Clear Evidence of a Low Altitude Cometary Air Burst Over the Atacama Desert ca. 12,000 Years Ago

Guest “No, this does not confirm the YDIH,” by David Middleton.

Vast patches of glassy rock in Chilean desert likely created by ancient exploding comet
Heat from a comet exploding just above the ground fused the sandy soil into patches of glass stretching 75 kilometers, a study led by Brown University researchers found.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Around 12,000 years ago, something scorched a vast swath of the Atacama Desert in Chile with heat so intense that it turned the sandy soil into widespread slabs of silicate glass. Now, a research team studying the distribution and composition of those glasses has come to a conclusion about what caused the inferno.

In a study published in the journal Geology, researchers show that samples of the desert glass contain tiny fragments with minerals often found in rocks of extraterrestrial origin. Those minerals closely match the composition of material returned to Earth by NASA’s Stardust mission, which sampled the particles from a comet called Wild 2. The team concludes that those mineral assemblages are likely the remains of an extraterrestrial object — most likely a comet with a composition similar to Wild 2 — that streamed down after the explosion that melted the sandy surface below.

“This is the first time we have clear evidence of glasses on Earth that were created by the thermal radiation and winds from a fireball exploding just above the surface,” said Pete Schultz, a professor emeritus in Brown University’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences. “To have such a dramatic effect on such a large area, this was a truly massive explosion. Lots of us have seen bolide fireballs streaking across the sky, but those are tiny blips compared to this.”

[…]

The analysis found minerals called zircons that had thermally decomposed to form baddeleyite. That mineral transition typically happens in temperatures in excess of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit — far hotter than what could be generated by grass fires, Schultz says.

The analysis also turned up assemblages of exotic minerals only found in meteorites and other extraterrestrial rocks, the researchers say. Specific minerals like cubanite, troilite and calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions matched mineral signatures from comet samples retrieved from NASA’s Stardust mission.

“Those minerals are what tell us that this object has all the markings of a comet,” said Scott Harris, a planetary geologist at the Fernbank Science Center and study co-author. “To have the same mineralogy we saw in the Stardust samples entrained in these glasses is really powerful evidence that what we’re seeing is the result of a cometary airburst.”

More work needs to be done to establish the exact ages of the glass, which would determine exactly when the event took place, Schultz says. But the tentative dating puts the impact right around time that large mammals disappeared from the region.

“It’s too soon to say if there was a causal connection or not, but what we can say is that this event did happen around the same time as when we think the megafauna disappeared, which is intriguing,” Schultz said. “There’s also a chance that this was actually witnessed by early inhabitants, who had just arrived in the region. It would have been quite a show.”

Schultz and his team hope that further research may help to constrain the timing and shed light on the size of the impactor. For now, Schultz hopes this study may help researchers identify similar blast sites elsewhere and reveal the potential risk posed by such events.

[…]

Brown University

Here’s the abstract of the paper…


RESEARCH ARTICLE| NOVEMBER 02, 2021
Widespread glasses generated by cometary fireballs during the late Pleistocene in the Atacama Desert, Chile
Peter H. Schultz; R. Scott Harris; Sebastián Perroud; Nicolas Blanco; Andrew J. Tomlinson
Geology (2021)

Twisted and folded silicate glasses (up to 50 cm across) concentrated in certain areas across the Atacama Desert near Pica (northern Chile) indicate nearly simultaneous (seconds to minutes) intense airbursts close to Earth’s surface near the end of the Pleistocene. The evidence includes mineral decompositions that require ultrahigh temperatures, dynamic modes of emplacement for the glasses, and entrained meteoritic dust. Thousands of identical meteoritic grains trapped in these glasses show compositions and assemblages that resemble those found exclusively in comets and CI group primitive chondrites. Combined with the broad distribution of the glasses, the Pica glasses provide the first clear evidence for a cometary body (or bodies) exploding at a low altitude. This occurred soon after the arrival of proto-Archaic hunter-gatherers and around the time of rapid climate change in the Southern Hemisphere.

Schultz et al., 2021

The full text of the paper is available and well-worth reading. The mineralogical similarity to material collected from the tail of Comet Wild-2 by the Stardust mission is quite compelling.

“Analysis of the samples revealed a mineralogy consistent with a cometary origin.”

While these mineral associations are common in meteorites…

Cubanite
January 5, 2014

Chemical Formula: CuFe2S3
Locality: Barracanao, Cuba.
Name Origin: Named after its locality.

Cubanite is a yellow mineral of copper, iron, and sulfur, CuFe2S3.Cubanite was first described in 1843 for an occurrence in the Mayarí-Baracoa Belt, Oriente Province, Cuba.Cubanite occurs in high temperature hydrothermal deposits with pyrrhotite and pentlandite as intergrowths with chalcopyrite. It results from exsolution from chalcopyrite at temperatures below 200 to 210 °C. It has also been reported from carbonaceous chondrite meteorites.

Geology Page

Troilite

[…]

Occurrence: In serpentine (Del Norte Co., California, USA); with Fe–Cu–Ni sulfides in a layered ultramafic intrusive (Sally Malay deposit, Australia); and as nodules in meteorites.

Association: Pyrrhotite, pentlandite, mackinawite, cubanite, valleriite, chalcopyrite, pyrite (Wannaway deposit, Australia); daubr´eelite, chromite, sphalerite, graphite, various phosphates and silicates (meteorites).

Distribution: From the Alta mine, Del Norte Co., California, USA. In the Wannaway Fe–Ni–Cu deposit, and at the Sally Malay Cu–Ni deposit, 120 km north of Halls Creek, Western Australia. In the Panzhihua-Xichang district, Sichuan Province, China. From Disco Island and the Il´ımaussaq intrusion, southern Greenland. At Nordfjellmark, Norway. In many meteorites and some lunar rocks.

[…]

Handbook of Mineralogy

Pyrrhotite

[…]

Occurrence: Mainly in mafic igneous rocks, typically as magmatic segregations; also in pegmatites, and in high-temperature hydrothermal and replacement veins, and in sedimentary and metamorphic rocks; in iron meteorites.

Association: Pyrite, marcasite, chalcopyrite, pentlandite, many other sulfides, magnetite, calcite, dolomite.

[…]

Handbook of Mineralogy

The abundance of “calcium-aluminum–rich inclusions (CAIs) is “exceedingly rare” chondrites (CI meteorites); however CAI’s were identified in Stardust samples from Comet Wild-2.

Every sample examined thus far (70 thin sections) also contained thousands of exotic mineral grains and rock fragments (10 to 100 mineral grains and rock fragments per section) atypical of the local sediments. The observed minerals included euhedral Ni-troilite, buchwaldite (Fig. S10C), and Si-bearing chlorapatite that coat smooth vesicle walls (Figs. 4A and 4B); calcium-aluminum–rich inclusions (CAIs) (Figs. 4C and 4D); refractory Ca-Al-Ti–rich grains containing perovskite and corundum (Fig. 4E); and aqueously altered assemblages of Mg-rich silicates with troilite (for example, the serpentinite clast in Fig. 4F). The Ni-troilite (0.5–2 wt% Ni) is intergrown with Ni-free pyrrhotite and rimmed by cubanite (CuFe2S3) with submicron inclusions of pentlandite (Fig. 4B).

[…]

Although CAIs are exceedingly rare in CI meteorites, CAI materials have also been found in Stardust samples (Brownlee et al., 2012).

[…]

Schutz et al., 2021

The authors’ best estimate of the timing of the airburst was between 11,500 and 12,300 calendar years ago, with 12,300 being the maximum age (95% confidence). This would seem post-date the acute decline in South American megafaunal genera from 12,900 to 12,200 calendar years ago (Prates & Perez, 2021).

References

Prates, L., Perez, S.I. Late Pleistocene South American megafaunal extinctions associated with rise of Fishtail points and human population. Nat Commun 12, 2175 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22506-4

Schultz, Peter H., R. Scott Harris, Sebastián Perroud, Nicolas Blanco, Andrew J. Tomlinson. “Widespread glasses generated by cometary fireballs during the late Pleistocene in the Atacama Desert”. Chile. Geology 2021; doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/G49426.1

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John Tillman
November 4, 2021 6:05 pm

Right on!

Has nothing whatsoever to do with megafaunal extinctions and even less with the YD.

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
November 4, 2021 6:33 pm

Extinctions of megafauna in most of South America, all of North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia are however ruled out.

Last edited 6 months ago by John Tillman
John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
November 5, 2021 1:34 pm

The explosion might have extirpated species in the local area, but IMO it couldn’t have wiped out whole species across the continent.

mcswell
Reply to  John Tillman
November 5, 2021 3:41 pm

This particular explosion couldn’t have, right. Is it possible that there were multiple ones, from multiple fragments of a single comet, and that evidence from the others has disappeared due to erosion and weathering? It seems suspiciously coincidental if the only cometary explosion just happened to occur directly over a desert area, so that the evidence was preserved from weathering.

John Tillman
Reply to  mcswell
November 5, 2021 5:24 pm

It would be idle speculation to imagine other explosions, without any evidence.

But to have wiped out whole species across the continent would require an improbable number of such events.

While, at the same time, around the world extinctions are associated with humans.

Stuart Hamish
Reply to  John Tillman
November 6, 2021 5:37 am

No one argued the Atacama bolide did wipe out ” whole species across the continent “

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
November 5, 2021 1:26 pm

Here’s a 2016 Berkeley PhD dissertation on the timing of South American Pleistocene megafauna extinctions. Most of the last dates from near Pica in northern Chile are earlier than the time of the airburst, but one is fairly close to it. She gives the 14C dates and three calibrated dates for each sample.

https://escholarship.org/uc/item/05x7c9hw#page=243

She finds that in Peru, extinctions coincide with the arrival of people, but in southern Chile humans and some megafaunal species coexisted for a longer period.

Stuart Hamish
Reply to  David Middleton
November 6, 2021 5:59 am

The impact hazard frequency rate has been underestimated …..You only have to look at the Curacua and British Guyana tropical forest bolide destructions of the 1930’s in the Amazon , the 2002 Eastern Mediterranean high altitude airburst the Beta Taurid stream lunar swarm of 1975 and the 1908 Tunguska event …When the next one comes there will be hell to pay for those in influential and powerful positions who ridiculed , ignored .or suppressed the research….Look into the possible 938 AD atmospheric explosion that may have devastated towns in north -western Spain David

Ruleo
Reply to  Stuart Hamish
November 6, 2021 11:24 am

It’s a helluva lot more common than “the experts” dare mention.

Chelyabinsk Russia 2013

June of 2019 Asteroid 2019 MO blew up, this after a Chelyabinsk sized explosion in 18 December 2018 over Bering Sea, with a similar sized event December of 2020.

Also just two months ago Asteroid 2021 UA1 was discovered *after* it passed.

Plus, we’ve seen the moon get popped in 2013 and January 2019.

Bolides are the only existential threat to humans. Nuclear weapons/waste and any type disease could never finish man off.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  John Tillman
November 5, 2021 3:02 am

Has nothing whatsoever to do with megafaunal extinctions…”

Well, I don’t know about that. I think the strongest statement one can make is that it provides no proof of a causal link between megafauna extinction and comet impacts.

It’s a seductively reasonable hypothesis that such causality would exist. After all, how many readers here would willingly land on a world infested with mastodon-eating saber tooth tigers (and mastodons)? I’d be willing to bet that it wouldn’t be more than 35 out of every 104. The rest would wait for those scary animals to become extinct.

But since we don’t know whether comets think the same way humans do, I would have to agree that we can’t prove that megafaunal extinction is causally related to comet impacts.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
November 5, 2021 2:40 pm

Applying modern climastrological principles from The Science ™, clearly megafaunal extinction causes climate impacts.

DMacKenzie
Reply to  John Tillman
November 5, 2021 7:26 am

This would seem post-date the acute decline in South American megafaunal genera from 12,900 to 12,200 calendar years ago (Prates & Perez, 2021).

I’m not sure that can be said….the error bars are pretty big for the dating methods….something caused the YD…something caused the Atacama sand to turn to glass at close to the same time….etc….

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
November 5, 2021 11:44 am

Unless you count the sharp cold snap 8200 years BP.

DaveW
Reply to  John Tillman
November 6, 2021 12:34 am

Isn’t the Atacama Desert at least 3 million years old and one of the driest places on earth? Did it ever have a megafauna to go extinct? If so, what did they eat, where did they drink?

Last edited 6 months ago by DaveW
Tom Halla
November 4, 2021 6:08 pm

Interesting, but too young for the Younger Dryas.

Stuart Hamish
Reply to  Tom Halla
November 5, 2021 2:49 am

Not at all ..The upper range dating bracket of circa 12 300 – 12000 BP sits within the Younger Dryas that ended around 11 700 years ago ..If and when charcoal or other organic material samples are collected in situ ,and analyzed, the timing can be narrowed to 50 – 100 years …In fact the stretching of impacts over centuries with the main cataclysmic cosmic swarm concentrated 12 900 BP [ given dating uncertainties this may have happened in a few hours or several days ] concords well with the Clube – Napier coherent catastrophism model

Charles Higley(@higley7)
Reply to  David Middleton
November 5, 2021 7:05 am

There is nothing that says that there might have been two impacts, one in the northern ice sheet and, a little later, in the Atacama. The evidence is strong with an ice sheet event, as there are radial gouge-lakes seen south of the ice sheet. Insult added to injury is not new.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Charles Higley
November 5, 2021 9:09 am

“There is nothing that says that there might have been two impacts,”

This is true. The comet could have broken up into several parts. Like the one that hit Jupiter in 1994, Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9.

Where any extra cometary fragments landed, if that happened, is anyone’s guess.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  David Middleton
November 5, 2021 4:58 pm

All I said was comets can break up into pieces. There is evidence for that.

John Tillman
Reply to  Tom Abbott
November 5, 2021 11:46 am

Those hit at the same time, not hundreds of years apart.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  John Tillman
November 5, 2021 5:00 pm

I’m not promoting the scenario where more than one cometary fragment hit the Earth during that time. All I did was agree with a poster above that there is a possiblity the comet could have broken up upon entry. Which is true. I’m not going any farther than that, so you guys can relax.

mcswell
Reply to  Tom Abbott
November 5, 2021 3:43 pm

And the evidence of the remaining fragments would have been eliminated by weathering and erosion.

DMacKenzie
Reply to  David Middleton
November 5, 2021 7:35 am

David, I know you believe those numbers, but the proxies on which the textbooks date those millenia are in drastic need of reassessment of their accuracy by someone like McKitrick….they could easily be out by 500-1000 years…

Last edited 6 months ago by DMacKenzie
Stuart Hamish
Reply to  David Middleton
November 6, 2021 5:22 am

” Younger Dryas began 12 700 YBP ” …. There is general agreement the Younger Dryas onset was in the bracket 12 900 – 12 800 BP as attested by the articles in this assemblage .It is not well established at 12 700 BP sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/younger-dryas Why you felt compelled to snip 200 -100 years is puzzling and you have not contested the fact 600 years of the Atacama bolide dating spectrum sit within the Younger Dryas event described as a climatic ‘bipolar seesaw pattern ‘ or debated the merits of the Clube – Napier coherent catastrophism model ..The argument is not whether that one bolide in South America 12 000 years ago caused southern hemisphere cooling . Furthermore the Antarctic ice cores do not manifest a perfectly consistent impression of Southern Hemisphere temperature swings .The Taylor Dome isotope stratigraphy ” is more similar to the Greenland ice cores than are the other Antarctic ice cores [ Steig et al ] . A warming peak …reached at ca. 14 000 ice years BP ….followed by a gradual cooling with minimum values at 12 900 – 12300 [ BP ] corresponding chronologically to the first part of the Younger Dryas ” [ S Bjorck in Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science Second Edition ,2013 ] . There is surely no way of determining the altitude of the Atacama comet fragments aerial detonation that far back in time [ The artists impression above has the meteor hitting the surface ] Thank you for the excellent article once again David ..I always appreciate your contributions here. I see John Tillman’s silly contrarianism has contributed nothing useful to the discussion .

Scissor
November 4, 2021 6:12 pm

I seem to recall the presence of heat damage on some megalithic structures in South America.

RobR
Reply to  Scissor
November 4, 2021 9:52 pm

Me too.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
Reply to  Scissor
November 5, 2021 1:00 am

That was the previous bout of human induced Runaway CO2 warming which destroyed civilisation as we knew it and constitutes a terrible warning that we should immediately cease all activity and live in cardboard boxes trying not to move or breath.
Do I really need a sarc note?

(sadly probably yes given the nonsense being emitted by the BBC eco-hysteria sewer and COP whatever – lost count and interest)

I do however agree with the comment that we should be wary of assuming any kind of “regular” rate at which the Earth suffers impacts. Like buses, you wait ages for one to come along and then five might come along at once.

Stuart Hamish
Reply to  Scissor
November 5, 2021 3:04 am

‘Heat damage ‘ – if you mean blast or high temperature furnace vitrification on stone – cannot be dated accurately unless timber or other carbon dated material is in the structures as per the vitrified Iron Age and Bronze Age fortifications in the British Isles …..

rbabcock
November 4, 2021 7:03 pm

There is a theory that the Sun has a micro nova every 6,000 years due to the galactic current sheet which would result in both damage to the Earth facing the Sun when it happens and a big uptick in matter falling into the atmosphere. After that the Earth has a lot of issues with a dim Sun until it finally clears. Last time it happened was 6,000 years ago so time to tunnel into a mountain and stock up on food! .. although at my age maybe not.

John Hultquist
Reply to  rbabcock
November 4, 2021 7:39 pm

 Your comment with the 6,000 years made me think of The Long Count calendar creation date, 5,135 years ago.

MarkW
Reply to  rbabcock
November 4, 2021 8:02 pm

If this “galactic current sheet” caused “micro nova” in stars, we should be able to see evidence in the other stars in the galaxy. We should also be able to track this sheet as it gets closer to our solar system.

dodgy geezer
Reply to  MarkW
November 4, 2021 11:33 pm

Not if we’re not looking for it….

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  dodgy geezer
November 5, 2021 1:59 am

I check for it every morning, so don’t worry Earth: I’ve got your back.

Nick Haag
Reply to  MarkW
November 5, 2021 12:35 am

There’s this Impending Solar Flash Event Supported by Scientific Studies & Insider Testimony » Exopolitics
I’m just posting it, no idea if it’s right or not so don’t shoot the messenger!
There does seem to be a lot of woo in there further down the article.

Last edited 6 months ago by Nick Haag
Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Nick Haag
November 5, 2021 2:35 am

Interesting story, but the linked NASA paper therein is even more interesting. I have often wondered if a star could undergo large amplitude excursions in power output. Evidently, they can.

Larry Niven’s short story “Inconstant Moon” and Nicolas Cage’s movie “Knowing” both involve solar excursions, though they are both thought of as “flares.” A solar flash is a different beast altogether: it involves an entire, otherwise normal, star ramping up output for a few thousand seconds.

And why not?

MarkW
Reply to  Nick Haag
November 5, 2021 9:11 am

The minute he started ranting about “pole shifts”, you know you are dealing with someone who isn’t playing with a full deck.

Astrocyte
Reply to  MarkW
November 5, 2021 11:35 am

While I keep my mind open for such thing as the Sun going micro nova as there is astronomical evidences for similar stars behaving badly, the Youtube channel Suspicious0bservers is clearly some kind of doomsday cult and shall not be used as a reference.

rbabcock
Reply to  MarkW
November 5, 2021 3:55 am

This guy has a whole web site dedicated to it. https://suspicious0bservers.org/

MarkW
Reply to  rbabcock
November 5, 2021 9:10 am

A pay to view site. The few video’s that are outside the paywall aren’t convincing.

Jay
Reply to  rbabcock
November 5, 2021 7:10 pm

Dr Scoch and Ben Davidson have some very interesting points on this topic.
These two gentlemen will even point out the weaknesses in their arguments, and will discuss the evidence that doesnt fit. “Follow the evidence, where-ever it leads.”

Old.George
Reply to  rbabcock
November 6, 2021 4:30 am

You sound like Davidson of SuspiciousObservers (.org). His text, “Weatherman’s Guide to the Sun” provides his theory. A micro-nova would be a reboot. Everything operated by electricity gone. All computers and internet gone. (Bitcoin valueless. Stock certificates and currency usable as wallpaper.)

Rud Istvan
November 4, 2021 7:04 pm

I found this analysis fascinating. Lot of triangulating observations. Did not know about the Atacama obsidian. Means we really need to recalibrate frequency of major potential Earth impactors.

John Hultquist
November 4, 2021 7:29 pm

About 70% of Earth’s surface is water. Air bursts there we don’t know about.
Not all those over land (presumably) have been found.
There is a “known unknown” about the risk. That is not comforting,
but I’ll assume I won’t have to deal with such an event.

Thanks for bringing this to WUWT readers.

Reply to  John Hultquist
November 4, 2021 7:42 pm

The moon has a record that should be almost exactly like the earth’s record….no?

MarkW
Reply to  Anti-griff
November 4, 2021 8:04 pm

Until we get a whole bunch of geologists up there, dating craters with the kind of accuracy needed is going to be problematic.

I wonder if David would be interested in a working vacation in an exotic locale?

Last edited 6 months ago by MarkW
Reply to  Anti-griff
November 5, 2021 12:21 am

No atmosphere, no air bursts.

Klem
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
November 5, 2021 1:47 am

Venus has lots of atmosphere, we could go there.

Richard Page
Reply to  Klem
November 5, 2021 7:19 am

Venus has a bit too much atmosphere for my tastes, I’ll pass.

Reply to  Anti-griff
November 5, 2021 7:50 am

The moon has been thoroughly mapped by now and you count the craters and classify by size and divide by the age of the moon….gives a rough estimate of how often a “BIG ONE” hits and the earth should be approximately the same. There is a surprising amount of meteorite material hitting the earth…just mostly very small……..but it adds up over time….the moon’s surface would be covered in meteorite material if it wasn’t for the larger hits causing craters and exposing the underlying material.

MarkW
Reply to  Anti-griff
November 5, 2021 9:16 am

A very large percentage of those craters were created during the late heavy bombardment period somewhere around 4 billion years old.
Secondly, as asteroids and such are continuously being swept up by the planets, the rate at which the planets are hit is decreasing over time.

Only by counting the lunar strikes in the last couple million years, would you be able to determine what the rate in the here and now is.

MarkW
Reply to  John Hultquist
November 5, 2021 9:13 am

Even smaller impacts wouldn’t leave any evidence. If the meteor that created the Barringer crater had hit somewhere with 1000 to 2000 feet of water it would have left no crater.

Reply to  MarkW
November 5, 2021 9:53 am

That is why the moon is more important for the record….there is evidence of a big hit in the Indian ocean….Madagascar has evidence of a huge wave and the west coast of Australia….I think they have identified a site on the floor of the Indian ocean. If there is a record of a big hit on the moon …say every 100 million years…the earth should expect a similar possible hit.

Duker
November 4, 2021 7:36 pm

An article from 5 years back

For the Atacama desert its all about the cold offshore current combined with rain shadow to the east.
A comet airburst is sort of instant climate change
https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/12/15/ancient-climate-change-at-agu16-atacama-desert-may-have-harbored-lakes-wetlands/

John Tillman
Reply to  Duker
November 5, 2021 1:48 pm

Some salt lakes in the Atacama still have a little water.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salar_de_Atacama

Leading source of the world’s lithium.

Al in Cranbrook
November 4, 2021 7:48 pm

There are areas of the northern Sahara where sand has also been superheated and turned to glass.

The dating of the Atacama appears to be still in question. I would suggest it is still too early to rule out the YDB event. A study in 2013 displayed evidence in both Venezuela and Peru of the YDB impacts.

The Atacama lies at the 4000 meter altitude, thus much thinner atmosphere to run interference on the impacts at ground level of a cometary fragment air burst.

Megafaunal extinctions in S. America beginning circa 12,900 BCE? No doubt! At the epicenter of the event in N. America the extinctions of 35 species was virtually instantaneous, the survivors having died off within months from a variety of related causes, but mostly starvation. In S. America the process arguably could have taken longer.

IMHO, it’s only a matter of time now in which the YDB event will become an accepted part of the planet’s history in the same manner as has the impact of 65,000,000 years ago. Alternative explanations and theories simply do not stack up against the evidence that has been compiled since 2007.

John Tillman
Reply to  Al in Cranbrook
November 5, 2021 12:00 pm

Pica lies at only 1106 meters. Much of the Atacama is lowland.

Pica is famous for its Key-like limes, the best for making Pisco sours.

The end Cretaceous impact is accepted because of overwhelming evidence for it. A YD impact, not so much.

GregK
November 4, 2021 11:30 pm

South America is somewhat larger than the Atacama desert so an airburst, while unpleasant locally, would probably not have major regional effects. The Tunguska blast flattened about 2000sq km of forest but did little damage beyond that. It’d be drawing a very long bow to link the Atacama impact with megafauna extinction.

Mind you if the date is correct it would have been very unpleasant for people living there. The Atacama was not desert at the time but temperate grassland.

dodgy geezer
November 4, 2021 11:39 pm

Other possible explanations might include an alien ship nuking an escaped dangerous insectoid life form from orbit, or, for Jasper Fforde aficionados, a small plantation of the special cucumbers he describes in his book ‘The Fourth Bear’ …..

Nick Haag
Reply to  dodgy geezer
November 5, 2021 12:38 am

At least that would be fun. If only!

Geoff Sherrington
November 5, 2021 12:45 am

Food for thought how the somewhat planar, thin, sometimes folded glass was preserved in the very high energy environment, while allowing high melting point cometary included minerals to get inside the glass. Not questioning the quality of observations but concerned about sequence of events. It is a nice paper. First thought was two fragments impacting close in time and space but then how do we end up with abundant seemingly little disturbed glass sheets so big. Maybe data from atom bomb tests might help, maybe need to get one with gofundme.appeal? Geoff S

Jay
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
November 5, 2021 7:17 pm

I would also wish for a more detailed map. Is there a pattern to the glass fields? (Tunguska hit obliquely, was constrained by a hill, as I recall.)

Could a diffuse solar plasma, or proton event account for what they found.

Javier
November 5, 2021 3:25 am

David, since you are keen on ancient impactors and climate change I would like to call your attention over a hypothesis linking the 4.2-kyr event and an impact to see if it interests you enough to give us your expert opinion. This was the event that killed the Akkadian empire and made the Harappans abandon their cities.

Proxies indicate that the 4.2-kyr event is centered in the Arabian sea region, affecting the East African and Asian monsoons, the Mediterranean and Southern Europe, with a smaller effect on the North Atlantic region and South America, while the cooling appears global. A Kilimanjaro (East Africa) ice core presents a 200-fold increase in dust particles at the time (Thompson et al. 2002), while a marine sediment core in the Gulf of Oman presents a 10-fold increase in wind transported dolomite from the Mesopotamian region (Cullen et al. 2000). The 4.2-kyr event is a uniquely abrupt regional arid event that also caused global cooling. Regional proxies that show it best do not display a clear periodicity, indicating that Holocene climate cycles were not the cause. Furthermore, regional proxies support the unique nature of the 4.2-kyr event within the Holocene in terms of dust and mineral production. The strong monsoon weakening and severe regional aridification are different to the rest of Holocene cooling events and underscore a primary atmospheric manifestation. Its cause is a complete mystery. Most authors talk about shifts and thresholds in oceanic/atmospheric systems. No big volcanic eruption or asteroid impact capable of such global effect has been convincingly linked to the event, although the abruptness, nature and development of the arid-cold event is compatible with a big tropical volcanic eruption or asteroid impact. Since 1998 soil scientist Marie-Agnès Courty has been defending that soil micro-fabrics bear the signature of a cosmic impact at the time (Courty et al. 2008). However, the lack of more substantive evidence, like iridium, nickel or platinum spikes, or a well-dated crater, has made her research largely ignored.

Courty MA, Crisci A, Fedoroff M et al (2008) Regional manifestation of the widespread disruption of soil-landscapes by the 4 kyr BP impact-linked dust event using pedo-sedimentary micro-fabrics. In Kapur S and Stoops G (eds) New trends in soil micromorphology. Springer, Berlin, p 211-236

Courty, M.A., 1998. The soil record of an exceptional event at 4000 BP in the Middle East. In Natural Catastrophes During Bronze Age Civilisations: Archaeological, Geological, Astronomical and Cultural Perspectives (p. 93).

Both can be found through Google Scholar. I’d love to have your opinion on how solid is her work.

I believe “The curse of Agade” (Akkad) represents a historical chronicle of what happened attributing it to a vengeance of the god Enlil for an offense by the Akkadian king Naram-Sin (reigned 2261-2224 BCE):

“Enlil, the roaring (?) storm that subjugates the entire land, the rising deluge that cannot be confronted, was considering what should be destroyed in return for the wrecking of his beloved E-kur. He lifted his gaze towards the Gubin mountains, and made all the inhabitants of the broad mountain ranges descend (?). Enlil brought out of the mountains those who do not resemble other people, who are not reckoned as part of the Land, the Gutians, an unbridled people, with human intelligence but canine instincts and monkeys’ features. Like small birds they swooped on the ground in great flocks. Because of Enlil, they stretched their arms out across the plain like a net for animals. Nothing escaped their clutches, no one left their grasp. Messengers no longer travelled the highways, the courier’s boat no longer passed along the rivers. The Gutians drove the trusty (?) goats of Enlil out of their folds and compelled their herdsmen to follow them, they drove the cows out of their pens and compelled their cowherds to follow them. Prisoners manned the watch. Brigands occupied the highways. The doors of the city gates of the Land lay dislodged in mud, and all the foreign lands uttered bitter cries from the walls of their cities. They established gardens for themselves within the cities, and not as usual on the wide plain outside. As if it had been before the time when cities were built and founded, the large arable tracts yielded no grain, the inundated tracts yielded no fish, the irrigated orchards yielded no syrup or wine, the thick clouds (?) did not rain, the macgurum plant did not grow.

In those days, oil for one shekel was only half a litre, grain for one shekel was only half a litre, wool for one shekel was only one mina, fish for one shekel filled only one ban measure — these sold at such prices in the markets of the cities! Those who lay down on the roof, died on the roof; those who lay down in the house were not buried. People were flailing at themselves from hunger. By the Ki-ur, Enlil’s great place, dogs were packed together in the silent streets; if two men walked there they would be devoured by them, and if three men walked there they would be devoured by them. Noses were punched (?), heads were smashed (?), noses (?) were piled up, heads were sown like seeds. Honest people were confounded with traitors, heroes lay dead on top of heroes, the blood of traitors ran upon the blood of honest men.”

Doug Huffman(@doughuffman)
November 5, 2021 4:37 am

Recent article proposing a similar end to Gomorrah. Here?

Yooper
Reply to  Doug Huffman
November 5, 2021 5:08 am

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/destruction-of-city-by-space-rock-may-have-inspired-biblical-story-of-sodom-180978734/

This one had the same “effects” but also had charcoal and burnt bone frgments. The dating is a lot better.

Gordon A. Dressler
November 5, 2021 7:05 am

They got it all wrong . . . clearly the heat that melted rock in Chile was nothing more than the exhaust, and perhaps some blowback, from the ginormous alien laser that was used to draw the lines and figures on the plains of Nazca in adjacent Peru to the north.

Richard Page
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
November 5, 2021 7:21 am

Oh you mean the ones that the Greenpiss Muppets tried to destroy in a publicity stunt?

November 5, 2021 8:04 am

Cubanite, Troilite, and Pyrrhotite are all ferrous sulfides. They are unstable to oxidation in air.

In superheated oxygenated air, they’d not have survived.

So, the fireball and conditions of deposition must have been anoxic.

Cls
November 5, 2021 8:05 am

Clovis Culture vanishes about the same time?

Did the Clovis hunt themselves to extinction? I doubt it. I think the massive habitat incineration doomed most of the herbivores and then dominoes. But as usual for hypers and hoaxers it’s man’s fault. Same for the dinosaurs. We killed every last one of the. Yep.

Reply to  David Middleton
November 5, 2021 2:51 pm

A sample size of 49 individuals over several thousand years over a vast area leaves a lot of room for statistical fantasies.

Thomas Gasloli
November 5, 2021 12:00 pm

Why are so many academics believers in catastrophism?

Jay
Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
November 5, 2021 7:24 pm

The cosmos appears to be a lot more energetic, and potential impactors far more prevalent, than we were taught as school children.

So, rains of fire, and Enlil’s rages are more common than thought. The question of the century may be “how much more common?”

ResourceGuy
November 5, 2021 3:56 pm

Sounds like good work. I would not base it on pyrrhotite though or list that in the group of main findings or characteristics. Some pictures of the glass deposits would also help.

ResourceGuy
November 5, 2021 3:58 pm

When do we update the probabilities of a strike? and also the probability of a strike during COPXX?

November 5, 2021 6:55 pm

If the YD guys are right, and there was a comet storm around the projected date centered in Michigan due to intersection with the stream of a disrupted comet, how much additional stuff before and after was there?

Add this one to the more recent impact over Syria 12.8 ka. The more we look the more it appears impacts were taking place. I wonder how many more of them there are. Better yet, what caused them? And why so many around that time? Cheers –

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-60867-w

November 6, 2021 4:49 pm

“No, this does not confirm the YDIH,”

No, but it’s a nice loud dog-whistle to bring them all running.

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