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Catastrophe: Which Ancient Disaster was the One to Destroy Atlantis?

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Author Topic: Catastrophe: Which Ancient Disaster was the One to Destroy Atlantis?  (Read 5735 times)
Adam Hawthorne
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« on: September 16, 2009, 10:44:19 pm »

Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of your state in our
histories. But one of them exceeds all the rest in greatness and valour.
For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an
expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to which your city
put an end. This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in
those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated
in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles;
the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the
way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the
opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which
is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbour, having a narrow
entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the surrounding land may be
most truly called a boundless continent. Now in this island of Atlantis
there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole
island and several others, and over parts of the continent, and,
furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya
within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as
Tyrrhenia. This vast power, gathered into one, endeavoured to subdue
at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the region within the
straits; and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the excellence
of her virtue and strength, among all mankind. She was pre-eminent in
courage and military skill, and was the leader of the Hellenes. And when
the rest fell off from her, being compelled to stand alone, after having
undergone the very extremity of danger, she defeated and triumphed
over the invaders, and preserved from slavery those who were not yet
subjugated, and generously liberated all the rest of us who dwell within
the pillars. But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and
floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men
in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner
disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason the sea in those
parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in
the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.

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Adam Hawthorne
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« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2009, 10:47:55 pm »

In the above passage from Timaeus, Plato describes the disaster that destroyed Atlantis:  earthquakes and floods.  And yet, he doesn't describe what triggers them, and it could have been anything: volcanic eruption, something striking from space.

What follows are a list of ancient disasters that I have accumulated from postings here in the forum that could have been the culprit.  Anyone is welcome to add more as we find them.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2009, 10:49:39 pm by Adam Hawthorne » Report Spam   Logged
Adam Hawthorne
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« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2009, 10:50:27 pm »

Did asteroid cause ancient N.Y. tsunami?

New clues suggest an 330-foot asteroid slammed into the Atlantic Ocean

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By Michael Reilly
updated 3:39 p.m. CT, Thurs., Nov . 20, 2008
Long before New York City was the Big Apple, or even New Amsterdam, a giant tsunami crashed ashore.
It was 2,300 years ago. The Palisades that frame the Hudson River were whisper-quiet, the sandy beaches of Long Island and New Jersey empty, and Manhattan was still just an unbroken sylvan carpet.
Then came the mammoth wave, roaring into the serenity. No one knows for sure what caused it, but new clues found in the Hudson's silt suggest an asteroid 100 meters (330 feet) in diameter slammed into the Atlantic Ocean nearby.
Story continues below ↓

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"But the main thing that closes the deal is that we looked in the spherules and found nano-diamonds," said Dallas Abbott of Columbia University, a co-author on the work. "These have only been found in impact ejecta or in meteorites."
The team found grains of several shocked minerals in the sediments as well, but the discovery remains controversial.
"To get a wave 2.5 meters high that far up the Hudson, you need a wave 20 meters high at Manhattan," said Steven Ward of the University of California, Santa Cruz. "It would've gone several hundred meters inland on Long Island; you should see evidence of this thing all over the place."
Even worse, telling the difference between sediments washed up in a tsunami and those left by a strong storm can be incredibly difficult.
So far the team has only found impact ejecta in deposits in the Hudson, with some as far as 50 kilometers (31 miles) upriver from the mouth. But they have taken samples of suspicious-looking sediments along the coasts of New Jersey and Long Island as well, and hope to find more of the same strange minerals pointing to an impact origin.
"We've had strong storms in New York's history that haven't made deposits anything like this," Cagen said. "We don't know how big it was, but it would have been more than a splash against Manhattan; the city would have been devastated."
Cagen is convinced her team's work proves an impact caused the tsunami but admits they'll need to find the smoking gun — a crater, probably buried in the continental shelf off New Jersey — to convince skeptics.
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"We're making the pretty outrageous claim that not only did a tsunami hit the New York metropolitan area 2,300 years ago, but it was caused by an asteroid impact for which we can't find a crater," she said.
© 2009 Discovery Channel
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Adam Hawthorne
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« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2009, 10:52:07 pm »

Meteorite Triggered Ancient New York Tsunami?
Ker Than in New York City
for National Geographic News

December 31, 2008
A meteorite impact off Long Island 2,300 years ago may have set off a huge tsunami that flooded the New York City region, a new study says (New York City and Long Island map).

It's not known whether any ancient settlements were in the path of the proposed killer waves, but "any significant tsunami today would be devastating and likely to flood places like lower Manhattan," Vanderbilt University geologist Steven Goodbred said.

Tsunamis are typically triggered by seismic events. An undersea earthquake, for example, caused the catastrophic 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. But meteorite strikes have also been known to spark the killer waves.

In the New York area, "there are no exploding volcanoes and there probably haven't been" for millions of years, said study co-author Katherine Cagen of Harvard University. "The same goes for [major] earthquakes."

Cagen, however, recently found signs of a meteorite impact in sediments taken from several sites along the Hudson River, which forms the border between New York City and New Jersey.

The evidence included deformed rocks; rare microscopic "nanodiamonds"; and microscopic, perfectly round rocks called spherules, which form when molten and vaporized rock are flung into the air by a space impact and then solidify in the temporary vacuum created by the blast.

Nothing as big as a crater has been found, but Dallas Abbott, a Columbia University impact expert, estimates that the space rock would have had a diameter of between about 165 feet (50 meters) and 490 feet (150 meters). Any smaller, and a major wave would not have formed and the rock would have exploded before hitting Earth. Any bigger, and the strike would have created "impact glass"—forged in the extreme heat of an impact blast—which has not been found as of yet.

Abbott presented her team's research this month at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Mystery Solved?

The Hudson River samples date back to around 300 B.C.—the same age as some out-of-place gravel deposits discovered by another team of scientists on Long Island in 2003.

The rocky layer is several inches thick and appears to have been transported from a gravel-rich coast a few hundred meters away. The individual rocks are quite large—some as big as fists—so normal waves or wind could not have carried the stones, according to Vanderbilt's Goodbred.

At the time of the gravel discovery, Goodbred suggested that the rocks had been moved by one of two phenomena: a very big storm or a tsunami.
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Adam Hawthorne
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« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2009, 10:54:00 pm »

January 2, 2009 in Archaeology & Paleontology | 20 comments | Post a comment

Did a Comet Hit Earth 12,000 Years Ago?
Nanodiamonds found across North America suggest that major climate change could have been cosmically instigated
By David Biello

DEEP IMPACT?: This 40 centimeter band of dark sediment uncovered at Murray Spring, Ariz., may indicate a cosmic impact or explosion that kicked off a period of global cooling and a mass extinction in North America.

Courtesy of Doug Kennett

Roughly 12,900 years ago, massive global cooling kicked in abruptly, along with the end of the line for some 35 different mammal species, including the mammoth, as well as the so-called Clovis culture of prehistoric North Americans. Various theories have been proposed for the die-off, ranging from abrupt climate change to overhunting once humans were let loose on the wilds of North America. But now nanodiamonds found in the sediments from this time period point to an alternative: a massive explosion or explosions by a fragmentary comet, similar to but even larger than the Tunguska event of 1908 in Siberia.

Sediments from six sites across North America—Murray Springs, Ariz.; Bull Creek, Okla.; Gainey, Mich.; Topper, S.C.; Lake Hind, Manitoba; and Chobot, Alberta—yielded such teensy diamonds, which only occur in sediment exposed to extreme temperatures and pressures, such as those from an explosion or impact, according to new research published today in Science.

The discovery lends support to a theory first advanced last year in that some type of cosmic impact or impacts—a fragmented comet bursting in the atmosphere or raining down on the oceans—set off the more than 1,300-year cooling period in the Northern Hemisphere known as the Younger Dryas for the abundance of an alpine flower's pollen found during the interval.

The cooling period interrupted an extended warming out of an ice age predicted by slight changes in Earth's orbit (known as Milankovitch cycles) that continues today. And it remains an unexplained anomaly in the climate record.

But a series of cometary fragments exploding over North America might explain a layer of soil immediately prior to the cooling containing unusually high levels of iridium—an element more common in cosmic wanderers like meteoroids than in Earth's crust. Paired with the fact that this layer occurs directly before the extinction of at least 35 genera of large mammals, including mammoths, it is strong circumstantial evidence for a cosmic event.

"Very strong impact indicators are found in the sediments directly above, and often shrouding in the case of Murray Springs, the remains of these animals and the people who were hunting them," says archaeologist and study co-author Doug Kennett of the University of Oregon in Eugene, the son in the father–son team helping to advance the new impact theory. "Is it a comet? Is it a carbonaceous chondrite? Was it fragmented? Was it focused? Based on the distribution of the diamonds, it was certainly large scale."

Preliminary searches further afield—Europe, Asia and South America—have turned up similar minerals and elements in sediments of the same age, Kennett says, and his own work on California's Channel Islands tells a tale of a massive burn-off, followed by erosion and a total change in the flora of the region.

"It's consistent with a fragmentary body breaking up with air shocks and possible surface impacts in various parts of North America. It could be above the ice sheet or offshore in the ocean," he says, explaining why no impact crater(s) has been found to date. "Immediate effects on the ground include high temperatures and pressures triggering major transformations of the vegetation, knocking trees over but also burning."

And that would make the climate shift of the Younger Dryas a closer cousin to the massive asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. "This is an event that happened on one day," Kennett notes. "We're going to need high-resolution climate records, archaeological records, paleontological records to try to explore the effects."

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Adam Hawthorne
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« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2009, 10:55:18 pm »

Fossil Corals Show Catastrophic Sea-Level Rise?
Brian Handwerk
for National Geographic News

April 15, 2009
Fossil coral reefs at a Mexican theme park "confirm" that sea levels rose rapidly about 121,000 years ago, according to a controversial new study.

Previous research on fossil reefs had shown that sea levels surged by 13 to 19 feet (4 to 6 meters) near the end of the last time period between ice ages, known as an interglacial period. But researchers have been unsure whether this sea-level rise happened quickly or gradually.

By mapping the ages and locations of ancient corals at Xcaret, an eco-park in the Yucatán Peninsula, Paul Blanchon of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and colleagues, were able to chart when the reefs died and were replaced by others on higher ground.

Their data suggest that sea levels rose by about 10 feet (3 meters) in 50 years—much faster than the current annual rate of 0.08 to 0.1 inch (2 to 3 millimeters).

Because this event happened during an interglacial period—similar to the one we're in currently—the find boosts the chances that today's melting ice sheets could trigger rapid sea-level rise, the study authors say.

But not all experts on corals and climate are convinced by the new study.

Tad Pfeffer, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, noted that Blanchon's team couldn't directly measure the rate of sea level change around the Mexican corals, because the age estimates aren't accurate enough.

Instead the study authors compared changes seen in Xcaret to those seen in reefs with well-established ages in the Bahamas.

"It's an interesting idea, but one that for me is only suggestive and not compelling," Pfeffer said.

"I'd want to see something more solid than this if I'm going to buy the idea of such rapid sea level rise at the time [of the last interglacial]."

Even if the new study is confirmed, Pfeffer added, more research would be needed to determine if rapid sea-level rise 121,000 years ago provides evidence that similar changes can happen now.

"And of course, when would 'now' be?" he asked.

"'In the next few decades' vs. 'the next few thousand years' are both 'now' on the time scales at which glacial and interglacial periods are defined, but are very different situations in terms of how we determine responses."

Mike Kearney, of the University of Maryland, said it's "within the realm of possibility" that global warming will trigger a sudden collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which could lead to a rapid increase in sea levels like that predicted by the new study.

(Related: "PHOTOS: Jamaica-Size Ice Shelf Breaks Free")

"But the big unknown is whether any of the things we think we know about the Antarctic ice sheet prove to be true," Kearney cautioned.

"One camp says [rapid sea-level rise] could happen, another camp says it would take thousands of years. I'm not sure what the conventional wisdom is right now. It depends on who you talk to."

Findings appear in this week's issue of the journal Nature.
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Adam Hawthorne
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« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2009, 10:59:13 pm »

Ancient Black Sea Flood: Nuisance or Calamity?
Emily Sohn, Discovery News

The Black Sea | Discovery News Video  Feb. 19, 2009 -- Something happened along the shores of the Black Sea about 9,500 years ago. According to one theory, a huge flood suddenly drowned the landscape, forcing some of the planet's first farmers to move elsewhere.

A new study paints a different picture.

"I would say there was never a big flood," said Liviu Giosan, a geologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Cape Cod, Mass., and lead author of the study. "What we showed was that it's impossible."

The new work fuels an ongoing debate about the geologic history of the Black Sea. Research there has lagged behind other parts of the world, and many questions remain about how water levels have fluctuated over the years.
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Adam Hawthorne
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« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2009, 11:00:32 pm »

Diamonds show comet struck North America, scientists say
The impact caused an ice age that killed some mammal species and many humans 12,900 years ago, researchers report. They say the discovery of tiny heat-formed diamonds is proof of the catastrophe.
By Thomas H. Maugh II
January 2, 2009

A discovery of microscopic diamonds a few feet beneath the surface of North America reveals that a comet caused a cataclysm of fire, flood and devastation nearly 13,000 years ago that extinguished mammoths and mastodons and dealt a blow to early civilization, scientists said Friday.

The nanodiamonds, so small that they are barely visible in an electron microscope, are thought to be remnants of that comet, which would have hit about 65 million years after the much larger collision that wiped out the dinosaurs.

According to the theory -- which has its critics -- as the comet broke apart, it rained fire over the entire continent, igniting the plains and the forests and creating choking clouds of smoke.

Heat from the explosions and the massive fires melted substantial portions of the Laurentide glacier in Canada, sending waves of water down the Mississippi and into the Gulf of Mexico. That triggered changes in Atlantic Ocean currents, which ushered in a 1,300-year ice age known as the Younger Dryas.

Battered by fire and ice, as many as 35 species of mammals, including American camels, the short-faced bear, the giant beaver, the dire wolf and the American lion, either immediately vanished or were so depleted in number that humans hunted them to extinction.

The humans, a Paleo-Indian grouping known as the Clovis culture for the distinctive spear points they employed, suffered a major population drop, disappearing in many areas for hundreds of years.

The researchers -- including James P. Kennett of UC Santa Barbara and Douglas J. Kennett of the University of Oregon -- had earlier discovered the thin layer of black soil containing iridium and other debris that they thought indicated a massive comet or meteor impact. But critics suggested a variety of less dire explanations.

The discovery of the nanodiamonds, however, reported Friday in the journal Science, provides the most powerful support for the comet theory because the gems can only be created under the extreme temperatures and pressures of a massive explosion, such as a comet striking the Earth's surface.

"There's no other way we can interpret the presence of these diamonds other than an extraterrestrial impact," said James Kennett, a paleooceanographer.

Such an impact would be the most likely source of nanodiamonds, critics agreed. But many argued that the one-page paper in Science did not provide enough evidence to support the authors' claim.

"Nanodiamonds could be a good indicator of an impact event . . . but after reading the paper, I wasn't convinced they found diamonds," said physicist Tyrone Daulton of Washington University in St. Louis. "Maybe they found diamonds and maybe they didn't."

Spectroscopist Peter Buseck of Arizona State University said that he "wouldn't question that they saw nanodiamonds," but added that for such a potentially important discovery, he "would like to have it well supported."

Archaeologist Douglas Kennett, lead author of the report and James Kennett's son, conceded that the restrictive format of the rapid publication limited the amount of data the team could incorporate into their paper.

But he said the presence of nanodiamonds had been confirmed in three separate laboratories. "There are going to be a lot of follow-up papers that will clearly demonstrate that these are diamonds," he said.

The findings may tie together a variety of hitherto mysterious events in North America that all occurred beginning about 12,900 years ago, the beginning of the Younger Dryas -- also known as the Big Freeze.

The Kennetts and their colleagues reported last year that they had found the black layer, radiocarbon-dated to 12,900 years ago, at 10 archaeological sites scattered around the continent.

In addition to charred remains from forests and other flora, the black mat contains iridium, carbon spherules and fullerenes containing helium-3, all characteristic of an extraterrestrial impact.

But critics said the evidence was insufficient to prove an impact, particularly in the absence of a demonstrable crater.

James Kennett and his colleagues went back to the mats they had collected and performed what he termed the "extremely labor-intensive" process of looking for the nanodiamonds. That involved using acids to dissolve everything else in the samples, then using a variety of techniques to identify the diamond residue.

They found a family of at least five different forms of diamonds, including some that are formed only by impacts, they reported in the Science paper. Moreover, the nanodiamonds were found only at the bottom of the black mat -- not in the soil either below or above it.

Such diamonds have previously been found in the thin layer of soil that marks the boundary between the Cretaceous and Tertiary eras of Earth's history 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs disappeared in the aftermath of what is widely believed to have been a meteorite impact.

In a series of papers presented last month at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, the team also reported that at least 15 of the 35 species that became extinct during the Younger Dryas disappeared within 100 years of the event.

Their fossils appear "right up to the base of the black mat and never go above it," James Kennett said.

The other species may have been hunted to extinction by humans, as has often been speculated, but only after their numbers were greatly reduced by the fires and climate change.

There was also a "major population crash" of humans, he added: In the Great Plains, all traces of humans disappeared for about 200 years. Southern California was even more severely affected, with evidence of human occupation disappearing for most of the Younger Dryas.

James Kennett is convinced there was a cometary impact.

"I've counted up 15 major things that occurred at 12,900 years ago," he said. "I'd like somebody to explain that to me in some other way."
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Adam Hawthorne
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« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2009, 11:02:57 pm »

Tracking Down Abrupt Climate Changes: Rapid Natural Cooling Occurred 12,700 Years Ago

ScienceDaily (Aug. 1, 2008) — Researchers in Germany, Switzerland, and the United States have shown, for the first time, that an extremely fast climate change occurred in Western Europe. This took place long before human-made changes in the atmosphere, and is causatively associated with a sudden change in the wind systems.

The research, which appears in the journal Nature Geoscience, was conducted by geoscientists Achim Brauer, Peter Dulski and Jörg Negendank (emeritus Professor) from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Gerald Haug from the DFG-Leibniz Center for Surface Processes and Climate Studies at the University of Potsdam and the ETH in Zurich, and Daniel Sigman from Princeton University.

The proof of an extreme cooling within a short number of years 12,700 years ago was attained in sediments of the volcanic lake Meerfelder Maar in the Eifel region of Germany. The seasonally layered deposits allow to precisely determine the rate of climate change. With a novel combination of microscopic research studies and modern geochemical scanner procedures, the scientists were able to successfully reconstruct the climatic conditions even for individual seasons. In particular, the changes in the wind force and direction during the winter half-year caused the climate to topple over into a completely different mode within one year after a short instable phase of a few decades.

Up to now, it was assumed that the attenuation of the Gulf Stream alone was responsible for the strong cooling in Western Europe.

The examined lake deposits show, however, that the atmospheric circulation, probably in connection with the spreading of sea-ice, most likely played a very important role. At the same time, these new results show that the climate system is still not well understood, and that especially the mechanisms of short-term change and the time of occurrence still hold many puzzles. Micro-layered lake deposits represent particularly suitable geological archives, with which scientists want to track down climate change.

Scientists from the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) and other institutions are in search of such archives worldwide, with the hope of obtaining area-wide information on the dynamics of climate and possible regional variations in the future.


Journal reference:

Brauer et al. An abrupt wind shift in western Europe at the onset of the Younger Dryas cold period. Nature Geoscience, 2008; 1 (Cool: 520 DOI: 10.1038/ngeo263
Adapted from materials provided by Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
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Adam Hawthorne
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« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2009, 11:29:42 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.

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.

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.

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Adam Hawthorne
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« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2009, 11:30:18 pm »

The seond page of this piece:

"The comet (-like event) was followed by a barrage of hot particles. If that didn't kill all of the large animals, then the immediate climate changes must have," said Firestone.

Firestone said smaller animals could have sought shelter more readily, by going into caves or underground.

The findings were presented at last weekend's "World of Elephants" international conference in Hot Springs, S.D.

In addition to the tusk evidence, the scientists said arrowheads from North America's prehistoric Clovis culture, which went extinct around 13,500-13,000 years ago, Icelandic marine sediment, as well as sediment from nine 13,000-year-old sites in North America, contain higher-than-normal amounts of radiation in the form of potassium-40 levels.

Potassium-40 is a radioactive isotope, meaning a molecule that emits radiation.

Magnetic particles also were unearthed at the sites. Analysis of these particles revealed they are rich in titanium, iron, manganese, vanadium, rare-earth elements, thorium and uranium.

These elements all are common in moon rocks and lunar meteorites, so the researchers think the materials provide additional evidence that North America was bombarded 13,000 years ago by material originating from space.

Luann Becker, a University of California at Santa Barbara geologist, told Discovery News she was not surprised by the new supernova theory, since extinction events have been linked to similar comet or asteroid impacts before.

"What is exciting about Dr. Firestone's theory is that it can be easily tested," Becker said, and indicated she hopes future research will yield additional clues from North American and other sediment layers.
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« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2009, 11:32:04 pm »

Towering Ancient Tsunami Devastated the Mediterranean
By Ker Than, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 30 November 2006 07:57 am ET

A volcano avalanche in Sicily 8,000 years ago triggered a devastating tsunami taller than a 10-story building that spread across the entire Mediterranean Sea, slamming into the shores of three continents in only a few hours.

A new computer simulation of the ancient event reveals for the first time the enormity of the catastrophe and its far-reaching effects [video].
The Mt. Etna avalanche sent 6 cubic miles of rock and sediment tumbling into the water—enough material to cover the entire island of Manhattan in a layer of debris thicker than the Empire State Building is tall.
The mountain of rubble crashed into the water at more than 200 mph. It pummeled the sea bed, transformed thick layers of soft marine sediment into jelly and triggered an underwater mudslide that flowed for hundreds of miles.
Recreating an ancient disaster
To create their computer simulation, researchers at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy used sonar-equipped boats to survey seafloor sediment displaced by the Mt. Etna avalanche.
Their recreation suggests the tsunami's waves reached heights of up to 130 feet and maximum speeds of up to 450 mph, making it more powerful than the Indonesian tsunami that killed more than 180,000 people in 2004.
The researchers have also linked the ancient tsunami with the mysterious abandonment of Atlit-Yam, a Neolithic village located along the coast of present-day Israel. When archeologists discovered the village about 20 years ago, they found evidence of a sudden evacuation, including a pile of fish that had been gutted and sorted but then left to rot.
"A tsunami was not suspected before," lead researcher Maria Pareschi told LiveScience.
Could happen today
According to Pareschi, if the same tsunami struck today, Southern Italy would be inundated within the first 15 minutes [image]. In one hour, the waves would reach Greece's western coasts. After an hour and a half, the city of Benghazi in Northern Africa would be hit. At the three and a half hour mark, the waves would have traversed the entire Mediterranean to reach the coasts of Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
Avalanches and minor eruptions still occur on Mt. Etna today, but so far, nothing approaching the magnitude of the ancient event.
"Should the Neolithic Etna tsunami have occurred today, the impact is tremendous because the Eastern Mediterranean coasts are very inhabited ones," Pereschi said.
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