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Exploding Asteroid Theory Gains Evidence


About 13,000 years ago, woolly mammoths roamed the North American continent and the first known human society in that region, known as the Clovis civilization, lived there as well. But geologic and archeological evidence shows they both suddenly disappeared, and scientists have long debated the mystery of the mass extinction of both animals and humans about 12,900 years ago. At that time, climatic history suggests the Ice Age should have been drawing to a close, but instead rapid climate change initiated an additional 1,300 years of glacial conditions. But scientists couldn’t agree on the cause of the sudden change in climate. However, about two years ago geophysicist Allen West proposed that an asteroid or comet exploded just above the earth’s surface at that time over modern-day Canada, sparking a massive shock wave and heat-generating event that set large parts of the northern hemisphere ablaze, setting the stage for the extinctions. Another scientist set out to prove West wrong, but ended up finding evidence to support the exploding asteroid/comet theory.

Ken Tankersley, Anthropology professor at the University of Cincinnati studied sites in Ohio and Indiana that offers the strongest support yet for the exploding comet/asteroid theory. Samples of diamonds, gold and silver found in the region have been conclusively sourced through X-ray diffractometry to have come from the diamond fields region of Canada.

Tankersley and West both believe the best scenario to explain the presence of these materials this far south is the kind of cataclysmic explosive event described by West’s theory. “We believe this is the strongest evidence yet indicating a comet impact in that time period,” says Tankersley.

Previously, geologists believed the deposits of the gems and precious metals were brought south from the Great Lakes region by glaciers. But they are found at a soil depth consistent with the time frame of the comet/asteroid event.

“My smoking gun to disprove (West) was going to be the gold, silver and diamonds,” Tankersley says. “But what I didn’t know at that point was a conclusion he had reached that he had not yet made public – that the likely point of impact for the comet wasn’t just anywhere over Canada, but located over Canada’s diamond-bearing fields. Instead of becoming the basis for rejecting his hypothesis, these items became the very best evidence to support it.”

Additional work is being done at the sites looking for iridium, micro-meteorites and nano-diamonds that bear the markers of the diamond-field region, which also should have been blasted by the impact into this region.

As Tankersley, West and additional scientists compile more data, they’ll be looking for more clues to help explain the history of our planet and its climate.

“The kind of evidence we are finding does suggest that climate change at the end of the last Ice Age was the result of a catastrophic event,” Tankersley says. “The ultimate importance of this kind of work is showing that we can’t control everything,” he says. “Our planet has been hit by asteroids many times throughout its history, and when that happens, it does produce climate change.”

Original Source: Science Daily

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • michel duchaine July 8, 2008, 8:57 AM

    In the northern Quebec,we have two asteroid lakes originate from this period .I agree also with this theory because that’sa explain a lot of things.Actually ,we don’t need of an asteroid for stated the sixth massive extinction…It’s begin…and it’s writing somewhere that we will …disappear massively!

  • Kootstar July 8, 2008, 3:14 PM

    I have seen so much dissent between the “commet/meteor explosion” theory and the “volcano” theory that my simple little mind has taken the two and glued them together. Would not the shockwave from the “comet/meteor” explosion be enough to set off some large, simmering volcano(s) on this still volcano active globe? Archeology has discovered a thin, yet worldwide layer of volcanic dust that also coordinates with one of the largest extinction periods ever. from what I can read and watch, this layer is worldwide and “chemistry” similar, ie: minerals point to one source. So tell me, please, could these two not go hand-in-hand, one shockwave setting off the other eruption, and the effects of both being the major cause?

  • Kevin M. July 8, 2008, 10:26 PM

    A good theory, but hardly “done, complete”, these are merely indications. I find it hard to believe that any such event could create 1300 years of cooling, though perhaps with a subsequent volcanic episode, this could explain the prolongation. The volcanic evidence has to be at the same time and strata level, however. I’d like to hear more about this Canadian “metal sheild” that would not produce any crater! Regarding mammoth fossils, it has been noted that many archaic bird fossils are found in shapes of writhing agony – backs arched, beaks agape – that is, they did nto die peacefully, but fell out of the sky in flames. But again, it has to be the right strata to be simultaneous with cataclysms.

    It is a fascinating and tragic new chapter of human history that the brilliant Clovis people may have been wiped out by a single natural disaster. But not before they left their great toolmaking breakthrough to human intellectual history. Isn’t it the clovis point which marks the first and most profound threshold between ape and human? I also find it interesting that these meteor “visitations” always seem to happen at the right moment in history to shut down something which threatens to send life down too “non-diverse” and tangential a path, and spur a new general burst of growth. Perhaps Clovis was so revolutionary an awakening, that it had unbearable social repercussions for these barely human peoples, though any evidence of this is probably unrecoverable. I believe there is strong archeological evidence that the clovis discovery had spread to other parts of the world by the time the originators were (theoretically) decimated.

  • Paracelse July 9, 2008, 3:30 PM

    There are many theories about the end of the glaciation, one of them by Charles Hapgood who was supported all heartedly by Einstein, it is called the “earth crust displacement”, where all the tectonic plate would move at the same time. At the time when the tectonic plate theory was barely admitted by general science, Hapgood suggested that the plates, situated on top of magma would be for reasons of weight at poles would be sliding simultaneously on the entire planet. This would explain why the North pole was in Labrador at one time and is no longer. Of course a asteroid could have created the displacement also. The results would have been automatically a massive eruption all over the entire world.
    just my 2 cents.

  • Jon Hanford July 9, 2008, 4:51 PM

    I seem to remember a recent science article published regarding the find of mammoth bones showing evidence of preferential penetrations of tiny particles on one side of their bones, as if they were blasted by a shower of a disintegrating body (comet-asteroid?). But I strongly agree with Kevin M that these fossils must be in the right strata. Also, I wonder if any Kimberlite pipes or formations are located near the area in Canada where these diamonds are found? Just curious.

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