Agree on the Antarctica movement, though most of the plate tectonics maps, histories and projections into the future to me tend to assume Africa is the center of movement and therefore does not move significantly. Antarctica is small enough and moves slowly enough and perhaps is far enough away and little known that it is not significantly in play and seems to be ignored in the projections.

    We agree about the stretching, compressing, and otherwise taffy-pull manipulation of the Scotia plate. There be a lot of head scratching in that part of the world, which is not a bad thing. Cheers –

  30. agimarc –

    That Indonesian map ties in with a lot of stuff I am trying to nail down, and which may take me the rest of the century…LOL

    I will talk of it offline, if you are at all interested…

  31. The Phys.org thing is just more same old, same old, gradualist crowbar pap.

  32. I guess that other thread on the “firestorm” is pretty much proven. To generate a layer like that, oh, gosh, it would have had to been hot hot hot. And then you add in that all the food and plants had been vaporized. Sure didn’t leave anything to eat even if you made it to an underground safe hole. I still think the N.A. continent went up in smoke and ash in about 5 seconds, if that long. I wonder what the air temperature would have been — maybe 3000 deg. for a few minutes or a little longer. I would think that “anything” the ancients had other then stone would have been destroyed, especially when you look at the temp. chart I’ve added.


  33. doing even more catchup here. the Folsom culture. It seems our favorite person is up to his eyeballs on that culture as well. The question I have is —-

    Considering the arrow head styles and the possible (missing) 1500 year gap, what sort of excuse do they have for all of the missing people. Do they also apply the “its impossible to be from Europe/Africa” condition. In the story below, a person could imply that they (Folsom) wiped out the bison because they have found one (1), yes, one (1) arrowhead with on extinct species.

    — snide comment —- did they die off because they killed all of the elephants and then started to eat bison because they didn’t want to eat elk meat — (smirks).

  34. that is awesome — will forward to my “arrowhead huntin'” crowd — they are finding stuff you won’t believe in Death Valley and there abouts and northern Florida — every time it rains — they are no where to be found — damn it, they don’t even tell me — HA

  35. Several years ago, while on an mtb ride, I got to the top of aclimb at a stream crossing, and stopped to wait for my friends. I spied a perfect rock to kick it on, sat down and between my feet was a small pile of arrow heads, a dozen or so. I was stunned that they would still be there after so many years, as this trail is fairly popular and old, it’s originally an Indian trail, and the creek rages during the spring melt.
    I had passed that spot ,literally dozens of times and had never seen them before, unfortunately I didn’t pick them up, I’m a little superstitious about such things, and left them there.
    When I came back by a week later they were gone.
    When I was young you didn’t have to look very hard to find arrow heads.

  36. CevinQ –

    A VERY nice arrowhead story there.

    David –

    I think that many are sympathetic with your take on all of this. The story still has much to be told, and until it all is in, all of our guesses are going to suffer from inadequacy. And how long might that be?

    I DO think that Firestone has the right approach, but so many vested interests are opposed, so it might be until after he is long gone that we know. They can drag out progress for such a long time – and for what? So that their careers are not hindered? Shame on them.

    Careerism in the Earth sciences is so rampant… And so destructive of the advance of science.

  37. Coming back to the Drake Passage issue…

    See the link that Pierson posted, which I re-post here: http://maps.google.com/?ll=-57.290918,-64.841309&spn=9.251687,14.589844&t=h&z=6

    For those who put this down as simply the interaction of three tectonic plates, I draw attention to the several circular features. There are at least 4 major ones and one or two more. One is about 1200 km and is not only circular itself but has a secondary rim for almost 90° on the south edge. The easternmost circle is nearly 700 km across. If you have to zoom out to see these features better, try it.

    I want to ask:

    1. To what geomorphic process do you all attribute the formation of these overlapping circles?

    2. What in tectonic plate theory produces circular features?

    3. I invite you all to google “crater chain” and look at some of the images that come up

    4. I also would point in particular to the crater chains on Ganymede – see http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/images/ganymede.html

    Note that the craters that make up those two chains overlap, similar to the overlapping circles of the Drake Passage. Note also that the largest circle is very near the middle of the chain. So is the largest circle in the Drake Passage. One would suspect that this could be typical of comet fragment chains.

    Let us also note that of the fragments of Shoemaker-Levy 9 the largest 4 were in the middle (G thru L). As I said, this may be typical of how fragments arrange themselves. It KIND OF makes sense that the smaller ones would tend to be satellite-like and tend to be more outboard, ahead and behind. That is just speculative, but it seems reasonable.

    The obvious impression of the Drake Passage is as an extrusion out of the Pacific Plate. If it is, I’d suspect this is the only such plate extrusion on the planet. Plates, after all, do not extrude around the edges of other plates; they collide or slip past each other. But if this tongue is actually part of the Pacific plate, no other plate has a tongue nor especially a tongues so long.

    Not only that, but I have a .kml file on Google Earth of the tectonic plates. The joint between the Pacific plate and the Drake subplate is actually NOT in compression but in tension. They are pulling apart. Thus the Pacific plate cannot be pushing the Drake subplate.

    As to a coincidence of a crater chain forming right at the juncture of three plates, perhaps we need to consider that the impacts are what cracked the three apart.

    Cracked them apart? you might ask. It seems to be assumed that tectonic plates all date back to Pangaea and earlier. That is not necessarily so. It IS the current theory, yes, so there is the weight of all those scientists behind it. But I don’t think so. See my very first post on my blog at http://feet2thefire.wordpress.com/?s=pangaea. Once again, I disagree with the mainstream.

    I think it is altogether plausible that the tectonic plates are not wandering around like ice floes at sea, but are relatively fixed in place. One reason is that I think that the subducting plate (almost all plate junctures are colliding) wears away at the overlying plate, but at the same time keeps adding TO the overlying plate near the boundary, via volcanism. Thus there are two factors interacting. One is additive and the other subtractive. Thus they tend to cancel each other out to some extent. What is the net gain or loss? I’ve not yet seen where this is discussed, though it is probably out there somewhere and I simply missed it.

    One last thing. I mentioned that the Pacific plate and Drake sublate are pulling apart. As Jim pointed out, at the eastern end, the Drake subplate is colliding with the Atlantic plate. All that makes sense, yes? According to my tectonic plate .kml file, though, there is a THIRD such interaction going on. Just west of the trench at the astern end of the Drake subplate, there is a SECOND divergent boundary. So the largest part of the Drake subplate is pulling at from BOTH ends – even as a small part is converging with the Atlantic plate. That second divergent boundary just happens to be right where the middle of the easternmost circular arc is located. Coincidence? You tell me.

  38. http://malagabay.wordpress.com/?s=drake+passage+Impact+event Steve; Thanks for bringing my baby back to the tusk limelight.The above link should bring up almost all the info I have collected on the subject so far. None of it is organizedand some is not related to the Drake Passage directly. I had used a calculator to figure the mass, speed and angle of the impact. I believe the numbers I came up with are: Object was 75km dia, impact speed of 73,000mph at or below a 40 degree angle. Around 70 million cubic miles of debris was excavated, vaporized, and thrown into the atmosphere, space. According to the calculator approx 1/2 of the impact debris refilled the crater as melt. These numbers are off the top of my semi-bald head and I would have to go back through the Tusk to find the exact post where I put them out. There are some very good pics and images in the link and I have to thank Tim Cullen at Malaga Bay for them, He’s been very helpful.

  39. Jim –

    What I see in the Drake Passage has to be multiple impacts, not one. Especially with the arc, one impactor just can’t do that, going at 73,000 mph. Also, I see 4 or more craters (if, indeed, they are craters). I am certain I spelled out some rough math about time between impacts, somewhere up above.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

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