While looking up material on the subject of comets and catastrophes in ancient times I came upon the work of a Nederlandisch Chemist who wrote about Megalithic Monuments, one Dr. Reinard deJonge and the site in question is:
Dr. DeJonge's theses include the theory that the Megalith-builders were sun-worshippers that systematically explored the world and made records of their discoveries upon the standing stones of Europe. That is not an aspect of his work which I am addressing at this time. DeJonge says that a number of Megalithic monuments in Brittany recorded the great Flood of Noah in 2344 BC and this killed of 54% of the world's population (a significant difference from Genesis!) Here is his list of cometary catastrophes with the dates highlighted:
WORLDWIDE COMET CATASTROPHES - 3200 BC to 550 AD
Preliminary results - 15 January 2009
Courtesy Dr. Reinoud de Jonge# Event Date Period Duration Nature Casualties Comments
3201 BC, WCC Pre-Dynastic 70 days forest-fires, rains, floodings, cold 3000 Egypt - 7.5% WP* Casualties were only counted in Egypt
3006 BC, WCC 1st Dynasty
5th king Den-Udimu 11 days rains, floodings 2600 Egypt - 2.6% WP* Only Egyptian casualties.
2742 BC, WVC 3 rd Dynasty
2nd king Djoser 7 years of famine dimming Sun, cold, drought, crop failure, famine c. 9,000 Egyptian - 4.3% WP* Ibusuki Volcanic Field, Kyushu, Japan. Cotopaxi Volcano, Equador/Volcano Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion, western Indian Ocean. Only Egyptian casualties.
2344 BC WCC 6th Dynasty
1st king Teti 2+2= 4 months forest-fires, torrential rains, floodings, cold c.2.6 million - 54% WP*(4.8 million) Ended 5th Dynasty, later also Old Kingdom; ended all civilizations on Earth. Ogyges Flood - Precipitation of c.8.5 meters of water. Low temperatures and drought for 3 centuries followed.
2020 BC, WVC 11th Dynasty
5th king Mentuhotep II 4 years famine dimming Sun, cold, drought, crop failure, famine c.90,000, 2.6% WP* (3.5 million) Volcano of Long Island, NE of New Guinea / Volcano of Changbaishan, Eastern China / Volcano of Liamuiga, West Indies
1899 BC, WCC 12th Dynasty
4th king Sesostris II 11 days forest-fires, rains, and floodings c.260,000 6.2% WP* (4.2 million) 1628 BC,WCC 15th Dynasty
(ended 14th Dynasty) 9-10 days forest-fires, rains, floodings c.510,000 - 9.1% WP*(5.6 million) Deucalion Flood Low temperatures and drought for at least a century.
1370 BCab,WVC 18th Dynasty 9th king Amenhotep III 50 days dimming of Sun
2 years dust in the air 7 years of famine three phases, dimming Sun, cold, drought, crop failure, famine c.950,000 - 7.9% WP(12 million)* Santorini Volcano on Thera (Greece). Pago Volcano, New Britain Island
1159 BCab, WCC 20th Dynasty King Ramses III 40+40 = 80 days forest-fires, torrential rains, floodings, cold c.5.8 million - 32% WP(18 million)* Dardanus Flood, 35 years after Comet of 1194 BC [=Phaethon?], 3.8 million victims (21%), and 2.0 million victims (11%) of system collapse. Precipitation of 5.5 m of water. Ended New Kingdom and other civilizations. Period of chaos and cold weather for 4 centuries.
430 BCab, WCC/WVC 27th Dynasty king Artaxerxes I 13 days forest fires, rains, and floodings c.830,000, - 2.4% WP*(35 million) -
207 BCab, WCC Ptolemy IV Philopator 8 days forest-fires, rains, floodings c.530,000, - 1.4% WP*(38 million) -
44 BCab WCC or DC. Cleopatra VII and Ptolemy Caesarion (2 months) 7 days, 2 years forest-fires, dust, cold, drought, crop failure, famine c.500,000, 1.3%, WP*(40 million) Caesar’s Comet, 2 months after perihelion. 15 years of cold weather and chaos (wars) followed.
235 ADab, WVC or DC Emperor Maximinus 45 days, 1 year of famine dust, cold, drought, crop failure, famine 280,000 0.61% WP*(46 million) Taupo Volcano, North Island, New Zealand
416 ADb, WVC Emperor Maximus 12 months dust, cold, drought, crop failure, famine 250,000, 0.5%, WP*(50 million) Eruption of Krakatau. Separation of islands of Java and Sumatra, Indonesia.
536/540 ADb WCC Dark Ages Begin 3 months severe dust, 18 months dust sunlight dimmed, dust, drought, cold, crop failure, famine 2.9 million 5.5% WP*(53 million)
Over (536-544 AD) Two-stage event 5 and 9 years after Comet of 531 AD. 25% of people migrated to rivers. In 540 AD also eruption of Rabaul Volcano, New Britain Island, Papua New Guinea, c.120.000 victims (included). A century of cold and dry weather followed.
#Private transmission 28 Nov. 2008 to 11 Jan. 2009. Information deduced from monument and petroglyph analysis.
a Tree ring data: a.o. M. Baillie
b a.o. petroglyphs from the Mid-West (USA).
c a.o. Phaistos Disc
* WP = World Population before Catastrophe.
WCC = Worldwide Comet Catastrophe
WVC = Worldwide Volcanic Catastrophe
DC = Dry Comet implying the injection of dust into the atmosphere by a celestial object.
-Which may provide some evidence for cometary activity in most of those years but which mostly does not prove that all of the catastrophic events are due to a comet. In particular we have a good grasp of the end of the Egyptian Old Kingdom and it ends in a major drought, not a flood. However the Megalithic evidence for the flood taking place at this event is interesting and may actually be evidence of the much older catastrophic end of the Pleistocene in the Younger Dryas event.
His individual pages on the supposed Megalithic records of the Flood appear at the following links:
And the one I wanted to draw particular attention to was this rather small menhir from Kermovan (The Kermorvan menhir, Brittany, France)
"The menhir of Kermorvan and the comet grave of Mougau-Bihan were built on exactly the same latitude line in Brittany, France. The menhir of Kermorvan at Le Conquet, on the western tip of the peninsula, has a rare petroglyph of the giant Comet, which caused the Catastrophe of c.2345 BC. It shows that the planet Earth passed through the tail of this Comet (or Comet Swarm) during two months, and that the whole Catastrophe lasted for four months. A precipitation of about seven meters of water during these days caused terrible floodings, in which about half of the people died. It happened at the start of the Sixth Dynasty of Egypt (c.2370-2189 BC), which leaded to the end of the Old Kingdom."
I am not disputing his extractions of these figures so much as I question his dating of the event, which seems to be the closest fit with the Geneological tables of the Old Testament for the Flood of Noah. As has been mentioned many, many times before, actual known history of that time refuses to admit any possibility of a worldwide floodduring the dynastic histories of Egypt and Mesopotamia. BUT the information makes sense as pertaining to the formation of the Carolina bays and the End of Atlantis.
This is the standing stone in querstion. de Jonge interprets the main central portion as a map of the North Atlantic featuring the landmass of Greenland prominently and the two circled areas to the right and left to represent Newfoundland and Brittany and the latitude drawn between them. He seems to say this because Greenland is the most prominent large island in the North Atlantic today. BUT taken as if the "Top" of the menhir points South, the landmass falls into the area indicated for Atlantis on the Kircher map (which has South at the top also: this was a standard feature for all of the antique maps which originated in Egypt, such as the famous example of the Idrisi map illustrated below)
Now the next thing De Jonge says is that the shape denotes a comet plunging into the North Atlantic. That does start to sound like the theories of Muck and all the rest, and if this is so, the comet is depicted as a very broad sword hacking down on Atlantis from the North. That sounds as if it is describing the Clovis Comet as it can be told from the orientation of the Carolina bays. Muck says the largest part of the nucleus of this body impacted at the bottom of the North Atlantic, blew out the magma chambers under Atlantis, and sank it two or three kilometers vertically in a short period of time (as soon as the magma chambers could be emptied, in fact)
[Al-Idrisi's map drawn for King Roger of Sicily. The older maps were oriented with the South at top as a standard feature]
[An illustration of the Younger Dryas comet]
[This is an illustration of a comet that could well be called "A Sword in the sky"-such descriptions used to be common. I believe Muck says that the celestial body that sank Atlantis fell at the hour of local midnight. If that were the case, survivors on either side of the Atlantic witnessed some incredible fireworks that night as the comet fell ever closer to the earth and broke up into thousands of individual chunks of ice and stone formerly held together heterogenously by the comet's own slight gravity.]
Donnelly's frontispiece for the book Ragnarok, or The Destruction of Atlantis. Donnelly thought this comet strike was well before the actual end of Atlantis, but other readers have combined the two incidents regularly. Donnelly thought the comet struck full across one side of the Earth and rained down innumerably rocky meteorite fragments in size from large boulders to fine dust. Undoubtedly the main part of the Ice-age deposit Donnelly was speaking of was terrestrial in origin and moved around by paroxyms of Earth, sea and Sky, but the matrix (loess) could be largely volcanic in origin, as Muck states (Older "Flood Geologists" had also said this separately, based on the chemical composition) So Perhaps Donnely's map DOES represent where the comet went down (approximately) and where the cometary dust remained in the Atmosphere until dispersed by winds.
This incident would probably not be the Ragnarok of Northern Mythology, BUT the legend of the Great Serpent Born of Fire [Loki] and imprisoned at the Bottom of the Sea where it coils around the world as the Midgardsormen (World-serpent) Iorgomundr, especial enemy of Thor, could well have been inspired by such events. That would account for the vast size of the Serpent and why it lies at the bottom of the Sea now, only to emerge at Doomsday (the REAL Ragnarok) From a Danish Petroglyph of the Bronze Age
Experts such as Napier and Clube have worked out charts showing how often large celestial bodies such as asteroids and comets should strike the Earth going by probabilities. The frequency of the strike turns out to be inversely proportionate to the size of the impacting body. It has been surmised that a body a kilometer across can be expected to strike the Earth every million years on the average.
Such a strike would impact releasing a force equivalent of 10,000 megatons of TNT.
Once again, every million years on average with more infrequent ones being larger and more powerful.
Napier and Clube are also supporters of the idea that there was an exceptionally large strike at the end of the Ice Ages associated with the extinction of the Megafauna at the time.
The Torino Scale is designed to gague the level of threat posed by impacting cosmic fragments. We are talking in the level of Top-of-the-Scale, Globally threatening events.
One of the evidences of the Clovis Comet is that there is a black carbonaceous layer at the Youngest Dryas which covers everything simultaneously, the Black Mats. Straight C14 dates are consistently between 10000 and 11000 years old, which is commonly adjusted upward to 10000 to 11000 BC by some experts. There are Black Mats in the East as well, not shown on this map. There is an excavation within half a mile of my house in Indianapolis with a large exposure of a Black Mat area.
There is also getting to be more evidence for meteor craters at the youngest Dryas dates around what was then a shrunken continental icecap (it swelled appreciably during the Younger Dryas itself): Three of them were recently identified along the St. Lawrence Seaway (Map at Left and Below)
[Corossol crater on the bottom of the sea near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River]
Map showing discovery of three more on-land craters, radiocarbon dated to the same level.
My sketch-map showing craters and Carolina Bays generally. Cape York Meteorites of this date from Northern Greenland. The large red are evidently indicates the main breakup point for the comet, above the area of the [later] Glacial Lake Agassiz. There is some suggestion of a large strike in Michigan at this time, but if so, the glaciers subsequently covered the area over and made the evidence much more ambiguous. More "Bays" are reported in South America: in Brazil and Venezuela, especially.
Physiographic map for Carolina Bays from Wikipedia.
The Carolina bays: Explaining a cosmic mystery
By Diane Tennant
© September 7, 2008
Part 1 in a 3-part series
ELIZABETH CITY, N.C.
The morning began with a brief but vigorous argument - call it a discussion - in the hotel lobby.
The breakfast table was loaded with road maps, Google Earth printouts and colorful elevation images intended to help the three researchers locate a curious landscape feature. They were hunting for slight depressions in the earth, dimples almost invisible at ground level but so striking from the air that, for a number of years, they captivated the entire country.
Scientists in the mid-1900s devoted careers to their study, debated furiously in print, were celebrated, vilified, laughed at and honored, all in an attempt to explain what gouged out half a million shallow divots along the East Coast.
The subtle marks are called Carolina bays, a name so breathtakingly misleading that almost no one these days has heard of them. The bays are not connected to the sea or to rivers, so they are not really bays. Only a few hold water, and these look so much like ordinary lakes that some are, in fact, named Lake This or Lake That. They are not restricted to the Carolinas, but instead are found in great numbers from New Jersey to Georgia, with hundreds along the Eastern Shore and Virginia Beach.
Nobody knows what made them.
The three men gathered around the table at the Hampton Inn hoped to find out. But first, they had to find a Carolina bay.
The papers spread out on the table showed dozens of bays around northeast North Carolina, outlined in yellow on aerial photos.
Allen West, a geophysicist from Arizona, wanted to go to Rockyhock Bay, the largest one on the map, in search of soil samples to test a controversial theory. Malcolm LeCompte, a remote imaging specialist from Elizabeth City State University, also held out for Rockyhock. George Howard, a wetlands restorer from Raleigh, wanted to find a bay with a drainage ditch exposing soil layers for easier study and, since he was driving, they headed away from Rockyhock, toward County Line Road.
Because the bays are depressions, they tend to be wetlands. Indians called them pocosins. They came to be known as bay swamps because of the trees that grew there: sweet bay and loblolly bay and red bay. Then, because they were first noticed in North and South Carolina, they began to be called Carolina bays.
They are generally elliptical in shape, although those from Virginia north and Georgia south tend to be a little rounder. They are oriented in the same direction, roughly northwest although, again, there are caveats: the ones from Virginia north tend to point a little more to the west, while the southern ones tend to point a little more north.
They have white sand rims, thicker on the southeast edge, that stand anywhere from a few inches to several feet in height. Some bays overlap others and, where they do, the rim of the top bay is in place, and the bottom rim obliterated.
Bays are found by the hundreds on the Eastern Shore, by the tens in Currituck and Chowan counties in North Carolina, and a very few near Richmond. There may even be a few right outside Washington, D.C.
In North Carolina, Bladen County is half covered in bays; one researcher has counted 900 there. On elevation images made by lasers that can see through vegetation, bays appear that don't even show up on photos. The technology has caused some researchers to double the estimate of Carolina bays to close to a million.
"The Carolina bays are without doubt one of the most remarkable geomorphic features on the surface of the earth," wrote geologist Douglas Johnson in 1942. "They share with submarine canyons the distinction of being among the most difficult of earth forms to explain."
Many have tried.
The latest attempt is a controversial hypothesis that connects the Carolina bays to an ice age, a mass extinction and the disappearance of the Clovis people 12,900 years ago. Evidence is needed to support or refute the idea, and evidence is what the three researchers were after.
LeCompte navigated from a position that others might call back-seat driving, juggling paperwork and fruitlessly giving directions as Howard, deep in conversation with West, shot past highway exits and intersections. This bothered LeCompte, but West, who says his Ph.D. in philosophy helps make him laid-back in business, was unruffled.
Corralled at last by LeCompte into a left-hand turn onto the right highway, Howard headed the SUV down an arrow-straight road edging the southern end of the Great Dismal Swamp. On the horizon, not far away, the pavement curved abruptly skyward to cross a ridge. This was the Suffolk Scarp, a long ridge of prehistoric beach that once marked the edge of the sea.
"Cool!" Howard exclaimed. "So you really can see it."
Carolina bays run along the top and, largely, the western edges of both the Suffolk Scarp and the Currituck Scarp, a younger beach ridge that carries N.C. 168 from Chesapeake to the Outer Banks.
"We see a pattern in these bays," West said, and Howard, upholding the finest tradition of bay researchers, said, "I disagree."
At least 19 theories of bay formation have been offered over the past 161 years. Disagreements have not always been civil.
The first person to write about a bay, in late 1700, was merely complaining. Naturalist John Lawson wrote of "a prodigious wide and deep Swamp, being forc'd to strip stark-naked: and much a-do to save ourselves from drowning."
The second person to ponder the bays was a geologist who looked at South Carolina and decided, in 1847, that the lakes there must be fed by underground springs and that wind lapping the water had smoothed them into ellipses. His theory was promptly forgotten.
In 1895, the first bay article appeared in a professional journal. Writing in Science, L.C. Glenn proposed that the lakes in the Carolinas had formed when sea level dropped, leaving behind sandbars that held water in valleys. No one really cared.
Another author theorized in the Journal of Geology in 1931 that rock had dissolved under the bays, causing the land to sink, but interest was slight until Myrtle Beach Estates took advantage of a new technology called aerial photography to look at its land holdings in South Carolina. Shortly afterward, the federal Agriculture Department inventoried farmland from the air, and the results of the two surveys were amazing: Thousands and thousands of Carolina bays were revealed up and down the East Coast, all basically elliptical, all pointing northwest.
Everyone was surprised. Farmers had known about local bays because the soil was rich, if acidic, and many were drained for cropland before wetlands were protected by law in 1972. Foresters also knew their local bays because the depressions collected leaves and other organic matter that compressed, over centuries, into peat, and peat is a stubborn fuel that burns slowly, though with great persistence, as ground fires that last for months and even years.
But the photos showed so many. An engineer said they looked like craters on the moon, and the public imagination was fired.
Virginia has a long history in space science. In 1805, when asked about the radical new idea of meteorites, Thomas Jefferson wrote: "I do not say that it is impossible but as it is so much unlike any operation of nature we have ever seen, it requires testimony proportionately strong."
But that was hard to come by. In 1933, Frank A. Melton and William Schriever of the University of Oklahoma proposed that a shower of meteorites had created the Carolina bays, but they were unable to produce a single stone as evidence.
Their article kicked off 74 years of academic mudslinging, as scientists with opposing theories shot holes in each other's pet ideas. They fell roughly into two camps: extraterrestrial theorists, and those who said the bays were made by common earthly processes such as wind and water.
One writer proposed in 1933 that a comet had struck the East Coast, gouging out the bays. A geologist soon thereafter proposed that wind-created eddies in estuaries had done all the work. Others asked why, then, were the bays confined to the Atlantic Coast? Nobody had an answer.
In 1934, a new player emerged. William F. Prouty, geology department head at the University of North Carolina, said magnetic tests on the bays supported the meteorite theory. The same year, Douglas Johnson wrote an article titled "Supposed Meteorite Scars of South Carolina," launching a war of words that would go on between the two - the extraterrestrial supporter, and the wind-and-water man - for nearly 20 years.
Johnson said the depressions were sinkholes and the elliptical shape was formed by wind. Prouty responded with air pressure caused by passing meteors.
Johnson came back with a book titled "The Origin of the Carolina Bays," which began with approximately 100 pages trashing Prouty's ideas, then offered a complex theory of artesian springs making lakes that had beach ridges shaped by waves and dune ridges shaped by wind.
Chapman Grant put forth a theory that spawning fish, held in a northwest position by currents, had dug out the bays by fanning their tails on the sea floor. Since the largest Carolina bay is nearly 12 miles long, this would have required a lot of fish, and the theory failed to explain why the depressions would not have been destroyed by crashing surf as sea level dropped and exposed the bottom. The response, published by the same journal, was titled "On Grant's Fish Story."
One researcher proposed dust devils, another said melting icebergs, but the debate slowed considerably with Johnson's death in 1948. Prouty died before finishing his final article about the bays, but he still got the last word, as a publisher added an editor's note and ran it in 1952, three years after Prouty's death. In it, he proposed that a comet had struck the southeastern coast of the United States. As evidence, he had plotted on a map meteorites found across Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia and other inland states. Still, no meteorites turned up in the bays themselves.
By the 1960s, terrestrial theorists had the upper hand, and attention turned to the biological diversity of the Carolina bays. Insect-eating plants such as the Venus flytrap were identified. Fish species that were found nowhere else were studied in Lake Waccamaw, a large bay near the southern edge of North Carolina.
In the 1970s, a researcher wrote that no evidence of a comet had turned up, either, and published his own wind-and-water theory, even going so far as to try to form a tiny Carolina bay in his lab.
A 1982 book revived the comet theory but placed the explosion well west of the bays, over the Ohio River Valley.
More recently, a librarian at the University of Georgia named Bob Kobres, who specializes in cataloging folk stories and legends of creation and catastrophe, added a giant beaver to the mix. Kobres says Ice Age beavers, which were roughly the size of today's black bears, could have created vast expanses of ponds and wetlands that exploded into steam when the comet arrived.
"From this reasoning it could be anticipated that a large 'footprint' impact event might leave the fish in a large deep lake relatively unscathed while it blasted boiled beavers out of their shallow ponds and into the beyond by means of a violent steam explosion," he wrote on his Web site.
That was the last word in bay theories until late 2007. And then a mammoth came into the picture.
Next: Extinction from above?
Are Carolina bays related to the extinction of the mammoth?
By Diane Tennant
© September 8, 2008
Part 2 in a series of 3
CHOWAN COUNTY, N.C.
The colorful elevation images of County Line Road were excitingly replete with Carolina bays - big ones, small ones, overlapping ones. The road even helpfully cut right through a few bays.
"It's a dramatic bay area," George Howard said. "In fact, I'd say it's one of the most dramatic."
Malcolm LeCompte, being more familiar with the area, cautioned, "That one that looks so prominent, it's just a flat field."
"Bay hunting is an exercise in the subtle," Howard agreed.
Howard, a Carolina bay enthusiast from Raleigh, and LeCompte, a remote imaging specialist from Elizabeth City State University, needed a bay. And they needed a bay they could dig in to look for minerals from outer space.
Howard turned the car left onto Folly Road.
The Delaware Indians told Thomas Jefferson that long before his time the mastodon rebelled against the people it was created to serve, and a great battle was fought west of the Alleghenies. The other animals fought against the mastodon, and the Great Spirit came down from the sky and sat on a mountain to watch. Nearly all the animals were killed before the mastodon escaped, and swamps formed where their blood fell. Their bones, the Indians said, could be found there still.
So when Jefferson dispatched the Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the West in 1804, he asked them to also, please, keep an eye out for living woolly mammoths and mastodons.
Dwarf mammoths did, in fact, survive on an island off California for about 7,000 years after their enormous mainland cousins went extinct, but Jefferson received only bones from Lewis and Clark. Something had killed the giant animals of the last Ice Age, basically all at once.
In 2007, geophysicist Allen West and his colleagues suggested that the mammoth killer, in a maelstrom of fire and wind, may also have created the Carolina bays.
West is a calm man, so completely calm - philosophical, one might say, knowing his background - that the pursuit of catastrophe seems an ill fit. Yet the mystery of mass extinctions has drawn him since his childhood in Florida, where he learned that the arrowheads he picked up from the ground were used by prehistoric hunters to kill mammoths and mastodons.
"It struck me as a kid," he says, "that it seemed awfully odd, why would they go extinct after they'd been around for so long?"
He didn't pursue it. Instead, finding that a doctorate in philosophy didn't open many business opportunities, he went into geophysics, eventually forming a corporation that drilled for oil and gas. Now he is a consultant in Arizona, helping find oil, gas, groundwater and precious metals. He even located a lost Spanish mining tunnel for a client, or he thinks he did - it was very secret.
After retirement, he decided to write a book about mass extinctions. His research led him, ultimately, to the Carolina bays.
Ice ages come and go in regular cycles, each lasting about 100,000 years, and separated by shorter warm spells about 10,000 years long. But last go-around, as the Pleistocene ice age was starting to warm up, the Earth plunged back into cold conditions. Temperatures dropped about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, glaciers rebuilt, and 35 kinds of animals - not 35 species, but 35 groups of similar species - went extinct, just like that.
Never before had so many different animals disappeared in so short a time. The cold lasted for about 1,000 years, and then the planet abruptly warmed again.
This sudden cold spell is called the Younger Dryas. It marks the end of the Clovis culture, a people who had developed the repeating rifle of their day - a distinctive stone spear point on a reloadable shaft - for hunting mammoths and other huge creatures: giant ground sloths (similar to anteaters) that stood 10 feet tall, primitive horses, mastodons, short-faced cave bears larger than grizzlies, sab er-toothed cats and American camels.
Three theories have been proposed to explain the Younger Dryas extinction, known by their shorthand names of chill, ill and overkill. Proponents of the climate change theory say the drop in temperature, with its associated changes in habitat and food supply, snuffed the animals. Critics say the animals had survived previous ice ages just fine.
Pandemic illness has also been suggested, but there is little evidence of that.
The third theory is that Clovis humans, with their new and improved weapons, slaughtered the large animals to extinction, but critics say mice, hyenas, wolves, vultures and other small creatures also disappeared, and it is unlikely that they were overhunted.
In 2007, 26 scientists from three nations, including West and Howard, proposed a fourth theory to explain not only the mass extinction but the Younger Dryas itself: A comet exploding over or on the Laurentide ice sheet that covered most of Canada and the Great Lakes.
"If you see white sand, we're passing a bay," LeCompte said from the back seat of the SUV. "I think that's a bay right there."
"Is it?" Howard asked doubtfully and kept going.
"Sure looks like we're coming over a rim here," West said.
Howard took a wrong turn, backtracked, turned again and stopped in the middle of a deserted road. The three exchanged maps and printouts.
"That was a cluster of bays we crossed," West said.
Everybody looked. Nobody saw anything. That is the big problem with Carolina bays. From the air, bays stand out like dimples on a golf ball, their white sand rims highlighting each oval. But from ground level, they are nearly impossible to see.
West has tried to find Carolina bays using GPS, and even then he has driven right past them. The three discussed downloading GPS coordinates on top of the Google Earth images where craters had been marked, and Howard tried to do that on his laptop while driving.
He finally pulled over by a sign that read "Sand Hill Farm" and let West take the wheel.
"Let's go to Rockyhock," West said.
The lead authors on the paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are West and physicist Rick Firestone of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in California. The paper presents evidence that a comet may have wreaked havoc on Earth 12,900 years ago, at the start of the Younger Dryas. It is a refinement of West's book, published in 2006, when he, Firestone and a third author, in "The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes," proposed that a supernova could have set off a series of events culminating in a fragmented comet landing on the ice sheet or exploding over it.
"We believe what happened is that a large comet impacted the Earth near the Great Lakes, and that impact was sufficient to kill many of the mammoths outright," Firestone said in a phone interview. "The shock wave, a mega-hurricane of winds across the breadth of North America, actually caused much of the extinction. We believe the winds also formed the Carolina bays."
The theory covers a lot of ground: The blast melted the ice sheet, which sent floods of fresh water into the sea, which altered ocean currents, which caused the temperature to drop, which caused the Younger Dryas. In more detail, this is what the theory says happened:
Comets are loose conglomerates of ice and dust and bits of cosmic leftovers, sort of like poorly packed meatballs. Meteorites and asteroids, on the other hand, are made of iron and rock. A comet would not necessarily leave a crater, especially not if it landed on an ice sheet several miles thick. But it would, like a meatball dropped into sauce, create quite a splatter.
The splat threw icy slush, dirt and radiation for hundreds of miles. Wildfires sparked by the extreme heat burned forest and grassland alike. Dust darkened sunlight and created rain clouds, which could have drizzled or poured for months, until the air cleared.
The impact or airburst would have melted ice, flooding the glacial lakes that already lay at the toe of the ice sheets. They would have burst their ice dams and roared away in all directions, ultimately pouring so much fresh water into the North Atlantic that the warm Gulf Stream was shorted out, a scenario portrayed in the 2004 movie "The Day After Tomorrow."
The authors say ancient stories from around the world tell of catastrophe. They share themes of something falling from the sky, of the world drowning in rain, of fires and floods and destruction. In many of them, the animals die and only a few humans - those who heeded warnings and obeyed heavenly commands - are spared.
LeCompte says scientists don't give much heed to Native American teaching stories, which he calls "white man's chauvinism." He's used to skepticism, having declared at the age of 4 or 5 that he wanted to be an astronaut, in the days before the job even existed. He ended up as a naval flight officer with a Ph.D. in planetary astrophysics.
He still remembers the sci-fi heroes who fueled his dreams - Tom Corbett, Space Cadet; Commander Corey and the Space Patrol; Rocky Jones, Space Ranger; and Captain Video - and he believes that the Indian legends are based on something just as amazing, but true. The Mattamuskeet of North Carolina call themselves "children of the falling star" for a reason, he says.
In "Cycle," the authors tell a Lakota story, about humans and giant animals becoming so evil that the Creator sent his Thunderbirds to fight them. They threw down thunderbolts from the sky that shook the world, setting forests and prairies on fire with flames that leaped to the sky. Lakes boiled and dried up, rocks glowed and the giant animals burned up.
Then the Creator sent rain to flood the Earth and cleanse it. After the floods subsided, the few people who survived found the bones of the giant animals buried in rock and mud.
Some researchers say the bays are 100,000 years old; others say 10,000 to 13,000. Still others say different bays formed at different times over millions of years; however, they cannot explain why Carolina bays are not still forming today.
In 1975, Rockyhock Bay was reported by D.R. Whitehead to be 35,000 years old, based on core samples, which are long tubes of rock and soil with the youngest layers at the top and oldest at the bottom. Another scientist, working on another bay, had reported finding ancient river channels and other old sediments underneath his bay. West thought it was possible that Whitehead had cored too deeply and had analyzed samples that actually came from underneath Rockyhock Bay, not from the bay itself.
If he could show that the 35,000-year-old layer reported by Whitehead extended beyond the edges of the bay, it would support the idea that the bays are younger, perhaps only 12,900 years old.[In readjusted-radiocarbon years. The flat radiocarbon date would be between 11000 and 10000 years old and many scientists do not use the readjustment-DD]
Especially if he could find diamonds.
Next: Searching for [hard] evidence
The Carolina bays: New evidence points to a killer comet
By Diane Tennant
© September 9, 2008
Part 3 in a series of 3
CHOWAN COUNTY, N.C.
Rockyhock Bay was pretty obvious, even from the road. It was a dense cluster of tall trees and short shrubs, a dark green oasis in a flat plain, encircled by an unpaved road. It was also enclosed by a tall chain-link fence.
"That does not deter me," George Howard said, but forays up farm roads dead-ended long before the bay was in reach. Abandoning the SUV, the three researchers struck out through a melon field that sloped gently up from the fence.
"I wonder if that's not the rim right there," Malcolm LeCompte mused. "That's the white sand."
Allen West knelt and began to fill a plastic bag.
Howard has never been deterred by much. An overwhelming personality, he has a business, a family, a mammoth tusk over the plasma TV, an unmatched ability to find things online and a deep interest in Carolina bays, which he heard of while working in environmental affairs for Congress. His boss at the time was a North Carolina senator, who had a topographical map.
"I saw these odd-looking ellipses on it," Howard recalls, "and I said, 'What in the world are those, senator?' and he said, 'Oh, meteor holes.' "
An avocation was launched. Now Howard co-owns a wetlands restoration business, whose first job was restoring a series of drained Carolina bays. In his spare time, he and a friend dig and mail soil samples from the bays to West, a geophysicist who lives in Arizona.
West analyzes them for diamonds.
Across North America and in at least two European countries, the start of the Younger Dryas cold spell is marked in the soil by a layer called a black mat, although it may also be white or bluish in color. The mat is topped by a layer of sediment holding few or no human artifacts, indicating a lack of occupation for many years after it was deposited.
Clovis artifacts and Pleistocene bones are found directly below the black mat, never above it.
Fourteen kinds of minerals, gases and other materials have been found in the black mat, and in every Carolina bay tested, more than a dozen so far. They are extraterrestrial markers, and they have been found at all of the Clovis sites studied by the team, at the point in time when that culture basically vanished.
The markers include charcoal and heavy metals, plus the element iridium. Iridium found in a worldwide soot layer deposited 65 million years ago was key to linking dinosaur extinctions to the Chicxulub impact crater under the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico.
Other markers found in the Carolina bays include spiky glasslike pieces of carbon; fullerenes, which are round objects that resemble soccer balls because of their six-sided pattern; helium-3, an isotope not found naturally on this planet; and hollow balls of carbon.
The clincher, as far as West is concerned, is nanodiamonds, so named for a good reason - 10,000 would fit across the width of a human hair.
"What we have found is, several big Carolina bays are lined with diamonds," he said. "This is the first time extraterrestrial materials have been found lining the bays."
West has found diamonds inside the carbon spherules and trapped in the glasslike carbon. He says that suggests, but does not yet prove, that an extraterrestrial impact created the bays.
"Even though the diamonds are the strongest of those 14 markers, it's the collective weight of all 14 of them that's important," West said. "It's very difficult to argue that all 14 of them, in the same layer across two continents, is accidental. It wasn't accidental when the dinosaurs went extinct, and it's not accidental now, we think."
Diamonds found in the bays and at Clovis archaeological sites across the country are rounded and strangely shaped because they were created within seconds, unlike slow-forming diamonds in the ground. There is, West said, no way to explain it other than an impact. Such diamonds have been found in one other location on Earth: in an oil field surrounding the Chicxulub crater.
He finished filling the plastic bag with sand. If lab tests reveal carbon spherules, they will be examined for nanodiamonds.
"A single carbon spherule is about the size of a period at the end of a sentence," he said. "And in that, there may be as many as a billion diamonds."
He strode back to the SUV through sand hot enough to burn skin.
"I can't tell you how long I've had this dream to come to Rockyhock Bay," West said.
"Right up there with the pyramids," Howard said.
"Actually, I like this better than the pyramids."
"About the same temperature," Howard replied, and drove out of the field.
Critics of the impact theory say the 14 markers rain down on Earth all the time as dust from outer space. West says the markers in the black mat and in the Carolina bays are many times more abundant than those normal background levels. Such high levels are found only in association with cosmic impacts, he said, but not everyone is convinced.
As further evidence for the impact theory, the group cites the work of other scientists. Some have reported finding Clovis tools and mammoth tusks gouged on just one side by radioactive grains of dust, all dug in from the direction of the Great Lakes. Others have concluded that floods up to 1,000 feet deep roared across the Northwest states. Still others have studied the loss of ocean circulation and found Hudson Bay sediments off Africa and Europe, carried there, they think, by icebergs flushed into the southern seas by the influx of fresh water from the melted ice sheet.
West and his colleagues presented their impact hypothesis at the American Geophysical Union meeting in October 2007. (An entire morning of the meeting was devoted to papers, pro and con, about it.) Shortly thereafter, hearkening back to the great debates of the mid-1900s, the journal Science published the first criticism of it.
In May, the Geological Society of America published another paper that called the evidence "a Frankenstein monster, incompatible with any single impactor or any known impact event." The rebuttal from Firestone and West, published in the same issue, concludes: "The truth may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true."
In June, a rebuttal to the rebuttal, published online, warns against "a few markers collected in good faith from an abundant background, combined with a good story and some wishful thinking."
A paper about the diamonds has been submitted to two major international journals. West hopes it will be out soon.
In 1994, Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 was on a collision course with Jupiter. As it plunged toward the planet, the comet broke apart until there were at least 20 pieces. One by one, they disappeared into the gaseous planet. Huge scars began to appear like open wounds, and the marks remained visible to telescopes on Earth for many months.
Critics say impacts are so infrequent that the Younger Dryas must have been caused by something else. They say there is no visible crater near the Great Lakes. Supporters point to Shoemaker-Levy 9, and to the fact that impact craters on Earth have been recognized for only a few decades, and may be more plentiful than anyone knows. Since 1960, 174 have been listed in the Earth Impact Database.
Over dinner in Kitty Hawk one June evening, LeCompte and West discussed the Tunguska event of 1908. From miles away, witnesses reported a brilliant flash and huge explosions over a remote region of Siberia. Twenty years later, when researchers finally reached the site, they found 772 square miles of dead trees splayed in a radial pattern, and elliptical-shaped bogs aligned with the center.
Today, it is widely accepted that a piece of a comet or a small meteor exploded. There is no visible crater. Less well-known is a suspected impact on Aug. 13, 1930, in remote Brazil near the Peruvian border. A monk arriving five days later reported that native Indians said three fiery balls from space had exploded, obscuring the sun with dust and setting fires that were still burning. Researchers have pointed out that the event occurred during the annual Perseid meteor shower, which is caused by debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle.
LeCompte, a remote imaging specialist from Elizabeth City State University, says the danger to Earth from comet debris and other small cosmic objects seems to be greater than officially calculated.
"These things still remain a threat, and that threat is not well known," he says. "It's a very political issue. So this whole thing about the Younger Dryas impact is going right in the face of that whole issue because it suggests that the impacts are more frequent than the models might suggest."
The Algonquin Indians tell a story they say is the oldest of their people. In it, the Great Spirit warned that a star would fall, and the people who listened hid themselves in deep mud. An object appeared in the sky, as bright as a second sun, with a long, glowing tail that enveloped the Earth. Trees burned, lakes and rivers boiled, rocks shattered.
After the star had climbed back into the sky, the people emerged to find their world completely changed. The giant animals had died, leaving only their bones behind. The Great Spirit warned that the Long-Tailed Heavenly Climbing Star would someday return.
"In this story, this long-tailed bright object, which sounds a whole lot like a comet, the tail was responsible for killing giant animals," West said. "They actually have those in the story, giant animals. It killed many of the people; they say it was so hot it caused the ice to melt off the mountains, it caused rocks to melt, and it caused all the trees to catch on fire."
Then there is the predictive part of the story, he said: "If our orbit, and the orbit of this object that we think hit us coincided once, then the odds are extremely high that it would coincide again. There are astronomers that have looked at the orbits of some of these heavily fragmented comets, and Earth crosses several of them every year."
These coinciding orbits create the Leonid, Perseid, Geminid and Taurid meteor showers every year.
"So it certainly is conceivable that some of the shooting stars that we see today are remnants of the object that we think hit us 12,900 years ago," West said.
"You look up in the sky, you see those old fireflies coming in, well, multiply them by a thousand times and that's possibly what the Clovis people would have seen."
If lines are drawn along the long axes of the Carolina bays, then extended several hundred miles, they converge at two spots: one near the Great Lakes, and one in southern Canada. This holds true for the bays that are north of Virginia, because they point a little more westerly, and the bays that are south of South Carolina, because they point a little more to the north.
West sketched out the location of the Carolina bays along the East Coast, their long axes aligned toward the Great Lakes.
Then he added the "rainwater basins" of Nebraska, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma, which are baylike depressions oriented toward the northeast, with the long axes pointing to the same spot near the Great Lakes. The two areas fan out like butterfly wings on either side of the central point.
It is the same shape made by impact spatters on the moon and Mars, when material is flung out of a forming crater, West said.
"The implications of this research are that this is a type of impact that was unknown before," West said, "and is very much like the impact when Shoemaker-Levy hit Jupiter. No one knew that could happen, either. So it appears that these kinds of things, because they leave so little evidence, that they are quite likely far more frequent than space scientists have known in the past.
"That poses substantial danger for the culture. If these things even happen every 50,000 years or 100,000 years, then at some point in the future one of them's going to happen, and then it's going to seriously disrupt our civilization.
"This is one thing - unlike al-Qaida, unlike the bird flu, unlike probably global warming - that has the potential to end our species. Any enlightened civilization cannot let these things hit it. We need to do something about it."
Back on the highway, Howard turned again onto Sandy Ridge Road.
"There's a sandy ridge there, all right," West observed, consulting a map of the Carolina bays. "The rim runs right under that house."
He pondered a cornfield that filled another bay. The white sand rim dipped into dark soil at the
center of the field, then rose at the end of the row into white sand again. West wished for a sample to test.
"If we're going to prove this hypothetical comet, it's incumbent on us to find the evidence," he said. The small plastic bags that might hold it were sitting in the back seat.
The afternoon sun blazed. Smoke smudged the air, drifting from a peat fire to the south that was burning between two Carolina bay lakes. As the highway rolled by, West pointed out signs for Two Mile Desert Road and Great Desert Road. Not really desert, said the Arizona resident.
"Desert means pocosin," Howard explained, "because it's monotonous."
"One man's monotony is another man's Carolina bay," West replied, and the road dipped, just a little, to cross another one.
Diane Tennant, (757) 446-2478, email@example.com