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Author Topic: THE CAROLINA BAYS  (Read 3665 times)
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« Reply #60 on: April 17, 2008, 10:39:07 am »

In addition to the radial orientation, Table 6 also indicates that certain counties, notably those furthest south and north, have much larger standard deviations than the counties in southern North Carolina and northern South Carolina. Some of this variation represents county sample sizes, because the counties with the smallest standard deviations are also the counties with the largest number of samples. Certainly, some portion of the markedly increased variation actually represents an increasingly divergent localized bay alignment.

If a comet nucleus on a low angle northwest trajectory was either fragmented or continuously fragmented as it approached the Earth, some fragments would be deflected further from the actual incoming trajectory. Continued ablation and further fragmentation of each segment of the nucleus, plus the effects of not quite simultaneous air blasts may account for the divergent azimuths in the sampled counties. Thus, bays furthest from the main trajectory could be expected to have much larger azimuthal standard deviations. Following the same logic, Bladen County, North Carolina, with the smallest standard deviation appears to be directly on the collision trajectory.

The increased variation away from the main trajectory may also account for the manner in which bays overlap. Bays in Cumberland County, adjacent to the inferred impact trajectory, tend to overlap either lengthwise along major axes or in complex clusters of as many as fourteen bays superposed in one area. Since Cumberland County is so near to the proposed collision trajectory, the complex bays and chains of bays may represent a rapid series of explosions and shock waves generated from further fragmentation of the remaining nucleus.

Lengthwise overlap along the main trajectory is to be expected because of the smaller variation in the dispersion of fragments. Where fragment dispersion is the greatest, less overlap should occur and bays should either be single or overlap along minor axes.
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« Reply #61 on: April 17, 2008, 10:40:51 am »

                                 RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS OF A COMETARY MODEL

We have eliminated all but one of the extraterrestrial Carolina Bay forming possibilities on the basis of availability, orbital characteristics, physical attributes, and impact morphometry. We further refined the remaining possibility by suggesting that a bay forming comet did not need to be large to form half a million bays. However, it must have been volatile; it must have followed a flat northwest trajectory because rims are better developed in the southeast quadrant, and it must have been fragmented somewhere to the northwest and eventually explode near the surface but in the atmosphere. The physics of such a series of catastrophic atmospheric explosions added to impact velocities at possibly greater than 51 km/sec are very complex. To the best of our knowledge no one has speculated about the nature of, or the bay forming energies available with, such shock waves. Nor since 1936 (MacCarthy) has anyone speculated about the relationship between shock waves and Carolina Bay morphology. These two avenues of research are needed before a cometary bay forming mechanism could be widely accepted.

As happened when aerial photographs of Carolina Bays were first seen (Melton and Schriever, 1933), we were immediately struck by the too remarkable regularity and uniformity with which bay morphology repeated itself. As physical geographers we doubted that either simple or complex sets of terrestrial mechanisms could conspire to create exceedingly regular forms on one portion of the Atlantic Coastal Plain without forming similar and equally widespread features elsewhere in similar coastal environments. It seemed to us that either the area is unique or the causal mechanism is not terrestrial. Furthermore, if the cause is not terrestrial, it almost certainly was a comet. Neither the impact of a large asteroid nor the splash effects of a meteoritic shower could form Carolina Bays. This section, then, represents pure speculation about some of the terrestrial constraints concerned with such a unique event and suggests possible directions whereby this model can be tested.

If Carolina Bays represent residual scars of a truly singular extraterrestrial event, the bays must be young--an attribute accepted by many terrestrial theorists as well. For example, Price (1968) indicated one or more periods of late Pleistocene bay development, whereas Thom (1970) indicated either a Farmdalian (28,000 - 22,000 B.P.) or a Woodfordian (22,000 - 12,500 B.P.) age. Age is a more critical factor when an extraterrestrial mechanism is invoked. Bays formed virtually instantaneously by explosions of cometary fragments are residual features. Subsequent modifications of such scars by normal terrestrial processes would rapidly obliterate all traces in unconsolidated sediments such as the Coastal Plain. Study of bays in Figure 2 suggests that bays remain quite distinct, essentially unaltered except for infilling; thus, the bays must be quite young--either late Wisconsinan or early Holocene.

Very few samples of buried peat in the bays have been dated. Thom (1970) had a 6600 B.P. radiocarbon date from the basal peat in one South Carolina bay although he cited a greater than 38,000 B.P. date from the basal peat in a North Carolina bay. It is difficult to equate the two results. The bays may be Wisconsinan in age. On the other hand, anomalous dates do occur, so little reliance can be placed on the few dates which have been acquired. Sequential samples along a vertical profile in several bays need to be dated and at least one date from the basal organic fill in a large sample of bays should be taken. Such a dating program will permit the Carolina Bays to be more precisely defined in time, and, more particularly, may indicate the possibility of simultaneous origin.
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« Reply #62 on: April 17, 2008, 10:41:49 am »

As was indicated earlier in the description of the Tunguska site, the vegetation in the area at the time the Carolina Bays formed may have been severely stressed by the shock waves from exploding cometary fragments. The larger vegetation would have been destroyed over sizable areas such as Bladen County, North Carolina, where well over half of the entire area is covered by bays. If such a shock occurred, perhaps a record of the event might be preserved by the pollen rain into the newly formed depressions. Assuming a rapid sequence of successional plants until equilibrium was restored, the basal organic fill in the bays might be one avenue by which a cometary origin could be tested.

When the shallow Campo del Cielo craters were examined (Cassidy and other, 1965), the authors found a modern soil developed in crater ejecta with a pre-impact soil buried beneath the debris. Search for such a compound soil profile beneath bay rims is an additional research possibility which might support an extraterrestrial model. The problem is compounded because certain soils in the area have thick, residual, light-colored, silica sand concentrations in their A2 horizons (Johnson, personal communication). Such a sand is an almost sterile end product of weathering. It would not weather significantly more, even if it were to be displaced up to the surface. This may be one reason why rim sands stand out so distinctly on aerial photographs even though the form is low and relatively indistinct on the ground.

Other than the physics of an unconfined near surface air blast, the single most critical problem for the extraterrestrial model suggested in this paper concerns the apparent selectivity of bay locations. Known extraterrestrial impact craters are randomly distributed with respect to geology. Known Carolina Bays are not. Until recently, when Goodwin and Johnson (1970) described bays in fluvial sands and gravels on the Piedmont in Virginia, all bays were believed to be confined to the Coastal Plain and better developed in sandy environments than in clay-rich ones (Whitehead and Tan, 1969; Thom, 1970). Some of the sandy areas where bays occur are Pleistocene river terraces, others are in dune complexes, still others are associated with marine terraces of different ages. If cometary fragments exploded, the displacement depth would depend in part on the cohesiveness of the unconsolidated surficial sediments. Although the analogy from a bomb crater to a bay is not direct, Baldwin (1963, p. 183) said that a sandy loam texture yielded larger bomb craters than a clay-rich texture for an equal expenditure of energy. Depressions created in clay-rich soils would be smaller, more shallow, and far less easy to recognize on aerial photographs. Assuming Piedmont bays exist, current methods in remote sensing may detect bays which cannot be recognized on conventional black and white photographs.

Many excellent descriptions of bay morphology exist although explanations of the attributes differ. Therefore, throughout this section we have concentrated on non-traditional approaches to Carolina Bays and the possible relationships between the diverse approaches and an extraterrestrial causal mechanism. Bay morphology is also important. Various morphologic characteristics have been used in both supporting and refuting earlier extraterrestrial models. We can add little that is new in this regard except to note that cometary explosions in the atmosphere would not distort the underlying strata in the process of creating shallow depressions, nor would shock waves leave residual traces which could be identified in the mineralogy of the bays.
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« Reply #63 on: April 17, 2008, 10:42:56 am »


The proposed model with shock waves from cometary fragments exploding above the surface creating a series of similar landforms is conceptually very simple, and is far less complex than most of the terrestrial models postulated recently. For geometrically regular forms such as Carolina Bays we prefer a simple causal mechanism if it is feasible.

Examination of impact mechanics and Carolina Bay morphometry eliminates traditional impact phenomena resulting from meteoroid swarms or asteroids. However, the unique orbital and physical characteristics of a comet favor a model in which a high velocity retrograde comet or a low velocity prograde comet collided with the Earth. The incoming nucleus approached from the northwest and fragmented. The fragments, diverging from the main trajectory, volatized and subsequently exploded in the atmosphere near the surface. The resultant shock waves created shallow elliptical depressions which are best displayed in the sandy sediments of the Coastal Plain.

This model is not fully substantiated. But, given the terrestrial and extraterrestrial constraints used in this paper, a comet remains a viable alternative worthy of further consideration. We hope that the physics of such an event can be explored, and that these results support our contention. We believe that a multidirected research effort will eventually result in a consensus about a truly enigmatic set of landforms.
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« Reply #64 on: April 17, 2008, 10:44:20 am »


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