Earth in Upheaval

16 May 2011

Velikovsky, on the first page of his book, Earth in Upheaval (Victor Gollancz:1956) made some extraordinary claims of the so called Alaskan 'muck' deposits in the Tanana River valley, a tributary of the Yukon River - but where did he get his information from? He quotes Rainey (1940), University of Alaska, and FC Hibben (1943), University of New Mexico, but he obviously read a lot of other sources. One of them might have been Ralph Tuck, a geologist who first worked in Alaska on the railroad and then worked for a mining company - in which muck played a prominent role. In a paper in the Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, volume 51 page 1295-1310, (September 1940) 'Origin of the Muck-Silt deposits at Fairbanks, Alaska' Ralph Tuck gave his considered opinion how the muck was formed - and it formed quickly, by what he presumed was 'outwash' from melting glaciers (even though this part of Alaska was unglaciated). Hence, this article is in part a vindication of Velikovsky as outwash is not too different from the idea of a large tsunami wave roaring up the river valleys of Alaska. 

As Earth in Upheaval says the muck was being cleared out in order to get at the gravel beds beneath, where the gold was situated, this in fact is a mirror of what Ralph Tuck says in much more detail. It was called muck because it was a nuisance, masking the gold bearing gravel. It was a term coined by the prospectors and miners. The gravel itself is assumed to be glacial or riverine in origin and the pieces of gold were the result of erosion of bedrock upstream. The gravel occurs along the rivers and streams of Alaska, or did so in the 19th and early 20th centuries, carried by water or ice. In the upper stream locations it was collected by gold panners but in the lower valleys the gravel beds disappeared - firstly they were covered by a layer of silt (or loess) and at the very bottom of the valley by the muck, overlaying and mingling with the silt. Hence, Tuck describes both the silt (middle valleys of Tanana and its tributaries) and the muck (an additional deposit long after the silt). Muck also occrurs in other river valleys of Alaska, he says, and is not peculiar to the Tanana. Velikovsky was writing at a time when C14 methodology was in its infancy and there was little knowledge of how easy it is to contaminate samples. Hence, he was fueled by some C14 dates which had been taken onboard - but they were half as old as they are thought to be nowadays. In fact, Tuck even mentions one particular section of wood in muck that was seriously dated by a scientist to very recent times - much nearer the present than even Velikovsky imagined. We can assume a lot of dating estimates that were too young by modern standards were being bandied around and this encouraged Velikovsky to see a connection between the muck deposit and his 'Exodus' catastrophe. Tuck did not say there was a catastrophe as such but he did say much of the muck deposit was deposited by water action. At the same time, many stumps of trees were still rooted to the ground suggesting a wave, if that was the cause, carried away the trunks and branches of the trees but the roots remained intact. The water borne debris piled up high in some locations, and in some places the muck is over 300 feet thick - indeed, in some places miners gave up drilling holes down to the gravel beds as the muck was so deep. Water therefore appears to have rushed down the main river valleys of Alaska, an enormous tsunami in which bones mixed with branches and tree trunks, herbs and grasses, and all manner of organic material, mixed up with the silt that was already there and forming a black strata. Fifty per cent of the muck consists of ice which Tuck says shows the organic remains were saturated - and it was frozen very quickly. Why does modern literature on the end of the Ice Age ignore what the likes of Ralph Tuck said? He was there as the muck was being dredged out.