Ice Age forest found off the coast of Alabama – update

17 July 2013

At …the discovery of a primeval underwater forest off Alabama, buried under ocean sediments that were disturbed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, raises some questions. It was protected by an oxygen free environment for some 50,000 years and represents, an enigma in that why haven't earlier hurricanes dislodged the sediments – and what did those sediments consist of as they must have been thick enough to completely cover the tree stumps and forest fauna. As the wood is well preserved the event must have been rapid – a fairly sudden swamping.

The trees are so well preserved that when cut they still give out the aroma from Cypress sap. They are of course stumps, although fallen whole trunks were buried as well, and an area of half a square mile has been uncovered. How much else lies on the sea bed, buried in undisturbed sediments?

It is hoped that tree rings will reveal secrets of the climate in the Gulf of Mexico (and the Caribbean) 50,000 years ago – when the world is thought to have been in the grip of an Ice Age. Cypress trees are long lived and archaeologists and palaeoclimatologists hope to gain data spanning thousands of years.

This story is also at … and the story was reported a year or so ago but dated much nearer our time – towards the end of the Ice Age. C14 dating of the wood has caused a stir as 50,000 years has thrown up all kinds of odditiesIt suggests the sea level off Alabama has risen by between 60 and 120 feet since the submergence (you may note the rapidity of the event is ignored) and this conflicts with assumed orthodox rates of sea level rise in the Gulf. Trees that are between 50 and 80 thousand years old should be at a depth of between 120 and 180 feet – which means the Caribbean sea floor (next to the coast of N America) has not been affected by as much subsidence as the models allow. Either that or there has been an episode of uplift between 50,000 years ago and the present. Using computer simulations geologists have created maps of the Gulf shoreline going back millions of years. It would seem like they need to do some homework on their models as they are much akin to climate models – overestimating the rates. Sea level studies is really in its infancy and the models are perhaps a little premature. It is not clear why sea level swings back and forth, especially at the rates supposedly in motion in the early Holocene period. Where did all the water come from?

A video of the forest can be seen at…

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