There’s a new paper in PNAS worth having a look at. It seems the authors found some very strong evidence for a comet or asteroid impact during the period known as the Younger Dryas. According to Wikipedia:
The Younger Dryas stadial, also referred to as the Big Freeze, was a geologically brief (1,300 ± 70 years) period of cold climatic conditions and drought which occurred between approximately 12,800 and 11,500 years BP (Before Present). The Younger Dryas stadial is thought to have been caused by the collapse of the North American ice sheets, although rival theories have been proposed.
With this new paper, this may be one of those “case closed” moments in science showing that “climate change”/ice sheet collapse itself wasn’t to blame for the cold event, but the climate changed due to the impact event. This rather undoes the claims last year covered on WUWT in the story Sudden Clovis climate death by comet – “bogus”. I’d say it is pretty hard to argue with micro magnetic impact spherules dated to the time.
Evidence from central Mexico supporting the Younger Dryas extraterrestrial impact hypothesis
We report the discovery in Lake Cuitzeo in central Mexico of a black, carbon-rich, lacustrine layer, containing nanodiamonds, microspherules, and other unusual materials that date to the early Younger Dryas and are interpreted to result from an extraterrestrial impact. These proxies were found in a 27-m-long core as part of an interdisciplinary effort to extract a paleoclimate record back through the previous interglacial.
Our attention focused early on an anomalous, 10-cm-thick, carbon-rich layer at a depth of 2.8 m that dates to 12.9 ka and coincides with a suite of anomalous coeval environmental and biotic changes independently recognized in other regional lake sequences.
Collectively, these changes have produced the most distinctive boundary layer in the late Quaternary record. This layer contains a diverse, abundant assemblage of impact-related markers, including nanodiamonds, carbon spherules, and magnetic spherules with rapid melting/quenching textures, all reaching synchronous peaks immediately beneath a layer containing the largest peak of charcoal in the core. Analyses by multiple methods demonstrate the presence of three allotropes of nanodiamond: n-diamond, i-carbon, and hexagonal nanodiamond (lonsdaleite), in order of estimated relative abundance.
This nanodiamond-rich layer is consistent with the Younger Dryas boundary layer found at numerous sites across North America, Greenland, and Western Europe. We have examined multiple hypotheses to account for these observations and find the evidence cannot be explained by any known terrestrial mechanism. It is, however, consistent with the Younger Dryas boundary impact hypothesis postulating a major extraterrestrial impact involving multiple airburst(s) and and/or ground impact(s) at 12.9 ka.
Synchronous peaks in multiple YDB markers dating to 12.9 ka were previously found at numerous sites across North and South America and in Western Europe. At Lake Cuitzeo, magnetic impact spherules, CSps, and NDs form abundance peaks within a 10 cm layer of sediment that dates to the early part of the YD, beginning at 12.9 ka. These peaks coincide with anomalous environmental, geochemical, and biotic changes evident at Lake Cuitzeo and in other regional records, consistent with the occurrence of an unusual event. Analyses of YDB acid-resistant extracts using STEM, EDS, HRTEM, SAD, FFT, EELS, and EFTEM indicate that Lake Cuitzeo nanoparticles are dominantly crystalline carbon and display d-spacings that match various ND allotropes, including lonsdaleite. These results are consistent with reports of abundant NDs in the YDB in North America and Western Europe.
Although the origin of these YDB markers remains speculative, any viable hypothesis must account for coeval abundance peaks in NDs, magnetic impact spherules, CSps, and charcoal in Lake Cuitzeo, along with apparently synchronous peaks at other sites, spanning a wide area of Earth’s surface. Multiple hypotheses have been proposed to explain these YDB peaks in markers, and all but one can be rejected. For example, the magnetic impact spherules and NDs cannot result from the influx of cosmic material or from any known regular terrestrial mechanism, including wildfires, volcanism, anthropogenesis, or alternatively, misidentification of proxies. Currently, only one known
event, a cosmic impact, can explain the diverse, widely distributed assemblage of proxies. In the entire geologic record, there are only two known continent-wide layers with abundance peaks in NDs, impact spherules, CSps, and aciniform soot, and those
are the KPg impact boundary at 65 Ma and the YDB boundary at 12.9 ka.
If you’re interested, the paper is published with unrestricted access on the PNAS website.
Or, you can read a full PDF copy that’s been mirrored on Dropbox.com at: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2268163/Mexico%20YD%20Paper.pdf
h/t to reader Dennis Cox