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Author Topic: Spherule attack and the demise of Clovis!  (Read 14710 times)
Jacques Cinq-Mars
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« on: May 22, 2007, 10:41:19 AM »

Catastrophism and attendant sensationalism strike again. Move aside Mt. Toba. North America can now claim to have been subjected, at the end of the Pleistocene, to a real cataclysmic event (i.e., a meteoritic impact) of such a cosmic magnitude that it caused the rapid demise (“disappearance”) of the Clovis people and that of its larder. Not to mention that its impact on or over the Laurentide ice sheet caused the latter to melt, letting loose massive amounts of cold water that, having reached the Atlantic ocean, heavily disturbed the oceanic currents, thus interrupting the ongoing deglaciation and causing much of the northern hemisphere to temporarily revert to a mini-deep-freeze called the Younger Dryas.

I’ll wait for the real paper to come out, but, for the time being, I suspect the robustness of this new hypothesis may well be inversely proportional to the sensationalism it has inspired.

Here is an incomplete list of where you can read about this story, hype and all:

from Nature’s Rex Dalton ( HERE if you subscribe to Nature or if you have some sort of institutional access);

from LiveScience (HERE);

from the BBC (HERE);

from MNBC (HERE);

etc.

Come to think of it, with all the neat glassy spherules I found in Bluefish Cave I, many years ago, I should have gone to Acapulco.

Jacques

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AWSX
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« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2007, 01:48:16 PM »

I have been following the evolution of Firestone's hypothesis for some time. He first proposed that a nuclear bombardment had reset the 14C clock in North America.
The first article and the rebuttals published in The Mammoth Trumpet:
http://www.centerfirstamericans.com/mt.php?a=35&h=firestone
http://www.centerfirstamericans.com/mt.php?a=36&h=firestone
http://www.centerfirstamericans.com/mt.php?a=53&h=firestone
http://www.centerfirstamericans.com/mt.php?a=61&h=firestone

Last year Firestone, West & Warwick-Smith published "The Cycle of Cosmic Catrastophies" which summarized Firestone's search for evidence for what he terms the "Event". He found many mammoth tusks with magnetic spherules cratered into the surface and also collected these magnetic spherules from several Clovis age sites in North America. He also reported finding some unusual atomic isotopes and the carbon spherules, but not much discussion on those latest discoveries. What was missing in the book was any mention of the first hypothesis that the 14C clock had been reset.

In the book he proposed an impact crater at the southern end of Lake Michigan and also proposed that the Carolina Bays were shallow impact craters from this "Event". He also had topographic maps of 'dry bays' across the plains states.  However in the list of papers for the conference in Acapulco, I found no mention of these impact craters. Geological studies of Lake Michigan do not show any evidence for an impact crater and there is material in the Carolina Bays much older than 13,000 years so both of those bits of evidence have apparently been abandoned.

Now Firestone is a Ph.D. nuclear physicist and he does seem to have some evidence that something unusual happened in North America 13,000 years ago, but his search for an impact crater to support his hypothesis has not strengthened his case, so far.

In a way the hype may be good in that it may cause more research into what actually caused the Younger Dryas, the megafauna extinctions and the demise of Clovis Culture. In any case, it will be an interesting story to follow.
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Jacques Cinq-Mars
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« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2007, 10:02:07 AM »

I have been following the evolution of Firestone's hypothesis for some time. He first proposed that a nuclear bombardment had reset the 14C clock in North America.
The first article and the rebuttals published in The Mammoth Trumpet:
http://www.centerfirstamericans.com/mt.php?a=35&h=firestone
http://www.centerfirstamericans.com/mt.php?a=36&h=firestone
http://www.centerfirstamericans.com/mt.php?a=53&h=firestone
http://www.centerfirstamericans.com/mt.php?a=61&h=firestone

Last year Firestone, West & Warwick-Smith published "The Cycle of Cosmic Catrastophies" which summarized Firestone's search for evidence for what he terms the "Event". He found many mammoth tusks with magnetic spherules cratered into the surface and also collected these magnetic spherules from several Clovis age sites in North America. He also reported finding some unusual atomic isotopes and the carbon spherules, but not much discussion on those latest discoveries. What was missing in the book was any mention of the first hypothesis that the 14C clock had been reset.

In the book he proposed an impact crater at the southern end of Lake Michigan and also proposed that the Carolina Bays were shallow impact craters from this "Event". He also had topographic maps of 'dry bays' across the plains states.  However in the list of papers for the conference in Acapulco, I found no mention of these impact craters. Geological studies of Lake Michigan do not show any evidence for an impact crater and there is material in the Carolina Bays much older than 13,000 years so both of those bits of evidence have apparently been abandoned.

Now Firestone is a Ph.D. nuclear physicist and he does seem to have some evidence that something unusual happened in North America 13,000 years ago, but his search for an impact crater to support his hypothesis has not strengthened his case, so far.

In a way the hype may be good in that it may cause more research into what actually caused the Younger Dryas, the megafauna extinctions and the demise of Clovis Culture. In any case, it will be an interesting story to follow.
Dear Allan,

Thanks for passing on this complementary information. I guess I should have spent more time monitoring the Mammoth Trumpet. As for the “hype [being] good…”, we’ll see. I am sure that many of the scientists who have worked for years trying to figure out what may have caused the onset of Younger Dryas will soon chime in. As I have noted earlier, we should wait to see the real paper and the expectable rejoinders. In the meantime, have a look HERE at one of the most recent, coherent release I have read so far on this story.

By the way, today is the day in Acapulco, and I won’t be there to show my little vial full of spherules!

Jacques
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AWSX
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« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2007, 11:21:31 AM »

Jacques,
While we are waiting on the papers, I would like to hear more about those spherules you collected. Were those found inside the cave and do you have any dates for the strata where they were found? What are the diameters and has any analysis been done?

One of the first things Firestone did when he was collecting was to take a 'supermagnet' to collect samples from various layers at some of the excavations. In fact, at Topper he used the technique to identify the top of the Clovis Layer at one of the test pits. Are any of your spherules magnetic?

Allan Shumaker
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Jacques Cinq-Mars
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« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2007, 01:24:55 PM »

Jacques,
While we are waiting on the papers, I would like to hear more about those spherules you collected. Were those found inside the cave and do you have any dates for the strata where they were found? What are the diameters and has any analysis been done?

One of the first things Firestone did when he was collecting was to take a 'supermagnet' to collect samples from various layers at some of the excavations. In fact, at Topper he used the technique to identify the top of the Clovis Layer at one of the test pits. Are any of your spherules magnetic?

Allan Shumaker
The Bluefish "spherules" I was somewhat jokingly talking about, are presently housed at the Canadian Museum of Civilzation, in some dark, scientifically uncared for, anonymous drawer, about three hours from where I live. To provide you with a detailed answer, I would have to drive and spend a few days there! As far as I can recall, at a distance, they were obtained from the large quantities of dirt samples that were collected during the Bluefish Cave I excavation and later water-screened and processed. If my memory serves me right, they were found to occur mostly (?) in the upper units of the deposit which could well correspond in terms of age to the time range of the "catastrophic" event under discussion. As for size, all I can say (again from memory) is that they were in the -1mm range, i.e., very-micro-glassy-beads. After asking an uninterested geologist, I just ended up calling them "tektites" and left it at that. I had other things to do. In other words, no analysis has been done.

Jacques
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Jacques Cinq-Mars
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« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2007, 10:42:58 AM »

For your information:

The National Geographic News (HERE) now has its own piece on the cosmic catastrophe under discussion. Contrary to most of the other sensationalistic reports that have surfaced so far, it presents a few interesting cautionary comments from David Meltzer:

Quote
Findings Questioned

David Meltzer is an archaeologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, who is not part of the research team. He said the theory is far from proven.

First, he said, the team must prove a comet did in fact hit Earth 12,900 years ago, an issue that geologists will eventually resolve.

Then, if an impact is demonstrated, the team has to show what the effects were.

"At the moment, the issues are far more complicated than all animals died at once and people suffered tremendously," he said.

For example, some the big animals went extinct well before the proposed impact, and others disappear later.

Nor does Meltzer see evidence for the disappearance of Clovis populations.

"At least out on the [Great] Plains, populations are booming [at the time of impact], they're not declining at all despite this horrific global conflagration," he said.

… and this is just the beginning of the “chiming in” exercise I mentioned earlier.

Jacques

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rmacfarl
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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2007, 03:08:09 AM »

The Bluefish "spherules" I was somewhat jokingly talking about, are presently housed at the Canadian Museum of Civilzation, in some dark, scientifically uncared for, anonymous drawer, about three hours from where I live. To provide you with a detailed answer, I would have to drive and spend a few days there! As far as I can recall, at a distance, they were obtained from the large quantities of dirt samples that were collected during the Bluefish Cave I excavation and later water-screened and processed. If my memory serves me right, they were found to occur mostly (?) in the upper units of the deposit which could well correspond in terms of age to the time range of the "catastrophic" event under discussion. As for size, all I can say (again from memory) is that they were in the -1mm range, i.e., very-micro-glassy-beads. After asking an uninterested geologist, I just ended up calling them "tektites" and left it at that. I had other things to do. In other words, no analysis has been done.

Jacques

From such throwaways are the pearls of serendipity discovered! Sounds to me, Jacques, like you should get on your bike to the Canadian Museum of Civilzation & find that anonymous drawer, toute suite!

Ross Macfarlane :-)
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Ross Macfarlane
Jacques Cinq-Mars
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« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2007, 01:32:05 PM »

The Bluefish "spherules" I was somewhat jokingly talking about, are presently housed at the Canadian Museum of Civilzation, in some dark, scientifically uncared for, anonymous drawer, about three hours from where I live. To provide you with a detailed answer, I would have to drive and spend a few days there! As far as I can recall, at a distance, they were obtained from the large quantities of dirt samples that were collected during the Bluefish Cave I excavation and later water-screened and processed. If my memory serves me right, they were found to occur mostly (?) in the upper units of the deposit which could well correspond in terms of age to the time range of the "catastrophic" event under discussion. As for size, all I can say (again from memory) is that they were in the -1mm range, i.e., very-micro-glassy-beads. After asking an uninterested geologist, I just ended up calling them "tektites" and left it at that. I had other things to do. In other words, no analysis has been done.

Jacques

From such throwaways are the pearls of serendipity discovered! Sounds to me, Jacques, like you should get on your bike to the Canadian Museum of Civilzation & find that anonymous drawer, toute suite!

Ross Macfarlane :-)

Ross,

Thanks for the moral support. It's very possible that someone will eventually develop an interest in "my spherules". The first problem I would have with this is that I wouldn't want them to be used as support for a grand, catastrophic explanation in which I do not believe. Another problem is that for me to retrieve them would mean that I would have to deal with a very aggravating, Kafkaesque Museum bureaucracy that is clearly more interested in self-serving management, than in actual research. Finally, getting on my bike is presently out of the question. I busted my left knee two weeks ago.

Best,

Jacques
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E.P. Grondine
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« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2007, 01:02:25 PM »

Hi Jacques, all -

In the cases of impacts with ice sheets, the craters will melt.

E.P. Grondine
Man and Impact in the Americas

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AWSX
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« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2007, 06:03:49 PM »

The lack of an impact crater is a serious weakness in the theory. However there are examples of some kind of cosmic event that did not leave a crater such as Tunguska. This news release from Sandia Labs could lend some support for the theory but for a continent wide extinction event multiple impactors would be required.

http://www.sandia.gov/news/resources/releases/2007/asteroid.html
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E.P. Grondine
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« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2007, 12:14:30 PM »

Based on comparison with more recent events, it appears that  the dust veil from the impacts at 10,900 BCE was probably sufficient to cause climate collapse.

My current working hypothesis is that fast neutrons and fast protons are released in large hyper-velocity impacts, the former responsible for the spikes in C14 seen in the INTCAL98 chart.

E.P. Grondine
Man and Impact in the Americas
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E.P. Grondine
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« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2008, 03:52:19 PM »

Dr. Firstone's agu abstract on the iron impacts:
http://ie.lbl.gov/mammoth/impact.html

and even better, his poster:
http://ie.lbl.gov/mammoth/AGUSF_poster_2.gif

This looks to me like 2 separate iron impacts, one in Alaska about 32,500 BCE,
another in Siberia ca. 24,000 BCE.

These are different than the cometary impact(s) at 10,900 BCE - the impact that Kenneth  evidenced with the other impactites, and that it appears the First Peoples here remembered.

E.P. Grondine
Man and Impact in the Americas

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trehinp
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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2008, 03:03:07 AM »

Thanks E.P.,

Are you aware of similar research conducted eslewhere in the world?

Siberia with all its well preserved mammoths remains, could be a place (a large one by the way) where to look...

If similar observaions on micro meteorites were to be confirmed elsewhere, it would probably influence the way we interpret the impact of prehistoric major events on various environmental conditions which in turn influenced human evolution, on an individual basis as well as on a group basis.

Looking forward to other info on this...

Paul
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Paul Trehin
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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2008, 09:39:46 PM »

Hi Paul -

I was up at the Archaeological Institute of America meeting last weekend in Chicago pitching my book "Man and Impact in the Americas" (available through amazon.com if the site is finally working now).  I met exactly 1 person who had seen the National Geographic Special on comet impact and the extinction of the mammoth, and she was not an archaeologist but a suburban woman doing the town with her family for the weekend.

The results at SEAC (South East Archaeological Conference) in Knoxville were marginally better, with 1 excavator of a Clovis site fully aware, and everyone else at that paleo session extremely sceptical, and baffled by  the discontinuities in their data (having a hard time accepting that comet and asteroid impacts happen...)

It's pretty damn discouraging. Right now, I'm pretty certain my book will do well after I'm dead....

Before 2004, Benny Peiser ran an email service (the Cambridge Conference) which was devoted to paleoclimatology and impact, but at the beginning of 2004 he started in on global warming scepticism, leaving the impact community in a lurch.

So who is working in the field?

As near as I know now, in the US you have the Impact Field Studies Group.  Out of Australia Ted Bryant coordinates to some extent the impact mega-tsunami researchers world wide. Here in the US, NOAA awareness is nil; same for Woodshole.

The USGS is running some field studies, in particular coastal cores.

NASA money is lowering than what the House and Senate have told Griffin to spend.

Internationally, maybe U. New Brunswick in Canada for craters;  CNRS sponsored Dr. Courty's work at Tel Leilan years ago, don't know of any current work, as in general the mideast is too dangerous for field work; the Russians and Italians continue work on the Tunguska impact. As far as paleo or archaic work goes,  Kenneth heads up the end Clovis researchers here in the US; Firestone has people looking for the 2 iron impactors indicated by the peppered fossil remains, and I'm hoping private sector meteorite hunters are at it as well; LuAnn Becker at U Wash. and Dr. Poreda at U. Rochester analyze samples, Schultz continues work in South America; Masse is finally being published in the UK; Snow in New Zealand has passed on; if anyone else is out there, I don't know, or can't remember. Benny moved on to global warming scepticism so there's no clearinghouse now, and I've had a stroke.

Then you have the multitude of cranks trying to scare people out of their wits and sell them utter nonsense...

By the way, I think there's 2 megatsunami for southeast asia, one at 120,000 BCE, one at 240,000 BCE, caused by massive landslides in the Hawaian isles.

I don't know what Chinese researchers are up to, as the Cambridge Conference is now devoted to global warming scepticism.

India has a team of ethnographers (recently published works), and a some field geologists working impact, and good for them for  funding this work. Mohenjo Daro is a very important site for impact studies, with a large crater nearby.

I think maybe Australia has some field geologists looking at craters in the outback.

The Earth will be encountering the debris stream of Comet Schwassmann Wachmann 3 in 2022, and based on recent impacts (Rio Curaca1930, Rupnini 1935, Moss, 2006 ) I expect a 5 kiloton explosion (30 meter fragment) somewhere. 7 out of 10 says over the ocean; 1 out of 10 says a cornfield somewhere; 1 out of 10 says a park or forest...

And then there's this book "Man and Impact in the Americas".

Hope this helps.




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E.P. Grondine
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« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2008, 12:52:17 PM »

Hi Paul -

My apologies for leaving out the Brazilian team working on the Campo de Cielo impact:

http://www.fcaglp.unlp.edu.ar/~sixto/arqueo/w-6-ing.htm

Since Benny took the Cambridge Conference over to global warming scepticism, we've been left without a clearing house.

E.P. Grondine
Man and Impact in the Americas
(a damned fine book, if I do say so myself)
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