Comets - impact and airburst events during the Holocene

24 Jan 2011

There is a paper by Mike Baillie published in the Journal of Quaternary Science (2007) 22 (2) page 101-9 (see and DOI:10.1002/jqs.1099) However, to download the full pdf article go to 'The case for significant numbers of extraterrestrial impacts through the Late Holocene', Mike Baillie, Dept of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queens University, Belfast.

His main asking point is - when astronomers tell us there should have been numerous impacts from space during the last 5000 years, when impact craters exist on the land and more can be expected at sea, why are historians and archeologists, ecologists and geologists, not diligently seeking evidence for them - or their effects? He sets out his stall by presenting some of the evidence for just that and continues by saying ablation material, be it a chemical signature with an origin in space, or micro-tektites, should all be present in ocean sediments, ice cores, peat, and lake bottom muds. It seems as if no effort has been made to find such evidence and the question must then be, why? What are these people frightened of, or turn their faces against. Is it dumb acceptance of the consensus mode of thinking or fear of ridicule and acid criticism. Mike Baillie can never be accused of a faint heart. He has consistently seen space as an explanation for low growth tree ring events which litter dendrochronology chains. Now that he is officially retired he has more time to set the record straight - and this is one of those efforts. Many archaeologists, and come to that climate scientists too, regard impacts from space as inconsequential. They would even say there was no evidence for any cosmic body affecting human societies since people became literate - basically, anything up to 5000 years ago depending on the geography. Baillie would beg to differ. Craters have been formed such as those of Kaali in Estonia, Wabar in Saudi Arabia, Henbury in Australia. Others are more controversial, such as Chiemgau in Germany and Sirente in Italy, and there is also a reluctance to take craters seriously. Any other sort of explanation is seized upon simply to push the unwanted anomaly aside and ignore. When it comes to airbursts it is even more difficult to make a case. Take Tunguska. Nobody is quite sure what happened because there is no actual crater, as such - just an area of blast damage. It is thought that a cosmic body entered the atmosphere at a tangential angle, some of it exploding over Siberia but most of the body then escaping from the atmosphere and careering off into space. How do you identify something like that on the ground if it had happened a few hundred years ago instead of in the 20th century?