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

Touchdown!: YDB team publishes best paper yet in PNAS

Restored from the library fire 1/11/20


Airbursts/impacts by a fragmented comet or asteroid have been proposed at the Younger Dryas onset (12.80 ± 0.15 ka) based on identification of an assemblage of impact-related proxies, including microspherules, nanodiamonds, and iridium. Distributed across four continents at the Younger Dryas boundary (YDB), spherule peaks have been independently confirmed in eight studies, but unconfirmed in two others, resulting in continued dispute about their occurrence, distribution, and origin. To further address this dispute and better identify YDB spherules, we present results from one of the largest spherule investigations ever undertaken regarding spherule geochemistry, morphologies, origins, and processes of formation. We investigated 18 sites across North America, Europe, and the Middle East, performing nearly 700 analyses on spherules using energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy for geochemical analyses and scanning electron microscopy for surface microstructural characterization. Twelve locations rank among the world’s premier end-Pleistocene archaeological sites, where the YDB marks a hiatus in human occupation or major changes in site use. Our results are consistent with melting of sediments to temperatures >2,200 °C by the thermal radiation and air shocks produced by passage of an extraterrestrial object through the atmosphere; they are inconsistent with volcanic, cosmic, anthropogenic, lightning, or authigenic sources. We also produced spherules from wood in the laboratory at >1,730 °C, indicating that impact related incineration of biomass may have contributed to spherule production. At 12.8 ka, an estimated 10 million tonnes of spherules were distributed across ∼50 million square kilometers, similar to well-known impact strewnfields and consistent with a major cosmic impact event…..

……..The geographical extent of the YD impact is limited by the range of sites available for study to date and is presumably much larger, because we have found consistent, supporting evidence over an increasingly wide area. The nature of the impactor remains unclear, although we suggest that the most likely hypothesis is that of multiple airbursts/impacts by a large comet or asteroid that fragmented in solar orbit, as is common for nearly all comets aucasinosonline.com. The YD impact at 12.8 ka is coincidental with major environmental events, including abrupt cooling at the YD onset, major extinction of some end-Pleistocene megafauna, disappearance of Clovis cultural traditions, widespread biomass burning, and often, the deposition of dark, carbon-rich sediments (black mat). It is reasonable to hypothesize a relationship between these events and the YDB impact, although much work remains to understand the causal mechanisms.  

Link to paper at PNAS

Wittke 2013 PNAS Clovis Comet Younger Dryas Impact Spherules Found on Four Continents


James H. Wittke (Northern Arizona University)

James C. Weaver (Harvard University)

Ted E. Bunch (Northern Arizona University, NASA)

James P. Kennett (University of California, Santa Barbara, CA)

Douglas J. Kennett (The Pennsylvania State University)

Andrew MT Moore (Rochester Institute of Technology)

Gordon C Hillman (University College London)

Kenneth B. Tankersley (University of Cincinnati)

Albert C. Goodyear (University of South Carolina)

Christopher R. Moore (University of South Carolina)

I. Randolph Daniel, Jr. (East Carolina University)

Jack H. Ray (Missouri State University)

Neal H Lopinot (Missouri State University)

David Ferraro (Viejo California Associates)

Isabel Israde-Alcántara (Universidad Michoacana de San Nicólas de Hidalgo)

James L Bischoff (US Geological Survey)

Paul S. DeCarli (SRI International)

Robert E Hermes (Los Alamos National Laboratory (retired)

Johan B. Kloosterman (Amsterdam)

Zsolt Revay (Institute for Isotope and Surface Chemistry)

George A. Howard (Restoration Systems, Raleigh, NC)

David R. Kimbel (Kimstar Research)

Gunther Kletetschka (Charles University)

Ladislav Nabelek (Institute of Geology, Czech Academy of Science of the Czech Republic)

Carl P. Lipo (California State University)

Sachiko Sakai (California State University)

Allen West (GeoScience Consulting)

Richard B. Firestone (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)


131 Responses

  1. Congrtulations to all involved.

    But if the research gets no play in the science press, it will be as though nothing was published at all.

    Once again, IMP, if you want to close this argument off you are going to have find at least one of the craters and document it.

  2. I agree, Ed, kudos to all contributors.

    And I also agree that this will get little press if any.

    And the missing crater? How many years did it take Alverez’ hypothesis to find a crater to call home? 10 years is what I seem to recall.

    Given that the YDB object(s) did not kill off dinosaurs, but merely megafauna on (mostly) North America, one has to believe that the object(s) were somewhat greater than Tunguska and somewhat smaller than Chixculub. Being an in between size and between an airburst and a ground crater 300 km across, that is a lot of gap to span.

    Based on the SL-9 impacts and my thumb, I would say that the YDB object (if singular) was probably about 40-75% of the largest SL-9 fragment that hit Jupiter (which impacted on my birthday, BTW). My brain doesn’t want to work hard enough to learn how to calculate such sizes exactly. And if it hit on the LIS as suspected in some quarters, it probably would not have left very much to look for, as you are well aware.

  3. Bits and pieces. . .

    1.) I like that they have recalibrated to INTCAL09. It seems we shall henceforth have to use 12.8 kya instead of 12.9 kya. * * *

    2.) I like that they determined that the spherules were formed at fire temps of 1730C, which rules out forest fires. Other materials found had melting points from 1400C to 2200C.

    From WidlfireToday.com (http://tiny.cc/gkbfxw) :

    At what temperature does a forest fire burn?

    An average surface fire on the forest floor might have flames reaching 1 metre in height and can reach temperatures of 800°C (1,472°F) or more. Under extreme conditions a fire can give off 10,000 kilowatts or more per metre of fire front. This would mean flame heights of 50 metres or more and flame temperatures exceeding 1200°C (2,192°F).

    3.) I love that Wittke directly addresses the Surovell and Boslough counter papers as having not followed protocol and “neglected” contradictory studies (Boslough), ripping them new bodily orifices in black and white in a PNAS paper. Pigati, too, was called on the carpet for failure to run tests to distinguish existing volcanic spherules from others. Pinter is probably puckering about now for being called a liar about his sampling locations being a continuous sample set, and for saying he sampled the same spot as Kennett. This is exactly the right course of action: Put their failures down in journal papers. The popular science press may not pick this up, but the entire field is now aware that the Daulton Gang can’t shoot straight – and can’t defend the good citizens of Dodge from the Firestone Gang.

    Re Surovell: [pg 2] …each type of spherule exhibits a unique set of geochemical, morphological, and/or microstructural characteristics that allow it to be differentiated from impact-related spherules. All types appear similar to YDB spherules under a light microscope, and so, the use of SEM/EDS is crucial for the differentiation of YDB impact spherules from other types…

    …the inability of Surovell et al. (10) to find YDB spherule peaks resulted from not adhering to the prescribed extraction protocol (1, 7). For example, Surovell et al. did not conduct any analyses using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), a necessary procedure clearly specified by Firestone et al. (1).

    “inability”. . . “not adhering to the prescribed protocol”. . .”did not conduct any analysis”. . .


    It is a big paper (40 pages it says), so it will take a while to read in full. . .

  4. Of course, the authors had to claim that it might have been an asteroid, and not a comet, even though some of the First Peoples survived the HSIE, and remembered it as coming from a comet, and remembered where they survived.

    And of course we can not use those memories to search for craters from this….”God” forbid “we” should do anything to show who was where 13,000 years ago, adn bring NAGPRA down upon “our” heads…

    Aside from that, the spherule distribution data is not broken down by spherule type/per 150 at each site. The use of variable scales on the x axes in Figure 2 is irritating.

    IN other publications, the authors will have to explain the changes in environment that led to the sharply different strata above and below the HSIE strata.

  5. From the paper:

    Finally, there is preservation bias. Fe-rich spherules are less susceptible to chemical or mechanical alteration than Si-rich spherules; this is observed for Si-rich stony meteorites that de-compose with a half-life of 10 –15 ky in dry areas of continents(44), and in as little as 2 ky in wetter environments, whereas Ni-Fe meteorites decompose far more slowly. After 13 ky on land, the majority of Si-rich YDB objects may have suffered such de-composition, artificially increasing the ratio of Fe to Si spherules.

    This sounds like it may offer an alternative means of dating spherule formation. It sounds really parallel to isotopic dating, if someone wanted to get in and do the legwork for “decay rates”/decomposition of this nature.

  6. One of the great boons brought by the Dinky Daulton Gang’s onslaught is that in this paper Wittke and friends directly address all the possible counter-explanations for the YD and SLO materials.

    This ties in so well with how to do science right. One of my favorite scientists, Nobel Prize Winning Physicist Richard Feynman, explains in his “Cargo Cult Science” lecture at CalTech’s 1974 graduation:

    …It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty – a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid – not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked – to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

    Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can – if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong – to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

    In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.

    After spelling out some of the lab results FOR the YDB interpretation on pages 3 through 5, on pages 5 through 7, Wittke specifically spells out the reasons why other explanations don’t work. THIS IS GOOD SCIENCE. Wittke has sections with the following titles:

    — Potential Biases Favoring Fe-Rich Spherules

    — Potential Origin of YDB Objects by Cosmic Flux

    — Potential Anthropogenic Origin of YDB Spherules

    — Potential Volcanic Origin of YDB Spherules

    — Potential Origin of YDB Spherules by Lightning

    All this before the section Evidence for an Impact Origin of YDB Spherules.

    Skeptics do – if nothing else – make proponents of a hypothesis dig deeper and work harder to nail down and vet the hypothesis. Not until other possible explanations are eliminated, one by one, can a hypothesis be said to be on solid footing. In that way, skeptics are like beta testers: If it doesn’t work, the beta testers will find that out, but if it does work, beta testers will help tighten up the concept and make it even more solid than before.

    So, in this case the Dinky Daulton Gang is inadvertently HELPING. Now, in black and white, there is a direct answer to the bug poop insult and other doubts.

  7. Ed: “Of course, the authors had to claim that it might have been an asteroid, and not a comet, even though some of the First Peoples survived the HSIE, and remembered it as coming from a comet, and remembered where they survived.”

    A fundamental question that I don’t really know the answer to, but hope you do:

    Do we specifically know that the First People could differentiate between comets on one hand and meteors/asteroids on the other hand?

    By the tail, I assume, but I might be wrong.

  8. Ed: “…the authors will have to explain the changes in environment that led to the sharply different strata above and below the HSIE strata.”

    Just to be clear – and obviously you know the differences off the top of your head – can you in 50 words or less tell us what those differences are? I know they are different, but can’t remember where to find out what those differences are.

  9. BTW (in case no one had noticed; I had not) –

    Someone on PhysOrg pointed out that the YD Impact Hypothesis page on Wikipedia now has an alert right up at the top that says:

    The neutrality of this article is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. (February 2013)

    SOMEONE noticed, finally!

    Call me a martyr to the cause for getting banned? LOL

  10. On the other hand, Wiki still has the fungal poop insult listed – not once, but twice.

  11. I’d almost given up on Wikipedia. Getting caught up in an edit war, and arguing with SkepticalRaptor’s dramatically obvious negative bias simply wasn’t worth the headache. But I’m thinkin’ that maybe it’s time for another edit to add this new paper to the ever growing list of supportive evidence and literature.

  12. I won’t ever edit for them again. I don’t care if someone there woke them up to the possibility that the YDB may, in fact, be true.

    For the most part Wiki now has the skeptics’ comments in a “The Critics” section. But they still have enough nuances in the main body to see where Wiki’s sentiments lie. And LIE.

  13. Steve –

    While the terms do not always differ betweem asteroid and comet, you can read some of the acounts right here, and yes, it was the tail, and the fact that the comet was visible for some time before impact.

    The phytolith evidence from each site’s different strata’s will be undoubtedly be published in book form rather than in article form. What that will show will be the climate shift.

  14. ust fimished eading the paper.

    Boslough and the Daulton Gang look like a bunch of kibitzers. When they try to do original science, they screw it up, and most of the time all they can do is parse minor mistakes into big molehills.

    Lots of data in the paper, from the original samplings. Lots of putting things correct after the failed butcher jobs.

  15. Steve –

    Except for the coverage prompted by the U of Cincinatti press office, there has been no coverage at all of any of the rejoinders.


    Therefore Boslough et al suceeded in what they were trying to do.

  16. Hi Steve –

    You do not understand what is going on here, and the stakes are more than academic.

    As one observer of the manned space program puts it:

    “The presumption there is that we need to send humans somewhere else asap. That presumption is pulled out of clear blue sky… There is no Congressional mandate for space colonization anywhere, and thereby there is no taxpayer mandate for it. Spudis, Zubrin and the lot are just blowing smoke.”

    Not many people have an answer to the “Why?” question for manned spaceflight.

    Myself and a few other people do.

    This is not what you yourself may want to hear, and it is not the answer that most manned spaceflight “enthusiasts” want to hear. But I am pretty certain that it is THE correct answer to the “Why?’ queston, and the ONLY answer that can withstand close scurtiny in this time of austerity.

    I know a lot of people would just as soon I shut up about the impact hazard, and they have done their very best over the years to shut me up.

    But the facts are that I began reporting on the impact hazard in 1997, and in this current crisis following the Ares 1 fiasco, NASA is focused on the immediate mission of finding and learning about potential impactors.

    Not to belittle myself too much, as others enjoy doing that for me, I just happened to spot THE answer very early on.

    The stakes here are billions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money, and tens of thousands of jobs.
    That is a far larger amount than the millions of dollars for ground based observations, which are inadequate for the task of dealing with this hazard.

    Given the stakes involved, I have little patience for sloppy science or sloopy thinking, no matter who does it, unless it is myself.

    There has been no publicity of the rejoinder to Boslough et al’s nonsense.

    I have to deal with it fairly often, you do not.

    So the co-authors of this paper better get their universities’ PR departments working on this, including local stories on the sites.

  17. FIrst may I say that the radial compositional variation of some of the larger spherules is going to be a tough nut for non-believers of YD Impact Hypothesis. I am very interested to see any professional scientist try to refute those indications of high temp volatile reduction and condensation.

    Physical mechanics is the ultimate rule book. Sadly there will be people still clinging to their light microscopy ideals of yester-decade, or yester-century for that matter.

    I completely agree with EPG here. Public awareness is the key for organized action to characterize and deal with the Earth-crossing bolide threat. But there is a problem.

    This new paper must be heralded from all media outlets. Strewn field of 10% of Earth’s surface. Geologically just a moment ago in time, and happens to be “coincident” with the onset of 1400 years of climate change?!? How is this possible!?! We don’t even know how its possible, we just have some ideas which must be examined MUCH more closely.

    What’s the problem?

    Even with this incredible validation paper, I’m guessing that the “comet shower” or “comet fragment shower” concept will take a long time to gain acceptance, simply because no one knows what the scars look like. Its a huge leap to ask laypeople to accept it unless we can really point to scars with the appropriate geochem seed signature to match some of the spherule chemistry in this recent most excellent paper.

    And at this point, if Dr. Boslough was commissioned to do a sim on a surface contacting fireball impact of a suspected site, and if he matched the biomass of that area and the surface geochem in his model, and EVEN if the answer was exactly the same as a significant fraction of the spherule chemistry, I’m guessing he would still deny the possibility that it really happened.

    His Ego has removed his credibility. (Either his Ego, or orders to publicly deny the possibility of YD impact all together, perhaps coming through his Sandia management chain from someone in the government that wants this to be a non issue.)

    But now we have 10 million heavyweight reasons over ~50 million square kilometers that make it an extremely important issue of very recent geologic history. Let there be NO DOUBT about that.

    I hate to say it but Dr. Boslough really does seem to let his Ego interfere with true science. I credit the guy with some great ideas, but some serious faults as well. He seems to have the “all my answers are the right ones” attitude that makes him particularly dangerous as a scientist when combined with his media popularity.

    Bad news.

    The ring of debris around the Earth (Dr. Boslough’s idea I believe) is a great idea to explain 1400 yrs of climate change that climate models are having lots of trouble with. Thats good science in terms of a more simple possibility when complex climate modeling still gets no match to observations of the geologic/biologic record. Time scales of decaying Earth orbital stuff could easily account for the YD duration. That is good scientific thinking. But knee jerk reactions to ideas different to one’s own, that is very bad.

    Too bad so sad.

    The timing of this YDLB impact event at the onset of that radical duration climate perturbation makes it hard (impossible?) to imagine as a complete coincidence. The truth of what really happened in terms of climate tweak causality will eventually bear out from evidence within the geo/bio record.

    Claiming it can’t have happened or can’t be related is simply bad science and dangerous to our culture and to our survival as a species. Naughty naughty.

    And on the “ring around Earth/Moon” hypothesis, its hard to orbit a thing around a planet simply by throwing it up. You still have to give it some tangential velocity, some transverse impulse or momentum relative to its radius vector, to circularize or keep it from falling back down. (doesn’t have to be circular, but does need some degree of tangential impulse to stay in orbit)

    So the Moon becomes the suspect in this ring case. If Earth passed though a fragmented comet stream, so did the Moon. When these comets break apart, the fragment cloud spreads over a huge volume of space. If some of it hit the moon, which is likely, that is one source for debris to become slowed below Earth escape velocity and still have momentum tangential to Earth, allowing for the possibility of Earth orbit capture. So I love the Earth ring hypothesis, especially because it calls for closer observations of the lunar surface.

    And I say that knowing full well who proposed it.

    Just thinking out loud.

    The thing is, we have no idea what else was going on in the near Earth or in the Earth/Moon neighborhoods when those 10 million tonnes of spherules were suddenly (on geologic terms) generated. We are slowly gaining an idea of what the inner solar system may have been hosting, thanks to Dr. Napier’s work. Dr. N also points out that Boslough’s ignorance of recent comet science clearly rules him out as any authority of such related topics. Sorry Dr. B. Ideally Dr. Boslough will no longer be treated like some uber-authority on all things scientific, which would be a BIG CHANGE FOR THE BETTER.

    I want to see isotope signatures and ratios from the water at the South pole of the Moon, and same for the lunar soil around that water trapped on the moon. That water got there somehow, and a hard vacuum is no friendly place for water to hang around uninvited or unretained, especially for longer durations. Think about it. We need water data and especially iridium and platinum data from the lunar surface now to compare to this amazing work by the YD Impact Hypothesis scientists. Forget about Mars for a moment. What’s up at the moon, right here on our front stoop?

    Turns out water does survive planetary collisions, as newer evidence is indicating. Go figure.

    Last year NASA GSFC scientist on the Lunar mapping probe told me they think that water at the lunar south pole is being constantly replenished from other soils on the moon which are constantly being bombarded, throwing stuff off the surface into low altitude sub-orbital lunar trajectories, from which it may become cold trapped at/near the S pole. But why is there water up there at all, especially at latitudes where sun shines on the lunar surface and bakes that surface above boiling temperatures for weeks on end?

    Where does recently liberated water on the Moon come from?

    With this recent YD Impact Hypothesis work, there will be more reason to examine such questions, which I believe are critical to understanding our own near-Earth, Earth-Moon and inner solar system environments. Evidently as this recent work indicates, those environment have plenty going on that we don’t understand at all, no matter how much Dr. Boslough thinks he has all the correct answers. Silly to think such a thing really, especially for any well educated individual. Hard to stay humble as a Hydrocode pilot at Sandia I guess.

    (Speaking of which, who paid for his trip over to Russia after the Chelyabinsk event? Im guessing PBS since it was their show he appeared in. It really makes no sense that he would claim that event as his own by being on that show, and still deny the possibility of the Younger Dryas Impact. Its essentially the same or very similar event, just some different exponent on the incoming mass. Irrational. Disturbing.)

    I just wonder how many more Tunguska or Chelyabinsk events it will take to get governments to come around and fund more science. How many deaths and how much more destruction…?

    Just remember if you see the flash, the crash is still coming so take cover. If you’re very lucky, the crash may take 80 or 90 seconds after the flash, like at Chelyabinsk. If not, you may already be burned alive so it won’t make much difference when the crash reaches you.

    And if you live by the ocean, you may have several hours warning while you reflect on how traffic gridlock is “killing you”.

    Really makes you wonder why we pay taxes!


  18. >It really makes no sense that he would claim that event as his own by being on that show,
    >and still deny the possibility of the Younger Dryas Impact. Its essentially the same or
    >very similar event, just some different exponent on the incoming mass. Irrational. Disturbing.

    Dr. Boslough may be trying to set up a second media career, like Carl Sagan did after the science behind “Nuclear Winter” was blown out of the water by Dr. S. Fred Singer.

  19. We have another touchdown, see instapundit below —

    AN EARTH-SHATTERING KABOOM: Comprehensive analysis of impact spherules supports theory of cosmic impact 12,800 years ago. “About 12,800 years ago when the Earth was warming and emerging from the last ice age, a dramatic and anomalous event occurred that abruptly reversed climatic conditions back to near-glacial state. According to James Kennett, UC Santa Barbara emeritus professor in earth sciences, this climate switch fundamentally –– and remarkably –– occurred in only one year, heralding the onset of the Younger Dryas cool episode. The cause of this cooling has been much debated, especially because it closely coincided with the abrupt extinction of the majority of the large animals then inhabiting the Americas, as well as the disappearance of the prehistoric Clovis culture, known for its big game hunting. . . . Now, in one of the most comprehensive related investigations ever, the group has documented a wide distribution of microspherules widely distributed in a layer over 50 million square kilometers on four continents, including North America, including Arlington Canyon on Santa Rosa Island in the Channel Islands. This layer –– the Younger Dryas Boundary (YDB) layer –– also contains peak abundances of other exotic materials, including nanodiamonds and other unusual forms of carbon such as fullerenes, as well as melt-glass and iridium. This new evidence in support of the cosmic impact theory appeared recently in a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences.”

    Posted at 6:00 pm by Glenn Reynolds

  20. But, any burst over an ice sheet that was thousands of feet thick and then a cooling period to follow, means that, in certain parts of north America, fragments have been preserved for thousands of years in ice. They have rather recently been placed on solid earth and should be close to the surfice.

  21. I have corresponded with a working geologist regards the Uniformitarianism vs Catastrophism question from Younger Dryas Impact Debate

    He sent me this link and the following comment:

    “The banner of Catastrophism has been sullied of late as it has been pretty much been taken up by religious fanatics pin their ongoing attempts to try to shoehorn reality into their mythologies. They fail pretty laughably.”

    He provided this link with the comment that it is a good summary of the debate is here:

    Effectively, Christian Fundamentalist craziness is poisoning the minds of wider geological science to anything that looks like, sounds like, or uses the term “Catastrophism.”

    If you want the scientific geological field to pay attention to the YD hypothesis, those supporting the YD hypothesis need to define it in terms of the modern Actualism definitions of geological Uniformitarianism.

    Actualism is Uniformitarianism that allows for things like huge glacial lakes that break on a periodic basis and create huge geological changes that are by no means gradual.

    The geological term of art here is “Episodic Repeating Event”

    Given recent Chelyabinsk and the SL-9 cluster impact at Jupiter, arguing that honking powerful meteors look like an “Episodic Repeating Event” under modern Actualism definitions of geological Uniformitarianism is how you will win the argument with geologists.

    The term “Catastrophism” is contaminated with religious dogma and the term’s use closes geologists minds faster than talking how good pork tastes to a practicing Muslim.

    Drop the use of the term “Catastrophism” if you want to win the debate YD debate in less then geological time.

  22. Trent,

    Your profoundly insightful comment allows me to complete my formerly stalled cosmic impact T shirt design, the front of which will have SEM imagery of spherules that have fused together from high relative velocity, high temperature collisions. The quote for that side of the shirt is


    The other side of the shirt will now say:


    It’s just like BASE Jumping in American National Park Service land, which is supposed to be equal use under national law. A few die-hard administrators in that organization decided they don’t like BASE jumping, I guess because it frightens them. So they call it “Aerial Delivery” (by parachute) which is strictly forbidden to prevent resupply of illegal mining operations or illegal hunting on that public land, a policy as old as the park service and/or aviation itself.

    At the same time the N. P. Service have rules specifically protecting “Recurring Recreational Activity” and establishing equal use. You have to dodge the language to dodge the irrational dogma.

    Decades into that battle there is still little relief for the athletes who prefer a good pair of hiking shoes and a parachute as their tools to enjoy their form of recurring recreational activity on or above NPS land in this otherwise fine country of ours.

    Humans will always fear that which is different from their world view. They should read that Oprah magazine article about embracing vulnerability as the true path to growth and learning.

    Its ironic that as a species, a majority of humans fear change and are risk averse (i.e. religious right, gradualists, NPS etc.), while at the same time the risk takers are the ones who deliver a vast majority of progress and improvement to our culture. To fear change is to fear progress, to fear the future. But to fear the future while being alive is to fear life itself!

    Lets go with FACTS NOT FEAR!


  23. Boslough’s computer model does not handle heat very well at all.

    I like the old idea of firing a person when they are incompetent.

    Aside from that, I would very much like a bbs devoted to work on impacts, and not just the HSIE and the Carolina Bays. There is a need for a clearing house for this purpose to replace the Cambridtge Conference.

  24. TH:

    “Physical mechanics is the ultimate rule book.”

    Agreed and there is no possible scientific opposition.

    Physical mechanics (including chemical) is the forensics of science.

    It is amazing to me how many people shout at the top of their lungs, “:But where is the corpus delicti? Where is the crater? Where is the dead body?” when all the solid, properly sampled, forensics evidence is in.

    Forensics is everything, when forensics exist. Even with a crater, they would be shouting that it was not THE crater. As with the Chixculub crater, the crater forensics will also be denied, as long as possible – until there is only one skeptic left, hoarsely whispering, “But I KNOW it isn’t right…”

    One thing about skeptics: They never admit when they are trumped. They will always come back with, “But THIS isolated fact isn’t within the parameters that I think should be used!” As far as they are concerned, to hell with the preponderance of evidence – forensic or not.

  25. TH:

    “Geologically just a moment ago in time, and happens to be “coincident” with the onset of 1400 years of climate change?!? How is this possible!?!”

    This part is a game of raising the bar whenever the last point is answered and put to rest.

    In this case, it is not enough to show that the onset itself may have been brought on catastrophically. Once they cannot argue that, the argument changes to, “Yeah, but how do you explain the 1400 years with one impact? Don’t you know “nucular” winter (hahahah) can only last a handful of years?”

    Or: “Yeah, but how do you explain that OTHER O18 data in the D-O record occurred?”

    It is adding hoops for the YDB proponents to jump through. It is never enough to answer the last question, because they will always have a “Yeah, but…”

    That makes them like the Monty Python skit about the Department of Arguments – the response to every point is, “No, it isn’t.” or “No, it doesn’t.”

  26. TH:

    “the “comet shower” or “comet fragment shower” concept will take a long time to gain acceptance, simply because no one knows what the scars look like.”

    One thing that our side has to accept:

    If the vast majority of the impactites are from the target materials, then the impactor DID impact the ground – otherwise the nanodiamonds and such wouldn’t exist.

    So, like it or not, we ARE going to have to find an impact crater. Ejecta equals material removed equals crater.

    I am not even sure I agree with the airburst idea. After Tunguska (no target materials removed) and Chelyabinsk (no target materials removed), qualitatively I can’t see an airburst delivering sufficient energy to the ground to deliver materials all the way to Belgium and Syria.

    Your point on multiple fragments is correct, that this one (or more) will very likely look different from what has gone before.

    Wild speculation:

    One possible area of field research in exactly the suspected impact area may be the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” and the Boundary Waters. Minnesota (especially) and Western Ontario (especially) and on into Quebec are pockmarked with thousands upon thousands of ponds and lakes. All of these are assumed to be from the ice sheet. That conclusion was drawn long ago, based on the assumption that there was no other possible mechanism. But it might be worth a look to see if there is some evidence of impacts in ANY of them.

    Any number of the bogs around the Tunguska area were well researched in order to find ONE of them that was an impact crater. Though that failed, it was sen as an obvious step.

    We know of 20 or so major SL-9 impacting fragments upon Jupiter. But how many minor ones were there? None of even the major ones made it to the “ground” on Jupiter (by the best estimates) – but still, how many total objects impacted the Jovian atmosphere? One would think that with 20 majors, there had to be hundreds or thousands of minor ones.

    Even though I am not sold on the airburst model for other reasons, let’s consider the airburst at Chelyabinsk: How many minor fragments were there? Certainly thousands. And by that time they were barely going at “ignition” speed anymore. If an already fragmented very large incoming object hits the atmosphere and then each of the pieces airbursts, how many total fragments rain down on the surface like the remnant piece in Lake Chebarkul? If those airbursting objects were larger than Tunguska (that MUST be the assumption if the energy reaching the ground was sufficient to create the impactites found at the YDB sites), then they would likely have burst at a lower altitude, and at least the downward-directed fragments would have added velocity as they hit the surface.

    Multiples requires some different thinking.

    It might be ironic that the CBs are ruled out as impact sites but that vaguely similar multitudes of depressions might be. Where one big crater is not found, is a multiple of craters are necessary – since impactites argue 100% for material having been removed. That material came from SOMEWHERE. Spherules, no – they are from extreme fires – but most of the rest had to be ejecta.

    I’d give this idea about a 1% chance of being true (if that) but with a puzzle such as the YDB impact hypothesis that 99% chance of being wrong still needs to be ruled out, with certainty.

    End of speculation.

  27. Steve and Ed,

    Excellent input as always, thank you.

    For the record here, we as scientists should not (and must not) assume causality when we see correlation. This is true even when correlation is particularly solid and slaps us in the face, as is clearly the case now with ET impact evidence at the Younger Dryas Lower Boundary. Question, yes. Assume, no.

    And since particulate contaminations of our atmosphere seem to clear within a year or a few years tops, this is all the more reason to be cautious and AVOID assigning any DIRECT causality of the 1400 yr cold snap to the ET impact.

    It is correct to question the possible mechanisms by which an ET impact may generate long term climate change. It is correct to do the same for the YDLB ET impact in association w/ the 70% (or whatever the fraction pulled from the Geologic and Biological record) of that hemispheric cooling which took place in only ONE YEAR (!!!) after that ET impact.

    Things are finally getting interesting, so lets be cautious and go with EVIDENCE wherever and whenever we can find it.


  28. TH –

    You are conveniently leaving out the fact of First Peoples accounts of the HSIE.

    They exist, and there is no other explantion for them other than that the First Peoples watched the HSIE.

    Steve, while its a free country, I really don’t think you are qualified to spceulate on impact and climate.

  29. Trent:

    Effectively, Christian Fundamentalist craziness is poisoning the minds of wider geological science to anything that looks like, sounds like, or uses the term “Catastrophism.”

    If you want the scientific geological field to pay attention to the YD hypothesis, those supporting the YD hypothesis need to define it in terms of the modern Actualism definitions of geological Uniformitarianism.

    Actualism is Uniformitarianism that allows for things like huge glacial lakes that break on a periodic basis and create huge geological changes that are by no means gradual.

    Trent, Wikipedia amazingly has this in its opening for “Catastrophism”:

    Catastrophism is the theory that the Earth has been affected in the past by sudden, short-lived, violent events, possibly worldwide in scope. The dominant paradigm of modern geology is uniformitarianism (sometimes described as gradualism), in which slow incremental changes, such as erosion, create the Earth’s appearance. This view holds that the present is the key to the past, and that all things continue as they were from the beginning of the world. Recently a more inclusive and integrated view of geologic events has developed, changing the scientific consensus to accept some catastrophic events in the geologic past. This held that there have been violent and sudden natural catastrophes such as great floods and the rapid formation of major mountain chains. Plants and animals living in those parts of the world where such events occurred were often killed off, according to the 19th-century French scientist Georges Cuvier. Then new life forms moved in from other areas. As a result, the fossil record for a region shows abrupt changes in species. Cuvier’s explanation relied solely on scientific evidence rather than biblical interpretation.

    This assertion about the blending of Gradualism and Catastrophism is not repeated in the Wiki article on Gradualism, though. I think the paradigm attack dogs missed one there.

    Creationists do not own catastrophism. Theirs is a mind-bogglingly simplistic “God smote mine wicked and lustful enemies on my behalf, God bless Him.”

    Personally I think Gradualists in geology latch onto the anti-Creationist stuff just so they can hide in their ivory towers of Gradualism and hope that the religious folks would just go do their Rapture thing and get the heck out of Dodge.

    It is the destiny of simple minds – especially willfully simple minds (as in “Don’t confuse me with the facts”) – to latch onto some ONE simple principle and declare that that principle answers everything. And no one simple principle is as simple as “God did it.” Just like Uniformitarians claim that sufficient TIME can explain everything that ever happened on Earth, Creationists substitute God for time and abdicate responsibility for their own lives.

    – – – –
    Part of that, IMHO, is that mankind, individually and collectively, wants an answer they can deal with NOW in their brains; they do not want to wait for the development of science over a hundred years or more. We area, at ALL times, at some point on the continuum of scientific understanding. That continuum extends from the first glimmer of fire in a cave, on to some point far into our future. We are, IMHO, about 5% of the way along that continuum – but we for some reason want to think that we are near the end of the continuum. I simply do not understand that. There is so much more to learn out in the future, and what we as a civilization know now is not a drop in a bucket compared to what will be known in, say, 10,000 years. (If we don’t get whacked by a comet as big as those in SL-9’s train.) If there is ONE thing that is gradual, it is solid scientific understanding.

    But no one wants to wait for 10,000 years to know what the natural world is about. So even the scientists hope to see the results NOW. So they fool themselves into thinking that everyone in the past was a bunch of people who couldn’t put three facts together without mixing in some assumptions, but NOW we are all above that. NOW we are so much wiser. I call it the Hubris of Modernity – each generation believe it has just about found the Last Scientific Fact. (Not like those fools in the last century…)

    Creationbists and Scientists alike, all have been looking for that simple understanding of everything. But none of it is simple. It is a complex universe, and its component processes are also complex and complicated. Believing that ONE principle – God or Gradualism or DNA or ONE impact at ONE point in time – is the answer to all of it is wishful thinking.

    Yeah, God, if anything, is a case of wishful thinking – people wishing that some entity will take responsibility for everything, to fix everything, to explain everything, to fight every battle, and to score every touchdown. And in the process of wishing for that, people will wish away their own ability to think for themselves. When in doubt, credit or blame God. It makes life so simple. And who are we to step in and tell them their simple assumptions are wishful thinking? But we aren’t the only ones doing that – the universe itself keeps forcing us to face the fact that reality is not simple.

    – – – –
    I was just reading about the many reasons (referenced in journal papers) such a simple and almost universally accepted idea as continental drift is very, very far from simple. http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_14_3_pratt.pdf – entitled “Plate Tectonics: A Paradigm Under Threat”

    It is in the anomalous evidence – the stuff that doesn’t fit – by which scientific understanding really moves forward. And anomalies are the stuff of complications. Gradualism itself has been dealing with anomalies ever since it got started. The ether was proposed then shot down. Rocks fell out of the sky even DURING the lifetime of Charles Lyell, Uniformitarianism’s founding father. Quantum physics shot down Newton’s. Gradualism had to be modified (as the Wikipedia article quoted above asserts).

    It isn’t Creationism that the Gradualists are afraid of. Science has already adapted to catastrophic events. Read up on Stephen J Gould sometime, and his Punctuated Equilibrium. They don’t need Actualism, although they can call it “green snowballs from on high” if they want to.

    No, they aren’t afraid of Creationists. They are much more afraid of Catastrophists within geology – because they would then find out that much of their careers were wasted. And then they would have to start over (mentally at least) at the beginning. Impacts scare the hell out of them,because if impacts affected the geological history, then all their time lines will have to be revisited – a LOT of work, just when they thought it was almost all over and done with and all they had to do was fill in the gaps…

  30. George – IO screwed up on the formatting. If you could go in at

    “It is the destiny of simple minds – especially willfully simple minds (as in “Don’t confuse me with the facts”) – ”

    and close the italics after the word “willfully” I’d appreciate it!


  31. Trent –

    About one line in that Catastrophism article on Wiki:

    “Recently a more inclusive and integrated view of geologic events has developed, changing the scientific consensus to accept some catastrophic events in the geologic past. This held that there have been violent and sudden natural catastrophes such as great floods and the rapid formation of major mountain chains.”

    I always thought that Catastrophism ALWAYS accepted that things are normally more or less “static”, and that catastrophes are the exception, not the rule. What else COULD they think? Even if impacts occur every so many thousand years, science still has to deal with what is ongoing in between those catastrophes.

    Both sides are required. One to deal with normal reality. And one to address the probability that catastrophes can happen and what to do about them – how to foresee them and how to forestall them.

  32. Steve Garcia said —

    Creationists do not own catastrophism.

    The issue is that the gate holding academic geologists have made catastrophism an anathema of their profession.

    If you want to win the YD debate in less then geological time spans, drop the term “Catastrophism.”

    Catastrophism closes the minds of academically credentialed geologists. Period. DOT!

    Don’t use the term.

    Actualism gives you the camel’s nose in the tent with “Episodic Repeating Event.”

    Get the rest of the YD impact camel into the professional geology tent and it will knock down Gradualism as the unquestioned touchstone of geology of its own accord.

    The idea here is to get the YD Impact hypothesis into mainstream science for a fair hearing on the evidence, not to remake science.

    “Episodic Repeating Event” will get you there.

  33. IMO, the key thing with the YD Impact Hypothesis is not breaking the academic world, but rather to get working geologists in the field to use the YD impact hypothesis for profit.

    If Dennis Cox’s idea of satellite image identified pyroclastic flows without either volcanic cone or vent associated with them leads to some sort of rich mineral deposit. Private sector field geologists will use it and the academic world be damned.

    The same goes if something like the Carolina bays leads geological wealth or finding iridium is associated with the “Black mat.”

    Field geologist profit is game over for the academic geologists.

  34. Trent:

    —“If you want to win the YD debate in less then geological time spans, drop the term “Catastrophism.” —

    Trent, the terms being used are “impact”, “impact event”, “comet”, “impactor”. No one in any of the papers are using the term “catastrophism.” So there shouldn’t be an issue on that front. If the conservative elements insist that those terms are too close to “catastrophism” two things: They need to lay out what are acceptable to them, and they need to catch up with biology, where punctuated equilibrium has been around since the ’80s, at least. How slow ARE these boys, anyway?

    Are they still fighting the early 1800s battle with the Church? If so, they need to grow up.

    And if they haven’t closed the door on Creationists yet, they have nobody to blame but themselves. By not closing that door, they have taken a “WON” game and given the losers the idea that they can still win this game. Shame on them.

    I mean, 170 years, come on, guys!

  35. “Actualism” is a bullshit term, meaning NOTHING. If that is the term they accept, they are stroking themselves.

  36. But other than that, Trent, you make good points.

    It WAS a field geologist who – not for profit for himself, though – found the Chixculub crater.

  37. What I’ve noted as a general principle is that the less data oriented people are, the more they spout about theory. Trent, you got it right on, but the most commonly used term is punctuated equilibria.

    Trent, what it is going to take to close the HSIE “debate” (in other words what it will take to shut up the “sceptics”) is documenting one of the larger craters from it.

    If anyone is expecting me to speed this along I need more secure communications along with some other resources.

    The USGS is also finally available again, as there appears to be a replacement for Gene Shoemaker now.

    IN the news today, the efforts of the university press offices appears to be bearing fruit, but way MORE IS NEEDED along these lines.

    The personal interest story on the Chobot site is playing well, and I expect it to do well in the future with the archaeological community.

  38. SG
    Careful on the language as I want my young kids to read this at some point, even if I have to pay them to at first! And although they are acedemically interested, I also think they will make excellent field investigators as well. No sense in pigeon hole-ing them without cause so let’s not let bias beget bias….

    How slow ARE these (academic Geologists) boys, anyway?
    They are extremely Gradual.

    EPG –
    “If anyone is expecting me to speed this along I need more secure communications along with some other resources.”

    Please reach me securely at [email protected]

    No one else reads that email but me. I’m not sure what resources I can contribute other than documenting the field efforts, but I am already preparing to do that on a professional level through my company, which may or may not be of help to yourself at some point.

    I have invented, Patented and am finally starting to market an emerging technology for hand held camera which allows for a new and unique, modern style of imagery which reaches the viewer at a more intuitive level. It has a profound tendency to reach the emotions of the viewer without them realizing it while it happens. Perfect for telling this story about human history!

  39. TH: “I’m not sure what resources I can contribute other than documenting the field efforts, but I am already preparing to do that on a professional level through my company, which may or may not be of help to yourself at some point.”

    What exactly do you mean by “documenting the field efforts”?

  40. Steve,

    Repeat after me —

    “impact” = “Episodic Repeating Event”

    “impact event” = “Episodic Repeating Event”

    “comet” = “Episodic Repeating Event”

    “impactor”= “Episodic Repeating Event”

    Repeat it over and over again until their academic “religion under every bed sheet” heads explode from the repetition.

    Make them engage in their field of reference rather than the auto-reject knee jerk.

    That is how you win.

  41. I was struck by the strata cross section photos in the Supporting Material of the paper. There are no less than 9 photos on and between pages 4 – 17 show significant changes in color of soils / rock above and below the YDB layer. Cheers –

  42. agimarc and George –

    Yeah, that is quite clear. It strongly suggests a change in climate. In at least some of those, the over layer appears to be one thick layer, without sediment layers. That sometimes means the layer was laid down all at once, like some loess fields and ash deposits – or the CBs with their quartz sand. Tsunami deposits, from what I know, are also sometimes deposited like that, though sometimes they might show a real mixing.

    Ed, I will continue to comment on climate, regardless of your opinion of me. There are some things that I know about.

    George, would you happen to know if that layer has ever been dated at/near both the top and bottom? I know, the focus has been on the black mat – but maybe. I have a reason for asking.

  43. Trent –

    Episodic MEANS repeating. It can’t be episodic if it doesn’t repeat. And if it repeats, it IS episodic. Their phrase is sloppy. Its words’ meanings are redundant.

    I agree with Ed. Punctuated equilibrium. The phrase already exists and is used widely. Not only THAT, but it also has an internal meaning that is clear: Things are static for some time, and then something happens to put a punctuation – a change/pause/redirection – in the static. And the way it is used in paleontology, the “some time” is a long time.

    There is no need for them to invent a new term, especially one that is redundant within itself.

  44. Trent –

    Them being AFRAID of the word “catastrophe” means that the Creationists have won that battle. Due to cowardice. Pretty pathetic. They FEAR the religious folks? Wow.

    It is especially pathetic since “catastrophe theory” exists in math – AND it actually applies in the same way in geology and astronomy, IMHO.

    It is funny that you should bring it up to me, because of two reasons:

    1. I don’t have anyone’s ear (not that I know of, anyway!), so I could say it till I am blue in the face, and there wouldn’t be any knee jerk reactions.

    2. I have not even used the term, except in discussing the historical time when catastrophism was part of the discussion in geology (prior to about 1850). I don’t use the term for after that. (If I slipped, I sure don’t remember doing it.)

    I always have thought of that time period as the time when science WON that battle with religion and put You-Know-Who’s flood to rest. . . LOL

  45. Steve G,

    This isn’t a matter of fear. It is a matter of knee jerk identity issue at work by the “gate keepers of knowledge.”

    Go back to the geology link I posted.

    The term “Eposodic Repeating Event” is thier professional academic term under the latest “Actualism” incarnation of geological gradualism, not one I made up.

    Their phobias are what they are. Don’t confront them. Don’t engage them. Don’t mention them.

    Just use them as a lever to win the arguement.

  46. SG- from May 27

    “I am not even sure I agree with the airburst idea. After Tunguska (no target materials removed) and Chelyabinsk (no target materials removed), qualitatively I can’t see an airburst delivering sufficient energy to the ground to deliver materials all the way to Belgium and Syria.”

    Steve G,

    Remember a few things about the evidence. Mainly that the different continents where these spherules are found (so far) at the YDLB strata show different families of minerals. The simple implication is that different strikes happened in multiple different continents. There is no need for stuff from North America to have been blasted to Syria as some form of ejecta. Each ejecta group seems to be more localized than that.

    Next, lets imagine the explosive fragmentation process of the atmospheric fireball. Uninterested parties may stop reading here. Those who want their kids to survive may want to keep reading.

    The bolide comes apart in a geometrically increasing fashion. This process starts when the thing is going 10s of times the speed of sound, Mach 20 or 30 easily. Each piece then has its own surface area to burn from the frictional heating.

    We are going to assume a sphere for simplicity. For a given volume, the MINIMUM possible surface area is a sphere. If you divide the same given volume into more than one sphere, the surface area increases. If you keep dividing into more spheres, the surface area keeps getting larger….

    The farther along in the explosive fragmentation process you go, the more the original astronomical velocity (i.e. the kinetic energy) has been converted into heat. But because the fragmentation process is assumed to be generally geometrically increasing, the remaining sum of KE in the combined group of fragments is released at an increasing rate during the fragmentation process. This is true for as long as those fragments are still substantially above Mach 1. The increasing KE release rate is because the surface increases with the number of pieces, and the burn rate depends on exposed surface area.

    Now lets further consider the fragmentation process itself in more detail.

    If smaller fragments come off of the surface or near the surface of the bolide, then the remaining mass of the bolide still has a higher ballistic coefficient then the departing fragments. Conversely, if the bolide splits in half and each piece splits in half, etc., then the ballistic coefficients of all of the pieces remain relatively equivalent. Again, this assumes all fragments the same shape in our simplified model of spherical stuff. It is roughly true for a first order approximation.

    The result of the fragmentation process may be seen in the duration of the really bright and expanding portion of the streaking object, the terminal fireball. If the bright part of the streak is drawn out over a long distance, it means slower fragmentation. One big bright fireball would imply more rapid disintegration with all pieces reaching smaller size quickly.

    I’m just talking generalities now, since I’ve never actually simulated this in a lab! I’ve been meaning to, but I’m having trouble lining up the lab time.

    Toward the end of the fragmentation process when the pieces are getting smaller, their ballistic coefficient is reduced due to overall mass vs. surface area being reduced at each step of the fragmentation process. Smaller fragments means greater deceleration and more rapid heat release rate as they get smaller, as long as they are still hypersonic or supersonic and meeting with great impedance from the atmosphere.

    Realize that if an airburst generates a descending fireball or “thermal momentum current”, or whatever we want to call the fireball as it still has some of the astronomical forward momentum of the bolide (still supersonic at least), its going to do lots of scarring to any surface that interrupts its passage.

    This proposed surface could be the rocky or muddy ground, an ice sheet, a snow covered mountain, a shallow lake, a very unfortunate flock of geese, a herd of North American camel, a forest, etc. The contacting phase of the fireball-in-progress, however, is not at all necessarily like the entire bolide hitting that surface in one piece. The difference is due to some of the bolide’s original KE being partially reduced from lost velocity, and also due to that KE being spread over a larger or much larger (!) cross section than the single bolide.

    So the scars would not necessarily be in the form of craters at all. The process would still be very effective at damaging the surface or the geese, but the final imprint would likely be completely different, depending on how far through the fragmentation process things get before being interrupted by the surface. A shock wave and a hypersonic blast furnace at 5000K is definitely going to burn some potatoes. And the burn may be over a substantially wide area, but with no deep crater left as a result.

    Dr Boslough himself points this out on the Sandia Labs web page describing some of his own work at:


    where Dr. Boslough has attempted to characterize a possible scenario of cosmic impact as the formative cause of the Lybian Desert Glass (LDG) using this fragmentary detonation model. As I understand it, this LDG event is believed to be ~30 Myrs old or so, and no known crater exists (?), although one certainly could have been eroded or possibly even subducted over that time frame. More likely , this vertical approach may also be the best way to melt and scatter the maximum amount of surface material (sand) over the area where LDG is known to exist…

    Wait, were there really deserts in that part of the world back then?

    Very interesting that Dr. Boslough has determined the required parameters to arrive at this causal explanation of LDG formation, as well as for a reasonable Tunguska explanation, and most recently even for the Chelyabinsk event (!), all while denying the possibility that this could have been the mechanism at work in the Younger Dryas Lower Boundary. This is, no doubt, one reason why he is so out of favor on this forum. Serves him right.

    The amplitude of shock delivered to the surface and especially to the subsurface by a fragmenting fireball will be far less than with a bolide strike in which the bolide stays together until surface contact. Many orders of magnitude less, if I’m not mistaken. This is because of the two factors I mention above, being somewhat reduced velocity and substantially increased presented surface area. So peak force per area applied to the surface would be much lower.

    1) the energy of a given bolide which has commenced fragmentary detonation will be spread out over hundreds or even hundreds of thousands of times the cross section of the original bolide, and

    2) the velocity at contact will be less than the original incoming V of the bolide.

    Its pretty easy to imagine an entire range of cases, anywhere from a conventional crater all the way to simple forest fells (like Tunguska) as a result of these fragmenting fireball events, as they happen either just above the surface on up to somewhere substantially above the surface. Even no surface scar… (i.e. Chelyabinsk).

    I feel like I should capitalize Bolide since it is the angry God in this case. At the very least it is a fallen angle…. Sorry to blaspheme again.

    Another graphic of interest at that Sandia Lab web site is my personal favorite, the surface contacting fragmentary detonation fireball, depicted in “Movie 3”


    with caption:
    “3D simulation of a 15 megaton explosion that is initiated 18 km above the surface, for an asteroid entering at an angle of 35 degrees above the horizontal. Box dimensions are 40 km wide, 20 km high. Colors indicate speed. The hot fireball decends to the surface and slides downrange at high velocities, subjecting the landscape to blast-furnace conditions.” (spelling of the word conditions corrected after cut/paste)

    You can read this as “Hell on Earth”.

    At the very least, it represents serious real estate devaluation, a large helping of scorched Earth with attitude, not to mention being very problematic for surface dwelling herbivores and their megafaunal and predating brethren in that neck of the woods.

    Its even worse than living with a looooong commute, way worse, when Hell comes to Earth and remains attached for just a few, supersonic-blast-furnace moments, as that “Movie 3” DR. BOSLOUGH SIMULATION SHOWS.

    Now I would like to place a bet. I bet the Movie3 graphic disappears off of the Sandia web site very soon, now that our friendly forum host and his most excellent associates have uncovered very strong evidence of this exact scenario having happened very recently in our history. In Human history. I would not be surprised if the entire web page at


    goes away soon, before it attracts any more attention than it already has. I’m guessing Ed G may want to get in on these odds, based on the resistance he sees on the part of our trusty government regarding this issue.

    Anyone else want in on this bet?

    Its MOVIE 3. Catch is while its still showing on your local browser….


  47. TH –

    Based on my reading of the way meteors lose material, I don’t agree with your long explanation.

    Here is what I read about it, in papers (I said this before):

    The material is lost because the body compresses the air in front of it, heating that air up – a LOT. The heated air, in turn, melts ONLY the FRONT surface of the body. The melted material basically becomes droplets. The droplets, due to the air pressure and turbulence, slough off the face of the body (called ‘ablation’) and then are vaporized and give off visible light. The vaporized material is then swept back, making the (mostly) visible trail.

    The loss of materials does not come from fragmentation but in melting, sloughing off, and vaporization.

    The inside body of the body is not affected so much by the rise in temperature. The heat is not conducted into the body fast enough. Before the heat energy flows in far, the outer material is removed by melting.

    All this is spelled out here (from Wsahington U in St Louis – http://meteorites.wustl.edu/id/fusioncrust.htm)”

    Stony Meteorites

    Meteoroids enter the atmosphere at speeds of many miles per second. At those tremendous speeds, the air in the path of the meteorite is severely compressed. When air is compressed rapidly, its temperature increases (like air in a bicycle tire pump). This hot air causes the exterior of stony meteoroids to melt. The melted portion is so hot and fluid that it immediately ablates (sloughs off) and new material is melted underneath. A meteoroid can lose most of its mass as it passes through the atmosphere. When it slows down to the point where no melting occurs, the last melt to form cools to make a thin, glassy coating called a fusion crust. On stony meteorites, fusion crusts are seldom more than 1 or 2 mm thick. Except for some lunar meteorites (less that [sic] 1 in 1000 of all meteorites), fusion crusts are not distinctly vesicular – there are no bubbles. Some fusion crusts will show flow features; others may cover regmaglypts.

    I think it is VERY significant that the heat does not penetrate the object very far. This flies in the face of ideas I’ve heard (and that I had, too) that somehow the object heats up and tears itself apart due to internal stresses. Perhaps with friable objects this DOES happen, but apparently it is not the main means of material removal.

    The Chelyabinsk body flared (which everyone called an explosion). I could be wrong, but from this description, I understand that because of the tremendous air pressure, when cracks or voids are exposed to a certain extent, the body then breaks up NOT FROM INTERNAL HEATING but from mechanical failure, and this exposes much more VISIBLE area to the heat of the compressed air. This increased VISIBLE area being melted is what is seen as the flare up.

    So, the idea of the body breaking into multiple solid pieces in the atmosphere does not agree with what I have read. Yes, I guess it could happen, if it has severe structural problems. But normally, according to what I find, the body melts, ablates and vaporizes its mass away – until its structure is too weak to hold together.

  48. Steve,

    The ablation you reference is during the transient passage, which is BEFORE fragmentation and resulting terminal fireball. This is the passing streak before the super bright fireball flash. Front side only implies no or very slow rotation, which is doubtful in such a highly dynamic process and a typically non-uniform (read non spherical, non homogeneous) object as a bolide. Its true the “windward” side (as opposed to “leeward”) is where the heating occurs. How long one side stays in front is the question.

    A common misconception when considering the bolide is the image coming from strictly controlled ablation research. WIth a bolide, especially a smaller one, there is typically no “front” side for more than a very brief moment. Smaller objects with little angular inertia react faster to applied torque, and so may rotate very easily as the result of uneven or dynamically applied torque.

    My opinion is that unsteady torques play a greater role in bolide breakup than the linear forces from deceleration. I believe this because bolides are typically very irregular, especially as you come down to the smaller end of the size scale (i.e. sub-kilometer diameter). I believe this because the linear pressure is applied on average over the entire cross section of the object, vs. torques which essentially pit the angular inertia and mass of the bolide against itself in terms of internal mechanical stresses.

    Naturally every case is different. Composition of the bolide may also be relatively consistent or wildly varying. The bolide will weather vane if one “side” is notably higher density, but this only increases internal stresses between the different density portions.

    The Chelyabinsk body flared in what is termed fragmentary detonation, which is an exponentially increasing rapid burn. It is a form of explosion at that rapid rate of burning. By definition. Fragmentary detonation results in the terminal fireball. Often in the streak of a recorded meteor passage, there will be portions that break off and flare brightly as they slow down faster than the parent or remaining transiting body, their KE being converted to heat faster than the parent. The parent may not be bigger. It is typically stronger or more dense.

    The ablation part seems accurate – departing surface material largely carries away the heat during the rapid melt and vaporization of the exposed outer layer. As the bolide’s hypersonic penetration gets deeper into the atmosphere, the pressure increases exponentially. This is because the atmospheric density increases exponentially coming toward the surface.

    Because the bolide is typically irregular in both shape and material constitution, and because the process happens extremely rapidly and is extremely unsteady, the dynamic stresses induced in the structure of the object often fracture it. This is especially true in the weaker objects, the ones that are friable. The friable objects are the class we are talking about. At the very least, it is any object with a friable component.

    As you say, the key is structural strength. The applied force, being highly dynamic, will generate not just harmonic vibration within the object, but also shock waves within it. A shock wave is a step-wise discontinuous wave, which generates much greater peak stresses in it medium of propagation than a harmonic wave (i.e. sound wave). So a stronger stony object or a metallic object is more likely to reach the surface instead of fragmenting during atmospheric descent.

    Here is a critical point to consider – continuity of strength/stiffness and density extremely important, since both sonic (harmonic) and shock waves reflect off of discontinuities in impedance within the medium in which they propagate. Basic wave mechanics. So irregularities of composition will make the internal stress waves bounce around more, causing more crossings of different waves, and more additive peaks of stress as a result.

    I’m just going on what I know from basic solid and fluid mechanics, and what I studied in aerospace from manned vehicles and re-entry (warhead) vehicles. The ablation process has been studied in hypersonic tests of spacecraft heat shields, which is where that basic process of heat transfer away from the object was determined. These tests were typically in a very controlled environment, with no rotation, and smooth surface of uniform constitution.

    The fireball class of objects we are considering are the friable objects. It doesn’t take much to break them up. They still have plenty of KE since that quantity varies with the square of velocity.


  49. PS The ones we are talking about are the friable ones, not the stony ones referred to and written about in your linked article.

    Unfortunately the friable ones often don’t reach the ground at all. Fortunately most known bolides have a nonuniform and sometimes very complex mechanical constitution. If a bolide is made up of a weak matrix such as ice, and contains bits and pieces of stronger stuff (i.e. rock or metal), then the friable portion may expel the stronger bits in the process of the fragmentary detonation. I believe this was the case in Chelyabinsk, luckily for the residents underneath that event.

    A friable object may have density far below that of water, whereas stony or metallic objects may have densities several times that of water. Again, most bolides are nonuniform so its anyone’s guess. As a VERY general first order approximation, strength may be considered to vary linearly with density.


  50. TH –

    Mostly common ground it seems. With engineering type logic and sufficient gathering of information, we should, indeed, converge on almost everything.

    Friable bodies are the ones that are the least likely to get to low altitude, and therefore friables are the ones least likely to worry me. They will put on a good show, but only a benign show. Unless the buggers are huge.

    Yes, vibrations will stress the body in very complex ways.

    As to rotation in flight, yes, but they will tend – like falling objects at subsonic speeds – toward one orientation, a blend determined by density distribution and flow characteristics around the mostly irregular body. BTW, the crust info does say that the sharp edges get rounded off PDQ, and that makes sense to me.

    Your last sentence is correct from what I’ve read: They use determined density as a proxy for friability. That makes sense in two ways – either the object has a lot of voids/water, or it is made up of less dense (and thus normally weaker) materials.

    Yes, explosion is actually defined somewhere as a very rapid expansion. Vaporization technically comes under that heading, so even the continuing ablation along the trail can be said to consist of a lot of small explosions. On the other hand, the idea of an object itself exploding due to atmospheric entry and its stresses is to me objectionable. As I asked months ago, “What is it in an airburst that is actually exploding and why?” I am satisfied that it is mostly about ablation/vaporization, with disintegration occurring as certain stresses exceed internal cohesion.

    But all that is very encouraging to me. It says that objects that are small or have imperfections are no danger to civilization overall. Put me into the “Acceptable Losses” category right now. As long as the great majority of people survive and civilization goes on (even if stumblingly), any deflection scheme has done its job. No one can expect a plan to save 100% of everyone. It would be nice, but not completely required. My guess is that the powers that be would be satisfied at that level of success.

    I am a fan of overkill on the diversion front. Diverting leaves the object out there – on an orbit that WILL return. It has been proven that a very close passage of a major body will mean the next orbits will also be very close; i.e., they will return. I am pretty sure that workl was done on bodies IN the ecliptic, though its been at least 20 years since I read that. at this point I am not in favor of deflection, unless the deflection is way UP and out of the ecliptic (>10° or better), so that its orbital frequency will likely bring it across Earth’s orbit at the wrong time – when the Earth is elsewhere. After Chelyabinsk, I am strongly leaning toward obliteration. Think cops and raids with way more cops than robbers – overwhelming force. If we can blow the suckers to smithereens, yes, there will be many m ore impactors, but if they are <Tunguska I can live with that. Basically, my position starts from me thinking that all their deflection schemes are WAY inadequate – trying to deflect bowling balls with darts.

  51. …Back to the paper, I see that the strength of this paper is on carbon spherules, and it had to be. That is the area the Daulton Gang was picking on. But I think this paper puts all that to rest – IN SPADES – so the work ahead for the researchers would seem to be on the other impact evidence, to amplify and strengthen all of that. I will look forward to all of that.

    This paper seems so thorough that there isn’t much to say about it other than to praise them for tackling the nay-sayers’ points, rebutting them, and demolishing them – and rubbing their noses in insect poop in the process. If this were tennis, this would be a 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 victory.

    I am giggling at what angst and panic this must be fomenting on the other side. I hope it will be chaos on their side, but I also imagine they are looking to find wedge issues, if they can. What they REALLY need to do is some original field and lab work, instead of Op-Ed pieces that just kibitz. But if they do that, what they will find is corroboration rather than rebuttal evidence.

    I do go back to the forensic point. Forensics is the meat and potatoes of science, as it is of courtrooms. Forensics wins. Right now the forensics is on the side of a YDB impactor. Even with Chicxulub, finding what looked like a crater did not put the issue to rest. Only when the forensics tied the crater to that time period was the issue settled. So, in the end, the forensics (which means the physics and chemistry of it) comes down on the side of the YDB impactor.

    If this was NBA basketball circa 1960, Celtics coach Red Auerbach would be getting his trademark cigar out and getting ready to light it.

    And if it was 1992, when the Chicago Bulls finally defeated the Detroit Pistons to get to the finals (in which they obliterated the Lakers in 5), and if the other team (Daulton Gang, are you listening?) in a snit got up and left the bench before the end of the game (making them the sore losers of all time) — It doesn’t make any difference to the outcome of the battle, boys, because YOU LOST.

  52. TH –

    One of the most telling things to me about the fusion crust stuff to me was how LITTLE it penetrated.

    That ties in with my R&D work with heat and insulation. With only 10-20 seconds for the eat to penetrate the poor conductor stony material, the heat gradient is very steep, and the heat is focused AT the surface, for all intents and purposes. That is the way the shuttle tiles work, too, from what I learned about them. The tiles are sacrificial materials in addition to being great insulators. For those who don’t know, it is heat FLOW that burns, not temperature. A space shuttle tile, even when red hot, can be held in one’s hand. I’ve done something on a lesser scale – held a 500° insulator in my hand, without feeling the least bit uncomfortable.

    The basic thing that the fusion crust shows is that the inside of the body is very little affected by the heat on the surface. So, if the body is going to be disintegrated it is going to have to come from non-heat stresses – vibrations and cracks and inhomogenieties.

    That is one of the good thing about nuking a body (if they don’t screw it up) – the shock should create a LOT of cracks, even where they don’t break the body apart. If I am correct then, even if there are a lot of fragments, the level of danger from the fragments is significantly lower.

  53. Program note: Has anyone ever determined conclusively that you all’s wonderful comments are, or are not, “web searchable material”? My hard posts pop right up in a search, your’s do not seem to as far as I have been able to tell. That is an intolerable shame. Not sure if that is the way search works with respect to blogging, a technical failure on CT’s part, or some other shortcoming of the system. But I hate to see all this great content not available to seekers — and need to fix it if that is the case.

    Any thoughts or observations appreciated.


  54. Hi TH –

    Usually, “fireball” includes both the ablation phase and the bolide phase. At least that is pretty much the way that people who search for spalls and strewn fields for a living talk about larger meteoroid entries.

    PS – A “meteoroid impact” occurs whenever there are people in the immediate area left alive afterwards to collect the ensuing “meteorites”.

  55. Steve –

    Once again, if people are unaware of this rebuttal, then it does not count.

    And coverage is still weak at best, as near as I can find out by doing google news searches.

    PS- If you read the Smithsonian piece, you will find Boslough spewing about asteroids again.

  56. George –

    I frequent several blogs, and it seems pretty normal to me that comments do not seem to show up on searches. At the same time, when I do searches, ONCE in a while some comment on some blogs show up. I don’t know what makes those show up.

    Let’s run a little test…

    Let’s invent a word and see if it shows up on a Google search.

    Xambag is the word.

  57. Hello,
    The idea that celestial objects can be funny holed into specific types that never interimingle. The deep impact project clearly showed that comets are not just homogeneous balls of ice and dust.
    Napiers super comet could have comprised vast array of materials, gravity has a way of collecting stuff together.
    Could not , upon it’s breakup, the comet have produced bodies of many types, pure balls of ice, balls of ice with stony cores or
    rocky objects.
    In the case of an icy object with a stony core, could not the possibility exist that the core of such an object penetrate deeper into the atmosphere before breaking up?

  58. Steve G. — thanks so much! Did not work but nice test to compliment my others. Also very happy to hear this is a common feature, or lack thereof, of blog comments. Do you know of a way to make them “indexed”? Not to game the system of course, but rather to exploit the existing content — from someone other than me.

    What a shame if not, surely it can’t be.



  59. Speaking about search engines, a search on Google news of “comet mammoth” now produced 1,105 articles, of which 15 were linked to by Google.

    The first was a re-hash of Boslough et al’s February paper, with a sentence on the new paper added to the end. The Third linked to the Chobot story, with Boslough’s ignorant quotes added.

    IN other news, NASA’s current mission to lasso a small asteroid, move it near-by, and visit it by 2021 is under fierce attack by the usual group of manned Mars flight enthusiasts.

  60. George –

    More progress…

    There used to be a comments search engine named BackStop, but Twitter bought them and then shut it down. !#%#@

    But it turns out that WordPress has one at http://en.search.wordpress.com/ You need to select the radio button for “Comments”.

    1. It evidently searches all WordPress blogs, but nowhere else
    2. It doesn’t work perfectly. I did a search for “YDB,” and it SAID it found 16 hits (ONLY!), but actually only displayed 7. Some of the hits were on CT. We probably have several hundred “YDB”s just here.
    3. It doesn’t seem to be able to handle Boolean

    1. CT is on WordPress.
    2. I can’t think of a second one.

    Pretty lame.

    On a scale of 1 to 100, I’d give it a 00.04 based on 10 or 12 searches so far.

  61. Hi Cevin –

    Generally, from what can be made out now, it looks like comets form by accetion and gravitational differentiation.

    What it looks like may happen is that there are different parts of comets, depending on how much accreted and when. Over billions of years the heavier elements will move to their centers.

    If they are fractured after that, the resulting fragments will have greatly different compositions.

  62. Re: Thomas Harris May 30:

    You mentioned the Libyan glass of 30 MY +/- ago. At the risk of opening old sores, I would like to point out that something major happened around 35 MY ago. Multiple large impacts – Chesapeake Bay, offshore NJ, Russia, Iowa, Australia, to name a few. Multiple supervolcanic eruptions from calderas in Colorado. A minor extinction event. Global temps cooling down significantly.

    It occurs to me that something very large happened 35 MY +/- ago. And once we nail down what happened at the YD and afterwards, that event ought to be next on the Hit Parade as it appears to be led by impact events. Cheers –

  63. Hi agimarc –

    The imediate research goal is documenting one of the larger craters from the HSIE.

    I’ll have to disagree with you on the resarch goals. People need to realize that theese things have hit recently, and something 35 million years old will not do that.

    The research focus after documenting one of the HSIE craters should be documenting one of the recent impact mega-tsunamis.

    The Great Atlantic Impact Mega-Tsunami would fill that role very well: Recent, fatal, large enough to be “easy” to document, and affecting politically significant areas.

    Aside from that, oil companies are already working through the 35 million year old astro-blemes.

  64. Ed and all –

    Should we here be suggesting possible locations of the YDB and the Atlantic Mega-Tsunami? I mean, all we have is Google Earth, but it might be enough for starters. And it might give us something tangible to contribute, at least a list of locations that are possibles.

    With amateur meteor hunters helping sometimes to find some impacts on land, it seems an effort on the oceans might not be a bad idea. Some reasons not to:

    1. Maybe nobody will listen, so why go to the effort?

    2. We have no means to verify anything we find as being anything more than an anomaly on GE.

    3. We don’t have anyone to organize it

    4. We may not have enough to do a decent job of it

    It all comes down to #1 above – if no one is receptive to the information, there is no point.

    Ed, you seem to be the best placed and best informed. is there anyone at ALL at NASA or the Impact Database who would be interested?

    It seems that in American archaeology that there is almost zero respect given to amateurs and their finds, as opposed to Europe where amateur finds are quickly turned over to academics and sites are quickly protected. If American geologists are the same way, any effort by us would likely be ignored.

  65. Hi Steve –

    Thanks for understanding that I am ONE OF the best placed and best informed people working in this field.

    If it were not for my stroke damage, lack of money, and other obstacles, one of the HSIE craters would already have been documented.

    HSIE crater documentation is very important in firming up impact hazard estimates, which in turn has an effect on setting priorities for hte national space program.

    As you point out, you can not identify a HSIE crater, or even likely candidates, using Google Earth alone. That goes for other astroblemes from the HSIE as well.

    Given the market value of Pleistocene human artifacts, I have to be very careful as to what I post publicly.

    My main need right now is for an improved communication system with far far better security, and there are people here who know that.

    My car has also one of the fritz again, and I need one for field work.

    Aside from other immediate research, another priority for me is an improved iBook second edition of “Man and Impact in the Americas”.

    NASA paid for 2 field expeditions to Ilturalde. I do not know who all worked on those or what happened to the results. The HSIE impactite layer was recovered at the Taima Taima site.

    I have met a large number of the “amateur” field collectors of artifacts in the eastern United States, just as I have met a large number of the “amateur” meteorite collectors, along with many professionals.

    For a long time I have mused about my efforts in this field in terms of my own Kickstarter campaign, now entering its 16th year. Throwing pebbles into the stream of conciousness, so to speak.

    Aside from that, impact solves a number of the “mysteries” of history.

    In any case, the HSIE team of archaeologists and other people working on other impact need a better
    PR effort. Everyone working in the field needs a trusted clearing hosue for impact research as well.

    From my point of view, the current paper needs to be promoted by the University PR officers with local color stories.

  66. Ed: “Thanks for understanding that I am ONE OF the best placed and best informed people working in this field.”

    Ed, that was never in doubt. That is why I went to you for answers.

  67. A Yahoo news search is working no bettter than the Google news search. I suspect that somebody paid for search enginr opimization on “Boslouogh” and “mammoth” and “extinction”.

    If any of you care to contribute, a search engine optimization for “Kennett” and “mammoth” and “extinction” would be useful.

  68. A Bing news search works no better.

    I invite you to repeat the experiments.

    George, my guess is that if anyone happens to find the Cosmic Tusk, it is most likely either by accident or because they already know about it.

  69. The focus of this terrifically solid paper is carbon spherules. The question occurs to me to ask if work is also being done on other of the impact markers. I don’t ask out of a lack of respect, because I think if they take a little break, they earned it.

    The authors have marginalized the Daulton Gang with this paper, but they can bury them with the rest of the marker evidence.

    I’ve said it before: Forensic evidence should, in itself, be the strongest evidence for impacts. An impact site itself – what all the naysayers demand above everything else – is little more “provable” than the forensics. Either one needs to be datable to that specific time – and preferably to the markers, too.

    But I doubt that the Daulton Gang will accept an impact crater dated to 12.8 kya any more than they accept the forensics.

    The Daulton Gang is like Monty Python’s Argument Clinic. All they do is say, “No, it isn’t,” to anything someone does that they don’t like.


    They provide no forensic evidence of their own that is properly done. Once they failed to find the evidence in one spherule, they do two things: Point to that spherule forever, and address all naysaying to the original Firestone paper without allowing in any later studies. The entire approach is to write new kibitzing papers that provide no substance, only commentary.

    Bos might as well be John Cleese. No insult intended, Mr. Cleese.

  70. “The question occurs to me to ask if work is also being done on other of the impact markers.”

    Hi Steve,

    The answer that occurs to me is “Yes”.

    Impact craters have definite indicators that can not be zs easily dismissed as impactite samples can be.

  71. Hello Tuskites;
    This is off-topic, but should be of interest to some of you. I foud what I believe is a large meteorite.
    It has several important characteristics: Somewhat magnetic. Thin dark crust. Heavy (I haven’t calculated the SG yet). Orange peel uniform surface. Very hard (If it is a meteor, I will christen it “The Barbarian Stone”, in honour of the fool who tried to break it open to see what was causing his metal detector to go crazy!)
    If anyone can direct me to the apropriate authority I would apreciate.

  72. And gee wizz, why is it that Boswell’s opinion is taken seriously anyhow?

    I’m just a meteorite collector/ history buff, and it is clear to me that the Clovis Comet/ YDB people are right.

    In literature this abnormality is called “forced plot.”

  73. Thank you for the information Robert. That is a very good deal for anyone who thinks they have a meteorite.
    I will send you the pictures and specifics if you like.

  74. Paul, I have used that lab for my suspect wrongs. And, their results showed the items to indeed be wrongs. The question comes up with a possible achondrite because they are so similar in many ways to earth rocks. Sometimes weathered for a long time here on earth, an achondrite can fool anybody.

  75. You need to verify your find is not an iron concretion, those are usually the most likely meteorwrongs.

    I am still of the position that the YDB group has to rule out natural spherule concentration phenomenon in the sediments. It would be nice if they looked at other black mats from other time periods, if that is possible.

  76. TLE –

    What you are asking is exactly what this paper addresses. In spades.

    As I understand it , there are basically only two black mats/layers – the Alvarez one and the YDB one.

  77. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium

    Paul, thorium is paramagnetic and is produced on a white dwarf. It has enough free electrons to create a slight magnetic pull when subjected to a magnetic field.

    Clovis comet is, the result of supernova and will cause a magnetic pull because of its thorium. Other than that it has less than 5% iron in it.

    Roger Williams called it “smitten thunderbolt” in his 1643 publication “A Key Into The Language Of America.”

    Of course, posters on this blog have it right too. A wave of supernova debris will carry everything with it. Even something as crazy as achondrite from another solar system is not out of the question.

  78. Hey, Ed –

    Nice find! One more high strength bolt binding the edifice together.

    I think the time has come for the Daulton Gang to admit defeat, though I know they won’t. They pretend these studies don’t exist. The only one they care about is Firestone 2007. They think beating on that one wins the debate. 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 don’t exist. We are still waiting for the Bos to acknowledge LeCompte 2012. I am not holding my breath.

  79. Steve –

    Why are you surprised?

    You need to remember that there is a pack of people obsessesd with flying a few men to Mars. They view the NASA busget as theirs, and further rely on Morrison et al’s low impact hazard estimates to support their obsession.

    For them, I do not exist, and futher do not know what I am talking about, and have no expertise in impact and impact processes.

    So when anyone comes here and uses the Tusk to support any similar view, they shold be thrown off immediately.

    Back here in the real world, I have a crater candidate from the Holocene Start Impact Event, one that may bring all of this BS to an abrupt halt, but I need about $10,000 now to documennt it NOW.

    For, contrary to what some very ignorent people argue, some of the First Peoples did preserve accurate memories of the Holocene Start Impact Event.

  80. Ed –

    I didn’t say I was surprised, actually. Just reiterating it. And it IS gratifying, every time we get another paper.

    I ran across some guy’s space blog the other day, and was thinking of emailing it to you, but then realized he was too pro-Morrison, pro NASA as it is, and was only interested in playing the politics game.

    Mars is such a NOTHING goal. A grandstanding play – a way of getting NASA in front of the public eye.

    I still maintain that, no matter how far behind they are right now, the Chinese will be the ones to deflect comets and even to go to Mars. Why? Because they have the bucks to do it and the cojones to do it. Both of them. Given enough money, both goals are doable. One only precludes the other when a Congress won’t fork up the money.

    But if the money existed here, Morrison and Bos would be the Carl Sagans of the 2010s – the vacuous do nothing poster boys of our time. Maybe just as well….

  81. And BTW, when money is tight all people operate out of committees, and all committees are by their nature scares of their shadows, even in times of plenty.

    “Committees of ten
    Accomplish now and again,
    And committees of two
    Once in a while do,
    But most things are done
    By committees of one.”

  82. Ed,

    I finally finished your book. My head is reeling from the density of it. You commentary on the state of American urban centers and the US highway system were an especially refreshing summation at the end. Very impressive work.

    Please contact me offline if I can be of any assistance in the HSIE documentary process in the form of moving imagery. Think single operator camera crane, documenting both the site collection and sample analysis efforts in order to memorialize the entire process and spread the word in subsequent TV/Movie production.


  83. More recent stuff of interest, including a few useful articles posted at Space Daily:

    “Is Arctic Permafrost the “Sleeping Giant” of Climate Change?”

    “FEMA, Russian Ministry to Join Forces Against Space Threat”

    The above article is the best news I’ve heard all week, even though it is essentially void of any useful details and completely lacking in any mention of the schedule of proposed joint efforts between FEMA and Russia.

    Which brings me to the third article –

    Space junk shielding..

    This brings up a good point. Currently directed energy technology has the best demonstrated capacity for applications such as reduction of space-borne threats at a distance. Boeing’s AirBorne Laser (ABL) comes to mind. It hasn’t actually intercepted orbital stuff yet, but it is a reusable technology and doesn’t require a dedicated launch vehicle for every target. It can also work incrementally on a single target, either by vaporizing portions of a given target at a time, or by reducing orbital mechanical energy to induce earlier reentry of that debris.

    It seems to me that along with characterization of the ET threat of Earth crossing bolides, we should be putting money into useful systems of mitigation. As an orbits and astro guy, I realize that multiple laser shots at an orbiting golf ball are not the same problem as diverting the orbit of an asteroid or comet fragment away from Earth crossing. But directed energy is the best bet in terms of cost effectively diverting such orbits, since anything else places all eggs in a single, expensive launch vehicle basket. On the other hand, if the laser pulses don’t give the desired effect, you haven’t wasted time getting to the bolide with an expensive rocket that can never be reused.

    Anyway, I guess its just crazy enough to be attractive; Russia and the USA cosponsoring a directed energy system that can pick off orbital debris. That tech basis could then be expanded in scale and energy to counter whatever Earth crossing threats are discovered. If both countries have skin in the game, then its less likely to be used by one against the other (biggest threat of all given human history of man’s inhumanity to man, and we can share the expense in the development and operation. We already have a current need for close range mitigation (space junk), and any astro person will tell you that a ground based or airborne platform is more economical in the long run than flying extra mass on EVERY SPACECRAFT launched as we move forward into our own contaminated near Earth environment (sadly).

    If you look at the trade-off in useful payload mass to carry shielding instead of payload, as a function of the extremely high cost per pound to launch and operate spacecraft, it would be much more sensible to have launch and ops entities pay a “clean space” fee (per launch, or as some function of usage requirement) to support directed energy development and operations. That way the tech basis and aerospace manufacturing complex are in place to scale up the threat mitigation to interplanetary scales as required.

    This is the reality that we should be considering and funding before squandering limited resources to send humans to Mars. And I say that as a pro space exploration person. Robotics is much more cost effective for exploration in the near term, and the near term already contains space-borne hazards that need mitigation. Clearly. Think it through. The path should becomes clear with proper consideration of combined existing threats (space junk) and unquantified threats (cold dark bolides) which we know exit but don’t know the quantity of. The impact of such bolides is not an acceptable risk, no matter what the politicians tell you.


  84. My group (The Archimedes Group) is just about to publish a paper on this. We were thinking of just putting the one side into the geometric caustic of a large nearby parabolic mirror, which avoids a whole lot of intervening hardware between the energy and the beam. Our primary technique though is asteroid lasso with a lightly set and tightened circumference cable in order to detumble it and derotate it for future diversion and exploitation. The orbital debris will need directed energy, though, and active rendezvous, collection and removal. The trick with all of these operations is not to create even more debris in the form of ejecta and dust and stuff. It won’t take long to cover this problem once we have good detection assets in place.

  85. Hi TH –

    Thanks for your kind words.

    While Kennett et al will own the Holocene Start Impact Event in the mainstream, I will continue to own it among te First Peoples. (I do wish the team would get the name right – it’s Holocene Start Impact Event.)

    And of course I coninue to own and will always own zll of the other impacts in the America, with the exception of Schultx’s team’s work on Rio Cuarto. And I will continue to own all of those impacts I recovered during my years of reporting for the Cambridge Conference as well.

    My current needs are a macxed out dual G4 MacPro, and a macxed out dual G5 tower.

    Aside from that, I need around $10,000 to document a likely crater from the Holocene Start Impact Event. That should bring Morrison, Boslough, et al’s nonsense to an abrupt screeching halt. If all of the people who Boslough et al burned were simply to pass the hat among themseles and split up that $10,000…

    There are a couple of small video projects I will contact uopi privately about.

  86. Hi TH 2 –

    Good cath.

    That is very good news about the emergency management agencies agreement.

  87. The closing text from the link —

    “A 1978 expedition came closer when it uncovered minuscule mineral samples embedded in peat at the epicenter of the blast. Researchers determined the samples to be 99.5 percent carbon with inclusions of other trace elements such as troilite and iridium. The amount of pressure required to form such samples suggested that the minerals were contained in a meteorite that smacked into the Earth. But these samples could also have formed when the heat and pressure of the space blast encountered rocks right here on our home planet, so the results were deemed inconclusive.

    Armed with new and improved scanning technology, a group of geologists from Europe and North America decided to resurrect these mineral samples from their archive in the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. They analyzed the samples with traditional microscopy techniques, mass spectrometry and high-powered X-rays—techniques that have been developed and refined in the past few decades—to give a much more detailed view, and published their findings in Planetary and Space Science in May.

    While the carbon components of the samples weren’t necessarily from out of this world, the iridium concentration was ten times higher than in Earth rocks. The researchers were able to look at the surface structure and chemical composition of the samples in detail to determine that the mineral samples gathered at Tunguska most likely represent tiny bits of an iron meteorite. They suggest that the structure is the result of rapid cooling after an impact, and report that the mix of minerals matched those of other confirmed iron meteorites, like the one found in Arizona.

    So it looks like the case is closed, just in time for Tunguska to blow out the candles on its 105th carbon-studded birthday cake. Let’s just try to keep the fire under control this time.”

  88. Trent –

    I gotta ask…

    “Researchers determined the samples to be 99.5 percent carbon with inclusions of other trace elements such as troilite and iridium. The amount of pressure required to form such samples suggested that the minerals were contained in a meteorite that smacked into the Earth.”

    “The researchers were able to look at the surface structure and chemical composition of the samples in detail to determine that the mineral samples gathered at Tunguska most likely represent tiny bits of an iron meteorite.”

    Am I the only one who sees a discrepency here? 99.5% carbon or is it an iron meteor? I can see if the researchers ONLY asserted the carbon was from target material, but the “suggest” otherwise.


  89. Trent –

    I’d suggest myself that the Tunguska object was a meteor, based on the Chelyabinsk air burst. That much is pretty much a no-brainer.

    But then they talk about “smacked into the Earth.” Wha?????

    I have done extensive reading about Tunguska going back over 30 years, and NO ONE has ever found supporting evidence for a ground impact meteor. That is a dead horse. The lack of meteoric ground impact evidence is why Tunguska has been a mystery all these 105 years. Finding Iridium itself is not evidence that it hit the ground.

    A fireball/airburst, yes (and much closer to the ground than Chelyabinsk). A ground impact, no.

  90. Hello –

    Wr all remember Morrison’s good friend Boslough. self proclaimed impct mechanics specialist, showing up at Chelyabinsk on someone’s dime.

    Well, He’s now going to tell us what the current impact threat level is:

    Perhaps someone should give this busy fellow some time off to do some reading and write a retraction.

  91. It’s downright ludicrous to hear a self convinced amateur with no academic standing or degrees whatsoever, yet who’s convinced he is the world’s foremost expert on the subject of impact science, but whose only publication is a single poorly edited, self published, paperback book, describe a PhD level physicist who is a leading member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratory, and adjunct professor at The University of New Mexico as a “self proclaimed impact mechanics specialist”. When In fact, according to his curriculum vitae his command of the subject of impact mechanics has been verified, and proclaimed, by some pretty major academic institutions. He has a B.S. in Physics from Colorado State University, and an MS and PhD in Applied Physics from Caltech, where his research focused on geophysics.

    I guess since you have no real academic standing of your own, and are incapable of intelligently parsing and reviewing the data they will present on the 8th anyway, I suppose the best you will ever be able to come up with when you disagree with the work and/or opinions, of real honest to PhD scientists you disagree with are cheap shots and personal ad hominem insults. The most ridiculous part of it though is that the panel described in that link won’t convene for another four days, yet you’re already spouting your excremental ad hominem tripe, and calling for a retraction without even really having a clue what they are going to say when it does.

  92. Hi Dennis –

    All the theories in the world added together do not make one fact.

    Here’s a fact, Dennis.

    Bolough’s model handles heat very poorly.

    That is probably related to anoher fact, which is that Boslough is at Sandia instead of Los Alamos or Berkeley.

    Another fact. We know Boslough’s angling to get the data processing for the ground based Atlas system. One problem with that: the MPC at Harvard is the recognized and used US international clearing house. Another problem: finding these things with adequate warning times will require space based systems.

    Since you’re such good friends with Morrison as well, you can tell him that his impact hazard estimate based on data from the Moon is off, in comparison with impact hazard estimates based on data from the Earth.

    Another fact. Before my stroke I collected far more data on impacts than what is in my book, and it is published.

    Final fact: Your attempts to find data validating Boslough’s model have produced nothing.

    I need %10,000 to document a crater likely to be from the Holocene Start Impact Event.

    Aside from that, there is a need for an online research clearing house where only real impact researchers are allowed to post.

    That will include research on impacts other than the Holocene Start Impact Event, and exclude delusional ramblings from Dennis Cox and Chicken Little.

  93. Steve Garcia please shoot me an email – I’ve got the mobile device coordinating w/ home computer email now (finally!) and I need an email from u to get your e-dress on the mobile while I’m on vacation…

    Ed and Dennis
    Remember if Einstein had stuck to his job as a

  94. Oh yeah.

    Boslough was an author on a paper which denied the Holocene Start Impact Event, and saw it through to publication even after data czme in proving he was wrong.

    That by itself pretty well proves that he does not know what he is proclaiming himself an expert in. Just like you, Dennis.

  95. Steve G,

    Discover has increasingly become like Science Daily in it’s tech writing.

    If they get spelling right, they call it good.

  96. ….had stuck to his job as a Patent clerk where would we be?

    Without any interdisciplinary pollination among technical disciplines, the advances to human knowlege come more slowly. For that reason we should embrace diversity, not reject it. That is what this forum is about, remember? To do any less is to simply be ruled by our own insecurities.


  97. Myself I can’t spell worth a darn. Dyslexia makes the letters swim around in all different order. That’s why I prefer the universal language of math.


  98. Yeah, who paid for Boslough to go to Russia? Why did he have trouble finding a fragment? Seems as though Russians and Native Americans have better luck finding things. For all the lack of formal education, they seem to have a good idea of what they have found.

  99. Trent –

    I won’t disagree. The day Discover published an article about the Oceanic Conveyor Shutdown, I knew they had no idea about physical properties and physics.

  100. TH –

    Dyslexia doesn’t affect your math? You don’t get terms on the wrong side of the equation?. . . LOL

  101. Einstein. . .

    If he’d stayed at the Patent Office, we wouldn’t have Quantum Physics or String Theory. And the world might be better off.

  102. Has anyone contacted the NOVA managers yet and dragged Boslough over the rocks with them?

  103. I read with interest (only the brief summary so far). That some of the less than enthused impact scientists – specifically Dr. Mark Boslough sp?) are now admitting the that the recent Russian bolide is up to seven time more likely to affect earth than though before the Russian object. Does this nay sayers like him are now willing to at least consider the possibility of the Younger Dryas as caused by cosmic showers, as Dr. Napier suggests? I hope so, finally!!!!!! Rod Chilton.

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