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Ages of the Earth => Catastrophes & Mass Extinctions => Topic started by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 08:51:24 pm

Title: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 08:51:24 pm
Catastrophes and Prehistory

The general consensus of geneticists is that the present species of humans - Homo Sapiens began in Africa 150,000 years ago. This has been spelled out fairly clearly by Bryan Sykes in his book 'The Seven Daughters of Eve'. Despite this, we must not forget that there have been many species of humans or bipetal hominids with opposing thumbs that have populated the world before us. The Leaky family did extensive studies in Africa on a 3 million year old bipetal hominid they called Lucy. Recently a 7 million year old bipetal hominid (human) skull was unearthed in Chad by professor Michel Brunet of the University of Poitiers in France. There is also Java man, Peking man and Australopithecus, to name a few, some were less than a metre tall others were over four metres tall. With their opposing thumbs, they were all capable of using tools such as hammers, axes and spears. Large 20kg axe heads have been found associated with 60cm footprints in New South Wales, which indicates the size and technological development of these people. The tools are thought to have been made by 'Java Man', as similar tools have been found in Indonesia. Just as we see a great range of body sizes in the canine species, from Great Danes to Chihuahuas, it is only logical to assume there has been a similar variation with humans. When Sabre toothed tigers, Diprotodons, Woolly Mammoths and other large and powerful beasts were in the environment, large and powerful people would have had a better chance of survival. On the other hand, smaller people would have had a better chance of survival after a natural catastrophe, such as a comet impact, where dust was thrown up into the atmosphere, dimming the earth for a few years, causing massive droughts and a scarcity of food. The locality of impacts, eruptions and tsunamis would have played a big part in who the survivors were. Rather than 'survival of the fittest', chance, had a much bigger part to play in determining who the survivors were.

Recent studies in Indonesia have unearthed 'the Hobbit' a very small human, from about 13,000 years ago. The skeleton was about one metre tall.

In the book, The Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee, author John Haywood describes; "very large" bones in stone graves found in Williamson County, Tennessee, in 1821. In White County, Tennessee, an "ancient fortification" contained skeletons of gigantic stature averaging at least 7 feet in length.
In February and June of 1931, large skeletons were found in the Humboldt lake bed near Lovelock, Nevada. The first of these two skeletons found measured 8 1/2 feet tall and appeared to have been wrapped in a gum-covered fabric similar to the Egyptian manner. The second skeleton was almost 10 feet long.(Review - Miner, June 19, 1931).
George W. Hill, M.D., dug out a skeleton "of unusual size" in a mound of Ashland County, Ohio. In 1879, a nine-foot eight-inch skeleton was excavated from a mound near Brewersville, Indiana(Indianapolis News, Nov 10, 1975)
In 1875 workmen were constructing a bridge near the mouth of Paw Paw Creek at Rivesville. While digging through heavy clay soil they were astonished to uncover three giant skeletons strands of reddish hair clinging to the skulls. A local doctor was called to examine the remains and was able ascertain after careful measurement, the skeletons had supported people approximately 8 feet tall.

Gigantism often found in America, is not an  abberant mutation, but a genetic throwback to a 'time that was'. As variations in the environment put pressure on these groups, whether it be large predators or famine, numbers dwindled in the populations less suited to the environment. This eventually led to the situation today where most humans are between five foot and six foot 6inches.

The first migration of Homo sapiens spread out from Africa between 80 and 100,000 years ago across India into S.E. Asia and across to America. It is believed from genetic markers in remnant populations around the world, that these people were dark skinned, short, with very frizzy, almost woolly hair. Relic populations of these pygmies can still be found in the; Congo Basin, Andaman Islands, the Highlands of New Guinea and the Phillipines. It has been confirmed by geneticists that there are specific DNA markers that indicate without a doubt that The Highlanders of New Guinea are directly related to the Pygmies of the Congo Basin, albeit 100,000 years ago. Skeletons of these people have been found in Brazil and Tierra del Fuego, indicating that they constituted a major pan global population that was crushed by a major natural catastrophe 75,000 years ago when Lake Toba exploded, creating a massive caldera in the highlands of Sumatra. Dust from this massive explosion would have dimmed the planet, cooling it down and creating droughts and famine that may have lasted for over 10 years. Survivors of this world population of Pygmies can still be found in the Congo, Andaman Islands, Phillippines, New Guinea highlanders and some Aborigines of North Queensland. Even Polynesians have traces of this ancestry in their DNA through contact with Melanesians 11,500 years ago.

It is interesting to note that these genetically related people all appear to have the bow and arrow as a hallmark of their culture. It is quite likely that they had this technology 100,000 years ago.

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 08:52:48 pm
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1. Pygmy skull found in Holliston Mills, East Tennessee. They were 3-4 feet tall and their cranium size was equivelant to a 7 year old child. From America B.C. by Barry Fell. A significant population of these people lived in this area between 40,000 and 3,000 years ago.

2. Andamaneseii from the Andaman Islands.Photo; Steve Sailer website (See links).

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 08:53:48 pm
Their passage to New Guinea from Africa can also be traced by the Malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum that they brought with them. Recent studies on the Malaria parasite gene have shown that; "Plasmodium falciparum appeared in Africa and spread around the world with migrating populations, as much as 100,000 years ago. Both the parasite and the mosquito underwent rapid evolutions about 10,000 years ago, forming Plasmodium vivax, which ranges widely through Asia, Africa, Melanesia and the Americas. Their coincidence with the development of settled agricultural societies in tropical regions seems to be a telling clue to the history of the disease and the movement of man around the world".

As malaria is a tropical disease, it is highly unlikely that it travelled between continents via the Polar Ice caps, therefore; trans oceanic voyages in the tropics must have been undertaken 10,000 years ago. This is the only way this disease could have spread from Africa to Panama. This disease needs to have a significant population of people living close together in order to survive, therefore, this parasite was brought not by some wayward fisherman, but by a whole fleet of ships, carrying hundreds of people. It must be logical to assume that because they had boats seaworthy enough to cross the Atlantic, and they knew how to utilize equatorial currents and the trade winds, there would be nothing stopping them from giving the Pacific Ocean a go. Malaria in New Guinea bears testament to their curiosity. When they crossed the narrow isthmus of Central America, they found another ocean beckoning them. The islands of Melanesia are in the exact place boats from the Panama region would end up, it would have been a case of  'going with the flow' letting the wind take them to a new land over the horizon. From this, we can only assume that Melanesians originated from a number of different migrations at different times from Africa. The Blue Black Solomon Islanders bear testament to a separate migration to the Papuans from Africa. Once again 'isolationism' has marked comparison of African to Melanesian genes a no go area for research.

The second wave of humans to leave Africa after the Toba disaster were the Anu. The age of the Pygmy was over and a new balance of human genes spread across the planet. This time they were taller, had wavy black hair and beards. In Africa they were called the Anu, in India - the Veda, in Japan - the Ainu, in Lake Toba - the Batak and in Australia, numerous tribes went under many different names.

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 08:55:33 pm
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Japanese Ainu, racially similar to the Indian Veda and Australian Aborigines, These people once populated Asia, Australia and America 50,000 years ago

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 08:56:29 pm
Genetic studies indicate that Cro Magnon man and the Veda separated ~28,000 years ago. Cro Magnon man lived in the colder areas of Eurasia, had pale skin, blonde hair and a beard, he was very tall, averaging 6 to 10 feet. The Veda were also tall and had beards, but living in the tropics they developed a darker skin for protection against the damaging rays of the sun. These people saw the sea levels around the planet, recede to 140m below their present level. They are bound to have witnessed many natural catastrophes. Needless to say a significant pocket of Veda/Anu survived in India and carried on to begin Western civilization in the Middle East as we know it today.

In Biblical records, Lord Anu was the culture bringer to the Sumerians. According to Hebrew texts, this occurred 10,000 years ago. In other words, knowledgeable survivors of the Veda/Anu civilizations of India, decided to resurrect their civilization amongst the Sumerian tribesmen. According to Christian O'Brien, in his book "The Genius of the Few" The great 'Lord Anu' decided to 'plant a garden in Eden' which was a fertile valley overlooking fertile plains in Lebanon where a village named Ehdin still exists. Then 600 years later the "Shining ones" - white faced, purple robed people with gold wings came and gave them incredible scientific knowledge. These people were obviously survivors of the pan Atlantic culture that also gave rise to the purple robed, red haired Phoenicians, the blue robed copper culture of the Tuaregs, the seafaring Berbers, Celts, Basques, Toltecs, Anasazi and Araucano. Therefore we have a Veda bringing knowledge of agriculture and a Caucasian American bringing science to the Sumerians to start Western civilization as we know it today. It would only be natural, that the survivors of a global catastrophe, regardless of their origins, would have pooled together their recources to start anew.

So what was this global catastrophe that ended these civilizations?

In Plato's Critias, The wise Egyptian priest in talking to Solon, gives a fairly good picture of what has happened in the past; " There have been and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes, the greatest have been brought about by the agency of fire (comets) and water (ice age meltdown), and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes (volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis)."The declination of bodies moving in the heavens around the earth, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth (comet/asteroid impacts), which recurs after long intervals; at such times those who live upon the mountains and in the dry lofty places are more liable to destruction than those who dwell by the rivers or on the sea shore. When on the other hand, the gods purge the earth with a deluge of water, the survivors will be those who dwell up on the mountains, as the water always having a tendancy to come up from below (Tsunamis and sea level rises)." He also says "that wherever the extremity of winter frost (Ice ages) or of summer sun (climatic change and drought after volcanic eruptions) does not prevent mankind to exist, sometimes in greater, sometimes in lesser numbers." These disasters "leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education, and so to begin all over again like children, and know nothing of what happened in ancient times."

Catastrophic events such as massive volcanic eruptions, comet or meteor impacts as well as associated earthquakes and tsunamis have not been given enough consideration when assessing the forces that have shaped the development of man. The earths ancient geological history is full of evidence of such catastrophes. For example; 256 million years ago a large celestial body impacted the planet south of South Africa, the reverberations around the planet met in Siberia, rupturing the earth's surface, creating a massive 12,000 feet thick lava flow, this catastrophe ended the 'Age of Amphibians' and almost wiped out all life on Earth. 210 million years ago another meteor impacted the planet in Canada - the Manicouagan Crater - 100km wide. This meteor brought to an end the Triassic period. Then 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period a meteor impacted the Yucatan Peninsular, once again, the opposite side of the planet ruptured, creating the Deccan in India, a 5,000 foot thick lava flow. This catastrophe brought to an end the 'Age of the Dinosaurs'. The Atherton Tablelands in Queensland is a 2,000 foot thick lava flow that formed about 1 million years ago in a geologically stable area. A meteor impact in the North Atlantic would most likely have been the perpetrator of this catastrophe.

During human history, similar, but smaller events have occurred. The cave system in Malta called the Hypogoeum was filled with 7,000 bodies, soil and debris washed in from a massive tsunami, possibly from a meteor impact in the Mid Atlantic. On the other side of the Atlantic, the island which is now the Bahama banks, also appears to have been devastated by a tsunami at about the same time. This island that was once as big as Ireland was known as Tulapin or Turtle Island and according to legend was the homeland of many native American tribes. Numerous floors and foundations under the sand indicate that a large city was devastated by a massive tsunami ~7,000 years ago when the sea level was over 10metres lower.

The underwater ruins around Yonaguni and India are also testament to rapid sea level rises within the last 20,000 years. Scientists are beginning to realise that the 140metre rise in sea level since the last ice age was not necessarily gradual, but may have occured in steps, as massive ice shelves broke off the Polar ice cap and drifted into tropical waters, melting within the year. Rapid rise in sealevel is also believed to have been caused by massive lakes forming on top of the ice sheets as the ice melted, then in one terrible moment the ice holding back the water would break and this huge body of water would gather all the other lakes in its path, resulting in a massive sheet of water punching into the ocean causing a tsunami and contributing to a rise in sea level of a couple of metres.

From this we can see that catastrophic events have occurred repeatedly in the past and have most definitely played a big part in the evolution of species on our planet. Charles Darwin in his 'Evolution of the Species' did not put enough emphasis on the effects of catastrophes and the part that random chance played in determining who the survivors were. The most obvious example of random chance changing the course of history is the meteor that ended the reign of the large and powerful dinosaurs allowing smaller mammals to freely develop, without predators.

It is obvious that no massive meteors have impacted the planet since the end of the age of the dinosaurs, but thousands smaller ones have.

Such catastrophic events have by random chance repeatedly crushed the dominant world population of humans, allowing a small pocket of survivors to multiply and repopulate the planet with a new mix of genes.

Here is just one example of the destruction caused by a comet in human history. Andrew Collins in Gateway to Atlantis talks about this event in detail.

This event is thought to have occured around the time that the civilization of Atlantis ended.

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 08:58:15 pm
USA showered by a watery comet ~11,000 years ago,

ending the Golden Age of man in America.

Approximately 11,000 years ago a variety of animals went extinct across North America. These were mostly mammals larger than approximately 44 kg. Some of the animals that went extinct are well known (like sabre toothed cats, mammoths and mastodons). Others were less well known animals (like the short-faced skunk, giant sloth and the giant beaver). Some animals went extinct in North America but survived elsewhere (like horses and tapirs).

Before this extinction the diversity of large mammals in North America was similar to that of modern Africa. As a result of the extinction, relatively few large mammals are now found in North America.

The possibility that a comet destroyed the mega fauna and human population of North America is highly likely.


Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 09:00:13 pm

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 09:01:20 pm
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Carolina Bays - 11,000 year old Impact sites, caused by bullets of  water from a disintegrating comet.

Direct evidence of a cataclysmic event around the time of the Clovis hunters of America.

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 09:02:27 pm
The geological formation of the oval shaped depressions termed Carolina Bays, which number in total, 500,000 litter the SW corner of North America. Their orientation across the landscape is in a NW to SE direction, with earth piled up on the SE rim up to 25 feet high. Carolina Bays tend to become more elliptical with increasing size - up to 10km long. This is consistent with a large body of water taking longer to dissipate as it travels at speed across the landscape. Large bays tend to be deeper than small bays and they tend to occur either in linear arrays or in complex clusters. The consistent repition of shape and alignment can mean only one thing. Comet impact.
It is believed that these depressions were not caused by a rocky comet as no heavy metals have been found in the craters, but by bullets of water hitting the ground from a disintegrating comet. There has been some disbelief that such a catastrophic event could have occured in human times, people have tried desperately to think of some other way that these depressions could have occured. The fact is that these depressions occur in  sand, mud, soil, upland gravel, but not on any rocky outcrops. The only mechanism for similar shaped depressions to occur in a diverse range of sediments is by a massive body of water, travelling at a high velocity at a low trajectory and dumped upon the earth. All the craters show a similar amount of weathering and infilling, therefore they must be all of the same age. It has also been noted that there are two oval shaped craters on the bottom of the ocean, just north of the Grand Bahaman banks.Their orientation is consistent with a NW to SE trajectory comet impact. It is believed that these impact sites are associated with the Carolina Bays. Whether or not there are any craters on the bottom of the ocean, the nature of a disintegrating comet entering the atmosphere is that small pieces of debris break off first, the largest remaining piece/s travels the furthest. Therefore as there are 500,000 small craters along the Atlantic coast, one must assume that a significantly large body impacted the Atlantic Ocean, resulting in a massive tsunami.

Core samples indicate the Carolina Bay formations was between 11-15,000 years ago, a more accurate date for their formation has not been ascertained as yet. Pollen samples indicate a pine forest prior to their formation changed to a deciduous forest after their formation. This change is seen in the core samples either side of a layer of sandy blue clay, devoid of pollen. This marks the time of creation of the lakes, and the resultant settling of dust after impact. The change in forest type after these depressions were formed indicates that they precipitated a radical climate change. Whoever was living in America at the time would have found this event totally devastating as shown in the following accounts of tribes from the area. Whether it was this, or a later event that destroyed Atlantis is yet to be determined.

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 09:03:58 pm
The Anasazi have a legend that talks of a fiery sky serpent destroying the civilizations on the islands of the Carribean, or more specifically Tulapin (Turtle Island), their homeland. One can imagine an elongate meteor, rotating as it enters the atmosphere, creating a wiggly, snake like trail. The speed at which a meteor enters the atmosphere also gives the visual impression of the speed of a striking snake.

From Andrew Collins book; "Gateway to Atlantis" we get the following interesting information.

Many native American traditions tell of:…a moon fell out of the sky, onto the earth. During it's passage through the sky it looked like a feiry snake, there were terrible earth quakes and the day turned into night, there was a gigantic flood and a formidable rain that lasted many days, many people died.

This most likely describes the impact of the comet that created the Carolina Bays.

"The water having poured over the land (2km thick ice sheet collapses into the sea),

human dwellings disappeared. The wind carried them away.

They fastened several boats to one another.

The waves traversed the Rocky Mountains.

A great wind drove them.

Presently the moon and the sun disappeared (atmospheric dust, post impact).

Men died of a terrible heat (firestorms post impact).

They also perished in the waves.

Men bewailed what happened.

Uprooted trees floated about in the waves.

Men having fastened boats together trembled with cold.


The above translation is attributed to the native tribe called the Esquimaux of Canada. Just one of hundreds of flood traditions that many scholars have collected.


Also from further south in the Carolinas we have the following very interesting tradition:

"a star fell to the earth, and rain soon followed (oceanic impact, causing vast amounts of water to evaporate).

Days and days of rain quenched the fire.

Great holes burned in the earth by the fire were filled,

forming a great inland sea.


A number of cultures retained stories of impact induced winter. Most telling of such lore this author has read are these amazingly informative tales of the Yakuts:

. . . is said to be "the daughter of the Devil and to have had a tail in the early days". If it approaches the earth, it means destruction, storm and frost, even in the summer; . . . , the daughter of the Devil is a beautiful girl ... she is the bride and the sweetheart of Satan's son ÜRGEL (Pleiades). When these two stars come close to one another, it is a bad omen; their eager quivering, their discontinuous panting cause great disasters: storms, blizzards, gales. When they unite, fathom deep snow will fall even in the summer, and all living beings, men, animals and trees will perish . . .   

…… five planets went out of their courses. In the night, stars fell like rain. The earth shook. The E and Loh became dry.

What is remarkable about these particular tales is the conjunction of several pieces of information. From these lines we gather that a comet with a tail came close enough to influence weather on Earth--i.e. deadly storms, frost and deep snow in summer. Also, we are told that this is most likely to occur if the comet appears close to the Pleiades. In short, these legends accurately describe what can now be inferred from astronomical data on comet Encke and the ring of debris its progenitor strew about the Sun, according to the above information; into five significant chunks. "Stars falling like rain" indicates a large amount of debris entering the atmosphere, "the earth shook" suggests a sizable impact.


As the above example suggests, contemporary researchers need to be wary of assuming our predecessors' folk memories of astral events relate to bodies familiar to our time. There is considerable reason to suspect that the majority of the planets namesakes were comets--probably of the Encke family. Human belief systems have been greatly influenced by the phenomena attending the progressive break-up, over thousands of years, of this large comet. The idea of a wrathful sky god or star positions influencing events on Earth are legacies of this influence.

Recent studies on ice cores in the Antarctic have found numerous Iridium layers during the last 100,000 years. Often these layers of Iridium are mixed with Volcanic ash, confusing the origin of the Iridium. Iridium is commonly found in meteors, but is an extremely rare mineral on Earth. This mixing suggests that the impact of a Comet or Meteor precipitated volcanic eruptions. Scientists have also found a direct correlation between Iridium layers and the beginning of many ice age events suggesting that the combined effect of a comet impact and the resultant volcanic eruptions had a big part to play in turning points in human history.

Comets are not the only cause of major changes in the earths population over the last 15,000 years. It appears that sea level rises since the end of the last Ice Age have not been as gradual as previously believed. Sudden sea level rises appear to have happened a number of times in the past, destroying coastal trading ports causing a shift in surviving populations.


Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 09:05:42 pm
Antarctic ice sheet key to sudden sea level rise
Researchers show Antarctic ice sheets may not be as stable as previously thought. by Janet Wong

March 28, 2002 -- Physicists from Canada, the United States and Britain have concluded that a massive and unusually abrupt rise in sea level about 14,000 years ago was caused by the partial collapse of ice sheets in Antarctica, solving a mystery scientists have been heatedly debating for more than a decade.
Near the end of the last Ice Age, the Earth's sea level abruptly rose over 20 metres - four times faster than usual for that time period and at least 20 times faster than sea levels are rising now, report geophysicists Jerry Mitrovica of the University of Toronto, Peter Clark of Oregon State University , Glenn Milne of the University of Durham in the U.K. and Mark Tamisiea, a post-doctoral fellow at U of T, in the March 29 issue of Science .
The cause of this event - called the global meltwater pulse 1A, first identified in 1989 - has been unknown until now. The scientists say their research not only pinpoints the source of the meltwater pulse as coming from West Antarctica. It also makes the case that significant climatic events can occur very rapidly and unpredictably.

Ancient Mangrove Forests Found Under Reef

North Queensland marine researchers have opened a window into the past by exposing ancient mangrove forests entombed beneath the Great Barrier Reef.
Dr Dan Alongi from the Australian Institute of Marine Science says they have unearthed 9,000-year-old mangroves in old river channels that were swamped when sea levels rose after the last ice age.
He says the relic mangroves show an abrupt rise in the sea level, 20 times faster than previously thought.
"Material was very much intact, it didn't even have time to fully decompose when it was buried, so it does tell us that when climate change happened at least when it happened in the past it was comparatively quick," he said.

A cold event 8,200 years ago

Nature 22 July 1999

A cold event occurred between 8,400 and 8,000 years ago which affected Europe, North Africa and North America causing significant climate changes. It is believed to have been triggered by global warming which caused a catastrophic drainage of the Laurentide lakes in Canada.
This cooling event was forced by a massive outflow of fresh water from the Hudson Strait. The glacial lakes Agassiz and Ojibway were originally dammed by a remnant of the Laurentide ice sheet and drained catastrophically 8,470 calendar years ago. The sudden increase in freshwater, reduced sea surface salinity and altered ocean circulation, thereby initiating the most abrupt and widespread cold event to have occurred in the past 10,000 years.

Antarctic mud reveals ancient evidence of global climate change

By Mark Shwartz

In 1998, ODP scientists extracted a 150-foot-long sediment core from the muddy bottom of the Palmer Deep - a submerged section of the continental shelf along the west Antarctic Peninsula about 3,000 feet below sea level. The sediment sample was loaded with the shells of microscopic creatures called diatoms dating back some 10,000 years to the beginning of the Holocene - the most recent geologic epoch.
"The Antarctic Peninsula is an ideal region to investigate climate change at decadal to millennial time scales due to its location in one of the Earth's most dynamic climate systems," noted Dunbar. "The ODP sample gives us the first continuous, high-resolution Holocene sediment record from the Antarctic continental margin."
The sediment sample revealed higher concentrations of diatom shells during the mid-Holocene, roughly 5,500 to 7,000 years ago, which indicates that the waters surrounding the Antarctic Peninsula were more biologically productive then. According to Dunbar, higher productivity suggests that sea ice was less abundant during the mid-Holocene - a further indication that temperatures were higher. 
"We think it was quite a bit warmer then," he observed, noting that geochemical analysis of the sediment also revealed higher levels of nitrogen during the mid-Holocene. "Warmer temperatures appear to have produced freshwater streams that fed nitrogen and other nutrients into coastal waters," he explained.
During this warm period, sea levels rose from approximately 10m below the present sea level to approximately 1.7m higher than present day levels.
Legends around the Caribbean tell of a heavy rain falling for many days and many were drowned. It was this deluge that separated their islands from the mainland.
Little by little subsequent tempests submerged the lands of the Bahamas, separating the people from one another by arms of the sea.

Future studies of archaeological remains on the Bahama Banks will most likely prove that this strategically placed large island at the end of the Northern Equatorial current and at the beginning of the Gulf Stream was not only the homeland of Many American tribes, but was also the homeland of many European tribes such as the Basques and Celts.

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 09:12:24 pm
Collisions with Earth
65 million years ago
250 million years ago
4,400 million years ago


According to a University of Arizona Chicxulub crater web page:

"... a large impact crater that is
65 million years old ... on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula ... is called Chicxulub,
a Maya word that roughly translates as "tail of the devil." The crater, now buried beneath a kilometer-thick sequence of sediments, ... appears to have a diameter of 145 to 180 km, which makes it one of the largest confirmed impact structures on Earth. Only Sudbury in Canada and the Vredefort structure in South Africa could potentially be larger. ...

... The asteroid or comet that produced the Chicxulub crater was roughly 10 km in diameter. When an object that size hits Earth's surface ...[ as shown in this painting


from a National Museum of Natural History web page ]... it causes a tremendous shock wave while transferring energy and momentum to the ground. The impact was similar to a large explosion, although the energy of the Chicxulub impact dwarfs anything modern civilization has experienced. The energy of the impact was comparable to 100 million megatons of TNT, 6 million times more energetic than the 1980 Mount St. Helens volcanic eruption. The impact ejected rock from several kilometers beneath the surface of the Earth and carved out a bowl-shaped crater nearly 100 km in diameter. In addition, the shock of the impact produced magnitude-10 earthquakes, which were greater than the magnitude of any we have ever measured in modern times. ...[ According to a Miami University of Ohio web page: "... In contrast to the 2 to 3 cm thick clay layer found worldwide, the K-T boundary in the Gulf of Mexico region and in Haiti is composed of much thicker very coarse clastic deposits. Sand beds indicative of high energy deposition at the K-T boundary at Brazos River, Texas, have been interpreted to be the result of a major disturbance of the depositional environment, such as a tsunami approximately 50 to 100 meters high. ...". ]... The initial bowl-shaped crater was very unstable, and its walls quickly collapsed along a series of faults that enlarged the final diameter to between 145 and 180 km.  At the same time, the rock that had been compressed beneath the crater by the impact rebounded, producing a peak-ring structure in the crater's center. These dramatic changes, which rapidly transported huge volumes of rock over distances of tens of kilometers, occurred within only a few minutes. ...

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 09:13:41 pm
... Because the impact site was in a shallow sea,


water rushed in to fill the circular depression. Kilometer high waterfalls tumbled over the rim of the crater and roared furiously across the floor of the crater.

Because seawater filled and covered the crater, sediment on the bottom of the sea soon buried the impact scar.  The crater is no longer visible today, even when standing directly over it.

In more recent times, the impact crater has affected the circulation of groundwater on the Yucatan Peninsula.  This groundwater, has in some areas, dissolved the limestone in the Yucatan peninsula.  Below ground, this has produced caves. At the surface, this has produced cenotes which are groundwater springs. The cenotes form a ring, like a blue pearl necklace,

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 09:15:33 pm

that is nearly coincident with the rim of the Chicxulub structure and is the only visible feature on the surface to indicate a huge crater lurks below. ...

... The explosion that produced the Chicxulub crater excavated a huge amount of material, which was then ejected upwards. Most of the debris was deposited as a blanket of material that covered North America and possible South America.  Near the impact crater the debris is tens to hundreds of meters thick, while as far away as Colorado (over 2000 km distance), the debris is still a centimeter thick ... Additional material was lofted in an expanding, vapor-rich plume that included gas from the vaporized asteroid or comet. This plume rose  far above the Earth's atmosphere, enveloping it, and eventually depositing a thin layer of debris around the entire world. ...".

According to a Miami University of Ohio web page:

"... the hi res image of the Chicxulub impact crater ...[shows]... a groove leading into the crater which shows the direction from which the asteroid or comet (rocky core type) hit. The hi res image covers the Yucatán Peninsula. Note the ejection plume pointing north and west out of the crater at the southwestern United States. ...

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 09:16:30 pm

... The yellow arrow shows the hi res image of the Chicxulub impact crater itself imposed on a larger, lower resolution image of the Caribbean and Atlantic. ...

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 09:18:11 pm
the Gulf of Mexico
owes its doubly arced shape to the K-T impact shockwave. ...


... there appears to be a gravitational anomaly (party dress pink) arc ... on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean off Florida ... which centers on the impact crater, as do several arcs in the Gulf of México. In fact, features such as the Alacrán Reef and Florida appear to be parts of the extended structure of the complex crater. The Blake Nose drill sites for cores of the K-T boundary are on the pink arc on the Atlantic side of Florida. ... This

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 09:19:44 pm

is a hi res rendering of the gravity anomaly satellite image (Scripps Institute of Oceanography) that I mapped onto a sphere (MetaCreations's Bryce 4). Some concentric arcs centered on the Chicxulub crater are clear in the bright lavender tones of the image. At high resolution on the images downloaded from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Geodesy site, there is radial and concentric cracking of the Pacific Plate centered on the impact site. ...".

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 09:29:55 pm
Duncan Steel hypothesizes that the "... giant impact in Mexico apparently induced seismic waves which were focused on western India, causing fracturing which then led to the widespread Deccan eruptions. ...". Since India was then south of its present position, the Deccan basalt traps of India were then roughly antipodal to the Chicxlub Yucatan crater.

According to an web article released by Don Savage, and Diane Ainsworth of JPL, dated 28 December 1994:

"... it was the sulfur-rich atmosphere created in the aftermath of an immense asteroid collision with Earth 65 million years ago that brought about a global freeze and the demise of the dinosaurs. The impact of this large asteroid hit a geologically unique, sulfur-rich region of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico ... the impact kicked up billions of tons of sulfur and other materials and was between 10,000 to 50,000 times more powerful than the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact on Jupiter last July. ... this asteroid was between 10 to 20 kilometers (6 to 12 miles) in diameter and its collision on Earth brought about total darkness around the world for about half a year ... But more importantly, persistent clouds generated by the impact on this geologically distinct region of sulfur-rich materials caused temperatures to plunge globally to near freezing. ... These environmental changes lasted for a decade and subjected organisms all over the world to long-term stresses to which they could not adapt in such a brief time span ... Half of the species on Earth became extinct as a result. ...
... it was the specific geological location of the impact in a region that is rich in sulfur materials that created catastrophic climate changes and led to the downfall of the dinosaurs. If this asteroid had struck almost any other place on Earth, it wouldn't have generated the tremendous amount of sulfur ... On impact, the asteroid hurled some 35 billion to 770 billion tons of sulfur high into the atmosphere, along with other materials.

The NASA team ... recently discovered rocks in Belize -- some the size of a small car -- that were blown out of the crater and landed south of the Chicxulub site. The boulder deposit in Belize also contained fragments of glass ... known as "tektites," ... The tektites have been found in other regions near the crater, such as Haiti, Mexico, Texas and Alabama, but never in association with large boulders. Another important find at the Belize rock quarry was limestone with fossils dating to the early part of the Cretaceous. ... Early Cretaceous fossils have been found deep below the surface near the crater during drilling by the Mexican Petroleum Company. We think the limestone found in Belize was excavated by the impact, which probably blew a hole more than 15 kilometers (nine miles) deep in the Yucatan Peninsula. ...

... The researchers used sophisticated atmospheric models of the sulfur-rich atmosphere of Venus to model their impact scenario. ... Initially, thick sulfur clouds, combined with soot and dust generated by this impact, would have spread worldwide and blocked out the Sun ... Night-like conditions probably existed all over Earth for at least six months essentially bringing photosynthesis to a halt.

Unlike the aftermath of typical impacts, the skies remained murky for at least a decade, due to chemically generated clouds of sulfuric acid high in the stratosphere. ... The reflection of sunlight back into space from these high-altitude clouds caused surface temperatures to drop to nearly freezing for many years all over the planet. ... These atmospheric conditions occur in Venus' perpetually cloudy atmosphere ... where ultraviolet sunlight and water in the high atmosphere can convert sulfur dioxide into sulfuric acid clouds. Sulfuric acid clouds like those that cover Venus may have continued to blanket the Earth for more than a decade after the initial impact of the asteroid, causing a secondary and more long-lasting effect which killed much of life on Earth. ...".

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 09:30:33 pm
According to a Fossil Cephalopods FAQ by Neale Monks:

"... Cephalopods ... evolved from primitive molluscs during the Late Cambrian, approximately 500 million years ago. Unlike the other molluscan groups, cephalopod evolution has concentrated not on a energetically connservative, defensive lifestyle but on mobility, dynamism, and intelligence. ...
... Cephalopods today are divided into the nautiluses, which reproduces many times, and the coleoids which reproduce only once (usually) ... The basic fact is that no ammonites are known beyond the end of the Cretaceous, while the other cephalopod groups, the coleoids and nautiloids, survive to the present day. This has been tied with other extinctions which occurred at the end of the Cretaceous (known as the Cretaceous-Tertiary, or K/T, boundary). ... How the squids and octopuses, which lived in the Mesozoic seas along with the ammonites, belemnites and nautiloids, survived is unclear. ...".



A Comet-Earth collision about 250 million years ago caused the Permo-Triassic Extinction.


A Mars-sized body colliding with Earth formed the Moon about 4,400 million years ago, perhaps leaving the Pacific Ocean as an impact crater and possibly forming the initial continental crust of the Earth.


Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 09:33:17 pm
Jul 26, 2004

  Shield memorizing impact craters: Labrador Peninsula, Canada


Fig. 1 Northeast Canada
(*Click boxed areas A-C to see a larger picture.)

Figure 1 depicts Labrador Peninsula in Northeast Canada in early spring of last year. The nothern area of around 50 degrees north was still covered with snow and ice . This image covers Hudson Bay in the upper left, a part of the Great Lakes in the lower left, the Gulf of Saint Laurence, Nova Scotia Peninsula and Prince Edward Island (made famous in the novel and the movie "Anne of Green Gables") in the lower right, and Newfoundland Island and the Atlantic Ocean on the right.

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 09:35:50 pm
Labrador Penisula is a part of the Canadian Shield (*1), a plateau of granite made 600 million years ago (around the end of Precambrian Era), and is characterized geographically by many lakes formed by erosion from wind, rain and glaciers over a long time. Many gigantic impact craters also remain in this area (*2), and you can find the following craters in this GLI image. (Larger pictures will appear when you click boxed areas A to C.) Some craters became lakes and some were covered with vegetation, depending on when they were created, its geology, subsequent weathering and erosion, etc. The following table shows the craters in the order of created era.

   Crater Diameter Created Era Remarks
A.  Charlevoix  54 km 342 million years ago (the former half of the Carboniferous) Only northwest half can be seen in the image. Southeast half is in the bottom of the Saint Laurence River.
B.  Clearwater West & East  36 km & 26 km  290 million years ago (border between the Carboniferous and the Permian) Crater chain
C.  Manicouagan 100 km 214 million years ago (border between the Triassic and the Jurassic) The largest crater in North America. A part of crater chain.

The Manicouagan crater (C above) consists a crater chain together with Rochechouart crater (25 km in diameter) in France and Saint Martin crater (40 km in diameter) in Manitoba, Canada (*3). "Crater chain" means a chain of craters made by sequential impacts of the pieces broken up of original one terrestrial body like the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter in July 1994. There are some crater chains on the Moon and Ganymede, Jupiter's satellite.

"Tableland" in Gros Morne National Park on the west coast of Newfoundland Island is a 600 m high plateau made of p e ridot that was once a part of the upper mantle exposed on the ground surface after breaking through the crust of the ocean floor when the North American Plate and Eurasian/African Plate collided 450 million years ago (the Ordovician). This is one of the main reasons why Gros Morne National Park has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization).

At L'Anse aux Meadows (meaning cove at meadows) National Historic Site, located on the northen end of Newfoundland Island and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are archaeological remains of activities of native people around 6,000 years ago and of a settlement of Viking people around 1,000 years ago, or about 500 years before Columbus reached the West Indian Islands.


(*1) The Shield is a flat, extensive area composed primarily of precambrian rocks. If viewed as a whole, the center is a bit higher, and the height gradually decreases in the radial direction. It thus resembles the shape of a shield used by knights in medieval times and is called "Shield." In addition to the Canadian Shield, there is also the Baltic Shield and others.

Related sites
(*2) Earth Impact Database operated by the University of New Brunswick in Canada
(*3)News release of the University of Chicago


Explanation of the images
(Fig. 1 and Frames A to C)
Satellite: Advanced Earth Observing Satellite - II (Midori - II)
Sensor: Global Imager (GLI) 
Date: April 7 to 22, 2003 
These are color composite images generated from GLI spectral channel 26 (1,240 nm) in the medium infrared band (red), channel 24 (1,050 nm) in the medium infrared band (green), and channel 19 (865 nm) in the near infrared band (blue). In these images, snow and ice are white or light blue, soil or sparse vegetation is brown, and water surfaces are black. The original resolution is 1 km.

It is difficult to acqure cloud-free images of this area, even if observed by GLI with 1,500 km wide observation swath because of the climate of this area. We produced the cloud-free seamless image in Fig. 1 by selecting fair parts pixel by pixel from data acquired during the above-mensioned 16 days and composing them by computer processing. This kind of image is called a cloud-free composite image.

Frames A to C exhibit somewhat different coloring because they were partly expanded and image processed to clarify the craters.

Appendix: Tales told of Newfoundland Island
It seems that English fishermen fished off Newfoundland Island in summer as early as around 1500. On the Island shore, dogs unrivaled for hardiness and stamina helped the fishermen. They were carried to England in the beginning of the 19th century and were bred as retrievers. The "Labrador Retiever" was subsequently recognized by the Kennel Club in England in 1903, and they have become familiar as pets, police dogs and seeing-eye dogs.

The Titanic tragedy occured about 650 km southeast off Newfoundland Island from midnight of April 12, 1912 to just before daybreak of the next day (45th year in Meiji Era in Japan); that is 92 years ago. Over 1,500 persons died due to the sinkng after collision with an iceberg. Halifax, Nova Scotia, was the base for rescue activities at that time. Today, you can find a cemetery for the victims, and some articles left by the Titanic are displayed at the Atlantic Maritime Musium there.

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 09:37:28 pm
The Collapse of Ancient Societies By Great Earthquakes
Amos Nur

Department of Geophysics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
e- mail:

Although earthquakes have often been associated with inexplicable past societal disasters, their impact has thought to be only secondary for two reasons: Inconclusive archaeological interpretation of excavated destruction, and misconceptions about patterns of seismicity. However, a better understanding of the irregularities of the time-space patterns of large earthquakes suggest that earthquakes (and associated tsunamis) have probably been responsible for some of the great and enigmatic catastrophes in ancient times. The most relevant aspect of seismicity is the episodic time-space clustering of earthquakes such as during the eastern Mediterranean seismic crisis in the 4th century AD and the seismicity of the north Anatolian fault during our century. During these earthquake crises plate boundaries rupture by a series of large earthquakes that occur over a period of only 50 to 100 years or so, followed by hundreds or even thousands of years of relative inactivity. The extent of the destruction by such rare but powerful earthquake clusters must have been far greater than similar modem events due to poorer construction and the lack of any earthquake preparedness in ancient times. The destruction by very big earthquakes also made ancient societies so vulnerable because so much of the wealth and power w as concentrated and protected by so few. Thus the breaching by an earthquake of the elite's fortified cities must have often led to attacks by (1) external enemies during ongoing wars (e.g., Joshua and Jericho, Arab attack on Herod's Jerusalem in 31 BCE); (2) neighbours during ongoing conflicts (e.g., Mycenea's fall in 1200 BCE, Saul's battle ~1020 BCE); and (3) uprising of poor and often enslaved indigenous populations (e.g., Sparta and the Helots in 465 BCE, Hattusas ~1200 BCE?, Teotihuacan ~700 AD?). When the devastation was by a local earthquake, during a modest conflict, damage was probably limited and may have required a few tens of years to rebuild. But when severe ground shaking is widespread, and when it happened during a major military conflict, the devastation may have been so great that it took hundreds of years for a society to recover - going through a dark age period during which many of the technical skills (e.g., writing) are abandoned (e.g., the cessation of linear B), construction and repairs of monumental buildings ceased, and looting of building materials by surviving squatters was common. In contrast, we can imagine the pastoral countryside, especially away from the tsunami prone coastal areas, to have been much less affected (and perhaps even flourished a little as their tax burden to the ruling elite is reduced). During a regional seismic crisis an entire region must have been subjected to a series of devastations by earthquakes over a short period of time. The catastrophic collapse of the main Eastern Mediterranean civilizations at the end of the Bronze age may be a case in point, with the Sea People being mostly squatters and refugees.


AMOS NUR is the Wayne Loel Professor of Earth Sciences and Professor of Geophysics at Stanford University. Amos specializes in earthquake physics. For over twenty years, he has been investigating the temporal and spatial patterns of earthquakes throughout history to find clues useful for earthquake prediction. The longest and most complete record is in the Holy Land, where the Dead Sea seismic fault defines the Arabia - Africa plate boundary, as the San Andreas defines the N. American/Pacific plate boundary. Together with colleagues in archaeology, history, geology and geophysics at Stanford and Israel, Amos has organized an expedition to search for, and excavate and recover skeleton/s, artifacts, and Dead Sea scrolls buried 2000 years ago in the "Cave of Letters. in Israel's Judean desert by the devastating Dead Sea Earthquake of 31 BC. The first part of this expedition took place in March of this year. Amos is a winner of the Silver Apple Award for physical sciences at the National Educational Film Festival, 1991 for producing and directing a video on Earthquakes in the Holy Land. This has been shown extensively on a number of PBS stations around the country. Publications: Over 180 papers in refereed journals; and 3 books.

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 10:04:55 pm
meteorites and extinctions

based on the lecture notes of Stephen A. Nelson, Tulane University


A Meteorite is a piece of rock from outer space that strikes the surface of the Earth.

A Meteoroid is a meteorite before it hits the surface of the Earth.

Meteors are glowing fragments of rock matter from outside the Earth's atmosphere that burn and glow upon entering the Earth's atmosphere.  They are more commonly known as shooting stars.  Some meteors, particularly larger ones, may survive passage through the atmosphere to become meteorites, but most are small objects that burn up completely in the atmosphere.  They are not, in reality, shooting stars.

Fireballs  are very bright meteors.

Meteor Showers - During certain times of the year, the Earth's orbit passes through a belt of high concentration of cosmic dust and other particles, and many meteors are observed.  The Perseid Shower, results from passage through one of these belts every year in mid-August.

Throughout history there have been reports of stones falling from the sky, but the scientific community did not recognize the extraterrestrial origin of meteorites until the 1700s.  Within recent history meteorites have even hit humans-

1938 - a small meteorite crashed through the roof of a garage in Illinois

1954 - A 5kg meteorite fell through the roof of a house in Alabama.

1992 - A small meteorite demolished a car near New York City.

Meteorite fragments have been found all over the surface of the Earth, although most have been found in Antarctica.  In Antarctica they are easily seen on the snow covered surface or embedded in ice.

The fall of meteorites to the Earth's surface is part of the continuing process of accretion of the Earth from the dust and rock of space.  When these rock fragments come close enough to the Earth to be attracted by its gravity they may fall to the Earth to become part of it.  As we will see the evolution of life on the Earth has likely been affected by collisions with these space objects, and collisions could affect the Earth in the future as well.


Composition and Classification of Meteorites

Meteorites can be classified generally into three types:

Stones - Stony meteorites resemble rocks found on and within the Earth. They are the most common type of meteorite, although because they resemble Earth rocks they are not commonly recognized as meteorites unless someone actually witnesses their fall.  Stony meteorites are composed mainly of the minerals olivine, and pyroxene.  Some have a composition that is roughly equivalent to the Earth's mantle.  Two types are recognized:

Chondrites - Chondrites are the most common type of stony meteorite.  They are composed of small round glassy looking spheres, called chondrules, that likely formed from condensation from the gaseous solar nebula early in the history of the formation of the solar system.  Most chondrites have radiometric age dates of about 4.6 billion years. 

Achondrites - Achondrites are composed of the same minerals as chondrites, but lack the chondrules. They appear to have been heated, melted, and recrystallized so that the chondrules are no longer present.  Most resemble volcanic rocks found on the Earth's surface.

Irons - Iron meteorites are composed of alloys of iron and nickel. They are easily recognized because they have a much higher density than normal crustal rocks. Thus, most meteorites found by the general populace are iron meteorites. When cut and polished, iron meteorites show a distinct texture called a Widmanstätten pattern (see figure 10.5, p. 254 in your text).  This pattern results from slow cooling of a once hot solid material.  Most researchers suggest that such slow cooling occurred in the core of much larger body that has since been fragmented. Iron meteorites give us a clue to the composition of the Earth's core.

Stony Irons - Stony iron meteorites consist of a mixture of stony silicate material and iron.  Some show the silicates embedded in a matrix of iron-nickel alloy. Others occur as a breccia, where fragments of stony and iron material have been cemented together by either heat or chemical reactions.


Origin of Meteorites

Most meteorites appear to be fragments of larger bodies called parent bodies.  These could have been small planets or large asteroids that were part of the original solar system.  There are several possibilities as to where these parent bodies, or their fragments, originated.

The Asteroid Belt
The asteroid belt is located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.  It consists of a swarm of about 100,000 objects called asteroids.  Asteroids are small rocky bodies with irregular shapes that have a cratered surface.  About 4,000 of these asteroids have been officially classified and their orbital paths are known.  Once they are so classified they are given a name. 

The asteroids are either remnants of a planet that formed in the region between Mars and Jupiter but was later broken up by a collision with another planetary body, or are fragments that failed to accrete into a planet.  The latter possibility is more likely because the total mass of the asteroids is not even equal to our moon.  It does appear that some of the asteroids are large enough to have undergone internal differentiation.  Differentiation is a process that forms layering in a planetary body (i.e. the Earth has differentiated into a core, mantle, and crust). If these larger asteroids did in fact undergo differentiation, then this could explain the origin of the different types of meteorites.  Because of the shapes of the asteroids it also appears that some of them have undergone fragmentation resulting from collisions with other asteroids.  Such collisions could have caused the larger bodies to be broken up into the smaller objects we observe as meteorites.

The Asteroids as Parent Bodies of Meteorites

Much evidence suggests that the asteroids could be the parent bodies of meteorites. The larger ones could have differentiated into a core, mantle, and crust.  Fragmentation of these large bodies would then have done two things:  First the fragments would explain the various types of meteorites found on Earth - the stones representing the mantle and crust of the original parent body, the irons representing the cores, and the stony irons the boundary between the core and mantle of the parent bodies. Second, the collisions that caused the fragmentation could send the fragments into Earth-crossing orbits.

Some of the asteroids have orbits that bring them close to Earth.  These are called Amor objects.  Some have orbital paths that cross the orbital path of the Earth.  These are called Earth-crossing asteroids or Apollo objects.  All objects that have a close approach to the Earth are often referred to as Near Earth Objects or NEOs.  About 150 NEOs with diameters between 1 and 8 km are known, but this is only a fraction of the total number.  Many NEOs will eventually collide with the Earth.  These objects have unstable orbits because they are under the gravitational influence of both the Earth and Mars.  The source of these objects is likely the asteroid belt.
Comets as Parent Bodies of Meteorites
A Comet is a body that orbits around the Sun with an eccentric orbit. These orbits are not circular like those of the planets and are not necessarily within the same plane as the planets.  Most comets have elliptical orbits which send them to the far outer reaches of the solar system and back toward a closer approach to the sun. As a comet approaches the sun, solar radiation generates gases from evaporation of the comet's surface. These gases are pushed away from the comet and glow in the sun light, thus giving the comet its tail. While the outer surface of comets appear to composed of icy material like water and carbon dioxide solids, they likely contain a more rocky nucleus.  Because of their eccentric orbits, many comets eventually cross the orbit of the Earth.  Many meteor showers may be caused by the Earth crossing an orbit of a fragmented comet.


The collision of a cometary fragment is thought to have occurred in the Tunguska region of Siberia in 1908.  The blast was about the size of a 15 megaton nuclear bomb.  It knocked down trees in an area about 850 square miles, but did not leave a crater.  The consensus among scientists is that a cometary fragment about 20 to 60 meters in diameter exploded in the Earth's atmosphere just above the Earth's surface. Only small amounts of material similar to meteorites were found embedded in trees at the site.   
Other Sources
While the asteroid belt seems like the most likely source of meteorites, some meteorites appear to have come from other places.  Some meteorites have chemical compositions similar to samples brought back from the moon. Others are thought to have originated on Mars. These types of meteorites could have been ejected from the Moon or Mars by collisions with other asteroids, or from Mars by volcanic eruptions.

Impact Events

When a large object impacts the surface of the Earth, the rock at the site of the impact is deformed and some of it is ejected into the atmosphere to eventually fall back to the surface.  This results in a bowl shaped depression with a raised rim, called an Impact Crater.  The size of the impact crater depends on such factors as the size and velocity of the impacting object and the angle at which it strikes the surface of the Earth.

Meteorite Flux and Size
Meteorite flux is the total mass of extraterrestrial objects that strike the Earth.  This is currently about 107 to 109 kg/year. Much of this material is dust-sized objects called micrometeorites.   The frequency at which meteorites of different sizes strike the Earth depends on the size of the objects, as shown in the graph below.  Note the similarity between this graph and the flood recurrence interval graphs we looked at in our discussion of flooding. 
Tons of micrometeorites strike the Earth each day. Because of their small size, they do not usually burn up when entering the Earth's atmosphere, but instead settle slowly to the surface. Meteorites with diameters of about 1 mm strike the Earth about once every 30 seconds.  Upon entering the Earth's atmosphere the friction of passage through the atmosphere generates enough heat to melt or vaporize the objects, resulting in so called shooting stars.  Meteorites of larger sizes strike the Earth less frequently.  If they have a size greater than about 2 or 3 cm, they only partially melt or vaporize on passage through the atmosphere, and thus strike the surface of the Earth. 
Objects with sizes greater than 1 km are considered to produce effects that would be catastrophic, because an impact of such an object would produce global effects.  Such meteorites strike the Earth relatively infrequently -  a 1 km sized object strikes the Earth about once every million years, and 10 km sized objects about once every 100 million years.
Velocity and Energy Release of Incoming Objects
The velocities at which small meteorites have impacted the Earth range from 4 to 40 km/sec.  Larger objects would not be slowed down much by the friction associated with passage through the atmosphere, and thus would impact the Earth with high velocity. Calculations show that a meteorite with a diameter of 30 m, weighing about 300,000 tons, traveling at a velocity of 15 km/sec (33,500 miles/hour) would release energy equivalent to about 20 million tons of TNT.   
Such a meteorite struck at Meteor Crater, Arizona (the Barringer Crater) about 49,000 years ago leaving a crater 1200 m in diameter and 200 m deep.  The amount of energy released by an impact depends on the size of the impacting body and its velocity.  An impact like the one that struck the Yucatan Peninsula, in Mexico about 65 million years ago, thought responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs and numerous other species, created the Chicxulub Crater, 180 km in diameter and released energy equivalent to about 100 million megatons of TNT.   
For comparison, the amount of energy needed to create a nuclear winter on the Earth as a result of nuclear war is about 8,000 megatons, and the energy equivalent of the world's nuclear arsenal is about 60,000 megatons.

Cratered Surfaces

Looking at the surface of the Moon, one is impressed by the fact that most of the surface features of the moon are shaped by impact craters.  The Earth is subject to more than twice the amount of impacting events than the moon because of its larger size and higher gravitational attraction. Yet, the Earth does not show a cratered surface like the moon.  The reason for this is that the surface of the Earth is continually changing due to processes like erosion, weathering, tectonism, sedimentation, and volcanism.  Thus, the only craters that are evident on the Earth are either very young, very large, or occurred on stable continental areas that have not been subject to intense surface modification processes.  Currently, approximately 200 terrestrial impact structures have been identified, with the discovery rate of new structures in the range of 3-5 per year (see figure 10.15, page 262 in your text).

The Mechanics of Impact Cratering
When a large extraterrestrial object enters the Earth's atmosphere the initial impact with the atmosphere will compress the atmosphere, sending a shock wave through the air.  Frictional heating will cause the object to heat and glow.  Melting and even vaporization of the outer parts of the object will begin, but if the object is large enough, solid will remain when it impacts the surface of the Earth. 

Impact of large meteorites have never been observed by humans.  Much of our knowledge about what happens next must come from scaled experiments.  As the solid object plows into the Earth, it will compress the rocks to form a depression and cause a jet of fragmented rock and dust to be expelled into the atmosphere. This material   is called ejecta.  The impact will send a shock wave into the rocks below, and the rocks will be crushed into small fragments to form a breccia.  Some of the ejecta will be hot enough to vaporize, and the heat generated by the impact could be high enough to actually melt the rock at the site of the impact.   The shock wave entering the Earth will first move in as a compressional wave (P-wave), but after passage of the compressional wave an expansion wave (rarefaction wave) will move back toward the surface.  This will cause the floor of the crater to be uplifted and may also cause the rock around the rim of the crater to bent upward.  Faulting may also occur in the rocks around the crater, causing the crater to become enlarged, and have a concentric set of rings. 
The ejecta will eventually settle back to the Earth's surface forming an ejecta blanket that is thick near the crater rim and thins outward from the crater.   Rocks below the crater that were not melted by the impact will be intensely fractured.  All of this would happen in a matter of 1 to 2 minutes.

Meteorite Impacts and Mass Extinctions

The impact of a space object with a size greater than about 1 km would be expected to be felt over the entire surface of the Earth.  Smaller objects would certainly destroy the ecosystem in the vicinity of the impact, similar to the effects of a volcanic eruption, but larger impacts could have a worldwide effect on life on the Earth. We will here first consider the possible effects of an impact, and then discuss how impacts may have resulted in mass extinction of species on the Earth in the past.

Regional and Global Effects
Again, we as humans have no firsthand knowledge of what the effects of an impact of a large meteorite or comet would be.  Still, calculations can be made and scaled experiments can be conducted to estimate the effects. The general consensus is summarized here.

Massive earthquake - up to Richter Magnitude 13, and numerous large magnitude aftershocks would result from the impact of a large object with the Earth.

The large quantities of dust put into the atmosphere would block incoming solar radiation. The dust could take months to settle back to the surface.  Meanwhile, the Earth would be in a state of continual darkness, and temperatures would drop throughout the world, generating global winter like conditions. A similar effect has been postulated for the aftermath of a nuclear war (termed a nuclear winter).  Blockage of solar radiation would also diminish the ability of photosynthetic organisms, like plants, to photosynthesize. Since photosynthetic organisms are the base of the food chain, this would seriously disrupt all ecosystems.

Widespread wildfires ignited by radiation from the fireball as the object passed through the atmosphere would be generated.  Smoke from these fires would further block solar radiation to enhance the cooling effect and further disrupt photosynthesis.

If the impact occurred in the oceans, a large steam cloud would be produced by the sudden evaporation of the seawater.  This water vapor and CO2 would remain in the atmosphere long after the dust settles.  Both of these gases are greenhouse gases which scatter solar radiation and create a warming effect.  Thus, after the initial global cooling, the atmosphere would undergo global warming for many years after the impact.

If the impact occurred in the oceans, giant tsunamis would be generated.  For a 10 km-diameter object the leading edge would hit the seafloor of the deep ocean basins before the top of the object had reached sea level.  The tsunami from such an impact is estimated to produce waves from 1 to 3 km high.  These could easily flood the interior of continents.

Large amounts of nitrogen oxides would result from combining Nitrogen and Oxygen in the atmosphere due to the shock produced by the impact.  These nitrogen oxides would combine with water in the atmosphere to produce nitric acid which would fall back to the surface as acid rain, resulting in the acidification of surface waters.
The Geologic Record of Mass Extinction

It has long been known that extinction of large percentages families or species of organisms have occurred at specific times in the history of our planet.  Among the mechanisms that have been suggested to have caused these mass extinctions have been large volcanic eruptions, changes in climatic conditions, changes in sea level, and, more recently, meteorite impacts.  While the meteorite impact theory of mass extinctions has become accepted by many scientists for particular extinction events, there is still considerable controversy among scientists. In this course we will accept the possibility that an impact with a large object could have caused at least some of the mass extinction events, as it would certainly seem possible given the effects that an impact could have, as discussed above.  Still, because of their are many other possibilities for the cause of mass extinctions, please read your book  for the arguments against the impact theory.
Major extinction events occurred at
the end of the Tertiary Period, 1.6 million years (m.y.) ago.


the end of the Cretaceous Period, marking the boundary between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods 65 m.y. ago. (Geologists use the letter K to stand for Cretaceous Period and the letter T for the Tertiary Period. Thus this boundary is commonly called the K-T boundary).

the end of the Triassic, 208 m.y. ago.

the end of the Permian, 245 m.y. ago (estimated that over 96% of the species alive at the time became extinct).

the end of the Devonian, 360 m.y. ago

the end of Ordovician, 438 m.y. ago

the end of the Cambrian period, 505 m.y. ago
The mass extinction at the end of the Mesozoic Era, that is the Cretaceous - Tertiary boundary (often called the K-T boundary) 65 million years ago, shows much evidence that it was related to an impact with an extraterrestrial object. This event resulted in the extinction of over 50% of the species living at the time, including the dinosaurs. In 1978 a group of scientist led by Walter Alvarez of the University of California, Berkeley, were able to locate the K-T boundary very precisely in layers of limestones near Gubbio, Italy. At the boundary they found a thin clay layer.  Chemical analysis of the clay revealed that it contains an anomalously high concentration of the rare element Iridium (Ir).  Ir has extremely low concentrations in most crustal rocks, however it reaches very high concentrations in meteorites.  The only other possible source of high concentrations of Ir is basaltic magmas.  Over the next several years, the K-T boundary was located at several other sites throughout the world, and also found to have a thin clay layer with high concentrations of Ir.  Although a large eruption of basaltic magma could not immediately be ruled out as the source of the high concentration of Ir, other evidence began to accumulate that the fallout of impact ejecta had been responsible for both the thin clay layers and the high concentrations of Ir.  Among the evidence found at different localities where the K-T boundary is exposed is:
Clay layers at some localities have a high proportion of black carbon that could have originated as soot produced by wildfires set off by an impact.

Some of the clay layers contain grains of quartz with a crystal structure that shows evidence that the quartz was severely strained by a large shock.

In some clay layers tiny grains of  the mineral stishovite is found. Stishovite is a high pressure form of SiO2 that is not found at the Earth's surface except around known meteorite impact sites.  The mineral can only be produced as a result of extremely deep burial in the Earth, or by high pressure generated by an impact.

Other clay layers contain tiny spherical droplets of glass, called spherules.  The glass is not basaltic in composition, but could represent droplets of melt formed during an impact event.

At the time of these discoveries, there was no known impact structure on the Earth with an age of 65 million years.  This is not unexpected, since 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by water, and is largely unexplored.  But, in the late 1980s attention started to be focused on a buried impact site near the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, in Mexico.  Here oil geologists had drilled through layers of brecciated rock and found  impact melt rock.  Further geophysical studies revealed a circular structure about 180 km in diameter.  Radiometric dating reveals that the structure, called the Chicxulub Crater,  formed about 65 million years ago.   
Although the crater itself is now filled and buried by younger rocks, drilling throughout the Gulf of Mexico has revealed the presence of shocked quartz, glass spherules, and soot in deposits the same age as the crater.  In addition, geologists have found deposits from the tsunami that was generated by the impact all along the Gulf of Mexico coast extending considerable distance inland from the current shoreline. The size of the crater suggest that the object that produced it was about 10 km in diameter. 
While there is still some debate among geologists and paloebiologists as to whether or not the extinctions that occurred at the K-T boundary were caused by the impact that formed Chicxulub Crater, it is clear that an impact did occur about 65 million years ago, and that it likely had effects that were global in scale. What would happen if another such event occurred while we humans dominate the surface of the Earth, and what could we as humans do, if anything to prevent such a catastrophic disaster?

Human Hazards

It should be clear that even if an impact of a large space object did not cause the extinction of humans, the effects would cause a natural disaster of proportions never witnessed by the human race.  Here we first look at the chances that such an impact could occur, then look at how we can predict or provide warning of such an event, and finally discuss ways that we might be able to protect ourselves from such an event.
Risk - It is estimated that in any given year the odds that you will die from an impact of an asteroid or comet are about 1 in 20,000.  The table below shows the odds of dying in the U.S. from various other causes.  Although 1 in 20,000 seem like long odds, you have about the same odds of dying in an airplane crash, and somewhat less risk of dying from other natural disasters likes floods and tornadoes.  In fact the odds of dying from an impact event are much better than the odds of winning the lottery.

Odds of Dying in the U.S. from Selected Causes
Cause Odds
Motor Vehicle Accident 1 in 100
Murder 1 in 300
Fire 1 in 800
Firearms Accident 1 in 2,500
Electrocution 1 in 5,000
Asteroid or Comet Impact 1 in 20,000
Airplane Crash 1 in 20,000
Flood 1 in 30,000
Tornado 1 in 60,000
Venomous Bite or Sting 1 in 100,000
Food Poisoning by Botulism 1 in 3,000,000
Odds of winning the Lottery 1 in 7,000,000

In March, 1989 an asteroid named 1989 FC passed within 700,000 km of the Earth, crossing the orbit of the Earth.  It was not discovered until after it had passed through the orbit of the Earth.  Its size was estimated to be about 0.5 km.   Such a body is expected to hit the Earth about once every million years or so, and would release energy equivalent to about 10,000 megatons of TNT, a little greater than the energy released in a nuclear war, and enough to cause nuclear winter event (see graph above).  Although 700,000 km seems like a long distance, it translates to a miss of the Earth by only a few hours at orbital velocities.

The Torino Scale - In order to develop a better means of communicating the potential hazards of a possible impact with a space object, scientists have developed a scale that describes the potential (see -  The scale is called the Torino Scale, and is shown below.
Events Having No Likely Consequences
(White Zone)  0  The likelihood of a collision is zero, or well below the chance that a random object of the same size will strike the Earth within the next few decades. This designation also applies to any small object that, in the event of a collision, is unlikely to reach the Earth's surface intact. 
Events Meriting Careful Monitoring
(Green Zone)  1  The chance of collision is extremely unlikely, about the same as a random object of the same size striking the Earth within the next few decades. 
Events Meriting Concern
(Yellow Zone)  2  A somewhat close, but not unusual encounter. Collision is very unlikely. 
3  A close encounter, with 1% or greater chance of a collision capable of causing localized destruction. 
4  A close encounter, with 1% or greater chance of a collision capable of causing regional devastation. 
Threatening Events
(Orange Zone)  5  A close encounter, with a significant threat of a collision capable of causing regional devastation. 
6  A close encounter, with a significant threat of a collision capable of causing a global catastrophe. 
7  A close encounter, with an extremely significant threat of a collision capable of causing a global catastrophe. 
Certain Collisions
(Red Zone)  8 A collision capable of causing localized destruction. Such events occur somewhere on Earth between once per 50 years and once per 1000 years. 
9 A collision capable of causing regional devastation. Such events occur between once per 1000 years and once per 100,000 years. 
10 A collision capable of causing a global climatic catastrophe. Such events occur once per 100,000 years, or less often. 

For an object making a close approach to Earth, its categorization on the Torino Scale is dependent upon its placement within this plot showing kinetic energy versus collision probability. (One MT = 4.3 x 10^15 J.) The left-hand scale also indicates approximate sizes for asteroidal objects having typical encounter velocities. For an object that makes multiple close approaches over a set of dates, a Torino Scale value should be determined for each approach. It may be convenient to summarize such an object by the greatest Torino Scale value within the set.

Prediction and Warning - It is estimated that over 90% of NEOs have not yet been discovered.  Because of this, with our present knowledge, there is a good chance that the only warning we would have is the flash of light from the fireball as one of these objects entered the Earth's atmosphere.  Scientists have proposed the "Spaceguard Survey" to find and track all of the large NEOs.  If such a survey is carried out, we could predict the paths of all NEOs and have years to decades to prepare for an NEO that could impact the Earth.
Mitigation - Impacts are the only natural hazard that we can prevent from happening by either deflecting the incoming object or destroying it.  Of course, we must first know about such objects and their paths in order to give us sufficient warning to prepare a defense.  Sufficient time is usually thought to be about 10 years.  This would likely give us enough time to prepare a space mission to intercept the object and deflect its path by setting off a nuclear explosion.  Currently, however, there are no detailed plans.  But, even if we did not have the ability to destroy or deflect such an object, 10 years warning would provide sufficient time to store food and supplies, and maybe even evacuate the area immediately surrounding the expected impact site.

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 10:20:23 pm
Asteroid/Comet Impact Craters and Mass Extinctions
and Shiva Hypothesis of Periodic Mass Extinctions.
by Michael Paine

[Craters by age] [Volcano and climate change links] [Updates] [Chicxulub debate][More on extinctions] [Falklands] [Impacts and vulcanism] [Shiva Hypothesis - periodic extinctions]

Craters by age
Since writing my article  "How an asteroid impact causes extinction" in 1999, I have gathered some  more information about the possible links between asteroid impacts and mass extinctions. There also appears to be a link between large impacts and volcanic eruptions.
The following graph shows impact craters on Earth by age and diameter. Also shown are the main geologic boundaries involving mass extinctions (tall, bold lines), minor boundaries (thin, short lines - fewer extinctions) and the approximate timing of "flood basalt eruptions". Originally the graph only showed craters which aligned with major extinction events but it was considered better to show all craters 20km diameter or more to avoid "counting the hits and ignoring the misses". Those which appear to align with a geologic boundary are shown as dark blue diamonds. The most notable is Chicxulub at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary - the event that saw the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Since multiple impacts appear to be very common throughout the solar system it is expected that some of the smaller craters are associated with other major impacts, evidence of which has not been discovered or has vanished over time. For example, the Triassic/Jurassic and Jurassic/Cretaceous boundaries appear to involve multiple impacts. Craters 40km diameter or more are likely to be caused by 2km diameter asteorids or comets. Such impacts would probably result in severe global climate disruption but it takes an asteroid/comet 10km or larger to cause mass extinctions. It is estimated that such impacts occur, on average, once every 50 to 100 million years.

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 10:21:19 pm
Graph best viewed 1024x768


Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 10:23:07 pm
Here is some of the data used for the graph. (Ma = Million Years).
Siljan 52 368
Charlevoix 54 357 15 Quebec, Canada
Araguainha Dome 40 247 5.5 Brazil
Rochechouart 25 214 8 France  (see Nature 395, p126, 1998)
Red Wing 9 200 25 North Dakota, U.S.A.
Obolon 15 215 25 Ukraine
St Martin 40 219 32 Manitoba, Canada  (see Nature 395, p126, 1998)
Manicouagan 100 214 1 Quebec, Canada (see Nature 395, p126, 1998)
Puchezh-Katunki 80 175 3 Russia
Gosses Bluff 24 142.5 0.8 Australia
Mjolnir 40 142 2.6 Norway
Morokweng 70 145 3 South Africa
Tookoonooka 55 128 5 Queensland, Australi
Kara 65 73 3 Russia
Chicxulub 170 64.98 0.05 Yucatan, Mexico
Chesapeake Bay 90 35.2 0.3 Virginia, U.S.A. (see Nature 388, p365,1997)
Popigai 100 35.7 0.8 Russia (see Nature 388, p365,1997)
Kara-Kul 52 5
Eltanin 30? 2.14
 South Pacific - ocean impact
(see Nature 390, p357,1997)
Bedout 180 250?
 Western Australia
Woodleigh  120 250-360?
 Western Australia (PDF) Note about age.
Ewing Structure 55-150 11
 Western Pacific?

Several craters between 20km and 80km are missing from this table but shown in the graph. See NRC (updated URL) for a full list of craters. "Eltanin" was an ocean impact and did not leave a crater. Bedout and Woodleigh are speculative - see below. Ewing is a possible oceanic crater. Woodleigh is now in the NRC database and Bedout is looking promising.

NRC also has an excellent series of maps of the continents over geologic time.

Uni Arizona: Interactive global map of impact craters. Australia.

Uni Tennessee: Suspected Earth Impact Sites - new (2006) online database.

"Impacts - no crater" are cases where there is evidence of an impact, such as tektites, but no crater has been found. Eltanin (see above) is an example. The other cases are described by Dallas Abbott in a pending EPSL paper - stay tuned for an online copy.


Period or Epoch  Ma
Precambriam/Cambrian 570
Cambrian/Ordovician 505
Ordovician/Silurian 438
Silurian/Devonian 408
Frasnian/Famennian (Trilobites) 367
Devonian/Carboniferous 350
Carboniferous/Permian 286
Permian/Triassic 250
Triassic/Jurassic ? 208
Jurassic/Cretaceous 144
*Cretaceous/Tertiary (Dinosaurs) 65
* KT stands for Cretaceous Tertiary, Kriede is the German word for Cretaceous.
More information
Ethiopean Plateau 35
Deccan Traps, India 65
Emperor-Hawaii Chain 65
Sudan Volcanics 144
Central Atlantic Volcanics 213
Siberian Traps 250
Antrim Plateau 511
Flood basalts and mass extinctions - some "other" eruptions and "minor" geologic boundaries shown in the graph are from this website. This website indicates the Triassic/Jurassic boundary occurred 208 Ma. There may have been two or more extinction episodes at this time.
Volcano and climate change links:
Alan Robock's publications
Volcano World including Dead Dinosaurs and Gases
Time Magazine When life nearly died
Dinosaur Volcano Greenhouse - an alternative view of the K/T extinctions. Information about the Deccan Traps.
Large Igneous Provinces - Scientific American, October 1993.
3 Feb 2000 BBC: Supervolcanoes could trigger global freeze.
21 Nov 2000 SpaceDaily: Massive Lava Flows Triggered Apocalyptic Climate Changes. Also University of Buffalo press release.
Scientific American: Volcanic Accomplice. See clarification.
Abstracts of GSA 2000 (CCNet item 13) refer to impacts and eruptions.
9 Mar 01 BBC: 'Quick' demise for the dinosaurs. The work lends support to the idea that a single, giant impact of an asteroid or comet was responsible for the mass extinction of life that occurred 65 million years ago.  In so doing, the research also undermines the popular, alternative theory for the demise of the dinosaurs: climate change brought on by huge volcanic eruptions.
DINOSAURIAN EXTINCTIONS. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
30 Apr 01 SciAm: Scientists Shake Up Theory of Plate Tectonics.
BBC: Supervolcanoes.
American Museum of Natural History: Climate Effects of Historic Volcanoes.
13 Jun 02 Buffalo Times: Study of Dust in Ice Cores Shows [recent] Volcanic Eruptions Interfere with the
19 Oct 03 EPSL (abstract):Rapid eruption of Siberian flood-volcanic rocks and evidence for coincidence with the Permian-Triassic boundary and mass extinction at 251 Ma
Effect of Sunspots on Global Climate (CC) - This website discusses the origin of "hotspot" volcanism.
Jones A. P. and others (2002), Impact induced melting and the development of large igneous provinces. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 202, 551-561.(PDF)
Jones A.Pand others (2003) Impact decompression melting: a possible trigger for impact induced volcanism and mantle hotspots? In: Impact markers in the Stratigraphic Record (eds. C. Koeberl and F. Martinez-Ruiz), Springer, Berlin, p 91-120.(PDF)
22 Dec 04 SciAm: How do volcanoes affect world climate?
10 Mar 05 BBC: Experts weigh super-volcano risks + Live Science: Super Volcano Will Challenge Civilization, Geologists Warn. See also Nature: Super-eruptions might not be as environmentally devastating as we thought. (CC)
6 Dec 05 BBC: Poison [volcanic] gas 'caused' great [P/T] dying.

2 Dec 05 EPSL: Absence of extraterrestrial 3He in Permian–Triassic age sedimentary rocks
27 May 06 SciAm: The Secrets of Supervolcanoes - A supervolcano eruption packs the devastating force of a small asteroid colliding with the earth and occurs 10 times more often...
24 Jul 06 EPSL: Volatile fluxes during flood basalt eruptions and potential effects on the global environment: A Deccan perspective - atmospheric perturbations associated with SO2 emissions from just one of these long-lasting eruptions were likely to have been severe, and constantly augmented over a decade or longer. By contrast, the amounts of CO2 released would have been small compared with the mass already present in the atmosphere, and thus much more limited in effect [global warming]. (more at CCNet)
1 Oct 06 SciAm: Impact from the Deep - Strangling heat and gases emanating from the earth and sea, not asteroids, most likely caused several ancient mass extinctions.
15 Mar 07 EPSL: Contemporaneous massive subaerial volcanism and late cretaceous Oceanic Anoxic Event 2.
More on Extinctions and Impacts + Updates (at end of list)
Explorezone Did asteroid-induced firestorm kill the dinosaurs?
New Scientist article What really killed the dinosaurs?
How Dinsoaurs became extinct
Extinction lab - University of Arizona - more links on the K/T event.
Earth Science Resources: Geology, Oceanography, Astronomy & Ecology - Miami University
BBC The Extinction Files
"The March Towards Extinction" National Geographic, June 1989 (paper version only). This was written before Chicxulub was discovered.
Interview with David Raup about mass extinctions.
BBC: Ill wind 'killed dinosaurs' - one of the more extreme ideas.
8 Sep 2000 Rocks Reveal Details of Mass Extinction - possible evidence of a NEO impact associated with the Permian extinction 251 million years ago.
Global Climate Change (and impacts) - Tri-College University
National Geographic, Sep 2000: When Life Nearly Came to an End (Permian extinction)
Dinosaurs, Meteorites, and Extinctions by Wendy Wolbach.
23 Feb 01 Mass Extinction & Rise of Dinosaurs Tied to Cosmic Collision. Also Washington Uni press release. Scientific American: E.T. Molecules Explain a Mass Extinction. Science@NASA: Apocalypse Then.
23 Feb 01 University of Washington: Asteroid or comet triggered death of most species 250 million years ago

15 Apr 01 SciAm: Deeper Impact (updated URL) - Was yet another mass extinction (PT) the work of an asteroid?
31 May 01: Left Hand Network - many extinctions links
1 Jun 01: PSRD Hot Idea: Impact at the end of the Permian
6 Jun 01 Uni Oregon: Lecture course on astronomy covers extinctions.
28 Aug 2001: GSA Permian Extraterrestrial Impact Caused Largest Mass Extinction on Earth.
 EXTINCTIONS Fossil Company
8 Dec 01 Abstracts of Annual AGU meeeting: "Ewing structure: a possible abyssal impact crater" by Dallas Abbott - about 150km in diameter...about the age of the late/middle Miocene boundary, a prominent mass extinction event" [not in my list but see this New Zealand article - an ocean impact might have started off the Antarctic ice sheet due to the water released and the global cooling]. GSA 2002: MICROFOSSIL MELTING BY THE EWING IMPACT
29 Jan 02 NASA Science News: The Great Dying 250 Million Years Ago - telltale signs of a collision between our planet and an asteroid 6 to 12 km across...
March 02 Scientific American: Repeated Blows (UCSB copy plus other papers) - by Luann Becker. Extraterrestrial impacts ended the age of the dinosaurs. New  research shows that they could have been the culprits behind many mass extinctions as well. This article uses the above graph.

31 Mar 02 Nature: Two cheers for extinction + Determinants of extinction in the fossil record
17 May 02 BBC: Impact led to dino rule. Also New Scientist: Giant dinosuars arrived with a bang. From Science.
17 May 02 NAI: The Cambrian Explosion: Tooth and Claw + Evolution’s Slow Recovery.
7 Jun 02 BBC: Volcanic 'flood' linked to [PT] extinction. (larger than previously thought). From Science:
8 Jun 02 Geology.about: Extinction links.
12 Jun 02 BBC: Dino heatwave recorded in leaves + New Scientist: Fossils point to asteroid causing dinosaurs' demise.
11 Feb 03 NAI: Great Impact Debate I: Benefits of Hard Bodies (mass extinctions)
6 May 03 ACA: Asteroid impact puts heat on Snowball Earth theory of key evolutionary jump
8 May 03 Astrobiology: Comparing the Evidence Relevant to Impact and Flood Basalt at Times of Major Mass Extinctions - (the) Walter Alvarez
28 May 03 EPSL: A case for a comet impact trigger for the Paleocene/Eocene (55My) thermal maximum and carbon isotope excursion
13 Jun 03 LSU: Evidence for meteor in early mass extinction found - not sure if this is referring to the Frasnian/Famennian which could be associated with the Woodleigh impact structure in Western Australia
Age and implications of the 120 km-diameter Woodleigh impact structure, Carnarvon Basin, Western Australia
Killer Crater Found (Woodleigh)

Progress in meteoritic impact and crustal evolution research - ANU report
23 Aug 03 Nature: Boiling seas linked to mass extinction (CC) - see also Rocks from Space - impacts may trigger methane releases.
11 Sep 03 SpaceDaily: Did Earth Blow Up The Dinosaurs
26 Sep 03 Princton: Princeton paleontologist produces evidence for new theory [?] on dinosaur extinction (NNN)
20 Nov 03: PhD student Peter Schulte has several publications about the Chicxulub impact.
4 Dec 03 Astrobiology Magazine: Repeated Blows: The Great Dying (possible PT impact)
1 Feb 04 Science Direct: Causes and consequences of extreme Permo-Triassic warming to globally equable climate and relation to the Permo-Triassic extinction and recovery (abstract). No mention of possible post-impact Greenhouse effect (assuming a major impact is associated with PT).
4 Feb 04 Astronomy & Geophysics v45.1 Feb04: A COMET IMPACT IN AD 536? (Abstract - full text at CCNet?)
3 May 04: Multiple impacts at the KT boundary and the death of the dinosaurs 1997 paper by Dr.Chatterjee, Texas Tech Uni plus Animations of Plate techonics at Uni California, Berkeley (thanks Richard Lazzara).
8 May 04: Mass Extinctions of Life: An Update on Astrophysical Causes by Charles A. Breiterman
11 May 04 NewSci: FOUR DAYS THAT SHOOK THE WORLD (speculative alternative to impacts)
14 May 04 Bedout Structure and the P/T Mass Extinction
BBC: Boost to asteroid wipe-out theory
NASA Announces Site Of "Great Dying" Meteor Crater (CC)

Times Despatch: Scientists will reveal today where a major space rock hit Earth (CC)

Science: Evidence of Huge, Deadly Impact Found Off Australian Coast? + Bedout: A Possible End-Permian Impact Crater Offshore of Northwestern Australia.
The Bedout structure has been shown as a speculative impact structure associated with the P/T extinction for several years on the above graph - this latest work by Luann Becker and her team confirms earlier work, particularly by John Gorter.

13 Oct 04 ABC: Asteroid did not end dinosaurs: NZ scientists +  Trends in Ecology & Evolution: The rise of birds and mammals: are microevolutionary processes sufficient for macroevolution? See also: How to kill (almost) all life: the end-Permian extinction event

The Mass-Extinction Debates - How Science Works in a Crisis. Edited by William Glen. This (1994) book examines the arguments and behavior of the scientists who have been locked in conflict over two competing theories to explain why, 65 million years ago, most life on earth—including the dinosaurs—perished.
1 Dec 04 SpaceDaily: New Evidence Supports Terrestrial Cause Of End-Permian Mass Extinction - "Our geochemical analyses of these two famous end-Permian sections in Austria and Italy reveal no tangible evidence of extraterrestrial impact," said Koeberl.
9 Dec 04 Kansas City Star: Debate still rages on demise of dinosaurs
6 Mar 05 Huge Space Clouds May Have Caused Mass Extinctions.
15 May 05 EPSL (abs): Basaltic volcanism and mass extinction at the Permo-Triassic boundary: Environmental impact and modeling of the global carbon cycle.
2 Sep 05 EPSL (abs): Geophysical evaluation of the enigmatic Bedout basement high, offshore northwestern Australia [Evidence suggests no major impact] (CC)
21 Sep 05 NYT (regn): Fossils Offer Support for Meteor's [sic] Role in Dinosaur Extinction + Geology (abs): Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary deposits at Loma Capiro, central Cuba: Evidence for the Chicxulub impact (CC)
29 Oct 05 EPSL (abs): Giant meteoroid impacts can cause volcanism. Our model demonstrates that a giant impactor could cause a flood basalt, and this process may have been significant early in Earth history...
30 Dec 05 EPSL (abs): The 3.26-3.24 Ga Barberton asteroid impact cluster: Tests of tectonic and
magmatic consequences, Pilbara Craton, Western Australia - ...imply impact-triggered reactivation of mantle convection, crustal anatexis, faulting and strong vertical movements in Archaean granite–greenstone terrains associated with large asteroid impacts.
16 Mar 06 LPSC: Extraterrestrial Chromium at the Graphite Peak P/Tr boundary and in the Bedout Impact Melt Breccia.
8 Jun 06 ABC Science: Killer crater may have spawned Australia [PT extinction?] + PPP: Close-up of the end-Permian mass extinction horizon recorded in the Meishan section, South China: Sedimentary, elemental, and biotic characterization and a negative shift of sulfate sulfur isotope ratio (thanks CCNet)
2 Oct 06 EPSL (abs): Chicxulub impact event is Cretaceous/Paleogene boundary in age: New micropaleontological evidence.
30 Nov 06 Universe Today: Just a Single Asteroid Strike Wiped out the Dinosaurs (see EPSL item above)
10 Mar 07 EPSL ($): Chicxulub impact predates K–T boundary: New evidence from Brazos, Texas

See also the bibliography for Rocks in Space.


Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 10:24:02 pm
Chicxulub Debate


CCNet 2 June 2005

(Smit) Dear Benny,

Gerta Keller and colleagues again think they have dealt "... the mortal wound for the
Chicxulub theory" on the basis of new cores taken at Brazos River, Texas.

Hermann Burchard, not a geologist, says he believes her now (CCNet 2 June 2005).

Yet the only evidence we have seen is an abstract at the AGU New Orleans 2005 meeting,
where is stated that between the event sandstone beds (marked by coarse Chicxulub ejecta)
and the K/T boundary (marked by an iridium anomaly) a normal claystone layer would exists
(labelled as interval F and G by Thor Hansen, who established the classic stratigraphy of
the Brazos K/T section). The cornerstone of Keller's arguments is that deposition of this
F/G claystone would have lasted 300kyr.

I have analysed the grainsize distribution of the same F/G claystone interval several
times, and every time I got the same results: the entire claystone layer is size graded,
with the largest grainsize at the bottom and the finest at the top near the iridium anomaly
(Smit et al 1996). This stands in stark contrast with the normal claystones above the
iridium anomaly and below the event beds, that are not graded at all.

Grading is due to settling of silt and clay-sized material out of a suspended sediment cloud
in the Sea, in our view stirred by the mega-tsunamis that resulted from the Chicxulub impact.
Such settling takes days to perhaps week, not 300.000 years.

Other arguments, same as used last year in the GeolSoc debate ( include burrowed layers,
magnetostratigraphy and Cretaceous foraminifers. These arguments are easily countered.

Burrows can originate between the individual tsunami waves surges, that easily last 1 hour,
plenty of time for oprooted organisms to dig in the seafloor again (to be uprooted again by
the next wave!)

Foraminifers in F/G are all of Cretaceous affinity, and like the silt and mud stirred by
the tsunamis, will slowly settle to the seafloor in interval F/G. Thus, no evidence for
indigenous foraminifers!

Magnetochron 29Reversed straddles the KT boundary from roughly 350 kyrs before to 350 kyr
after the K/T boundary. So anything happening in that 700Kyr interval has a reversed
magnetic signature, including the Chicxulub impact, K/T boundary, and claystone F/G.
Thus nothing argues for either pro or contra Chicxulub being the KT crater.

J. Smit et al., in The Cretaceous-Tertiary Event and Other Catastrophes in Earth History G. Ryder, D. Fastovski, S. Gartner, Eds. (Geol. Soc. of Amer., Boulder, 1996), vol. Sp. Pap. 307, pp. 151-182.

So, once again, this is not a "remakable discovery", but a rehash of the same, erroneous arguments.


Prof. Dr. J. Smit
Department of Sedimentology
Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences
Vrije Universiteit, de Boelelaan 1085
1081HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands

(Geller) Dear Benny

There is nothing better in science than to have the weight of empirical
evidence proof or disproof a popular theory.

But the hardest thing in science is to convince the true believers and
main proponents of a popular theory that the evidence doesn't support it.
Frequently, there is gut reaction denial of the existence of the evidence,
expressions of disbelief and some go as far as discrediting the messenger.
But every once in a while some scientists realize that the weight
of the evidence is lined up against the popular theory that the
Chicxulub impact is the KT killer that caused the mass extinction.
Hermann Burchard is such a scientist and it took some courage to publicly
retract his former doubts on CCNet.

Keller, Adatte, Stinnesbeck and others (2003, 2004) have shown that the
Chicxulub impact predates the KT boundary by about 300,000 years based on
the Chicxulub impact crater core Yaxcopoil-1, KT sections throughout NE Mexico
and now also in Texas along the Brazos River (AGU, 2005, see write-up by Rex
Dalton in NATURE NEWS.

New drilling by DOSECC this spring and investigations of new outcrops
along tributaries of the Brazos River by Thierry Adatte, Tom Yancey,
Jerry Baum and myself have uncovered outcrops that detail the KT boundary,
storm event beds (formerly called KT impact tsunami deposits), and the original
Chicxulub impact ejecta layer. The three events are separated by laminated
fossiliferous shales with the KT boundary and Ir anomaly up to 1.6 m
above the top of the storm event beds and the original Chicxulub impact
ejecta layer at least 45 cm below the base of the storm event beds. The storm
event beds have been studied extensively by Tom Yancey (l996) and Andy Gale
(2005); both came to the conclusion that these bioturbated sandstone
layers were deposited in separate storm events over an extended time
period and not related to the KT boundary impact.

The evidence indicates that two major impacts occurred about 300,000
years apart: the one at the KT boundary is marked by a global Ir anomaly.
The earlier Chicxulub impact is never associated with an Ir anomaly, but is
known by its breccia in the crater and glass shards and spherule ejecta
throughout the Caribbean, Central America and southern US. There is a precedent
for multiple impacts in the late Eocene (originally discovered by Keller et
al.,1983) with large craters known from Popigai and Chesapeak Bay. The
end-Cretaceous appears to have been a time of multiple impacts and massive

Gerta Keller

Gale, A.S., 2005 Proceedings of the Geologists Association (in press)
Keller et al., l983, Science 221, 150-152.
Keller et al., 2003, ESR 62, 327-363.
Keller et al., 2004, PNAS 101(11), 3753-3758.
Yancey, l996, Gulf Coast Assoc. of Geol. Societies 46, 433-442.

Gerta Keller
Department of Geosciences
Princeton University
Princeton NJ 08544, USA


The Chicxulub Debate:


Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 10:24:44 pm
Update on the possible Falkland craters.

In his book "Rogue asteroids and doomsday comets" Duncan Steel refers to investigations by Michael Rampino (then at the Goddard Institute of Space Studies): "The appropriate antipodal point to Siberia (Siberian Traps 250Ma) is
the Falkland plateau off Tierra del Fuego... on that plateau Rampino has identified two sub-oceanic circular basins with diameters of about 300km and 200km respectively. Dating the rocks indicates the same age as the Late Permian Extinction." He cites a Rampino paper in the book "Hazards due to Comets and Asteroids" called "Extraterrestrial impacts and mass extinctions" - this may contain more information.
I cannot find any recent references to this subject. It seems that the same issues that delayed discovery of Chicxulub are occurring in the case of the Falkland Plateau - commercial and political sensitivities. The area has potential oil reserves and is also very sensitive politically. Altimetry map of the Falkland Plateau from Delft Institute for Earth-Oriented Space Research.
CCNet 21 Oct 1999
(1)With reference to Michael Paine's communication (CCNet 20.10.1999), several indicators exist for extraterrestrial impacts contemporaneous with the Permian-Triassic boundary - which saw the largest extinction recorded in Earth history - including:
 1.  Araguainha impact structure, Brazil - ~247 +/-5.5 Ma; D=40 km (see R.A.F. Grieve's crater listing).
2.  Lorne Basin - New South Wales - a candidate P-T boundary impact  structure, 35x30 km large (Tonkin, P.C., 1998, Aust. J. Earth Sci.  45, 669-671).
3.  shock features in quartz (PDF) along the P-T boundary in Antarctic  and New South Wales (Retallack G.J., Geology, Jan. 1999; for other  references re-P-T boundary conditions refer to Retallack and Krull, 1999, Aust. J. Earth Sci. 46:785-812.
4.  Weak Ir anomalies reported from China and Japan, remaining  unconfirmed due to possible analytical problems.
On the basis of known stratigraphic constraints, more than one impact structures may prove to be of a P-T boundary age by future isotopic age studies. The Falkland structure (M.R. Rampino) and Bedout structure (off
NW Australia, J.D. Gorter) are only candidate P-T impact structures inferred from geophysical and in the latter case drilling data, as yet unconfirmed and undated. As yet the magnitude of the confirmed impact/s is not large enough to link them to the P-T boundary extinction and/or as triggers of the Siberian volcanic traps (248.4+/-2.4 Ma), although it
is definitely possible further crater/s identification and isotopic dating may shed light on these questions.

Andrew Glikson, Research School of Earth Science,Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University

There is a large, circular gravity anomaly on the Falkland Plateau that resembles anomalies associated with large impact craters.  It is quite large; greater than 200 km in diameter.

The basin that is indicated could be Late Paleozoic or Early Mesozoic in age, but not much more is known about it. Recent papers have suggested that it is of tectonic origin, but more study is needed.

I suggested that it might be an impact structure, and should be more closely studied back in 1992.

Dr. Michael R. Rampino

See also Duncan Steel's book "Rogue asteroids and doomsday comets"


Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 10:25:31 pm
Impacts and vulcanism
CCNet 15 Feb 2001

From Hermann Burchard <>

Dear Benny,

In Permian/Triassic boundary strata in South China, the element iridium is not present or at most only in trace amounts, according to Doug Erwin, who kindly responded to my e-mail question. This can be understood, as I would like to suggest, by noting certain connections with the iridium-rich Hawai'i hotspot, which has been moving in a SE direction across the Pacific for >100Ma, probably 225Ma, starting off from Sibiria.

As mentioned by Victor Clube and Bill Napier in their book "Cosmic Winter", magmas from the great Hawai'i volcanoes are rich in iridium. They discuss this, because it's an argument against cometary impact as a cause of the abundance of the element in extinction layers, such as the famous K/T-boundary.

There is a clear trace on the floor of the Pacific ocean beginning with the Emperor Seamount chain from the Kamchatka Peninsula to Midway Island, then angling off in a slight left turn along the Hawai'ian island chain. Although the trace possibly is now partly subducted in the Kamchatka - Aleutian trench, it seems clear enough that the hotspot was originally positioned in Eastern Sibiria.

Underlying the hotspot is a mantle plume which presumably was created when a cosmic body hit Sibiria and created the vast flood basalts of Yakutia (Sakha).  See the article by Renne et al. in "Science", 1995, 269:1314, for a map of the conjectured extent of the original lava beds, which may not have been fully explored.  These cover Yakutia (Sakha), bordering directly on the Sea of Okhotsk near Magadan, immediately adjacent to the present day NW-terminus of the Emperor Seamount chain. From my less than adequate maps, the basalt beds seem to abut on or even include the Kolyma gold and diamond fields; diamonds have been studied in connection with impact sites e.g. by Christian Koeberl.)

Therefore, little doubt can exist concerning the essential identity of the following events:

          1.  Inception of Hawai'i hotspot in Sibiria.
          2.  Sibirian flood basalt eruption.
          3.  Cause of P/T mass extinction.

We owe the identity of 2. and 3. to the work of paleobiologists like Doug Erwin. Here, we wish to explain that event 1. probably was a cosmic body impacting in Sibiria - more precisely a spot in Gondwana-land which became present-day Eastern Sibiria.

Much of the meteoritic material from the comet or asteroid, that struck Earth at the P/T transition, appears to remain still in the hole punched in the upper mantle by the cosmic impact body, the Hawai'i hotspot (I sincerely doubt that this will seem like a very novel idea in the minds of many geologists).

Hence we may conclude:

   [A] Iridium continues to be pumped upward with deep mantle material in Hawai'i volcanoes to this day.
    Little of the cosmic material was thrown into orbit at impact time, because of uniquely deep penetration of the giant P/T impactor.
   [C] Iridium cannot be traced in the layers separating Paleozoic and   Mesozoic rocks, never having been dispersed to a great extent.
   [D] Rather than refute it, as Clube-Mapier feared, abundant ir in the  magmas from Hawai'i confirms the impact theory of mass exinctions.

The relationship between impacts and hotspots is perhaps still somewhat controversial, so I will attempt to elaborate on this. Hotspot physics and geology is probably not a perfect science.  If I understand it correctly, the main mechanism is the same as in spreading or rift zones:
Pressure on the upper mantle is relieved as the minerals rise with reduced overburden, causing a phase transition which we see as melting. The causes of pressure release are somewhat different in the two arrangements of a) impact related hotspot and b) rift zone.
In case b) of a rift zone one possible initial cause of reduced pressure seems to be thinning of continental crust due to erosion of a stable craton over many 100Ma. The African rift valley is a case in point. In North America, at the beginning of the Jurassic era, the Atlantic ocean first began as a rift, with the margin seen today e.g. in the New York palisades
rock facade. At present, the New Madrid fault along the middle Mississippi may exemplify the same phenomena at an early stage. However, a rift may begin with a hotspot, as one other interpretation of the Great African Rift suggests! One hotspot is in the Afar region.

In case a) of an impact-induced hotspot the initial step is that the impact events destroy the phase equilibrium of the upper mantle in a narrow region underlying the crater.  This may be due partly to the shock wave of impact upsetting crystalline structures, or partly because surface rocks are excavated and removed by the impact explosion.  A massive melt results in the form of flood basalts from the suddenly relieved pressure, and/or from impact shock wave induced phase transition. The effect is a snowballing phase transition and melting.

Again, to avoid misconceptions, and because this does seem to remain controversial in some circles, it should be emphasized that:
       The melt in the plume after impact is _NOT_ caused by the initial  energy yield of impact, but rather by the reduced pressure which  forces a phase transition to take place that ends up in a phase  equilibrium at a lower Gibbs energy.

(Other views [as in Renne et al.] present a picture of a spontaneous rise of mantle, liquifying over a huge area, for which no account of origin can be given.  This can be considered for basalt floods, but could not explain narrow-bounded hotspots.)

Once in operation, lower mantle material appears to be resupplied continually from the sides to the punch hole, which maintains a pore where the pressure remains lower than in the surrounding mantle.  Thus the plume can rise indefinitely, as we see happen today in Hawai'i.

Any computations of effect of impact on the mantle not modeling phase equilibria and transitions should be treated with suspicion. Above description of mantle plumes, to make a disclaimer, is conjectural, not substantiated by actual computation.  My limited understanding of these things is based on a study of stable computation of phase equilibria, working with a petroleum engineer, on computing "flash" crude oil separation.

Although apparently still controversial, years ago already I have heard mention made by geologists of the connection of hotspots and impacts, as in the example of the Yellowstone hotspot, now in Wyoming, that has travelled East along the Snake river plateau for > 10Ma, and that is implicated in the flood basalts in Western Idaho and probably Washington State (?).

(Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the February 9 RAS conference on impacts, where Christian Koeberl was keynote speaker. I missed talks by Adrian Jones and Simon Kelly on impact, flood basalt, & hotspot related topics, that might have led me to improve this account).

Best regards,

Hermann G.W. Burchard

See a response by Andrew Glikson, Item 12, CCNet 23 Feb 01. He questions the P/T link.


>From Mark Boslough <> CCNet 1 Mar 01

A few inaccuracies crept into the March Scientific American article.

1) Our seismic focusing calculations showed that the peak in seismic energy
dissipation is in the asthenosphere both antipodal and directly beneath the
point of impact. We suggested that for a sufficiently large impact the
increased melting in the asthenosphere would be a significant contributor to
any impact-induced volcanism, but we did not speculate about effects on
pre-existing plumes or extinctions (although these ideas are worth
considering). Our idea was that a narrow column of hotter mantle could
create an instability that *looks* like a plume (as opposed to a classic
fluid plume that pushes its way up from the CM boundary).

2) I'm not sure where the "may not have been antipodal" phrase came from.
The impact antipode was clearly something like 30 degrees from the Deccan
Traps at the time of the K/T boundary.  If the Deccan Traps are
impact-induced it was not the Chicxulub impact (which came too late and in
the wrong place!) but an earlier impact either into the east Pacific or into

3) We suggested that an impact might generate the same surface
manifestations normally associated with mantle plumes (i.e. flood basalts
and long-lived hotspots). We did not connect them to superplumes which is
what Dallas Abbott proposed. It was Jon Hagstrum of the USGS who suggested
the connection to sea level, weathering, ocean chemistry, sediments, etc.
The ideas of Abbott and Hagstrum are also interesting worth considering--but
they're not mine as the article implies.

Mark Boslough
Sandia National Laboratories

Can Impacts Induce Volcanic Eruptions?
 Authors: Melosh, H. J.
 Journal: International Conference on Catastrophic Events and Mass Extinctions: Impacts and Beyond, 9-12                   July 2000, Vienna, Austria, abstract no.3144
Available from ADS Abstract service.
Conclusions: The bottom line of this discussion is that there is not a
single clear instance of volcanism induced by impacts, either in the
near vicinity of an impact or at the antipodes of the planet. This
accords well with theoretical expectation from our current understanding
of the impact cratering process. The possibility of impact-induced
volcanism must thus be regarded with extreme skepticism.


Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 10:26:37 pm
The Shiva Hypothesis - Periodic Mass Extinctions


The Jan/Feb 98 Issue of Planetary Report has an article by Michael Rampino "The Shiva Hypothesis". This describes a 30 million year cycle of mass extinctions over the past 540 million years (see diagram). One hypothesis is that this corresponds the the solar system oscillating through the galactic plane as it orbits the Milky Way.  Rampino notes that the last crossing of the galactic plane occurred a few million years ago and it has been suggested that this led to a disturbance of comets in the Oort Cloud, some of which could now be approaching the inner solar system.

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 10:27:56 pm

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 10:30:26 pm
This hypothesis was mentioned by Carl Sagan in the 1985 book "Comet" and first raised by Rampino and Stothers in a 1984 issue of Nature. It is still very controversial, but so was the Dinosaur/Impact hypothesis until the early 1990s.

See also:

American Scientist article Perturbing the Oort Cloud (new URL) by Michael Szpir, Jan/Feb 1997 issue.
Astrophysical Journal letter Tidal Imprint on Oort Comet Cloud by Matese & Whitmire (subscribers only).
The recent announcement of a possible 10th planet amongst the Oort cloud raises another possible source of periodic impacts. However, if such a planet does exist its orbital period is likely to be less than 10 million years.
Nemesis: Origin of the theory by Richard Muller
Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Dec 98: Impact cratering through geologic time by Gene Shoemaker (3Mb PDF). Gene argued that we are in a peak for comet impacts and the Australasian Tektite event is an example of this peak.
5 Jul 05 NewSci (subs): Mass extinction theory on the rocks
The Oort Comet Cloud and Its Interaction With Our Milky Way Galaxy - John Matese


Send suggestions for this page to Michael Paine.

Last update 16 Feb 2001

Return to Australian Spaceguard Survey


Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 10:39:16 pm

These bays on the North Carolina Coast are known as Carolina Bays or Pocosins. I have found hundreds of these arcs around the world. I will refer to these as anomalies in the rest of this text. Some of these could have been made by a comet similar to the comet Shoemaker-Levy9 that hit Jupiter. At this point I have no proof that these are impact craters. In fact they may have been caused by a very large flood. I am convinced that water played a role in the formation of these Carolina Bays. There seems to be quite a bit of circumstantial evidence but that is all I have. I have labeled some of the anomalies that are in North Carolina and Virginia number 1 through 9 with the largest one (The large circle in the Atlantic Ocean off of Virginia) starting number 1. Then numbers 2, 3, and 4 are along the North Carolina coast. Then number 5 is centered in the Chesapeake Bay just north of Virginia Beach, VA. Anomalies number 6, 7, 8, 9 stretch out in a straight line that points to the exact center of anomaly number 5. The circular structures (anomalies) range in size from less than one mile to hundreds of miles in diameter, and can be found on every Continent on Earth. It appears that maybe the comet (if it was a comet) broke apart on each end with the fragments causing the 2 parallel lines that follow behind the largest crater. I estimate the age of these structures to be between 6 thousand and 36 million years old. All of these bays were not created at the same time. Much more evidence will be needed to find exact age of the structures. These anomalies form a grid pattern that is about 22 degrees out from true North. This grid pattern covers the entire Earth! Another possibility is large Methane Gas releases in the Atlantic ocean could have caused the arcs to form.

I have written a book about these possible craters that give many more details. They can be ordered on line at: - - search by author "rufus johnson" or search by title "The Comet of Doom".


Anomalies 5,6,7,8, and 9 start in the Chesapeake Bay and go all the way to central North Carolina.


Anomalies 2,3,and 4 are along the North Carolina coastline


Anomaly 5 is in the Chesapeake Bay just north of Virginia Beach, VA. The actual center of this anomaly is at the southern tip of Cape Charles. This anomaly has been identified by the scientific community as an impact crater. Anomalies 6, 7, 8, and 9 form a line that points to the direct center of this anomaly.

( (

Anomaly 6 is just north of Suffolk, Virginia, on the Nansemond River. There is a circular bulge in the river about one mile in diameter with a small island in the middle that creates a bulls eye affect.

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 10:43:24 pm

The Climax of a Turbulent Millennium:

Evidence for Major Impact Events in the late Third Millennium BC

Timo Niroma, Helsinki, Finland

The First Intermediate Period
The Curse of Akkad
Troy IIg
Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse
Natural Catastrophes during Bronze Age Civilisations
Two separate cataclysms
Sodom and Gomorrah
Where did the impacts occur?



The First Intermediate Period


Selections from "The Egyptians" by C. Aldred (London 1987).

"At this distance of time, the overthrow of the Old Kingdom at

the end of the Sixth Dynasty has all the appearance of being sudden

and complete.

"Recent research has attributed the abrupt nature of the collapse

to contemporary changes in the climate of Africa and the Near East.

With the cessation of the Neolithic Wet Phase about 2350 BC, the

spectre of famine begins to haunt the region. An isolated block from

the Unas Causeway, showing piteously emaciated people weakened by

famine and dying of hunger, is an early portent of the evils to

come. Egypt was protected from the worst of such irregular

calamities by its unique irrigation system. It is fairly evident,

however, that a change in the pattern of monsoon rains falling on

the Abyssinian plateau could lead to a series of low Niles. Hot

winds from the south apparently accompanied this climatic

aberration. There are veiled references to the sun being

obscured by dust storm: 'the sun is occluded and will not shine that

men may see... none may know that it is midday, and the sun will

cast no shadow.' The high winds assisted the denudation by creating

dust bowls and shifting sand dunes on to the cultivation. The whole

political and economic system of Egypt would have been discredited

in a very short time. The king-lists refer to many pharaohs during

the three decades of the Seventh and Eighth Dynasties, each ruling

for a year or two and disappearing without trace.

"In these conditions, 'when the Nile was empty and men crossed

over it on foot', Egypt splintered into a number of feudal states.

There are cryptic references in the meagre records that have

survived to marauding bands of starving people searching for food in

more favoured localities.

"In the 20th century BC the local governors took what measures

were open to them to succour their own districts, by conserving

water supplies, and reducing the number of hungry mouths by driving

out famine-stricken invaders, whether natives, Libyans or Asiatics,

from their provinces. The internecine strife further restricted the

areas of cultivation; and the perils of these times are reflected in

the boasts of the local rulers on their crude tomb stelae. The

cataclysm is plain for all to see. The monuments of the period are

very sparse and mere feeble copies of the Memphite style of the

past. The widespread civil disorder is evident in the decoration of

the crude model funerary boats, hacked out of the local wood. All

were afraid when they beheld smoke arising in the south. Macabre

reminders of the civil strife of these days are the bodies of some

sixty shock troops who were accorded an honoured mass-burial at

Thebes. Their wounds showed that they had fallen in the desperate

storming of some key fortress.

"Famine in their own lands always drove Libyans and the bedouin of

Sinai and the Negeb to graze their flocks on the borders of the

Delta in the manner of Abraham and Jacob. The evils caused by

famine, poverty, social upheaval and anarchy brought others in their

train such as plague and sterility. A deep and lasting impression

was left on the ancient Egyptians by the trauma of these times, so

that in later literary works, such as the Prophecy of Neferti and

the Admonitions of Ipuwer, when the writer wished to depict mankind

tormented by intolerable miseries, it was the sufferings of this

period that he recalled."

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 10:45:25 pm
The destruction of the Old Kingdom was followed by a period of a violent economic and social upheaval.

From Admonitions of Ipuwer:

"The fruitful water of Nile is flooding,
The fields are not cultivated,
Robbers and tramps wander about and
Foreign people invade the country from everywhere.
Diseases rage and women are barren.
All social order has ceased,
Taxes are not paid and
Temples and palaces are being insulted.
Those who once were veiled by splendid garments, are now ragged.
Noble women wander around the country and lament:
"If only we would have something to eat."
Men throw themselves in the jaws of crocodiles -
So out of one's senses are people in their horror.
Laughter has ceased everywhere.
Mourning and lament are in its place.
Both old and young wish they are dead."

"Men don't any more sail to north, to Byblos.
"Where do we now get our cedar for our mummy coffins and oil to balm?""

Translated, collected and commented by TN.

The Curse of Akkad

Circa 2100 B.C.

"The large fields and acres produced no grain

The flooded fields produced no fish

The watered gardens produced no honey and wine

The heavy clouds did not rain

On its plains where grew fine plants

'lamentation reeds' now grow."

Quotations from H. Weiss, The Sciences, May/June 1996

"First of the world's empires, Akkad was not the last to blame

its fall on sacrilege. In a fit of pique, the author of the curse

believed, the Akkadian emperor had destroyed a temple to the sky god

Enlil, bringing on a century of drought, famine, and barbarian

invasions. How else to explain the empire's sudden, calamitous


"Only a hundred years before the collapse, Sargon of Akkad had

wrested the Sumerian city-states from Lugalzaggesi of Umma, then

stormed across the plains of Mesopotamia. When it was done the

Akkadian Empire controlled trade from the silver mines of Anatolia

to the lapis lazuli mines of Badakhshan, from the cedar forests of

Lebanon to the Gulf of Oman. In northern Mesopotamia, meanwhile,

fortresses were built to control imperial wheat production. To the

south, irrigation canals were extended, a new bureaucracy

established and palaces and temples built from imperial taxes.

"Then, abruptly, things fell apart. Sometime around

2200 BC seasonal rains became scarce, and withering storms replaced

them. The winds cut through northern wheat fields and blanketed them

in dust. They emptied out towns and villages, sending people

stumbling south with pastoral nomads, to seek forage along rivers

and streams. For more than a hundred years the desertification

continued, disrupting societies from southwestern Europe to central

Asia. Egypt's Old Kingdom, the towns of Palestine and the great

cities of the Indus Valley also were among the casualties.

"The Akkadian occupation of Tell Leilan, in any case, was to last

less than a hundred years. Only decades after the city's massive

walls were raised, its religious quarter renovated and its grain

production reorganized, Tell Leilan was suddenly abandoned. In our

excavations the collapsed remains of Akkadian buildings are covered

with erosion deposits that show no trace of human activity. Only

above them, in strata from 1900 BC, do ash, trash, and the

monumental remains of a new imperial capital appear.

"Striking as it is, the site's occupational hiatus came as no

surprise to us. Archaeologists first documented it in the late 1930s

at other sites in the region, relegating it to a footnote. Fifty

years later, when our team rediscovered the odd hiatus, we went one

step further. By determining radiocarbon dates for materials from

before and after the hiatus, we refined its chronology. By comparing

ceramics from our site with ceramics from the same strata at other

sites, we tracked the hiatus throughout the area. Whether at Tell

Leilan or Tell Taya, Chagar Bazar or Tell-al-Hawa, the results told

the same story: between 2200 and 1900 BC, people fled the Habur and

Assyrian plains en masse.

"Little by little, evidence of previously unrecorded climatic

events emerged. A thin layer of volcanic ash covers the last

Akkadian mud bricks. Just above that a layer of fine sand eight

inches thick testifies to centuries of flailing wind and relentless

drought. A volcanic eruption probably could not have caused the

disaster, but whether one did so may be unimportant. No matter what

caused them, dust storms and drought made rain-fed farming difficult

if not impossible. Year after year crops failed in northern


"Periods of drying climate are nothing new to Near Eastern

archaeologists. What is new are the data showing sudden, severe,

long-term climatic change. Add to these findings the simultaneous

social collapses documented in the Aegean, Egypt, Palestine, Iran,

and the Indus Valley, and you have a provocative picture indeed. The

problem, oddly enough, is that archaeologists have been ignoring it

for decades.

"In 1948 the French archaeologist Claude Schaeffer cast his eye

over the urban collapses of the third millennium and concluded that

regionwide earthquakes were to blame. A decade later the British

archaeologist James Mellaart fingered drought and migrations as the

culprit. Schaeffer's hypothesis seemed too fantastic for serious

study; Mellaart's, though less improbable, still depended on a deus ex


"Civilization on Crete and mainland Greece, like its neighbors,

collapsed in 2200 BC. The great cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa

in the Indus Valley collapsed between 2200 and 2100 BC. The

archaeologist Rafique Mughal of the Pakistan Department of

Archaeology blames shifting river courses, citing evidence that the

Indus River channels moved eastward, away from Harappan urban


"Could the collapses be coincidental? No.

There is no pattern of collapse in 2700 BC or in 2500 BC, only in 2200 BC.

Dry spells and drops in lake levels (occur) in the Sahel, the Sahara,

northwestern India, and western Tibet roughly between 2600 and 2200

BC. Lake Turkana in Kenya abruptly changed from an open to a closed

basin around 2000 BC. And around 2250 BC the level of the Dead Sea

reached a nadir. Sediments between Greenland and Iceland show a cold

peak around 2200 BC. Gulf of Oman: around 2300 BC dust suddenly

increased fivefold, the record during (the) Holocene. The dust peak

contains shards of volcanic glass." (The population of Finland

dropped to 1/3 somewhere between 2400 and 2000 BC. - TN)

Epilogue by TN

The Third Dynasty of Ur was the last attempt to revive

Sumer, after a chaos of 100 years

beginning with the destruction of Akkadian Sumer around 2200 BC.

During the Akkadian period wheat was the most important cereal and

its share of the harvest was about 20 %. During the years 2200-2100

BC the saltiness of the soil rose markedly, possibly because of salty

sea floods and, and after them, because of the following dryness that

evaporated the water leaving the salt behind. In the northern

Mesopotamia the wheat share dropped to 2 % and in the southern part

to zero. This change seems to coincide with the period when there

was no central authority.

Mesopotamia and other above-mentioned places were not the only victims of the 2200 BC event. As far away as in China, the Hongsan culture fell in pieces at this same time. This, if not anything else, is an indication of the mighty character of the event, and bolsters us to consider it as global.

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 18, 2007, 10:49:32 pm


Troy IIg

Illustration from theDaimler-Benz Troy Excavations Homepage

"Oh Lord, Won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?

Quotations from SIS.

"Extensive evidence exists that Early Bronze II came to an end

some centuries before 2000 BC with general destruction and cultural

disruption throughout most of Anatolia. Mellaart in 1960:

"... the number of sites burnt or deserted has already reached

the number of 350, and in the following period not more than one out

of every four earlier settlements was inhabited, and often not more

than squatted on. Whole areas, such as the Konya Plain and the

Pisidian plains south of Burdur revert to nomadism after thousands

of years of settled agricultural life."

The EB sequence of Troy in western Anatolia is complex, and also

confused to some extent because of inadequacies in Schlieman's early

excavations. There is however strong agreement that phase IIg of

Troy was destroyed by fire at this time. In the words of the

excavator, Carl Blegen:

"The stratum of Troy IIg had an average thickness of more than

one metre; it consisted mainly of ashes, charred matter and burned

debris. This deposit apparently extended uniformly over the great

megaron and across the entire site, eloquent evidence that the

settlement perished in a vast conflagration from which no buildings

escaped ruin."

Even the stones of the walls were reddened and calcined by fire

in a destruction of fearful suddenness:

"In all areas examined by the Cincinnati expedition, it was

obvious that the catastrophe struck suddenly, without warning,

giving the inhabitants little or no time to collect and save their

most treasured belongings before they fled. All the houses exposed

were still found to contain the fire-scarred wreckage of their

furnishings, equipment, and stores of supplies. Almost every

building yielded scattered bits of gold ornaments and jewelry, no

doubt hastily abandoned in panic flight."

There were dislocated building foundations for Troy IIg which

would indicate earthquake damage. Despite the great destruction,

there is no evidence of a massacre by foreign elements; furthermore,

the same culture reoccupied the site afterwards. McQueen, a noted

archaeologist, states that Troy IIg was "destroyed by fire without

apparently the involvement of any outside enemy"."

Paleoenvironmental Data for Abrupt Climate Change:
The Workshop on Third Millennium BC Climate Change
and Old World Collapse

The following excerpts are from " Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse", ed. by Nuzhet Dalfes, George Kukla and Harvey Weiss, NATO ASI Series, Vol I 49, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997. The book is based upon Proceedings of the Workshop by that name held at Kerner, Turkey, in September 1994. Harvey Weiss from Yale University has summarized some of the data from this book in an article entitled"Late Third Millennium Abrupt Climate Change and Social Collapse in West Asia and Egypt". Citations are from H. Weiss's article (unless otherwise noted).

I begin by picking some relevant pieces which seem to support my catastrophe theory. The climate change will be discussed regarding four regions: Mesopotamia, Palestine, Egypt and Indus Valley.


"Lemcke and Sturm (Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse) document an abrupt doubling of the quartz content of [one] Lake Van core ... or a tripling in other Van sediment records (Lemcke, abstract 1994), from 4200 to 4000 BP. This spike is synchronous with initiation of the k(18)O enrichment phase at 4190 cal yr BP (Lemcke and Sturm, Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse"). As Butzer (Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse") notes, the Lemcke and Sturm oxygen isotope record from the Van varves indicates a pronounced dry spell ca. 2350-2075 BC."

"Together these suggest, with Courty (Paleorient 20, 1994), that the 2200 BC phase of decreased precipitation was synchronous with increased wind turbulence and aeolian dust transport to Lake Van. Sampling at 84 year intervals may have precluded observations of Na and Al peaks that are considered to be effects of volcanic tephra."

Or the missing Na and Al peaks are indications that the tephra is not of volcanic origin. Courty herself has later deviated from his early opinion and admitted the non-volcanic character.

The following extract is from Marie-Agnes Courty and Harvey Weiss: "The Scenario of Environmental Degradation in the Tell Leilan Region, NE Syria, During the Late Third Millennium Abrupt Climate Change":

"The occurrence of an abrupt climate change 2200-1900 BC has been identified by changes in the dynamic of soil landscapes of the Habur Plains (Weiss et al. 1993). The chronostratigraphic record at Tell Leilan and regional survey links the rapid establishment of drastic arid conditions with site and regional abandonment. The soil properties of the 300 year long occupational hiatus stratum suggest that the climatic disturbance persisted until a "normal" climatic pattern was re-established ca. 1900 BC when the Tell Leilan region was re-occcupied."

As later will be noted, Courty changes the Tell Leilan hiatus to ca. 2350 BC and Harvey enlarges the whole Anatolian-Mesopotamian incident as having happened 2200 +/-200 BC.

My hypothesis is that there were two events, the first one around 2350 BC (2345 BC?), and the second one around 2200 BC (2193-2194 BC?), of similar cause, but possibly independent of each other.

Other places of major wind erosion at the end of the third millennium BC are from southern Iraq (Robert Adams: Heartland of Cities. Chicago 1981) and the wind-blown dolomite Mesopotamian dust within a sediment core from the Gulf of Oman.


"In the eastern Mediterranean, the exceptionally arid climate stage 4 of the Dead Sea Holocene record, beginning abruptly at ca. 2200 BC, is represented by a ca. 100 meter drop in Dead Sea level. "Abruptness" in this case is defined by six radiocarbon dates, with interpolation nadir."

My theory suggests that the southern part of the Dead Sea is a meteorite crater that catalysmically was born around 2200 BC.


Lake Turkana, which has great control over Nile floods, had a low lake level at 2250-2200 BC. Lake conditions changed abruptly, but the atmospheric circulation changed only gradually during the next centuries.

Indus Valley

An interpretation based on Ilhem Bentalen et al.: " Monsoon Regime Variations During the Late Holocene in the SW India, Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse".

First I have made a time calibration: 3500 BP radiocarbon calibrated as

2200 BC, 4300 BP radiocarbon calibrated as 3100 BC (based on Schove: Sunspots

plus several articles in Nature). Place: near the mouth of Kalinadi river.

Evergreen forest dropped from nearly 30% from 3100 BC to 15-20% in 2800 BC. The next drop was from nearly 20% in 2200 BC to below 10% in the next centuries. At the same time periods savanna increased from 20% to 40%, then remained at that level until 2200 BC, when there began a rapid increase, which leveled at 60% in 2 centuries. The most dramatic shifts are seen in delta(13)C: A sudden change from the level of 23 o/oo to 23.5 in 3100 BC and a rapid return to 23, and a new sudden change to 23.5 at 2200 BC and then a sharp change that eventually levels off to today's value of 21.5 o/oo some thousand years later.


"The quality of 2200 BC abrupt climate change records varies considerably, but none so much as the paleobotanical one (Bottema, Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse).

Why this is the case remains to be explained. Some cores of West Asia lakes (van Zeist and Bottema: Late Quaternary Vegetation of the Near East, Wiesbaden 1991) indicate an abrupt decline in arboreal pollen ca. 2200-1950 BC."

There are clear occupation hiatuses at Habur Plains/Tell Leilan (NE Syria), Tell Taya (N Iraq), Palestina, Iranian plateau and then there is the very sudden and dramatic collapse of Mohenjo-Daro, all beginning around 2200 BC (Dalfes, Kukla, Weiss, 1997). The whole area including East Africa, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Gulf of Oman, Aegean, Indus shows signs of abrupt climatic change around 2200 BC.

Lake Van, Lake Bosumtwi, Tell Leilan

Lake Van in Eastern Anatolia shows an interesting peak in core Van 90-10. Oxygen isotope 18 and the lake water ratio of Mg/Ca begin to increase in 4190 BP (varve count calendar) (Gerry Lemcke and Michael Sturm, Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse)

Lake Bosumtwi in Ghana shows an abrupt drop of 30m in lake level below today's level around 2200 BC. Its previous level is not exactly known, but had for 3000 to 4000 years been at least 60m higher than today. (Rhodes Fairbridge et al., Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse).

Courty and Weiss:
Tentative model describing the regional climatic effects
of the synchroneous events recorded during the abrupt climate change:

The following model has been set forth by Courty and Weiss in The Scenario of Environmental Degradation in the Tell Leilan Region, NE Syria, During the Late Third Millennium Abrupt Climate Change (Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse).

1. Large-scale climatic disturbances caused by
2. Modification of the land/sea temperature gradient in the Mediterranean basin caused by
3A. Surface cooling/increased planetary albedo (suppression of regular precipitation) and
3B. Heavy rainstorms.
4A. Increased planetary albedo is caused by radiative forcing.
4B. Heavy rainstorms are caused by cloud condensation nuclei.

5. The above sequence is caused by
5.1. Massive smoke injection and
5.2. Ash and dust fallout.
6. Extensive wildfires, unknown causes.

My suggestion for
the extensive wildfires or
the burning forests (smoke and ash)
is that they were caused
by the tremendous heat waves caused by
cosmic impacts in the Anatolian area.
The impacts themselves ejected
hot dust in the atmosphere
plus caused earthquakes and volcanic bursts.

Natural Catastrophes during Bronze Age Civilisations:
The SIS Cambridge Conference 1997

Mark Bailey:
"Near-Earth objects (NEOs) comprise a heterogeneous population of objects from a variety of sources ranging from long-period comets to the main asteroid belt. Recent dynamical results show that the orbits are chaotic, and that comets may in principle evolve into orbits similar to those of objects usually classified as asteroids (and vice-versa), and that comets and asteroids may resemble one another depending on the phase of their physical evolution and heliocentric distance."

Marie-Agnes Courty:
"Test on various late Third millennium BC archaeological deposit provides evidence for the regional occurrence in northern Syria of a layer with an uncommon petrographic assemblage, dated at ca. 2350 BC. It consists of fine sand-sized, well-sorted spherules of various composition, millimetric sized fragments of a black, vesicular, amorphous material made of silicates with Mg-Ca carbonate and phosphate inclusions, ovoid micro-aggregates made of densely packed crystals and exogenous angular fragments of a coarse crystallised igneous rock. All these particles are only present in this specific layer and are finely mixed with mud-brick debris or with a burnt surface horizon in the contemporaneous soils. In occupation sequences, the layer displays an uncommon dense packing of sand-sized, very porous aggregates that suggests disintegration of the mud-brick construction by an air blast. In the virgin soil, the burnt horizon contains black soot and graphite, and appears to have been instantaneously fossilized by a rapid and uncommon colluvial wash. Occurrence in a previously recorded thick tephra deposit of particles identical to some of the mysterious layer and resemblance of its original pseudo-sand fabric with the exploded one of the mysterious layer confirms that the later is contemporaneous with the tephra deposit. ... The restricted occurrence of the [tephra deposit] suggests that the massive tephra accumulation can no longer be considered as a typical fallout derived from the dispersion of material from a terrestrial volcanic explosion. ... Origin of this mysterious phenomena still remains unsolved."

Courty continues that this new dating causes the Akkad empire sudden collapse theory, based on an abrupt climate change, to lose its basis. I see however that the evidence of a great cataclysm between 2200 BC and 2190 BC is so compelling that on this basis we can't dismiss it. On the other hand, Courty is right in her theory of a major occurrence which I would date between 2350 BC and 2340 BC. When the External Collapse Theory (ECT) was first introduced in the late 1980's or early 1990's, the proponents talked about an event ca. 2300 BC. The 1994 SIS Conference talked about a 2200 BC event. In the Cambridge Conference 1997 and elsewhere also there has been an accumulating evidence of some event around 2350 BC besides the 2200 BC event. I suggest that there really were two disparate events, a local one in Near East 2200-2190 BC and 150 years later, 2200-2190 BC, a global one.

Mike Baillie:
"In 1988 the observation was made that narrowest-ring events in Irish sub-fossil oak chronologies appeared to line up with large acidities in the Greenland ice records from Camp Century and Dye3. Three of the events, at tree-ring ages 2345 BC, 1628 BC and 1159 BC turned out to be of particular interest as they contributed to debates on the Hekla 4 eruption in Iceland, Santorini [Thera] in the Aegean, and, possibly, Hekla 3..."

I think there are good grounds to combine the 1628 BC event with Santorini/Thera, but Hekla 4 looks like a later event, ca. 2300 BC, and vice versa the 2350 BC event doesn't look like a volcanic event. Also the connection between Hekla 3 and the 1159 BC event is questionable, because of its larger context from Mycenean to Shang dynasty China.

Baillie has later come to the conclusion that only 1628 BC is volcano-based, but 2345BC and 1159BC are not.

Benny Peiser:
"...Most sites in Greece (ca.260), Anatolia (ca.350), the Levant (ca.200), Mesopotamia (ca.30), the Indian subcontinent (ca.230), China (ca.20), Persia/Afghanistan (ca.50), Iberia (ca.70) which collapsed at around 2200+-200 BC, exhibit unambiguous signs of natural calamities and/or rapid abandonment. The proxy data detected in the marine, terrestrial, biological and archaeological records point to sudden ecological, climatic and social upheavals which appear to coincide with simultaneous sea- and lake-level changes, increased levels of seismic activity and widespread flood/tsunami disasters. The main problem in interconnecting this vast amount of data chronologically is the application of incoherent and imprecise dating methods in different areas of geological and climatological research..."

I would like to add Finland to this list: The population here dropped suddenly to third of its previous value sometimes between 2400 BC and 2000 BC (Turku University).

Another aspect of this is that if there ever was a real (pre)historical background for the flood- and other catastrophe stories, including Plato's Timaios and Critias and the Oera Linda book. The flood stories in Genesis, Plato and Oera Linda may have got some of their content from the evident Atlantic tsunami in 2200-2190 BC, although I consider the main flood originator both in general and especially Atrahasis/Gilgames/Genesis something that happened about 3100 BC.

Two separate cataclysms

So it seems that there were two separate cataclysms in the latter part of the third millennium BC.

The period of Sargon, from 2334 BC to 2279 BC, was very prosperous. Under

the reign of Naram-Sin from 2254 BC to 2218 BC everything still seemed

"normal". Akkadian Sumer was a welfare state in its own way during those

times. If the Anatolian event of 2345 BC was a local one, it neatly explains

Sargon's attack on the south of Anatolia, because of the havoc in north, and also the prosperity that followed when the highly civilized Akkadian culture moved south.

In fact before 2345 BC there was not any big difference between Northern and

Southern Mesopotamia. But when the North was in Chaos, this meant both

welfare and difficulties for the South. The population increased suddenly,

which stressed the food supply seems to have driven hungry people

still farther to the south, towards Egypt. Still Sumer prospered. But 150 years

later all this came to an abrupt end. The reign of Shar-Kali-Sharri was

interrupted suddenly into a chaos in 2193 BC .

How about Egypt? The end of the Old Kingdom of Egypt is surrounded by many

uncertainties. Modern Egyptologists originally thought that its last king

was Pepi II, whose reign began about 2250 BC. Later his reign was counted

as having lasted 90 years. Still later they added two more kings,

Intiemsaef II and Neithkeret. If we accept the original estimate that Pepi II

was the last Old Kingdom king, and if we take as a tentative theory that

the catastrophe also happened in Egypt in 2193 BC, it still gives Pepi

a reign of some 60 years.

So there seems to be a difference between the 2350 BC and 2200 BC events.

I suggest that the 2350 BC event was local, an Anatolian event, from the

Aegean to the Caspian. The 2200 BC event was global, as seen by

the evidence from Iberia to China. The Rio Cuarto impact in Argentina seems also to have happened during the latter part of the third millennium BC. Unable to destroy Tell Leilan and leave surroundings untouched, I would link it rather to the 2200 BC event. With its 50 km long and 10 km wide destruction path consisting of 11 craters (the largest one is 4.5 km long and 1.1 km wide) it must have had global consequences. Because of its different direction (nearly north to south) and different latitude of impact at 20 degrees S would however hint that it was a third and separate event during the series of catastrophes during the late third millennium BC. Be it connected to either of the mentioned cataclysms or a separate one in the late third millennium, one thing is sure: it must have had wordwide consequences, especially climatological. A flood event it was not, because it happened right in the middle of South America. But it itself was a multiple event and can have been accompanied by some debris that fall into Atl

In fact Greek mythology speaks of three flood events, of which the Ogyges and Deucalion legends are the most famous. Ogyges would then be the Anatolian event of 2345 BC and Deucalion event the global event of 2193-2194 BC. The third would be that of Atrahasis and Gilgames (the precursor for the Noachian flood) but because it happened in the first part of the unlucky third millennium BC, it is not considered here.

But let's go back to the 2200 BC event. In China a ruler named Yu, who has been praised of attempts to stop floods in China, reigned according to the standard chronology from 2205 BC to 2197 BC. The legend tells that at the time of the birth of Abra(ha)m there was a guest star (supernova). Bamboo Annals give one in 2287 BC. Again according to legend Abraham was of age 99, when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. If we take this literally we get the year 2188 BC, but of course the 99 years could also mean "nearly 100".

Marie-Agnes Court (The Soil Record of an Exceptional Event at 4000 BP in the Middle East (Natural Catastrophes During Bronze Age Civilisations, ed. Benny Peiser et al., Oxford 1998)), whose excavations at Tell Leilan in Northern Syria has led to two layers of burnt soil, whose calibrations (from radiocarbon age) yield ages of 4400-3900 BC and 4800-4300 BC, open also the above two windows. Benny Peiser ("Comparative Analysis of Late Holocene Upheaval") says that "Floodplain deposits of up to 3 metres thick and stretching up to 15 kilometres inland have been detected between Tirys and Mycenae" dated to ca. 2200-2300 BC.

Now there is a very interesting coincidence. There exists one very old

Frisian manuscript named the Oera Linda book. It was found in 1820, but

the scientific community condemned it as a forgery in 1871. We can ask

if that was too hasty a conclusion. One of the reasons the issue should

be reconsidered is that the book is some kind of a diary from the third millennium BC to about 500 BC. Right in the beginning is mentioned "The destruction of Atland" in 2194 BC. It describes the paradise before that, the year 2194 "when the bad days came", the escape of Atlanders first to Crete, where they founded their culture, the Minoan culture.

Sodom and Gomorrah

There have been excavations on the

Lisan peninsula, which nearly cuts the southern part of the Dead Sea

off from the rest of it. It is also different from the main Dead Sea in that it's mean depth is very different from the rest of the Dead Sea, only 10 m in average. It seems that there was a great

catastrophe around 2200 BC that has destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The surface of the Dead Sea dropped suddenly by 100m around 2200 BC (Frumkin et al., The Holocene 1.3, 1991). If

we take the story in Genesis for what it seems to indicate, size=4>the whole southern part of the Dead Sea may be an impact

crater that was caused by a cosmic disaster, one piece in the 2200 BC disaster.

Where did the Impacts occur?


Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 after fragmentation by Jupiter's gravity

Now I propose my theory: the Earth was hit in 2194 or 2193

BC by a comet which had spread into many parts, as did Comet

Shoemaker-Levy 9 which hit Jupiter in 1994 AD. The Dead Sea lies at latitude

31 degrees N, and the badly devastated Mohenjo-Daro on the shores of Indus had

a latitude of 28 degrees N. China's Yangtze area has a latitude of around

30 degrees. N. (Impact latitude is stable, longitude varies, such as it did for

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.) This latitude is also the latitude between Canary Islands

and Madeira. If a great tsunami washed away one island here or had a hit

right on an island, we could have Atlantis there, somewhere between Canary Islands and Azores (or in the shallow waters outside the Iberian peninsula). Those who lived over escaped to Crete and grounded the Minoan civilization, if we are to believe the Oera Linda history.

The incidence of 2345-2344 BC may have been an Anatolian event, destroying most badly the area from Troy (IIg) to Tell Leilan. The incidence of 2194-2193 BC surely had a global frame. Mahabharata may describe what happened at Mohenjo-dara, Indus. Edda may describe what happened in the Atlantic Ocean.


Fireballs on Jupiter after impacts of fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9

Go to the
Evidence of Astronomical Aspects of Mankind's Past and Recent Climate Homepage

The author would especially like to thank E.P. Grondine
For his assistance in laying out these pages.

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 19, 2007, 02:13:39 am
Collision Earth:
The Threat From Outer Space


Over a century ago Ignatius Donnelly summed up our precarious existence: We are but vitalized specks filled with a fraction of God’s delegated intelligence, crawling over an egg-shell filled with fire, whirling madly through infinite space, a target for the bombs of the universe.

      By bombs Donnelly meant the untold number of asteroids and comets that fill the heavens around us which on perhaps not a few occasions have smashed into Earth itself, and may do so again.

      Through revolutionary new techniques in observation, detection and photography, modern astronomers and astrophysicists have now identified two new classes of celestial objects which could pose a real danger to our planet within the foreseeable future, called NEA’s (Near Earth Asteroids) and ECC’s (Earth-Crossing Comets).

      On September 29, asteroid “4179 Toutatis” passed within 1.6 million kilometres of Earth. Its approach was the closest in this century of any known asteroid the size of Toutatis, which measured around 4.6 kilometres in length. If it had struck the Earth, we could have faced what scientists have dubbed “a mass extinction event.”

      Scientists believe the asteroid poses no risk at least through 2562, when Toutatis will pass within 400,000 kilometers of Earth – but astronomers admit there are forces in the solar system that can alter an asteroid’s orbit and put it on a collision course with Earth.

      Earlier this year, on March 31, an asteroid skimmed past the Earth at a distance of just 6500 kilometres above the ground. Object “2004 FU162”, which spans 5-10 metres across, would have burned up as a fireball ending with a smaller explosion, had it ventured into the Earth’s atmosphere. The problem was astronomers did not discover it until after its passing. Scientists have since calculated the asteroid’s orbit was shifted by a whopping 20 degrees because of the Earth’s gravity.

      The previous record for the closest asteroid approach to Earth was set on 18 March by an object called “2004 FH” which missed the Earth by about 40,000 kilometres. That was a much larger object, around 30 metres in diameter, but big enough to produce a one-megaton explosion in the atmosphere.

      NASA calculates objects in the 100-200 metre range hit Earth about once every 700-1,000 years. Such an object did hit the Earth in 1908, over Tunguska in Siberia.

      In the ECC (Earth-Crossing Comet) category, a very serious future candidate for an Earth grazing is comet Finlay, due to pass on October 27, 2060 – perhaps as close as 150,000 kilometres.

      In 1993, astrophysicist Brian Marsden announced that comet Swift-Tuttle could possibly strike Earth in the 22nd century. It is scheduled to pass the Sun incoming from deep space on July 11, 2126, and on August 14 will come very close to our world. Should the slightest irregularity occur in its long periodic path during the intervening one and a half centuries, it could hit the planet dead-centre, and with a force equivalent to 100 million megatons of TNT.

      Over the past few years we have often heard about the discovery of new asteroids and comets. This is the result of NASA’s 25-year survey of the sky to find objects wider than a kilometre that could have a devastating impact if they collided with Earth.

      Fortunately, nothing of a dangerous size has been spotted heading our way for at least a century – or so they tell us. According to a US government advisor, secrecy would be the best option if scientists discovered a giant asteroid was on course to collide with Earth.

      Speaking to a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Geoffrey Sommer, of the Rand Corporation, said:

      “If an extinction-type impact is inevitable, then ignorance for the populace is bliss. As a matter of common sense, if you can’t intercept it and you can’t move people out of the way in time, there’s nothing you can do in terms of reducing the costs of the potential impact.”

Deep Impact

      For one week in July 1994, astronomers watched a planetary body under attack, when two dozen pieces of the disintegrated comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 plunged into Jupiter with explosive results, equivalent to 40 million megatons of TNT going off in a chain reaction. As several scientists warned, this was Earth’s wake-up call for a similar event to happen to us.

      Recent computer simulations reveal that if a comet or asteroid hit the Earth on one side, the seismic waves generated would be transmitted through the planetary interior. By being focused on account of the Earth’s curvature, the waves would meet together at the location directly on the opposite side where the impact took place, and the high stress energy released could disrupt the surface area, causing a tremendous outpouring of volcanic activity.

      The air blast resulting from an impact would lead to large-scale and worldwide pressure shock waves oscillating the entire atmosphere and ionosphere, creating winds greater than the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded.

      Fragments of the asteroid and earth hurled into space by the impact would rain down all over the planet, setting forest fires. The resulting smoke would further darken the atmosphere, plunging the world into permanent night. The temperature would plummet.

      Calculating the amount of dust, water vapour and smoke injected into the sky from a kilometre wide object hitting the Earth, scientists estimate a drop of world temperatures by about 15 degrees Celsius lasting for about 15 days.

      By far the worst-case scenario is an asteroid or comet striking one of the world’s deep oceans. Some researchers worry the sudden displacement of such large volumes of water across thousands of kilometres of ocean would affect the axis spin and polar stability of the Earth, like adding an off-balancing weight to a spinning gyroscope. Even more disastrous would be a celestial object furrowed into the ocean at a more oblique angle. In this case the energy of the mass dissipates by pushing a titanic amount of water over a large surface area, creating a tsunami wave so high and large in size as to defy imagination.

      As a tsunami wave reaches nearer to a coast with a shallower continental shelf, its speed slows down, but its height is increased by a factor of 10 to 40. Thus a deep ocean wave of 100 metres might break ashore with a height of 1,000 to 4,000 metres.

      A major earthquake triggered off the coast of Chile in May 1960 generated waves in the deep water of the Pacific travelling a full 150 degrees around the globe, or more than 16,000 kilometres distance, landing ashore in Japan at a height of up to 4.5 metres, and killing over 200 people. Earlier, in 1946, a similar event took place when a tsunami originating in the Aleutians killed a handful of people along the nearby Alaskan shores, yet also went on to take the lives of 150 people in Hawaii 8,000 kilometres away. Computer projections indicate that a 9-metre asteroid impacting the ocean between Australia and New Zealand would produce tsunamis breaking on the southern Japanese coastline at 38 to 50 metres high.

      That large asteroids have hit the Pacific before is evident from geological remains on the islands within its perimeter. Deposits of unconsolidated corals have been found almost a thousand feet above the present coasts on Lanai, Hawaii, Oahu, Molokai and Maui, indicating they were washed up to that height by a tremendous wave of water in the distant past. Ordinary tsunamis generated by earthquakes along the Ring of Fire do not produce waves of that magnitude – only a major displacement of ocean waters from an impact event would fit the findings.

      The Atlantic Ocean is also in danger. Estimates are an impact anywhere in the Atlantic by an asteroid 365 metres wide would devastate coasts on either side with tsunami waves 60 metres high. Major cities either on the coast or with river, bay or harbor accesses such as New York, Boston, Washington, London, Amsterdam and Copenhagen are in danger of being completely obliterated.

      A computer simulation of an asteroid impact tsunami developed by scientists at the University of California shows waves as high as 120 metres sweeping onto the Atlantic Coast of the United States.

      The researchers based their simulation on a real asteroid known to be on course for a close encounter with Earth eight centuries from now.

      March 16, 2880, is the day the asteroid known as “1950 DA”, a huge rock 1.2 kilometres in diameter, is due to swing so close to Earth it could slam into the Atlantic Ocean at 60,000 kilometres per hour.

      “From a geologic perspective, events like this have happened many times in the past. Asteroids the size of 1950 DA have probably struck the Earth about 600 times since the age of the dinosaurs,” warns researcher Steven Ward.

Impact Events Linked to Evolution of Life on Earth

      It is known the Earth was pummelled by asteroids, comets and other massive heavenly bodies in the early days of its formation – over 3 billion years ago. But, until recently, most scientists thought this was an event limited to Earth’s distant past. They also believed the ancient celestial pounding eventually gave way to billions of years of gradual, non-catastrophic evolution.

      In the 1950s, astronomer Gene Shoemaker sent shock waves through the scientific community by suggesting various craters on our planet (and the Moon) were formed by asteroids or comets, rather than volcanic eruptions, which was what most scientists believed at the time.

      There doesn’t appear to be one square kilometre of the lunar surface that is not pockmarked with impact craters. While some craters are undoubtedly very ancient, they also contain within their rims a myriad of newer craters from more recent impacts.

      The reason why craters do not remain visible on Earth is due to their swift erosion by rain, snow, and wind, whereas on the Moon they remain for eons until a new projectile strikes the scar zone.

      Using the Moon’s potholed surface as a reference point, Shoemaker tried to determine how often celestial objects smashed into the Moon and, by extension, struck the Earth. With the help of modern satellite and aerial surveillance, Shoemaker and other scientists soon identified over 200 impact sites around the planet.

      In 1980 scientists Luis and Walter Alvarez claimed they had found evidence of a huge impact event 65 million years ago. This age corresponded with the demise of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous Period. The evidence included a worldwide layer of clay with high levels of the rare element iridium, usually the signature of an impact.

      In 1990, the buried remains of a 180-kilometre-diameter crater were discovered near the town of Chicxulub on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. A crater this size would have been blasted out by a 16-kilometre-wide comet or asteroid colliding with the Earth at some 80,000 kph.

      Some scientists now believe this crater as the long sought-after “smoking gun” responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs and more than 70 percent of Earth’s living species 65 million years ago.

      In June 2003 Science published a report about a team of scientists who believe a massive object from space smashed into what is now the Moroccan desert 380 million years ago. Dates for the impact coincide with the “Kacak/otomari” extinction, when up to 40% of all animals living in the sea perished. Fossils found in rock layers just above the impact layer suggest many new species appeared after the disaster.

      And in November 2003, another team of scientists reported on evidence for a massive asteroid colliding with the Earth 251 million years ago which may have killed 90 per cent of all life.

      The study, based on meteorite fragments found in Antarctica, suggests the Permian-Triassic event, perhaps the greatest extinction in the planet’s history, may have been triggered by a mountain-sized space rock that smashed into a southern land mass.

      “It appears to us that the two largest mass extinctions in Earth history... were both caused by catastrophic collisions” with asteroids, the researchers say in their study in Science.

      The evidence indicates asteroid impacts are the key factors in the development of life on this planet. In wiping out a large proportion of life on the planet periodically, the asteroids have played a more important role in evolutionary development than previously thought.

      More pertinent is the question of cosmic impacts on the rise and fall of mankind’s ancient civilisations. Is there any evidence backing up the stories of ancient apocalypse and hell fire from the sky that are preserved in mythology and some of the world’s religions?

Collapse of Civilisation

...and the seven judges of hell ... raised their torches, lighting the land with their livid flame. A stupor of despair went up to heaven when the god of the storm turned daylight into darkness, when he smashed the land like a cup.

– An account of the Deluge from the Epic of Gilgamesh, circa 2200 BCE

      Biblical stories, apocalyptic visions, ancient art and scientific data all seem to intersect at around 2350 BCE, when one or more catastrophic events wiped out several advanced societies in Europe, Asia and Africa.

   Archaeological findings show that in the space of a few centuries, many sophisticated civilisations disappeared. The Old Kingdom in Egypt fell into ruin. The Akkadian culture of Iraq, thought to be the world’s first empire, collapsed.

   Around the same time apocalyptic writings appeared. The Epic of Gilgamesh describes the fire, brimstone and flood of possibly real, not mythical, events. Omens predicting the Akkadian collapse preserve a record that “many stars were falling from the sky.” The “Curse of Akkad,” dated to about 2200 BCE, speaks of “flaming potsherds raining from the sky.”

      In 1650, the Irish Archbishop James Ussher mapped out the chronology of the Bible – a feat that included stringing together all the “begats” to count generations – and put Noah’s great flood at 2349 BCE.

      All coincidence? A number of scientists don’t think so.

      Mounting hard evidence collected from tree rings, soil layers and even dust that long ago settled to the ocean floor indicates there were widespread environmental nightmares in the Near East during this period: Abrupt cooling of the climate, sudden floods and surges from the seas, huge earthquakes.

      In 1999 geologist Dr. Sharad Master spotted a 3-kilometre-wide crater in southern Iraq after studying satellite images. Scientists now believe this circular depression bears all the hallmarks of an impact crater, one that caused devastating fires and flooding. They are now attempting to date the time of the impact, with some of the main researchers estimating an age of around 6,000 years – placing it in the close vicinity of the sudden decline in Middle East civilisation around 2300 BCE.

      Mike Baillie, professor of palaeoecology at Queens University in Belfast and author of Exodus to Arthur: Catastrophic Encounters with Comets, figures it would have taken just a few bad years to destroy societies.

      Even a single comet impact large enough to have created the Iraqi crater, “would have caused a mini nuclear winter with failed harvests and famine, bringing down any agriculture based populations which can survive only as long as their stored food reserves,” Baillie says. “So any environmental downturn lasting longer than about three years tends to bring down civilisations.”

      Professor Mike Baillie is an authority on dendrochronology, the science of studying tree growth rings. His decades long collaborative effort with many scientists has developed a worldwide record of climate modulated, annual tree growth as recorded in tree growth rings. That effort has produced a reliable timeline from the present back to several thousand years BCE.

      Occasionally environmental conditions are so extreme that trees all over the world are affected. Certain of these patterns imply weather conditions leading to local or worldwide catastrophes, including crop failures, famine and flooding.

      As described in Exodus to Arthur, the dates linked to extreme events are: 3195 BCE, 2354 BCE, 1628 BCE, 1159 BCE, 207 BCE, 44 BCE, and 540 CE.

      The significance of the date 2354 BCE has been noted. The other date to stand out is 540 CE, with the extreme weather events actually starting in 536 CE.

      Until recently, historians had little notion dramatic climatic events had occurred. The accounts left by contemporary observers were poorly understood and overshadowed by later historical events. In fact, those later events, it turns out, may have been caused, directly or indirectly, by the weather of the time.

      The Praetorian Prefect Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator, who lived   between 490 and 585 CE, wrote a letter documenting the conditions. “All of us are observing, as it were, a blue coloured sun; we marvel at bodies which cast no mid-day shadow, and at that strength of intensest heat reaching extreme and dull tepidity... So we have had a winter without storms, spring without mildness, summer without heat... The seasons have changed by failing to change; and what used to be achieved by mingled rains cannot be gained from dryness only.”

      In the wake of this inexplicable darkness, crops failed and famine struck. Then a new disease swept across the entire continent of Eurasia: bubonic plague. It ravaged Europe over the course of the next century, reducing the population of the Roman empire by a third, killing four-fifths of the citizens of Constantinople, reaching as far east as China and as far northwest as Great Britain.

      Other reports about the weather conditions from Byzantine and Constantinople record the same environmental phenomena such as dry fog, darkness, cold, drought, and famine.

      In 1984, Mike Baillie proposed that the climatic event of 536 CE (and by extension, all six of the others) could have been caused by “an asteroid, a comet, cometary fragment(s), or cosmic swarms.”

      Perhaps one of the most fascinating and well researched theories is offered by authors Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas in their book Uriel's Machine: The Prehistoric Technology That Survived The Flood.

      They present recent geological evidence showing that in 7640 BCE Earth was hit by seven comet fragments causing gigantic tidal waves. These findings are derived from the work of Austrian geologists Alexander and Edith Tollmann of Vienna University's Geological Institute.

      By combining evidence from various disciplines (including the global distribution of tektites and a study of worldwide myths and legends), the Tollmanns propose that a comet approached the Earth from the south-east and fragmented into seven pieces which fell subsequently into the oceans causing mass destruction on all continents. One piece is believed to have landed in the North Atlantic, while another is considered to have fallen into “the Central Atlantic south of the Azores” creating a direct hit on “Atlantis”.

      According to the authors of Uriel's Machine, there is a Masonic tradition that the biblical character Enoch constructed a machine to predict comets on an Earth collision course. They believe the ancient Book of Enoch describes how this machine should be constructed, and how this secret technology has been preserved since ancient times in Freemasonic lore.


      The fall of ancient civilisations may now come to be viewed not as a failure of social engineering or political might but rather the product of climate change and, possibly, heavenly happenstance.

      The Bible and other ancient texts have kept alive the memory of ancient catastrophes whose scientific analysis and understanding might now be vital for the protection of our own civilisations from future impacts.

      These concerns are probably why the European Space Agency’s chief scientist wants a “Noah’s Ark” on the Moon, in case life on Earth is wiped out by an asteroid or nuclear holocaust.

      “If there were a catastrophic collision on Earth or a nuclear war, you could place some samples of Earth’s biosphere, including humans, [on the Moon],” said Dr. Bernard Foing. “You could repopulate the Earth afterwards, like a Noah’s Ark.”

      At this point, only two things are certain: The Earth could be hit at any moment by a roving asteroid or comet, and we will be hit, again, unless something is done to prevent it.

Jason Jeffrey holds an interest in a wide range of subjects including geopolitics, the "New World Order", Big Brother, suppressed technology, psychic/spiritual development, ancient civilisations and esotericism. He can be contacted at

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 19, 2007, 02:16:13 am

What on Earth was going on in 5100 BP (3100 BC)?

Extract based on the book The Keys to the Temple

(part 2) by David Furlong
To put all of these discoveries into context we have to travel back in time to around 5100 BP. This date proved to be a watershed in the development of the megalithic structures in Britain. Quite suddenly there was a switch in megalithic architecture from rectilinear forms found in the long barrows to circular patterns expressed through stone circles, henge monuments and round barrows. Dramatically across the entire length of Britain long barrows ceased to be erected and in their stead came the stone circles. The earliest phase of Stonehenge is now dated to around 5100 BP as also are some of the monuments in the Avebury area. The most significant circular megalithic structures in Britain were all started within a hundred years or so of this crucial date. In addition the monuments show a clear orientation to marking the phases of the Sun and Moon, sometimes in dramatic fashion such as the midsummer sunrise at Stonehenge and the midwinter sunrise at Newgrange, in Ireland.

It just so happens that c. 5100 BP is very significant in at least two other parts of the world. Around the same date the land of Egypt was united under one king called Narmer Menes, laying the foundations for the fabulous civilisation that was to become dynastic Egypt. Almost overnight the Egyptian civilisation appeared in full flower without any prolonged gestation period. The change was so dramatic that some Egyptologists, such as W. S. Emery, have concluded that this must have been caused by a new cultural influence entering Egypt at this date. The origins of this culture have, however, remained elusive.

On the other side of the Atlantic, three thousand years later a culture, called the Mayans, emerged in Central America, reaching the height of their civilisation around 600 AD. The Mayans possessed two things which linked them back to much earlier times. The first is their famous calendar which has its start date on 12 August 3114 BC. We know that this is correct for their calendar is more accurate than the Gregorian calendar that we use today. But why did they start at this peculiar date at the end of the 4th millennium BC?

The second connection that the Mayan's had to the distant past was their mythology. The Mayan's maintained that 3114 BC marked the catastrophic conclusion of the preceding age that saw the complete destruction of their original homelands. These Edenic lands the Mayans believed lay somewhere to the east in the Atlantic Ocean.

So we have three seemingly unconnected events occurring around 5100 BP.

The beginning of the building of great stone circles in Britain, including Stonehenge in Wiltshire, Castlerigg in Cumbria, the Stennes Stones in the Orkneys and Newgrange in Ireland.

The founding of dynastic Egypt.

The start date of the present cycle of the Mayan calendar.
The Mayans maintained that a cataclysm occurred around 5100 BP. What scientific evidence supports such a notion? Surprisingly there is a great deal, for the most significant clues lie in some turbulent climatic changes.
The study of the Earth's climate over the past 100,000 years is a fascinating subject. It draws from many diverse scientific disciplines. Clearly there are no meteorological charts available from the ancient past, so it is impossible to be certain about weather in any one place on a particular day. However it is possible to discover the shifts from one climatic period to another. The picture is built like a jigsaw from archaeology, radio carbon dating, geology, pollen analysis, tree-ring dating, ocean sediments, lake sediments, ice cores, isotope measurements, fossilised insects and so on.

We are now living in a relatively warm period following the end of the last Ice Age which finished around 15,000 BC. In the intervening period between then and today there have been several peaks and troughs with one of the most significant occurring within a century or two of 3100 BC. This is known as the Piora oscillation and marked the boundary between the relatively warm Atlantic period and the somewhat cooler Sub-Boreal phase. What could have caused this shift?

We know from ice core samples in Greenland that a sulphate deposit was laid down in the ice around this date which could have been caused either by volcanic eruption or possibly a comet impact. Around the world, particular in the northern hemisphere, there is evidence of serious upheavals. For example when Sir Leonard Wooley excavated the legendary city of Ur in Mesopotamia he found clear evidence of a wide scale inundation which deposited a layer of silt and sand several feet deep. At the same time along the coast of Brittany in France another study showed a dramatic rise then fall in sea levels; whilst the Dead Sea suddenly rose 300 metres before falling back to its present position. Studies from eight different sites in the Navajo country of the American Southwest showed heavy flooding, again, at exactly the same time. These are just a few of the numerous examples which indicate that some major event had seriously upset the Earth's weather patterns.

The change that occurred was sufficient to radically alter the climate of Egypt and the whole of the Sahara area which, prior to that date, had been very much wetter. One possible explanation is that something caused the Earth to slightly tilt on its axis which altered the seasonal influence of the Sun. It would also have caused a displacement of sea levels due to geophysical forces involved. Could this be the origin of the biblical flood legends? This is the case strongly argued by Paul Dunbavin in his book 'The Atlantis Researches'.

An Atlantean Realm?
The Mayan people had therefore been exactly right in maintaining that their calendar marked a very significant catastrophic date. Could they also have been right in maintaining that their ancestors came from lands lying to the east which was overwhelmed by some cataclysm? On this count the jury is still out for no direct evidence has come to the surface from all the research into the Atlantic sea bed. No fabled undersea kingdoms have been discovered and scientists maintain that nothing of this sort exists on the floor of the Atlantic. The most likely place is along the mid-Atlantic ridge but perhaps Atlantis was so thoroughly destroyed that nothing substantial now remains.
Plato, the first person to give any information on Atlantis, maintained that it was larger than the continent of Libya and Asia put together. People have speculated what size this might be but there is certainly no room in the middle of the Atlantic for such a large land mass. However, we should not forget that the habitable land in Egypt, running along the Nile and including the Nile Delta, is no more than about a third the size of Ireland. Look what the Ancient Egyptians were able to achieve. So we do not necessarily need a large area to hold an advanced civilisation, a fertile island or group of islands would suffice. Perhaps Plato's sources over estimated the size of Atlantis.

Drawing these threads together, we know that a significant climatic change occurred around five thousand years ago that saw the start of Dynastic Egypt, the beginning of some of the most spectacular megalithic monuments in Britain and the inception date of the Mayan calendar. The evidence points to a common source of origin. Many have argued for a much earlier date for the destruction of this fabled civilisation and, indeed, Plato gave a date of around 11,500 years ago. My arguments against such a belief are quite simple.

If we suppose that an advanced elder civilisation came to an abrupt end, leaving just sufficient time for its inhabitants to flee in different directions, one would expect to see evidence of new cultural ideas emerging very quickly from their new found homes. This is precisely what we find in Britain and Egypt and to a lesser extent in many other areas bordering the Atlantic ocean; not at 9500 BC but much later around 3100 BC.

The Heritage of an Elder Culture
Let us suppose then that around five thousand years ago a group from this advanced culture, fleeing from their doomed homeland, set foot on the shores of Britain and Egypt bringing with them their esoteric knowledge and skills in surveying, mathematics, astronomy and building. In Egypt this knowledge was eventually to lead of the building of the Great Pyramid, whilst in Britain the same inherent design was set out geometrically in the landscape. Such a culture, possessing all the necessary skills to survey and set out patterns in the landscape and also to lay the first foundations for the magnificent megalithic sites, such as Avebury, Stonehenge and Silbury Hill, would explain the sudden acceleration in the cultural developments in these two, widely separated, lands.
In my book 'The Keys to the Temple' I present compelling evidence that it was this cultural infusion that led to the laying out of the vast landscape temple over the Marlborough Downs. We might surmise that such a group was sufficiently large to spread out to the four corners of these islands, but also were able to merge and intermingle with the local population. Yet why set out these ancient sites in geometric patterns? What might they have brought to Britain and what was so special about the pyramid that it occurs both in the landscape as well as a vast monument on the Giza plateau in Egypt?

From more than thirty years researching sacred sites and through my experiences as a spiritual healer I have been aware of a 'healing' presence as such places. This has led on to inner explorations connected to contacts with the 'genie locii' of the sites in question which has produced some amazing insights. But for many years I could not show that this was not a purely subjective phenomenon. I now know, from a specific experience when looking for one of London's long forgotten 'holy wells', that is not. Something much deeper is at work.

Early on in my experiences with sacred places I became aware that certain sites stimulated a clear bodily sensation within me, manifesting as a tingling in the back of my head and arms. This 'listening to my body' (common I found later to dowsers) became an invaluable aid in my research, and I came to rely on it. I was looking for the well which I knew was not far from Liverpool Street Station. In this instance the visit was unplanned and I did not have my maps with me so could only guess from memory on where I thought the well to be. On reaching, what I thought was the correct place, I felt no response, so disappointedly I set off up the road, eventually turning the corner into Scruton Street. I was immediately hit by a huge surge of unmistakeable 'energy'. I tried to dismiss the experience because it was some way off from where I thought the holy well must be. Nevertheless the sensation persisted and it was clearly confined to that one particular spot.

When returning home, I re-checked my maps and discovered that I had made a mistake. The place where I had searched originally was incorrect. The real site of the holy well was exactly where I had experienced the overwhelming sensation.

In my understanding these ancient people's brought with them a form of 'spiritual energy' which they wove into the landscape through the geometric patterns that they established. Research in America and elsewhere has shown that the pyramid shape effects the subtle energy fields of the body and can be used to speed up the healing process when injuries occur. I believe that the 'energy' to be found in the pattern overlighting the Marlborough Downs and at other sacred sites in Britain is one that appeals to the spiritual aspirations within us. It is a power that is infinitely liberating that can unfetter the chains of narrow restricted thinking. The interlinking of these sites allows for those finer impulses to feed into the whole system so that all is renewed, to the benefit of all. By accessing the infinity of the cosmos at these sacred places we can access the infinity of our own souls.

Those from this Atlantean realm, like the latter day Tibetans, were forced from their homes and obliged to take their knowledge into the world around them. A wisdom and an ability to open up channels of communication to higher realms of consciousness which were then fixed at specific locations in the landscape. These sites are once more starting to communicate their messages to us. Merlin is awake calling us forth. We only have to stop and listen.

© David Furlong 1998

Click here to visit the site with information on a Cotswold Circle of same size as those on the Marlborough Downs

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 19, 2007, 02:19:38 am
Timeline of environmental events

The timeline of environmental events is a historical account of events that have shaped humanity's perspective on the environment. This timeline includes some major natural events, man-made disasters, environmentalists that have had a positive influence, and environmental legislation.


10th millennium BC
• Circa 10,000 BC — North America: Dire Wolf, Smilodon, Giant beaver, Ground sloth, Mammoth, and American lion all become extinct.
— Bering Sea: Land bridge from Siberia to North America sinks.
— North America: Long Island becomes an island when waters break through on the western end to the interior lake
— Homo floresiensis, the human's last known surviving close relative, becomes extinct.
— World: Sea levels rise abruptly and massive inland flooding occurs due to glacier melt.
• Circa 9700 BC — Lake Agassiz forms.
• Circa 9600 BC — Younger Dryas cold period ends. Pleistocene ends and Holocene begins. Paleolithic ends and Mesolithic begins. Large amounts of previously glaciated land become habitable again.
• Circa 9500 BC — Ancylus Lake, part of the modern-day Baltic Sea, forms.

9th millennium BC
• Circa 8000 BC — World - Rising Sea levels
— Antarctica - long-term melting of the Antarctic ice sheets is commencing
— Asia - rising sea levels caused by postglacial warming
— World - Obliteration of more than 40 million animals about this time
— North America - The glaciers were receding and by 8,000 B.C. the Wisconsin had withdrawn completely.
— World - Inland flooding due to catastrophic glacier melt takes place in several regions

8th millennium BC
• Circa 7640 BC — Date theorized for impact of Tollmann's hypothetical bolide with Earth and associated global cataclysm.

7th millennium BC
• Circa 6500 BC — English Channel formed
• Circa 6100 BC — The Storegga Slide, causing a megatsunami in the Norwegian Sea
• Circa 6000 BC — Rising sea levels form the Torres Strait, separate Australia from New Guinea.

6th millennium BC
• Circa 5600 BC — According to the Black Sea deluge theory, the Black Sea floods with salt water. Some 3000 cubic miles (12,500 km³) of salt water is added, significantly expanding it and transforming it from a fresh-water landlocked lake into a salt water sea.
— Beginning of the desertification of north Africa, which ultimately lead to the creation of the Sahara desert. It's possible this process pushed some natives into migrating to the region of the Nile in the east, thereby laying the groundwork for the rise of Egyptian civilization.

3rd millennium BC
• 2700 BC — Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh describes vast tracts of cedar forests in what is now southern Iraq. Gilgamesh defies the gods and cuts down the forest, and in return the gods say they will curse Sumer with fire (or possibly drought). By 2100 BC, soil erosion and salt buildup have devastated agriculture. One Sumerian wrote that the "earth turned white." Civilization moved north to Babylonia and Assyria. Again, deforestation becomes a factor in the rise and subsequent fall of these civilizations.
— Some of the first laws protecting the remaining forests decreed in Ur.

2nd millennium BC
• 1500 BC — Soil erosion is both a consequence of growth and a cause of collapse of Central American city -states.
• 1450 BC — Minoan civilization in the Merranean declines, but scholars are divided on the cause. Possibly a volcanic eruption was the source of the catastrophe. On the other hand, gradual deforestation may have led to materials shortages in manufacturing and shipping. Loss of timber and subsequent deterioration of its land was probably a factor in the decline of Minoan power in the late Bronze Age, according to John Perlin in A Forest Journey.

1st millennium BC

3rd century BC
• 250 BC — Ashoka introduces wildlife protection legislation in India
• 500 BC — Roman Empire, Cloaca Maxima (big sewer) is built in Rome by Etruscan dynasty of Tarquins. As Rome grows, a network of cloacae (sewers) and aquaducts are built.

1st millennium AD
• 100AD to 400AD — Decline of Roman Empire may have been partly due to lead poisoning, according to modern historian and toxicologist Jerome Nriagu. Romans used lead acetate ("sugar of lead") to sweeten old wine and turn grape pulp into a sweet condiment. Usually the acidic wine or pulp was simply left in a vat with sheets of lead. An aristocrat with a sweet tooth might have eaten as much as a gram of lead a day. Widespread use of this sweetener would have caused gout, sterility, insanity and many of the symptoms which were, in fact, present among the Roman aristocrats. High levels of lead have been found in the bones of aristocratic Romans. Far more than simply using lead pipes or lead utensils, the direct consumption of lead-sweetened wine and foods created serious and widespread lead poisoning among upper-class Romans.
7th century
• 676 — Cuthbert of Lindisfarne enacts protection legislation for birds on the Farne Islands (Northumberland, UK).
2nd millennium AD
14th century
• 1347 to 1350s — Bubonic plague decimates Europe, creating the first attempts to enforce public health and quarantine laws.
• 1366 — City of Paris forces butchers to dispose of animal wastes outside the city (Ponting); similar laws would be disputed in Philadelphia and New York nearly 400 years later.
• 1388 — Parliament passes an act forbidding the throwing of filth and garbage into ditches, rivers and waters. City of Cambridge also passes the first urban sanitary laws in England.
15th century
• 1420 to 1427, Madeira islands : destruction of the laurisilva forest, or the woods which once clothed the whole island when the portuguese settlers decided to clear the land for farming by setting most of the island on fire. It is said that the fire burned for seven years.
16th century
• 1546 — Italian physican Girolamo Fracastoro outlines theory of contagious disease. He reasoned that infectious diseases could be passed on in 3 ways: simple contact, indirect contact, and minute bodies over distance through the air.
• 1560 to 1600 — Rapid industrialization in England leads to heavy deforestation and increasing substitution of coal for wood.
17th century
• 1640 — Isaac Walton writes The Compleat Angler about fishing and about conservation.
• 1662 — John Graunt publishes a book of mortality statistics compiled by parish and municipal councils in England. Although the numbers are inaccurate, a start was made in epidemiology and the understanding of disease and public health.
• 1690 — Colonial Governor William Penn requires Pennsylvania settlers to preserve one acre of trees for every five acres cleared.
18th century
• 1700 — Some 600 ships are engaged in hauling "sea coal" from Newcastle to London, an enormous increase compared to 1650, when only two ships regularly carried sea coal. Rapid industrialization and the demand for iron and naval supplies has stripped England's forests.
• 1711 — Jonathan Swift notes the contents of London's gutters: "sweepings from butchers' stalls, dung, guts and blood, drowned puppies, stinking sprats, all drenched in mud..."
• 1720 — In India, hundreds of Bishnois Hindus of Khejadali go to their deaths trying to protect trees from the Maharaja of Jodhpur, who needed wood to fuel the lime kilns for cement to build his palace.
• 1739 — Benjamin Franklin and neighbors petition Pennsylvania Assembly to stop waste dumping and remove tanneries from Philadelphia's commercial district. Foul smell, lower property values, disease and interference with fire fighting are cited. The industries complain that their rights are being violated, but Franklin argues for "public rights." Franklin and the environmentalists win a symbolic battle but the dumping goes on.
• 1748 — Jared Eliot, clergyman and physician, writes Essays on Field Husbandry in New England promoting soil conservation.
• 1762 to 1769 — Philadelphia committee led by Benjamin Franklin attempts to regulate waste disposal and water pollution.
• 1773 — William Bartram, (1739-1823). American naturalist sets out on a five year journey through the US Southeast to describe wildlife and wilderness from Florida to the Mississippi. His book, Travels, is published in 1791 and becomes one of the early literary classics of the new United States of America.
19th century
• 1820 — World population reached 1 billion.
• 1849 — Establishment of the U.S. Department of Interior.
• 1851 — Henry David Thoreau delivers an address to the Concord (Massachusetts) Lyceum declaring that "in Wildness is the preservation of the World." In 1863, this address is published posthumously as the essay "Walking" in Thoreau's Excursions.
• 1854 — Henry David Thoreau publishes Walden; or, Life in the Woods.
• 1859 — Publication of second ion of William Elliott's Carolina Sports by Land and Water (first published in 1846), an early example of the hunter-as-conservationist, a phenomenon which became increasingly important for conservationism.
• 1860 — Henry David Thoreau delivers an address to the Middlesex (Massachusetts) Agricultural Society, entitled "The Succession of Forest Trees," in which he analyzes aspects of what later came to be understood as forest ecology and urges farmers to plant trees in natural patterns of succession; the address is later published in (among other places) Excursions, becoming perhaps his most influential ecological contribution to conservationist thought.
• 1864 — George Perkins Marsh publishes Man and Nature; or, Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action (revised 1874 as The Earth as Modified by Human Action), the first systematic analysis of humanity's destructive impact on the environment and a work which becomes (in Lewis Mumford's words) "the fountain-head of the conservation movement."
• 1866 — The term Ecology is coined (in German as škologie by Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (1834-1919) in his Generelle Morphologie der Organismen. Haeckel was an anatomist, zoologist, and field naturalist appointed professor of zoology at the Zoological Institute, Jena, in 1865. Haeckel was philosophically an enthusiastic Darwinian. Ecology is from the Greek oikos, meaning house or dwelling and logos, meaning discourse or study of a thing.
• 1869 — Samuel Bowles publishes Our New West. Records of Travel between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean, an influential traveller's account of the wilds and peoples of the West, in which he advocates preservation of other scenic areas such as Niagara Falls and the Adirondacks.
• 1872 — US President Ulysses Grant signs Yellowstone National Park bill.
— US first national park, Yellowstone National Park.
— Arbor Day was founded by J. Sterling Morton of Nebraska City, Nebraska. It occurs every year on the last Friday in April in the US.
• 1874 — Charles Hallock establishes Forest and Stream magazine sparking a US national debate about ethics and hunting.
— German graduate student Othmar Zeider discovers chemical formula for the insecticide DDT.
• 1876 — British River Pollution Control Act makes it illegal to dump sewage into a stream.
• 1879 — U.S. Geological Survey formed. John Wesley Powell, explorer of the Colorado River a decade earlier, will become its head in March 1881.
• 1890 — Yosemite National Park Bill, established the Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks in California.
• 1891 — General Revision Act.
• 1892 — John Muir, (1838 - 1914), founded the Sierra Club.
• 1895 — Sewage cleanup in London means the return of some fish species (grilse, whitebait, flounder, eel, smelt) to the Thames River.
20th century
• 1902 — George Washington Carver writes How to Build Up Worn Out Soils.
• 1903 — March 14, US President Theodore Roosevelt creates first National Bird Preserve, (the beginning of the Wildlife Refuge system), on Pelican Island, Florida.
• 1906 — Antiquities Act, passed by US Congress which authorized the president to set aside national monument sites.
• 1908 — Muir Woods National Monument was established on January 9 and now governed by the National Park Service.
— The National Conservation Commission, appointed in June by President Roosevelt.
— An article by Robert Underwood Johnson in Century magazine, "A High Price to Pay for Water," helps bring the Hetch Hetchy controversy to national attention.
• 1909 — US President Theodore Roosevelt convenes the North American Conservation Conference, held in Washington DC and attended by representatives of Canada, Newfoundland, Mexico, and the United States.
• 1913 — Woodrow Wilson signed a dam bill into law on December 19 which destroyed the Hetch Hetchy Valley.
• 1916 — US Congress created the National Park Service.
• 1918 — Scientific American reports alcohol-gasoline anti-knock blend is "universally" expected to be the fuel of the future. Seven years later, in Public Health Service hearings, General Motors and Standard Oil spokesmen will claim that there are no alternatives to leaded gasoline as an anti-knock additive.
— Congress approves the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which implements a 1916 Convention (between the U.S. and Britain, acting for Canada) for the Protection of Migratory birds, and establishes responsibility for international migratory bird protection.
• 1927 — Great Mississippi Flood.
• 1930 — World population reached 2 billion.
• 1933 — Game Management published by Aldo Leopold, (1886 - 1948).
• 1934 to 1937 — The Dust Bowl drought of the US plains region causes harsh economic damage.
• 1935 — Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act.
• 1944 — Flood Control Act of 1944 was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 22.
• 1948 — World Conservation Union or International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is an international organization dedicated to natural resource conservation. Founded in 1948, its headquarters is located in Gland, Switzerland.
• 1951 — The Nature Conservancy is an environmental organization founded in the United States.
— World Meteorological Organization (WMO) established by the United Nations.
• 1954 — Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act
• 1956 — Fish and Wildlife Act.
• 1960 — World population reached 3 billion.
• 1962 — Wallace Stegner, (1909 - 1993), wrote the famous Wilderness Essay.
— Rachel Carson, (1907 - 1964), wrote Silent Spring.
• 1964 — Wilderness Act.
— Water Resources Research Act.
• 1965 — Hurricane Betsy flooded large areas of New Orleans drowning around 40 people.
• 1966 — National Wildlife Refuge System Act.
— Furr Seal Act.
— Endangered Species Preservation Act, see Endangered Species Act of 1973
• 1968 — National Trails System Act.
— Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
• 1969 — National Environmental Policy Act.
• 1970 — Earth Day, millions of people gather in the United States for the first Earth day organized by Gaylord Nelson, former senator of Wisconsin, and Denis Hayes, Harvard graduate student.
— EPA, US Environmental Protection Agency formed by President Nixon.
— Clean Air Act.
— Resource Recovery Act, see RCRA 1976
• 1971 — Greenpeace is an international environmental organisation founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Greenpeace has national and regional offices in 41 countries worldwide.
• 1972 — Marine Mammal Protection Act.
— Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act.
— Noise Control Act
— Clean Water Act.
— Ocean Dumping Act.
— Coastal Zone Management Act.
• 1973 — OPEC annouces oil embargo against United States.
— Endangered Species Act.
• 1974 — Chlorofluorocarbons are first hypothesized to cause ozone thinning.
— National Reserves Management Act.
— World population reached 4 billion.
• 1975 — Energy Policy and Conservation Act.
• 1976 — Dioxin released in industrial accident in Italy, known as Seveso disaster
— Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
• 1977 — Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.
— Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act.
• 1979 — Three Mile Island, worst nuclear power accident in US history.
— Hans Jonas The Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of Ethics for the Technological Age
• 1980 — Mount St. Helens erupts explosively in Washington State.
• 1982 — Coastal Barrier Resources Act.
• 1986 — Chernobyl, world's worst nuclear power accident occurs at plant in Soviet Union.
— Emergency Wetlands Resources Act.
— Tetra-ethyl lead phase-out was completed in the US.
• 1987 — World population reached 5 billion.
• 1988 — Ocean Dumping Ban Act.
— Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess the "risk of human-induced climate change".
• 1989 — Exxon Valdez creates largest oil spill in US history.
— Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer entered into force on January 1. Since then, it has undergone five revisions, in 1990 (London), 1992 (Copenhagen), 1995 (Vienna), 1997 (Montreal), and 1999 (Beijing).
• 1990 — National Environmental Education Act.
— European Environment Agency was established by EEC Regulation 1210/1990 and became operational in 1994. It is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.
— The IPCC first assessment report was completed in 1990, and served as the basis of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
• 1991 — World's worst oil spill occurs in Kuwait during war with Iraq.
— Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established by donor governments.
• 1992 — The Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from June 3 to June 14, was unprecedented for a United Nations conference, in terms of both its size and the scope of its concerns.
— World Ocean Day began on 8 June at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
• 1993 — The Great Flood of 1993 was one of the most destructive floods in United States history.
• 1997 — July, U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95–0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, which stated that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing as well as industrialized nations.
— The Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in Kyoto, Japan in December. It is actually an amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Countries that ratify this protocol commit to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases.
• 1999 — World population reached 6 billion.
21st century
• 2001 — President Bush rejects the Kyoto protocol.
• 2002 — Earth Summit, held in Johannesburg a United Nations conference
• 2004 — 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake causes large tsunamis, killing nearly a quarter of a million people.
• 2005 — Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma cause widespread destruction and environmental harm to coastal communities in the Gulf Coast region.
— The Kyoto Protocol came into force on February 16 following ratification by Russia on November 18, 2004

Title: Re: Catastrophes and Prehistory
Post by: Troy Exeter on March 19, 2007, 02:22:04 am
Impact from the Deep
Strangling heat and gases emanating from the earth and sea, not asteroids, most likely caused several ancient mass extinctions. Could the same killer-greenhouse conditions build once again?
By Peter D. Ward

Philosopher and historian Thomas S. Kuhn has suggested that scientific disciplines act a lot like living organisms: instead of evolving slowly but continuously, they enjoy long stretches of stability punctuated by infrequent revolutions with the appearance of a new species--or in the case of science, a new theory. This description is particularly apt for my own area of study, the causes and consequences of mass extinctions--those periodic biological upheavals when a large proportion of the planet's living creatures died off and afterward nothing was ever the same again.
Since first recognizing these historical mass extinctions more than two centuries ago, paleontologists believed them to have been gradual events, caused by some combination of climate change and biological forces such as predation, competition and disease. But in 1980 the understanding of mass extinctions underwent a Kuhnian revolution when a team at the University of California, Berkeley, led by geologist Walter Alvarez proposed that the famous dinosaur-killing extinction 65 million years ago occurred swiftly, in the ecosystem catastrophe that followed an asteroid collision. Over the ensuing two decades, the idea that a bolide from space could smite a significant segment of life on the earth was widely embraced--and many researchers eventually came to believe that cosmic detritus probably caused at least three more of the five largest mass extinctions. Public acceptance of the notion crystallized with Hollywood blockbusters such as Deep Impact and Armageddon.

Now still another transformation in our thinking about life's punctuated past is brewing. New geochemical evidence is coming from the bands of stratified rock that delineate mass extinction events in the geologic record, including the exciting discovery of chemical residues, called organic biomarkers, produced by tiny life-forms that typically do not leave fossils. Together these data make it clear that cataclysmic impact as a cause of mass extinction was the exception, not the rule. In most cases, the earth itself appears to have become life's worst enemy in a previously unimagined way. And current human activities may be putting the biosphere at risk once again.

After Alvarez
To understand the general enthusiasm for the impact paradigm, it helps to review the evidence that fueled it. The scenario advanced by Alvarez, along with his father, physicist Luis W. Alvarez, and nuclear chemists Helen V. Michel and Frank Asaro, contained two separate hypotheses: first, that a fairly large asteroid--estimated to have been 10 kilometers in diameter--struck the earth 65 million years ago; second, that the environmental consequences of the impact snuffed out more than half of all species. They had found traces left by the blow in a thick layer of iridium--rare on the earth but common in extraterrestrial materials--that had dusted the globe.
Within a decade of this prodigious announcement the killer's thumbprint turned up, in the form of the Chicxulub crater hiding in plain sight on the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. Its discovery swept aside most lingering doubts about whether the reign of the dinosaurs had ended with a bang. At the same time, it raised new questions about other mass extinction events: If one was caused by impact, what about the rest? Five times in the past 500 million years most of the world's life-forms have simply ceased to exist. The first such event happened at the end of the Ordovician period, some 443 million years ago. The second, 374 million years ago, was near the close of the Devonian. The biggest of them all, the Great Dying, at the end of the Permian 251 million years ago, wiped out 90 percent of ocean dwellers and 70 percent of plants, animals, even insects, on land [see "The Mother of Mass Extinctions," by Douglas H. Erwin; Scientific American, July 1996]. Worldwide death happened again 201 million years ago, ending the Triassic period, and the last major extinction, 65 million years ago, concluded the Cretaceous with the aforementioned big bang.