Skip to comments.Mystery of infamous 'New England Dark Day' solved by 3 rings
Posted on 06/08/2008 5:31:10 AM PDT by decimon
Black day of 1780 caused by distant wildfires, MU experts say
COLUMBIA, Mo. At noon, it was black as night. It was May 19, 1780 and some people in New England thought judgment day was at hand. Accounts of that day, which became known as 'New England's Dark Day,' include mentions of midday meals by candlelight, night birds coming out to sing, flowers folding their petals,and strange behavior from animals. The mystery of this day has been solved by researchers at the University of Missouri who say evidence from tree rings reveals massive wildfires as the likely cause, one of several theories proposed after the event, but dismissed as 'simple and absurd.'
"The patterns in tree rings tell a story," said Erin McMurry, research assistant in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Tree Ring Laboratory. "We think of tree rings as ecological artifacts. We know how to date the rings and create a chronology, so we can tell when there has been a fire or a drought occurred and unlock the history the tree has been holding for years."
Limited ability for long-distance communication prevented colonists from knowing the cause of the darkness. It was dark in Maine and along the southern coast of New England with the greatest intensity occurring in northeast Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire and southwest Maine. In the midst of the Revolutionary War, Gen. George Washington noted the dark day in his diary while he was in New Jersey.
Nearly 230 years later, MU researchers combined written accounts and fire scar evidence to determine that the dark day was caused by massive wildfires burning in Canada.
"A fire comes along and heat goes through the bark, killing the living tissue. A couple of years later, the bark falls off revealing the wood and an injury to the tree. When looking at the rings, you see charcoal formation on the outside and a resin formation on the top that creates a dark spot," said Richard Guyette, director of the Tree Ring Lab and research associate professor of forestry in the MU School of Natural Resources.
The researchers studied tree rings from the Algonquin Highlands of southern Ontario and many other locations. They found that a major fire had burned in 1780 affecting atmospheric conditions hundred of miles away. Large smoke columns were created and carried into the upper atmosphere.
"This study was a unique opportunity to take historical accounts and combine them with modern technology and the physical historical evidence from the tree rings and solve a mystery with science," McMurry said.
The study "Fire Scars Reveal Source of New England's 1780 Dark Day" was published in the International Journal of Wildland Fire.
Night and day ping.
Perhaps within your FR purviews.
A wildfire no doubt started by some evil Puritan SUV!
Bush’s fault I’m sure
“the International Journal of Wildland Fire.”
There’s a page turner publication for you.
They make it sound like we were living in the dark ages.
Wonder how big the grant for this was??
If you're a pyromaniac.
Well, we are talking Canada here. ;-)
Some magnificent buildings in Canada...”The Old Fishing Hole”....An Upstate New Yorker...
Nope. Careless smoker.
Nope. Careless smoker.
Sue the tobacco companies!!!
Theres a page turner publication for you.
For arsonists, a 'how-to' guide, I guess.
It was started a a careless mountain man and his damn flintlock.
American Imperialism strikes again!
Good one, thanks.
I thought this was going to be about the 'The Year Without Summer', 1816.
The Iroquois held a big beach party on Lake Superior that year.
Thanks decimon.Nearly 230 years later, MU researchers combined written accounts and fire scar evidence to determine that the dark day was caused by massive wildfires burning in Canada.This has been suggested a number of times in the past. My junior high science teacher once told me he'd done some kind of college paper in which he'd come to that conclusion. :') Where did the 1780 eclipse go?
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A Mysterious Darkness: The Day the Sun Went Out in New England
The Colonial Williamsburg Journal | Summer 2005 | Andrew G. Gardner
Posted on 05/20/2005 9:46:07 AM PDT by quidnunc
OK. I want to play too!
The fires were triggered by a meteor strike or low air burst....
;’) Hey, good idea... could have been a train of crud passing by the Earth, but that doesn’t seem likely. :’D
Eta-Aquarids peak May 03, a big chunk late in the stream, a few days for the fire to spread, a few more for the smoke to blow hundreds of miles...
I remember being all by myself on a long canoe trip up in Canada with a blood red sun and smoke-filled air. Always wondered about how close the fires might be and what danger I might have been in. At least I knew it was just a fire and not the end of the world.
The following is old news (at least three years or so?). I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but if not you can google any of these terms. The geologist that discovered it and put it all together is from the USGS out of the University of Washington, Brian Atwater.
“Japanese written records of the resulting damage, combined with North American geology and tree-ring studies, enabled scientists to determine that the tsunami had been triggered by a Pacific Northwest earthquake, of approximate magnitude 9, on the evening of January 26, 1700.”
Tracking Myth to Geological Reality
Science Magazine | 11/4/2005 | Kevin Krajick*
Posted on 11/05/2005 12:20:12 PM PST by Lessismore
Scientists: Tsunami Could Hit West Coast
Yahoo! News (AP) | 1/3/2005 | Joseph B. Verrengia
Posted on 01/03/2005 12:34:11 PM PST by Pyro7480
I had a little chuckle when reading the title - it would seem in typing up the press release someone made a teeny mistake! It was not “3 rings” that they studied, rather TREE rings (and more than 3 of them)! LOL
I can’t believe the university didn’t catch this...
Theory 1: He put too much powder in the charge, and the excess ignited weeds.
Theory 2: the wadding or bullet patch was still smoldering when it hit the ground.
Theory 3: he missed the bear, was running for his life, the flint fell out of the lock, and hit a piece of high grade iron ore, struck a spark that just happened to land in dry tinder.
Theory 4: He was a really a tenderfoot mountain man wannabee who forgot to keep his powder dry, so started a small fire to dry it out....
And thanks for both the ping & the link to the other mystery; I had never heard about the "missing eclipse" before.
Three rings makes perfect sense.
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord ...
The Elves have charge of the woodlands, and so a study of their Rings to see which one was used at that time would tell us the culprit.
LOL... Thanks for that! I was trying to come up with something clever related to LOTR, but couldn’t. :)
On the Klamath, they have determined the probable effects of nuclear winter by studying the darkness during one of our severe wildfires. (Generally caused by lightning, by the way.)
Thirty-five posts and not one mention of Superbowl XLII? Hmmmm...
My 6th Great Grandfather would have been in the midst of rebuilding him home in the Mohawk Valley for the third time after it was burned down by local native tribes yet again. Wonder what he thought of that day. After everything he’d been through, probably didn’t faze him much.
Lightning? Naw, it had to be the European invaders ruining the natural ecological balance that the indigenous persons had lived in harmony with for untold millennia.
Cheap thrill for a second (while I was editing together the GGG Digest), but the dates don’t match. :’)
Explorers find 1780 British warship in Lake Ontario
Associated Press | Jun 13, 2008 | William Kates
Posted on 06/13/2008 4:20:50 PM PDT by decimon
...the HMS Ontario, which was lost with barely a trace and as many as 130 people on board during a gale in 1780... Shipwreck enthusiasts Jim Kennard and Dan Scoville used side-scanning sonar and an unmanned submersible to locate the HMS Ontario, which was lost with barely a trace and as many as 130 people aboard during a gale in 1780... The sloop was discovered resting partially on its side, with two masts extending more than 70 feet above the lake bottom. “Usually when ships go down in big storms, they get beat up quite a bit. They don’t sink nice and square. This went down in a huge storm, and it still managed to stay intact,” Scoville said. “There are even two windows that aren’t broken. Just going down, the pressure difference, can break the windows. It’s a beautiful ship.” ...The Ontario went down on Oct. 31, 1780, with a garrison of 60 British soldiers, a crew of about 40, mostly Canadians, and possibly about 30 American war prisoners. The warship had been launched only five months earlier and was used to ferry troops and supplies along upstate New York’s frontier. Although it was the biggest British ship on the Great Lakes at the time, it never saw battle, Smith said... Hatchway gratings, the binnacle, compasses and several hats and blankets drifted ashore the next day. A few days later the ship’s sails were found adrift in the lake. In 1781, six bodies from the Ontario were found near Wilson, N.Y. For the next two centuries, there were no other traces of the ship... There are an estimated 4,700 shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, including about 500 on Lake Ontario.
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