Thursday, November 16, 2006

MAY 10, 2807 B.C.

An environmental archaeologist thinks that's when something big fell from the sky and created a flood that became legend.

Bruce Masse works at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. What he thinks is becoming more important right now, because some scientists believe they've uncovered evidence pointing to a massive cosmic impact in the Indian Ocean. Massive, and recent -- about 4,800 years ago.

This report in The New York Times has a killer lede:
At the southern end of Madagascar lie four enormous wedge-shaped sediment deposits, called chevrons, that are composed of material from the ocean floor. Each covers twice the area of Manhattan with sediment as deep as the Chrysler Building is high.

On close inspection, the chevron deposits contain deep ocean microfossils that are fused with a medley of metals typically formed by cosmic impacts. And all of them point in the same direction — toward the middle of the Indian Ocean where a newly discovered crater, 18 miles in diameter, lies 12,500 feet below the surface.

The explanation is obvious to some scientists. A large asteroid or comet, the kind that could kill a quarter of the world's population, smashed into the Indian Ocean 4,800 years ago, producing a tsunami at least 600 feet high, about 13 times as big as the one that inundated Indonesia nearly two years ago. The wave carried the huge deposits of sediment to land.

Most astronomers doubt that any large comets or asteroids have crashed into the Earth in the last 10,000 years. But the self-described "band of misfits" that make up the two-year-old Holocene Impact Working Group say that astronomers simply have not known how or where to look for evidence of such impacts along the world's shorelines and in the deep ocean.

Scientists in the working group say the evidence for such impacts during the last 10,000 years, known as the Holocene epoch, is strong enough to overturn current estimates of how often the Earth suffers a violent impact on the order of a 10-megaton explosion. Instead of once in 500,000 to one million years, as astronomers now calculate, catastrophic impacts could happen every 1,000 years. ...

Dr. Masse analyzed 175 flood myths from around the world, and tried to relate them to known and accurately dated natural events like solar eclipses and volcanic eruptions. Among other evidence, he said, 14 flood myths specifically mention a full solar eclipse, which could have been the one that occurred in May 2807 B.C.
More recent are two possible craters north of Australia, "the likely source of megastsunami waves responsible for the Holocene aged chevron dunes" found four miles inland, near Carpentaria. Those are estimated to be about 1,200 years old.


Anonymous said...

With the Tunguska blast so recently in our past, perhaps we'll be spared for a few hundred more years.
But it is the stuff movies are made of.
Mostly bad ones.

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