Ice Age Melt Waters

16 Apr 2017

William sent in the link ... which allows you to read a number of articles in this first of 2017 issue. The article of interest is by Paul A LaViolette, 'The Generation of Mega Glacial Meltwater Floods and Their Geologic Transport' (13 pages if you want to download and print out). In 1989, Shaw, Kvil and Revin claimed the drumlin fields of N America were caused by meltwaters (sub glacial flooding) in an article in Sedimentary Geology. This idea was taken up by Graham Hancock in one of his books (can't remember which one) in order to show that his hypothetical Ice Age civilisation had been wiped out (or something like that). I haven't seen this idea taken seriously by geologists (but I suppose some of them have it in their toolbox) as the general view is that drumlins form under the ice - not beyond the ice sheet. Meltwater is the cause of both mainstream and non-mainstream explanations for the existence of drumlins (which are common in Europe too). However, if drumlins were formed by melt water from a rapidly receding ice sheet this would seriously challenge the Ice Age concept. What I mean by that is the assumption that ice covered virtually the whole of northern North America in the Late Glacial Maximum. That is, apart from western Yukon (and of course most of Alaska). The idea that Saskatchewan, for example, was not buried under several feet of ice over a long period would be scuppered if Shaw was correct. This is why only the likes of Hancock are prepared to look at it when others do not. You may notice that if there was a polar shift (at the onset and the end of the Late Glacial Maximum) it would be necessary to take Shaw's theory seriously as the ice sheet between 30,000 and 18,000 years ago would by necessity have to be limited to NE North America (and NW Europe). Or that seems to be the position looking at it loosely.

It is interesting that La Violette took up on Shaw as he is more well known for postulating supernova events as responsible for catastrophism on earth - and has largely plowed a lonely furrow. Supernovas were popular amongst some members of SIS back in the 1980s, and the idea has recently been revived by Rupert Holms (see latest issue of SIS Review 2017:1). Basically, supernova debris are thought to be capable of causing disasters on earth - in the same way as comets and fireballs, or electrical discharges in an electric universe, come to that. Whereas the latter is entirely theoretical the former two are more ground based as far as evidence is concerned - but let us not get into an argument. Catastrophism is a reality - it is the agent of catastrophism which provides contrary views.

LaViolette claims mega meltwater 'avalanches' (huge waves up to 10m high or more) could be generated by water forming on the surface of a melting ice sheet. This appears to be where he differs from mainstream thinking as water is generated under the ice during meltwater episodes (and the assumption is that over the Pleistocene there were many such incidents of meltwater production). Uniformitarianism likes to dilute the magnitude of catastrophism (as a means of shooing it away) and they also use drumlins to mark out the boundaries of their hypothetical ice sheet extent (as well as other factors that could also be due to flooding rather than glaciation). That's another story. The key to both La Violette and mainstream is that ice sheets have to melt rapidly - as in very quickly. In the first instance in order to form avalanches of water and in the second one because ice cores indicate warmth came quickly. This, of course, is one reason why pole shift is an attractive proposition in that it provides the means to melt ice very rapidly. LaViolette, in contrast, points a finger at solar activity. Did earth experience massive CME events? Rens van der Sluijs in Review 2017:1 seems to think so - and so does LaViolette. What he then shows is that rapid ice melt can lead very quickly to a catastrophic event - massive flooding by torrents of water that uprooted trees and shrubs and swept up animals and vegetation, carrying them in turbulent waters and coming to rest in heaps of broken bones etc. This could almost have come out of the lips of Velikovsky. However, whereas the latter visualised huge tsunami waves by a displaced ocean sweeping across the land as a result of pole shift, LaViolette confines the waters to rapid glacial melt. 

Almost all areas of Alaska below an altitude of 300-400m are covered with a loamy blanket of frozen silt that ranges in depth from a few millimetres to over 60m (quoting a 1975 geological paper). For over a 100 years the origin of the muck in Alaska has been hotly disputed. Uniformitarians dilute it by dividing it into older and younger deposits (as is their way) but most geological studies point out flooding, lacustrine, marine and eolian features of the muck (and it contains a lot of frozen water).  La Violette, wisely, restricts himself to the deposits ascribed to the end of the LGM period, which are found in river and stream valleys (or creeks in North America) of central Alaska. They are full of Pleistocene animal remains - and broken trees and lots of vegetation that have been transported upstream. The silt layers are usually defined in uniformitarian terms - laid down over many thousands or millions of years. In spite of that view the silt also contains the remains of Pleistocene animals - which is hard to equate with slow accumulation by glacial winds.

Lignite is carbonised peat and is found in various parts of Europe, Canada, and the northern US (even as far south as Greece). These are evidence of enormous waves of meltwater he says - and let us not forget that enormous quantities of melted ice had to go somewhere. This is evidenced, he says, by reason some lignite formations overlie mammoth bones, in different parts of Europe (the Carpathians, southern Europe, and near Zurich) and LaViolette claims the wood (branches etc) has been shredded (and torn apart as in violent turbulence and that would fit the bill of moving water).

The problematic Heinrich events are also discussed. These are evidenced by dumps of material with an origin in ice sheets found in the mid-Atlantic and thought to have been transported by ice bergs and ice sheet calving events. They contain rocks with an origin in NE North America and seem to have occurred at 5000 to 10,000 year intervals during the last Ice Age. He thinks they are caused by solar activity warming the surface of the ice sheet, causing meltwater movement (on land and across the ocean).

You may note his sources are old - and not up to date. He says that it has taken 40 years to get this article published in a mainstream journal. Says it all, really. Rather sad. Mind you, it may have seemed to people in the 1980s he was somewhat too close to Velikovsky's catastrophic ideas for comfort and one can see why it was never published back then. Velikovsky had opened a breach in uniformitarianism and they did not want it to become a flood (pun intended).