Random Tusks

Davias’ Astonishing Presentation to Asheville GSA on Carolina Bay origin

Michael Davias’ presentation this week to the GSA’s Southeastern Section in Asheville is simply extraordinary. Even better than last month at Hartford. I bet the sclerotic old geo-goats — and better, the know-it-all-because-somebody-told-me kids — were put on their heels

The fact is that no one knows how the hell these features came to be because no single explanation to date accounts for all the observed characteristics. But I am hopeful that at some point the scales will fall from their eyes and the mainstream will realize how unlimited the potential is for new discovery.

As Orville Wright said, “Isn’t it astonishing that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years just so we could discover them!”

The presentation builds from beginning to end, so make sure to read all the way through.

But first, here is Michaels’ own description of the session from a comment to an earlier Tusk post.


Thanks to all for their efforts in commenting here. Each and every fact does need to be considered and processed.

My experiences at the Southeastern Section Meeting of the GSA were once again beyond my expectations. There is a spectacular amount of good science being done, and it was great to have the opportunity to participate. As for my own talk, it was well attended and generated a good deal of helpful questions. I will be putting the presentation up on the GSA site shortly, and perhaps George can add it to the Tusk site as well.

The GSA, by offering me the opportunity to present my full catastrophic hypothesis, actually surprised me, and at the same time reassured me that the concept of open dialogue is as strong as ever in the geological comunitty.

Allow me to share a few take-aways. Regarding the wind-and-wave process, I did present Kaczorowski’s diagram of bay processes. The diagram’s caption states that a fan was blown across a water filled depression alternating (left to right, then right to let) every 15 min for four hours. The resulting is sort of an oval with points at both the top and bottom ends. No oval bay has points like that, and to suggest a rigorous 50% duty cycle for formative winds is a stretch, as far as I am concerned. I then noted that in the LiDAR, no bays looked like that.

The theme of my talk was to show that the published (!) literature had numerous mentions of the rim sand being: 1) homogeneous in grain size and chemical content bordering on pure quartz; 2) multi-meter deep deposits with NO stratigraphic structure to support either lacustrine, marine or eolian deposits; 3)no fossils of any type; 4) a sharp discontinuity to underlying sediments; 5)not related to those underlying deposits by chemistry or grain size distributions; 6) virtually no clay expect for some vary small lenses (which are acknowledged in the texts to be likely surface percolation artifacts); 7) sheet deposits which drape across well-provinenced slopes and terrace scarps.

A statement was made during the question period that the rims show structure. Interesting, because all the published literature I have read specifically highlight the lack of bedding, etc. Its part of the enigma, guys!

I made a very brief attempt at addressing the age issue. I must admit I would like to avoid placing “the date” chiseled in stone on this, as the data is quite fuzzy. I am proposing 40 to 45 K ago based on a few constraints, but the real date needs to come from the sand in the structural rim. I don’t want to appear to be contentious ( a respected academic geologist hit me with “you are being contentious simply by being here”) with the fine work being done in OSL, carbon and pollen dating, but it is quite clear that the current researchers have no interest in actually dating the rim sand. What are they dating? The contents of the bays and the obvious wind and wave generated surficial deposits. Steve makes some good observation, above, on choice of samples sites to date, such as Frierson Bay. I maintain there are thousands of more obvious locations to sample – if you wanted the rim dates. In fairness, the OSL dates done were done and paid for with research dollars aimed at identifying climate fluctuations – for which the dunes and the lacustrine deposits are best at providing, so they are doing what they need to do. But to extend that to proof of the structural rim dates is a step too far.

Much is made of those 60K and 100K dates: since the data is not published and defended as to location, process and provenance, I fail to see how they could be leveraged to slam the door on a catastrophic genisis. Yes, the antecedent surface is usually sand, and it might have last seen the rays of sun 100K years ago. So what. I feel I can make a case to validate a 43Ka date with the available OSL basket, if the two or three highest are thrown out and we recognize that any date that shows up since 43Ka is simply re-working. My understanding is that all of the OSL dates taken thus far are from the upper 50 cm of sand.

Recent literature is sparse, indeed, excepting “Abstracts from Program”, which refers to poster presentations. While that forum can and does relate good research to the community, they fail to qualify as “peer-reviewed literature”. We need more research. The same fine fellow who dinged me about being contentious for appearing at the GSA also credited the recent debate as being the motivation behind the resurgence of research into the bays. That can only be good.

At the end of my presentation Sunday, I proposed that the catastrophic hypothesis could be falsified by finding diverse OSL dates across the horizontal and vertical bulk of the Goldsboro Ridge sand deposit which underly and comprise the rims of numerous bays imbedded in the ridge. George Howard alerted me to the impending disection of part of the ridge during the construction of the Rt 70 Goldsboro Bypass project. New exposures there might provide just the canvas to draw those samples from. Now all I need to do is to raise some $$$ and entice some credible researchers to execute such a test.

Thanks again for your feedback,

[scribd id=88144852 key=key-1ty9ldhcvf8pwkvj5ndh mode=list]
Here is some video I took of Mike explaining his observations and hypothesis at the AGU San Francisco meeting in 2009 (I think?).

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