Impact hypothesis loses its sparkle

Aug 30, 2010
Tyrone Daulton is pictured with the transmission electron microscrope he used to search in vain for shock-synthesized nanodiamonds, evidence that a extraterrestrial object such as a meteorite killed off North American megafauna. Credit: Tyrone Daulton

Shock-synthesized diamonds said to prove a catastrophic impact killed off North American megafauna can't be found.

About 12,900 years ago, a sudden cold snap interrupted the gradual warming that had followed the last Ice Age. The cold lasted for the 1,300-year interval known as the Younger Dryas (YD) before the climate began to warm again.

In North America, large animals known as megafauna, such as mammoths, mastodons, saber-tooth tigers and giant short-faced bears, became extinct. The Paleo-Indian culture known as the Clovis culture for distinctively shaped fluted stone spear points abruptly vanished, eventually replaced by more localized regional cultures.

What had happened?

One theory is that either a comet airburst or a somewhere in North America set off massive environmental changes that killed animals and disrupted human communities.

In sedimentary deposits dating to the beginning of the YD, impact proponents have reported finding carbon spherules containing tiny nano-scale diamonds, which they thought to be created by shock metamorphism or when the impactor struck.

The nanodiamonds included lonsdaleite, an unusal form of diamond that has a rather than the usual cubic . Lonsdaleite is particularly interesting because it has been found inside meteorites and at known impact sites.

In the August 30 issue of the , a team of scientists led by Tyrone Daulton, PhD, a research scientist in the physics department at Washington University in St. Louis, reported that they could find no diamonds in YD boundary layer material.

Daulton and his colleagues, including Nicholas Pinter, PhD, professor of geology at Southern Illinois University In Carbondale and Andrew C. Scott, PhD, professor of applied paleobotany of Royal Holloway University of London, show that the material reported as diamond is instead forms of carbon related to commonplace graphite, the material used for pencils.

"Of all the evidence reported for a YD impact event, the presence of hexagonal diamond in YD boundary sediments represented the strongest evidence suggesting shock processing," Daulton, who is also a member of WUSTL's Center for Materials Innovation, says.

However, a close examination of carbon spherules from the YD boundary using transmission electron microscopy by the Daulton team found no nanodiamonds. Instead, graphene- and graphene/graphane-oxide aggregates were found in all the specimens examined (including carbon spherules dated from before the YD to the present). Importantly, the researchers demonstrated that previous YD studies misidentified graphene/graphane-oxides as hexagonal diamond and likely misidentified graphene as cubic diamond.

The YD impact hypothesis was in trouble already before this latest finding. Many other lines of evidence — including: fullerenes, extraterrestrial forms of helium, purported spikes in radioactivity and iridium, and claims of unique spikes in magnetic meteorite particles — had already been discredited. According to Pinter, "nanodiamonds were the last man standing."

"We should always have a skeptical attitude to new theories and test them thoroughly," Scott says, "and if the evidence goes against them they should be abandoned."

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User comments : 22

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1.9 / 5 (9) Aug 30, 2010
the term "last ice age" is incorrect. we live in aninterglacial perod in the current ice age. remember that when you worry about global warming.
personally I would not welcome the return of the iceage.
5 / 5 (3) Aug 31, 2010
As Carl Sagan and many others have said the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Daulton et al failed to properly sample the very narrow Younger Dryas impact layer so of course they found nothing. PNAS is guilty of nothing less than bias on this subject because they continue to publish deeply flawed papers that find nothing while rejecting papers that show positive evidence. Most recently they rejected a paper by Kurbatov et al that reported a very large and narrow peak of nanodiamonds of all types at the onset of the Younger Dryas. This article is now published in the Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 56, No. 199, 2010.
2.5 / 5 (2) Sep 01, 2010
Some may want to read this BBC article:

31 August 2010 Last updated at 10:08 ET

Mammoth-killing space blast 'off the hook'
By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News
1 / 5 (6) Sep 02, 2010
An ultra tiny Brown Dwarf star orbits Sol with a 4969 year period. Comets drawn from the Kuiper Belt into a 3:2 resonance orbit sometmes break up rounding the Sun forming comet clusters. The correlation of two impacts from the B:Cl-2 cluster impacted circa 2760 BP and at the Younger Dryas cold period 12,679 BP. It is statistically certain that this intervals is in the predicted resonant relationship, ~57%. Thus, the Younger Dryas cold period is comet impact deduced. For details, Google "BROWN DWARF GENERATED COMET SWARMS THREATEN MANKIND"
5 / 5 (3) Sep 02, 2010
"An ultra tiny Brown Dwarf star orbits Sol with a 4969 year period."

Do you have published(peer reviewed) paper(s) that back up that claim? I seem to have missed that one.
1 / 5 (1) Sep 02, 2010
Conveniently overlooked in every purported disproof of the "thermonuclear event" I've seen are that chert samples from immediately below the boundary horizon (Clovis) are uniquely riddled with impact holes and that isotope identification aligns this damage with thermonuclear activity. The original Firestone & Topping paper documents both.
1 / 5 (4) Sep 02, 2010
"Do you have published(peer reviewed) paper(s) that back up that claim? I seem to have missed that one."
Only the one cited and published in Nov. 1982 Science Digest by the AF chief science adviser/astronomer Hynek, Google "BROWN DWARF GENERATED COMET SWARMS THREATEN MANKIND" But it did not have its mass and orbital parameters as we do. Hynek called it a Brown Dwarf, but 141 Earth masses is really tiny. Its mass (and that of the Sun and Jovians) have only been known for 4500 years. Don't know how you missed it.
5 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2010
I ran up my white flag too soon -- 23 experts firmly show YDB era Greenland ice layer that has unique huge numbers of impact nanodiamonds in 11-page paper in J Glaciology: Rich Murray 2010.09.02
Thursday, September 2, 2010
[ at end of each long page, click on Older Posts ]
[you may have to Copy and Paste URLs into your browser]
2 / 5 (4) Sep 03, 2010
Impact hypothesis loses its sparkle

For some other scientists exactly the opposite is true: Multiple Meteorites Did Them In
4 / 5 (4) Sep 03, 2010
"Do you have published(peer reviewed) paper(s) that back up that claim? I seem to have missed that one."

"Only the one cited and published in Nov. 1982 Science Digest by the AF chief science adviser/astronomer Hynek..."


I believe Dr. Hynek (J. Allen Hynek of Project Blue Book fame) was discussing the POSSIBILITY of an unseen body in the solar system due to orbital irregularities of Uranus and Neptune. Since 1982 these irregularities were found to be instrumental in origin, thus ruling out many 'Planet X' theories (btw I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Hynek on several occasions in the early 80's and found him to be quite a personable fellow. I don't recall any discussions about 'Planet X', though).

But as someone claiming to have a PhD in physics, yaridanjo, surely you know Science Digest is not a peer-reviewed journal. It may have been known for 4500 years, but I see no serious science backing up that claim. Still, thanks for your reply.

1.2 / 5 (5) Sep 03, 2010
Some of its orbital parameters were also published here. Don't know if paper was peer reviewed then. I check what is being said, not who OKed it.

Professor George Forbes; ON COMETS; Proc. Roy. Soc. Edinburgh; Vol. 10, 1878 - 80; pg. 426: and Professor George Forbes; ADDITIONAL NOTE ON AN ULTRA-NEPTUNIAN PLANET; Vol. 11, pg. 89; and Monthly Notices Of The Royal Astronomical Society, 1908 - 1909, Vol. 69, pg. 152.

For a comparison of the orbital parameters Forbes found and those we found, Google "BROWN DWARF GENERATED COMET SWARMS THREATEN MANKIND" and look at Table 3.

I would have thought Hynek words would have carried more weight though as he was Civilian scientific consultant to the U.S. Air Force. I believe his 50 billion mile an estimate from classical celestial mechanics, and our calculations put it at about 41.6 billion miles at apheilion. But Forbes was close on those he found, too bad he did not get all the parameters.

5 / 5 (3) Sep 03, 2010
"But Forbes was close on those he found, too bad he did not get all the parameters."

The parameters I'm interested in are: right ascension-declination of object(preferably epoch 2000.0), apparent & absolute magnitude, proper motion, radial velocity, spectral type & mass, to name a few. Can't this object be found in all-sky infrared surveys like 2MASS, IRAS or WISE? Or optical surveys like the Digital Sky Survey or SDSS?

One of your refs is from 1878! Data this old is of very limited value, given the precision of the instruments of the day and the primitive knowledge of the astronomers and the field in general at the time.
1 / 5 (4) Sep 04, 2010
Go to the main web page from where I Googled you to and go to the TABLE OF CONTENTS section. There search for the C"EV orbit. That will give you RA and Dec vs. time for the object assumng there are no errors in the orbital parameter data. It is going ot be around that point. I think it is epoch 2000. Vulcan is very cold, like around 30 or 40 K so there is no spectral type for a brown dwarf star (or this almost planet like object). We estimate its magnitude to be 21 or 22 but it could be more faint. It is at or near (Infrared Astronomical Survey) object IRAS 1732+239. This object hs been investigated, but apparently our Vulcan (like Pluto) was missed. If you are serious and not just a cynic, read the SYNOPSIS and deJong's section as well as the CIRCUMSTANTIAL evidence in the CR 105 web page. Unlike astronomers, we use all source data to find this object so you may find our 'out of the box' thinking difficult to take.
1 / 5 (4) Sep 04, 2010
The observation of path of Sedna planet indicates, it's revolving some massive object outside of solar system.


It seems, in recent time the frequency of asteroid impacts on Jupiter and Saturn increases. Looks like some massive object brings new portion of asteroids inside of solar system and it changes the paths of existing ones


We have paleontologist evidence, the life on Earth is facing a new periodic mass extinction.

5 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2010

You have previously made similar claims (along with what you claim was knowledge of this 'body' by Sumerians, Akkadians, etc.). Why bring up this unsupported hypothesis again?

Your first source notes(quite correctly): "The idea that a planet-sized object could possibly collide with or pass by Earth in the near future is not supported by any scientific evidence and has been roundly rejected as pseudoscience by astronomers and planetary scientists."

You undermine your position by including these links!


Dr. Phil Plait has a page posted discussing the 1983 IRAS 'sighting': http://www.badast...nce.html

"If you are serious..."

Serious enough to discount Akkadian carvings and alien abductee accounts of an unknown massive body in our solar system.

"Unlike astronomers, we use all source data to find this object so you may find our 'out of the box' thinking difficult to take."

Explains the crop circle & mysticism links there.

5 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2010
"It seems, in recent time the frequency of asteroid impacts on Jupiter and Saturn increases."

Again, you are misinterpreting what is being described. The article you reference is discussing a 2009 paper looking at the Jovian 2009 impactor:

Instead of describing a sudden, recent increase in the rate of Jupiter impactors, as you imply, the paper only states: "The collision rate of events of this magnitude may be five to ten times more frequent than previously thought." No sudden increase in the rate of impacts, only an increase in detected impacts compared to previous estimates.

And why is this? Your link points out: "The reason why this discovery is made only now is the fact that digital cameras and image processing technologies have only become available to amateur astronomers in recent times, over the past ten years." Thus recent impacts seen on Jupiter do not imply the existence a massive body near the solar system.
1 / 5 (4) Sep 04, 2010
No sudden increase in the rate of impacts, only an increase in detected impacts compared to previous estimates.
You're uninformed superficial troll like Skeptic_Heretic and many others here, face it. Every normal person would read more about subject before judging it - whereas you're just opposing blindly first article, which I'm willing to provide here. If I wouldn't provide none, I'm pretty sure, you would ignored my post at all, because your thinking is ignorance driven, not with inquisitiveness. You're trying to see the world as schematic, as possible. You're religious person, you're just believing in absence of things, not existence.

You should realize, at the moment, when I'm linking some article here, I usually read more than five another ones on the same subject - so you cannot compete with me in your blind, negativistic approach. I know very well, what I'm saying despite I'm providing some links for it or not.

5 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2010
You're uninformed superficial troll like Skeptic_Heretic and many others here, face it.
Are you mad because you misread the article?
5 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2010

Why attack the messenger? Try and rebut the issues I've raised, in a logical manner. We had that recent go around with your claim of objects older than the universe being detected, remember? Just as in that situation, you seem to be googling for any 'stories' that you think back up your claims, regardless of the fact that they most surely did not. There is no substitute for a proper education, despite your protestations. I figure my four years at Uni (astronomy major) gave me enough knowledge of gravitational theory to have an informed opinion regarding the existence of Planet X-Nibiru. Religious no, rational yes.

Btw, your last link appears off. I think you meant to link this: http://www.techno...v/25191/ (from your Softpedia link above!).
1 / 5 (4) Sep 04, 2010
"If you are serious..."
While what you may call esoteric means were used to find the orbital parameters and mass of this body, standard scientific means were used to verify the findings and defien thesee parameters. But it seems that you, along with many others, just can't believe that these esoteric techniques can lead to testable results. It may be most comforting for you to go no further. However, it appears statistically certain that this body is associated with comet swarm induced Earth impacts way beyond a shadow of a doubt (like 97%). The Yournger Dryas event is the weakest of these associations at 57% and both are over the 40% required. But the choice (and consequense of the choice) of what you wish to consider is yours and yours alone to make. Thank you for your consideration of our work. Sorry but I did not think I could post hyper links on this message board or I would have done so.
1 / 5 (4) Sep 04, 2010
For anyone interested, the main link to our web page is:
A brief summary is at:
For the paleoclimatologists this is a good place to start to look for verification:
For the astronomers, here is another place to start looking for verification:

It is perfectly reasonable to be skeptical, but all the analysis techniques we are using here have been studied for a long long time. The only thing that we are doing different is putting them together to obtain a scientifically testable result.
not rated yet Sep 13, 2010
The planetary scarring of the YD Airburst impact storm is not hard to find. The ground didn't get smashed in to crater. It was flash melted, and blown around like the debris laden froth, and foam, on a storm tossed beach.

In the middle of the impact zone,

At 29.674596, -105.647853 the material in ejecta curtain was moving to the southeast at the moment of emplacement.
At 30.002339, -105.516817 the ejecta was blown to the northwest.
At 30.169779, -105.648639 the ejecta was blown to the west.

About 3.5 miles away to the east, at 30.173885, -105.589431, and on the opposite side of the airburst impact vortex, the ejecta curtain was blown to the east. This is a common type of structure.

See Mark Boslough's airburst simulations. The central peak is a post impact rebound of the surface up into the center of the post impact vortex.