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Kansas scientists probe mysterious possible comet strikes on Earth
University of Kansas ^ | Dec 14, 2009 | Unknown

Posted on 12/14/2009 5:27:46 AM PST by decimon

An investigation by the University of Kansas' Adrian Melott and colleagues reveals a promising new method of detecting past comet strikes upon Earth and gauging their frequency

LAWRENCE, Kan. — It's the stuff of a Hollywood disaster epic: A comet plunges from outer space into the Earth's atmosphere, splitting the sky with a devastating shock wave that flattens forests and shakes the countryside.

But this isn't a disaster movie plotline.

"Comet impacts might be much more frequent than we expect," said Adrian Melott, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Kansas. "There's a lot of interest in the rate of impact events upon the Earth. We really don't know the rate very well because most craters end up being destroyed by erosion or the comets go into the ocean and we don't know that they're there. We really don't have a good handle on the rate of impacts on the Earth."

An investigation by Melott and colleagues reveals a promising new method of detecting past comet strikes upon Earth and gauging their frequency. The results will be unveiled at the American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting, to be held Dec. 14-18 in San Francisco.

The research shows a potential signature of nitrate and ammonia that can be found in ice cores corresponding to suspected impacts. Although high nitrate levels previously have been tied to space impacts, scientists have never before seen atmospheric ammonia spikes as indicators of space impacts with our planet.

"Now we have a possible new marker for extraterrestrial events in ice," Melott said. "You don't just look for nitrates, you also look for ammonia."

Melott studied two possible cometary airbursts with Brian Thomas, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Washburn University, Gisela Dreschhoff, KU adjunct associate professor of physics and astronomy, and Carey Johnson, KU professor of chemistry.

In June 1908, a puzzling explosion rocked central Siberia in Russia; it came to be known as the "Tunguska event." A later expedition found that 20 miles of trees had been knocked down and set alight by the blast. Today, scientists have coalesced around the idea that Tunguska's devastation was caused by a 100-foot asteroid that had entered Earth's atmosphere, causing an airburst.

Some 13,000 years earlier, an occurrence thought by some researchers to be an extraterrestrial impact set off cooler weather and large-scale extinctions in North America. The "Younger Dryas event," as it is known, coincided with the end of the prehistoric Clovis culture.

Melott and fellow researchers examined data from ice cores extracted in Greenland to compare atmospheric chemistry during the Tunguska and Younger Dryas events. In both instances, Melott's group found evidence that the Haber process — whereby a nitrogen fixation reaction produces ammonia — may have occurred on a large scale.

"A comet entering the atmosphere makes a big shock wave with high pressure — 6,000 times the pressure of air," said Melott. "It can be shown that under those conditions you can make ammonia. Plus the Tunguska comet, or some fragments of it, landed in a swamp. And any Younger Dryas comet presumably hit an ice sheet, or at least part of it did. So there should have been lots of water around for this Haber process to work. We think the simplest way to explain the signal in both objects is the Haber process. Comets hit the atmosphere in the presence of a lot of water and you get both nitrate and ammonia, which is what both ice cores show."

Melott cautions that the results are inconclusive because the ice cores are sampled at five-year intervals only, not sufficient resolution to pinpoint peaks of atmospheric nitrates and ammonia, which rapidly would have been dissipated by rains following a comet strike.

But the KU researcher contends that ammonia enhancement resulting from the Haber process could serve as a useful marker for detecting possible comet impacts. He encourages more sampling and analysis of ice cores to see where the nitrate-ammonia signal might line up with suspected cometary collisions with the Earth.

Such information could help humankind more accurately gauge the danger of a comet hitting the Earth in the future.

"There's a whole program to watch for near-Earth asteroids as they go around the sun repeatedly, and some of them have close brushes with the Earth," said Melott. "But comets are a whole different ball game. They don't do that circular thing. They come straight in from far, far out — and you don't see them coming until they push out a tail only a few years before they would enter the inner solar system. So we could be hit by a comet and only have a few years' warning — possibly not enough time to do anything about it."


TOPICS: History; Science
KEYWORDS: bigsplash; catastrophism; comet; comets; godsgravesglyphs; louisafrank; louisfrank; notsogreatflood; originofoceans; originoftheoceans; panspermia; patrickhuyghe; smallcomets; thebigsplash; water
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1 posted on 12/14/2009 5:27:46 AM PST by decimon
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To: decimon; SunkenCiv

Windex ping.


2 posted on 12/14/2009 5:28:20 AM PST by decimon
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To: Quix

ping


3 posted on 12/14/2009 5:28:23 AM PST by Perdogg (Sarah Palin-Jim DeMint 2012 - Liz Cheney for Sec of State - Duncan Hunter SecDef)
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To: decimon

We need a SDI type plan to protect us from the next one.


4 posted on 12/14/2009 5:33:43 AM PST by wolfcreek (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lsd7DGqVSIc)
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To: decimon
So we could be hit by a comet and only have a few years' warning — possibly not enough time to do anything about it."

Stockpile chocolate.

5 posted on 12/14/2009 5:34:35 AM PST by bgill (The framers of the US Constitution established an entire federal government in 18 pages.)
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To: Perdogg

THX.

WILL CHECK IT OUT.


6 posted on 12/14/2009 5:53:29 AM PST by Quix (LET GOD ARISE AND HIS ENEMIES BE SCATTERED)
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To: decimon

Uses and Production of Ammonia (Haber Process)

Key Concepts

In 1909 Fritz Haber established the conditions under which nitrogen, N2(g), and hydrogen, H2(g), would combine using

  • medium temperature (~500oC)

  • very high pressure (~250 atmospheres, ~351kPa)

  • a catalyst (a porous iron catalyst prepared by reducing magnetite, Fe3O4).
    Osmium is a much better catalyst for the reaction but is very expensive.

AUS-e-TUTE


7 posted on 12/14/2009 6:01:54 AM PST by Pontiac
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To: decimon
Someone on this board recommended Lucuifer's Hammer as a good read on a post-comet-strike scenario. I read it and what really opened my eyes was not the usual collapse of civilization, but the concept of the comet fragmenting and hitting the earth like buckshot - spreading the misery world-wide.

I had followed the Shoemaker-Levy collisions with Jupiter but for some reason, never eequated that happening to earth - always thought of just ONE BIG ONE slamming in.

8 posted on 12/14/2009 9:28:42 AM PST by Oatka ("A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves." –Bertrand de Jouvenel)
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To: decimon; 75thOVI; aimhigh; Alice in Wonderland; AndrewC; aragorn; aristotleman; Avoiding_Sulla; ...
Thanks decimon! I got in here and posted before some total moron put "callingartbell" into the keywords! Yay!
 
Catastrophism
 
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9 posted on 12/14/2009 7:34:18 PM PST by SunkenCiv (My Sunday Feeling is that Nothing is easy. Goes for the rest of the week too.)
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To: StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1ofmanyfree; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; 31R1O; ...

· join list or digest · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post a topic · subscribe ·

 
Gods
Graves
Glyphs
Thanks decimon.To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach
 

·Dogpile · Archaeologica · ArchaeoBlog · Archaeology · Biblical Archaeology Society ·
· Discover · Nat Geographic · Texas AM Anthro News · Yahoo Anthro & Archaeo · Google ·
· The Archaeology Channel · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·


10 posted on 12/14/2009 7:34:59 PM PST by SunkenCiv (My Sunday Feeling is that Nothing is easy. Goes for the rest of the week too.)
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To: Oatka
Lucifer's Hammer is pretty much how it'd go down.
11 posted on 12/14/2009 7:38:14 PM PST by txhurl
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To: Oatka; SunkenCiv

GREAT BEASTS PEPPERED FROM SPACE. LINK

12 posted on 12/14/2009 7:56:54 PM PST by Fred Nerks
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To: Fred Nerks
I need new glasses. I first read that as Great Breasts..."
13 posted on 12/14/2009 7:59:24 PM PST by verity (Obama Lies)
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To: SunkenCiv
Thanks for the link. I must say when I first heard of snowball comets as the explanation for such a watery earth I was skeptical too, but I now find it an intriguing hypothesis.
14 posted on 12/15/2009 10:09:58 AM PST by colorado tanker (What's it all about, Barrrrry? Is it just for the power, you live?)
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To: SunkenCiv
After I presented my findings on the small comets in 1986, the scientific community did its best to extinguish my career. In the past decade, I have been unable to get any other projects off the ground. Before the small-comet findings became public, my success in this regard was envious; I was able to get instruments on board several major spacecraft -- Polar, Galileo and Geotail. But after my small-comet announcement, I got nothing. I had my ongoing projects, such as the one on Polar that eventually produced the confirmatory data. But the new projects I proposed went nowhere -- even those that had nothing to do with small comets.

Very similar to the way Big Science is enforcing Globull Warming orthodoxy today.

15 posted on 12/15/2009 10:14:43 AM PST by colorado tanker (What's it all about, Barrrrry? Is it just for the power, you live?)
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To: SunkenCiv

This might be of interest to you . . . sunken city . . .

http://www.heralddeparis.com/more-from-caribbean-site-new-detail-images-just-released/65927


16 posted on 12/15/2009 5:49:24 PM PST by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 TRAITORS http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/2130557/posts?page=81#81)
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To: Quix

Thanks Quix, I’m checking it out in another tab.


17 posted on 12/15/2009 6:56:47 PM PST by SunkenCiv (My Sunday Feeling is that Nothing is easy. Goes for the rest of the week too.)
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To: Fred Nerks; colorado tanker

Thanks!


18 posted on 12/15/2009 7:02:07 PM PST by SunkenCiv (My Sunday Feeling is that Nothing is easy. Goes for the rest of the week too.)
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To: blam

Check out the link Quix posted here:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/2407089/posts?page=16#16


19 posted on 12/15/2009 7:02:54 PM PST by SunkenCiv (My Sunday Feeling is that Nothing is easy. Goes for the rest of the week too.)
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To: SunkenCiv

You’re most welcome.

Thx for all your interesting threads and posts.

Have a blessed CHRISTmas with those you love.


20 posted on 12/15/2009 7:11:10 PM PST by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 TRAITORS http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/2130557/posts?page=81#81)
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