Skip to comments.Oregon Researchers Involved In New Clovis-Age Impact Theory (More)
Posted on 05/23/2007 2:30:19 PM PDT by blam
Contact: Jim Barlow
University of Oregon
Oregon researchers involved in new Clovis-age impact theory
Did a comet hit the Great Lakes region and fragment human populations 12,900 years ago? Two University of Oregon researchers are on a multi-institutional 26-member team proposing a startling new theory: that an extraterrestrial impact, possibly a comet, set off a 1,000-year-long cold spell and wiped out or fragmented the prehistoric Clovis culture and a variety of animal genera across North America almost 13,000 years ago.
Driving the theory is a carbon-rich layer of soil that has been found, but not definitively explained, at some 50 Clovis-age sites in North America that date to the onset of a cooling period known as the Younger Dryas Event. The sites include several on the Channel Island off California where UO archaeologists Douglas J. Kennett and Jon M. Erlandson have conducted research.
The theory is being discussed publicly, for the first time, today (11 A.M. EDT) in a news conference at the 2007 Joint Assembly of the American Geophysical Union being held this week in Acapulco, Mexico. Kennett is among the attendees who will be available to discuss the theory with their peers. The British journal Nature addressed the theory in a news-section story in its May 18 issue.
Before today, members of the team including Kennett's father, James P. Kennett of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Richard B. Firestone of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory had been quietly introducing the theory to their professional colleagues.
Douglas Kennett, with Erlandson watching, detailed the theory May 19 to a fully packed UO classroom, where students and faculty members from archaeology, art history, anthropology, biology, geology, geography, political science and psychology, pelted Kennett with questions.
The researchers propose that a known reversal in the world's ocean currents and associated rapid global cooling, which some scientists blame for the extinction of multiple species of animals and the end of the Clovis Period, was itself the result of a bigger event. While generally accepted theory says glacial melting from the North American interior caused the shift in currents, the new proposal points to a large extraterrestrial object exploding above or even into the Laurentide Ice Sheet north of the Great Lakes.
"Highest concentrations of extraterrestrial impact materials occur in the Great Lakes area and spread out from there," Kennett said. "It would have had major effects on humans. Immediate effects would have been in the North and East, producing shockwaves, heat, flooding, wildfires, and a reduction and fragmentation of the human population."
The carbon-rich layer contains metallic microspherules, iridium, carbon spherules, fullerenes, charcoal and soot. Some of those ingredients were found worldwide in soils dating to the K-T Boundary of 65 million years ago.
The K-T layer marks the end of the Cretaceous Period and the beginning of the Tertiary Period, when numerous species were wiped out after a massive asteroid is believed to have struck Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico.
Missing in the new theory is a crater marking an impact, but researchers argue that a strike above or into the Laurentide ice sheet could have absorbed it since it was less intense than the K-T event.
Kennett said that 35 animal genera went extinct at the end of the Pleistocene, with at least 15 clearly being wiped out close to 12,900 years ago. There would have been major ecological shifts, driving Clovis survivors into isolated groups in search of food and warmth. There is evidence, he said, that pockets of Clovis people survived in refugia, especially in the western United States.
"This was a massive continental scale, if not global, event," Kennett said. He and Erlandson say that they are currently evaluating the existing paleoindian archaeological datasets, which Kennett describes as "suggestive of significant population reduction and fragmentation, but additional work is necessary to test the data further." Earlier research efforts need to be re-evaluated using new technologies that can narrow radiocarbon date ranges, and, as funding becomes available, new sites can be located and studied, Erlandson said.
"As we have grown more confident in the theory," Erlandson said, "we've been letting some of it out in informal talks to gage the response to see where we are headed and what the initial objections are, which will help us to maintain our own objectivity."
The interest in pursuing both old and new leads could ignite a major surge of interdisciplinary questioning and attract a new wave of interested students, Kennett and Erlandson said.
Source: Douglas Kennett, associate professor of anthropology, 541-346-5106, email@example.com, and Jon Erlandson, professor of anthropology, 541-346-5115, firstname.lastname@example.org
GGG & Catastrophism ping.
This is worth tracking!
Take a look at the shape of Hudson Bay.
Maybe catastrophes will come into vogue now to rescue the global warming hypothesis. There needs to be someway to explain the previous periods of cooling when carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was high.
The crater there while very large is also quite a bit older that 12,000 years. I believe that it has been split by a "failed rift" that chopped off roughly a third of the crater, and all of the crater shows signs of repeated glaciation.
Perhaps this accounts for the “Fire Age” of the Hopis, when the world went through fire.
The ancestors of the Hopi would have still been in China/NE Asia for another 7,000 +/- years.
So the ancestors of the Hopi came here only 5000 years ago ?
Although we usually imagine a Fimbul Winter to be something like an extra long Spring, or maybe even late Winter, they can be quite milder but just as devastating.
If you were an Eastern apple, pear, plum, apricot or peach grower you'd know your bare trees are pretty much what you'd get under those condtions.
Given another 2 or 3 day cold spell and agricultural endeaver East of the Alleghenies is going to be a total disaster.
Pray for heat.
Just noticed Chipewa (25% X-factor ancestry ~ demonstrating close relationship to North African Berbers and European Sa'ami) language is now attributed to Amerind rather than to Na-Dene or as an isolate.
I'm not surprised these guys are concluding the destruction of the Clovis culture ~ has to be some explanation for why so many people in so many places across the continent quit making Clovis and started making other things simultaneously.
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Did comet start deadly cold snap?
Canada.com | Monday, May 14, 2007 | Margaret Munro
Posted on 05/16/2007 6:00:33 PM EDT by Mike Darancette
Diamonds tell tale of comet that killed off the cavemen
Guardian | 5-20-07 | Robin McKie
Posted on 05/20/2007 7:50:33 PM EDT by Renfield
Catastrophic Comet Chilled and Killed Ice Age Beasts (and Clovis people)
Live Science | 05/21/07 | Jeanna Bryner
Posted on 05/22/2007 1:16:48 AM EDT by TigerLikesRooster
This event came as a surprise, as I've never heard it recounted by any of my elderly relatives, and most of them died before I read about it in this book. A number of other such impacts, including some which hit or nearly hit people, ships, animals etc, are described in this book, which I recommend.Rain of Iron and IceOn November 27,1919, a meteorite fell into Lake Michigan near the Michigan shore. "Residents of Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, South Bend, Grand Haven, and other Western Michigan cities fled from their homes in panic, fearing an earthquake. Houses were shaken, the country was illuminated as by a bright sun's rays, so all-enveloping it was impossible to tell from which direction the flare came, the earth trembled for half a moment and then came a deep prolonged rumbling as of a terrific explosion." (p 159)
by John S. Lewis
There was a similar event in roughly the same area about fifteen years ago (+/- a few years, I don’t recall the exact year it happened).
I was sitting up watching the news in the wee hours (some things never change :) and all of a sudden I heard a LOUD, long, rumble outside. Like a very loud thunderclap that just kept on going for several seconds.
I ran outside to see what had blown up. (I was thinking that maybe a truck hit the gas station a few blocks away, or maybe the Coke bottling plant exploded — I was grasping at possible explanations.)
I stood outside my house in total silence. The occasional car driving by, and a faint beep-beep-beep in the distance, which I’d heard off and on over the years and never could figure out. (It was a weird “SF-ish” type sound, borderline creepy in the wee hours.)
I saw no flames anywhere. From the intensity of the explosion sound, I figured it had to be fairly close, so I waited a few minutes, thinking that it wouldn’t be long before the firetrucks and police sirens would show up and give me an idea of where it had happened, and thus, I’d have some idea or perhaps what had happened. But, there were never any sirens, firetrucks, etc. Just normal quiet night.
The next day, a friend who owned a student rental rooming house told me that some of his tenants were sitting out on the back porch and saw it — it was a HUGE fireball, lit up the whole sky. Then, there was an item in the news that said that an airline pilot saw it, it came in and landed in Lake Michigan. If it had hit land, it would have been a really big event, I’d think. There was also an item in the local paper — a tiny piece of it had broken off — maybe five pounds or so — and crashed through the roof of a house in Coleman MI, which was probably 175 miles NE of where the main thing splashed into Lake Michigan.
Oh, the airline pilot said when it hit the lake, there was a bright blue flame. That’s about all I remember of it, other than that sound, which had to be heard to comprehend.
I now live closer to the lake. A few years ago, I was standing outside my house seeing off a friend who’d come out to visit. We were standing near his car, and all of a sudden, there was a *bright* tube of light that lit up in the sky to the east of us, I think it was headed “down” to the east. No sound, but the tube of light hung there in the sky, gradually fading out. It took probably 15 or 20 seconds, maybe a bit longer.
I have my garden in my barnyard, and I regularly find very strange rocks. One of them looks like a very rare type of meteorite (from my too-extensive web searching). I plan on sending it in to a university that will evaluate such things and validate them if real (in return for a 20% slice of the rock if it’s a winner). Other rocks are really strange fractured pieces of “I don’t know what.” I’m not a geologist, obviously. It looks like a lot of these rocks were subjected to some intense force, and in many cases, intense heat. From what I understand, the normal explanation for the appearance (of some of these rocks) is volcanism, but there is *no* history of any volcano in this region.
I would not be surprised if something really big crashed into the earth thousands of years ago in this region.
Interesting story! If you have any old news story about it I’d love to read it. Chunks of space debris rain in all the time, and gets abraded to dust by the atmosphere, also people get hit by stuff from time to time, often while driving (probably we’ve all heard the unexplained noise of a stone hitting the car while waiting for the light to change, and despite no moving vehicles in the area).