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By Alfred de Grazia

Part Two: Geological Issues



There is a certain grim quality to the confrontation of uniformitarians and catastrophists. The antagonists prowl in the jungle of natural history seeking the one definitive test that will finally discomfit and silence the other. If only the evolutionist could show that some major change in the world has come about with exquisite gradualness -- the ice ages, new species, the ocean basins -- then the opposition might be forced into silence. Just as relentlessly the quantavolutionary stalks among the events of history searching for the one indisputable catastrophe that has introduced a major change in the natural world -- a wholesale simultaneous extinction of species, a brush with a large comet, a meteoroidal crash, a deceleration of the Earth, or some similar expression of great effective force. Each must avoid the thrust of the other, even if it is blindly delivered in the course of an "empirical study" whose deadliness to the opposition was not originally intended.

Such would be the study of ice cores of Greenland and Antarctica. Their purpose is multiform; a Danish group of glaciologists writes: "Ice cores have become an important tool in geophysics and atmospheric chemistry. Langway (1967) first perceived the great and many-sided aspects of extending physical and chemical analyses of snow and ice to what Crary (1970) calls: 'the thin dimension' of glaciers, thereby adding time to the parameters considered. In a more recent paper, Dansgaard and others (1973) listed the potentialities of polar ice-core and bore-hole studies relevant to glaciology, meteorology, climatology, geology, volcanology, atmospheric chemistry, cosmic and solar physics, and 14C dating" [1] .

No mention is made of the small group of catastrophist scholars shuddering at the brink of the bore-hole, but it happens that if the ice core were to demonstrate the regular passage of a long stretch of uneventful time, quantavolution would simply have to surrender its claims to serious scientific consideration.

The glaciologists begin their investigations with a natural pastiche:

All kinds of fall-out from the atmosphere, including airborne continental dust and biological material, volcanic debris, sea salts, cosmic particles, and isotopes produced by cosmic radiation, are deposited on the ice sheet surface along with the snow.

The passage of time, it appears, has little effect on the frozen material, except by tiny regular increments:

The snowpack is gradually compressed into solid ice with small cavities containing samples of atmospheric air. In the coldest areas of the ice sheets, the impurities remain in the ice as indicators of the chemical composition and physical condition of the atmosphere at the time of deposition. Nothing is added, nothing runs off or is displaced, and no chemical reaction takes place; in fact, the composition of the ice layers changes only by decay of radioactive impurities and by extremely slow diffusion processes in the ice crystal lattice.
The ice layers sink into the ice sheet in an undisturbed sequence with continuous horizontal stretching and consequent thinning; in areas with no melting at the bedrock, the ice layers approach zero thickness close to the bottom.

The results, though complicated to obtain, produce marvelous evidence of historical conditions.

This is why, under favorable conditions, an ice core obtained by drilling through an ice sheet can be used to establish continuous and detailed time series of many geophysical and chemical parameters reaching several hundred thousand years back in time: the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere; climatic changes in terms of accumulation rate and, with certain reservations, surface temperatures; the chemical composition of the atmosphere; volcanic activity and its cooling effect in the troposphere; fallout of cosmic dust; and the cosmic radiation flux [2] .

The implications of this work has not escaped the nervous eye of the quantavolutionist. One student, R. G. A. Dolby, writes:

The Earth's upper atmosphere is convected downwards in the polar regions, and with it some of the finer extraterrestrial dust that falls on our planet. A proportion of this is deposited on the snow falling on the ice caps of Antarctica and Greenland. Thus, samples of the extra-terrestrial material are trapped with other atmospheric dust in successive levels of the ice and snow that have built up the ice caps. In recent years, deep holes have been drilled through this thick ice, and the cores of the holes extracted, to provide a continuous record of what was in the atmosphere over many years. The interesting question arises: could this record be made into an empirical test of Velikovsky's idea?
According to Velikovsky, large quantities of cometary material fell upon the Earth in a number of catastrophes, the most recent being nearly 2700 year ago. Some of this material would have reached the polar ice caps, and should still be present at the appropriate depth in the cores that have already been collected. It is simple matter to study the cores carefully for signs of this material. To the best of my knowledge, the only significant nonaqueous material reported is a certain amount of dirt in six layers up to 0.5 mm thick of the Byrd Station Antarctic core, at depths between 1300 and 1700 meters. This dirt was tentatively identified as volcanic ash, and attributed to eruptions from volcanoes less than 300 kilometers away [3] .

Another perplexed correspondent, C. L. Ellenberger, writes:

I have heard some fantastic intellectual gymnastics from people trying to refute the Greenland core evidence... With them [the ice cores] we have a chance to observe a dust layer( s) and/ or volcanic acid layer( s) that one would expect to be significantly thicker or more concentrated than those which are known to have been produced by large, single, historical eruptions [4] .

Hitherto, analogous technologies have threatened, namely carbondating, soil varves, and dendrochronology, but quantavolutionaries have learned to coexist with them. In at least the first two instances, the catastrophic event may itself adjust the hands of the geological clock, while in the third case, the trees to provide the data are limited in space and time. Setting up Mother Nature to count out past time has inspired other technologies rather less close, and sometimes more helpful than threatening to catastrophists. The rates of growth of coral and of stalagmites and the cutback of waterfalls come to mind. Because they are an example, but also because they may bear upon the ice bore-hole issue, the studies of Richard F. Flint and F. B. Taylor (1963) may be mentioned. Speaking of two late Wisconsin Ice Sheet invasions of the St. Lawrence region, Flint turns to the date of formation of the Niagara Gorge. Retrocalculating the current rate of recession of Horseshoe Falls, Taylor claims that the present flow channel was freed between 3000 and 3500 years ago. The time is surprisingly recent.

It happens that the Greenland ice core exhibits some dust concentration around this time; -1390 ± 50 is given. The connection is made with an explosion of the volcano of Thera-Santorini in the Aegean Sea, in the early Late Bronze Age. Are the breaking of a new Niagara channel and the Thera explosion connected? Conceivably, for, after all, hundreds of extraordinary and catastrophic events seem to cluster around the middle of the second millennium B. C. [5] . If the ice core of this period shows only a modest increment of dust, no more than is revealed by a dozen other known incidents of the past 4000 years as measured in the core, then little in the way of disaster would have struck upon the Earth at a time that practically all quantavolutionaries regard as a moment of worldwide destruction, most probably exoterrestrial in origin.

Several stations have been boring into the ice caps of Greenland and Antarctica; bedrock has been reached in both continents. Annual or close to annual series of ages achieving 100,000 years have been claimed for the cores. One core, already referred to, drilled at Camp Century, Greenland [6] , exhibits the following characteristics on its test of "acid rain" fallout.

1390 ± 50 BC. This is the only signal exceeding 2.6 uequiv H + Kg -1 between 1100 and 2700 BC, and we therefore interpret it as being due to the large eruption of Thera (Santorini) in the Aegean Sea, which is generally agreed to have been of the same magnitude as that of Tambora (1815). The tephra production has recently been estimated at more than 28 km 3 (13 km 3 of dense rock equivalent) [7] . This unusually large eruption has been radio-carbon dated at 1720± 50 BC on the calibrated radiocarbon scale... However, archaeological evidence from the excavation of the Minoan settlement near Akrotiri on Santorini strongly suggests that the island was inhabited least up to 1500 BC judging by Egyptian pottery style chronology; it was apparently abandoned shortly before the eruption, and in good order because no valuables have been found nor people killed by the heavy ash fall (10-40m). The discrepancy between the datings may be partly explained if the organic material used for the radiocarbon dating were partly built up by radioactively dead carbon-dioxide exhausted from the volcano before the eruption (an effect which has been observed recently). Our dating around 1400 BC supports Marinatos' theory of a causal connection between the Thera eruption and the decline of the Minoan civilization centered on the island of Crete. The dating can be further improved to ±10 yr, if and when a deep Central Greenland ice core becomes available.

Since the date assigned, -1390, confronts a radiocarbon date of -1720, a 340-year difference, the authors say that the destroyed Akrotiri settlement lasted until -1500 "judging by Egyptian pottery style chronology." Apparently they are prepared to throw carbondating to the wolves; even so, granted Velikovsky's reconstructed chronology of Egypt, which is achieving some acceptance among younger scholars, this will not suffice, because the Thera artifacts at the time of destruction now move down to about -1000. Several centuries of discordance would be excessive, given the evidence that the ice-core method is accurate within several percentage points. Either the method is rendered unreliable by the time that history loses its specificity, or carbondating, conventional dating and reconstructed dating are wrong.

We cannot know whether there may have been other large volcanic disturbances that are not recorded in the same ice core. Icelandic volcanism is certainly overrepresented because it occurs not for away. The Antarctic cores reflect only volcanism of some several hundred kilometers distance. The Greenland record will not readily signal disturbances unless worldwide or above 20? south latitude. Krakatoa (1883) and Tambora (1815), two large Indonesian blasts seem to have registered with acid fallouts. Mt. Mazama, Oregon, seems to be responsible for a strong signal assigned to -4400±-110 years.

Perhaps because it lacked an acid effect, the great exoterrestrial intrusion of Tunguska (Siberia) in 1908 is not signaled in the core; it seems to have produced no sharp deviation in the tests of oxygen isotope extremes, or in dust micro-particles, or in acid rain. Since this blast was more powerful than others that did register, and since it raised enough dust to darken the skies for a long period of time, its absence from the lists is strange. Furthermore, Tunguska's blast produced nitrogen oxides in the Earth's stratosphere that lowered the Earth's temperature 0.3? C for a decade (1908-18) [8] . The unusual gases and temperature drops should have affected the O 18 measure for those years as well as provided ample microparticles for an exhibition of deviance.

Nor are climatic crises such as the Maunder Minimum (1645- 1715) noticeable in the published record of the cores. In this case, a "Little Ice Age" around the world has been attributed to a cessation of sun spots. The period should evidence itself in the ice core in some manner. Nor can we locate unusual years around the times conventionally assigned to the end of the Upper Paleolithic cave culture of the Dordogne, although the general view is that the people of that Age were forced to follow their animal quarry to cooler northern regions. The enormous quantities of ice could not disappear while the Greenland ice cap was still picking up its usual ration of new ice each year.

In 1982 we read of the Soviet discovery of well-developed Bronze Age settlements in the Kola Peninsula, about the same latitude as the Greenland drill sites, with materials (slate) imported from far to the South [9] . Velikovsky pointed long ago to the discovery of human artifacts beneath the huge hecatombs of mammals and trees jumbled en masse in the Fairbanks District of Alaska; he reported, too, the hills of smashed bones on the islands of New Siberia, product of very recent events, and the findings of paleolithic, neolithic, and bronze age settlements in northeastern Siberia. The coasts of the Arctic Ocean permitted well-developed cultures in early historical times; metallurgy was practiced at Yakutsk "to make axes, beautiful bronze tips for the spears, knives and even swords" [10] . "Organic vestiges in the drift of the last glaciation have been found to be of a radiocarbon age pointing to a time 3500 years ago" [11] , while the ice appeared to be advancing about 10,000 years ago and therefore the last ice age decline or collapse must have occurred more recently. If this last figure were valid, and compared with the muddled ice of the "last glaciation" assigned 20,000 years in the ice core, most of the ice core would be foreshortened by 50%, throwing of all historical and prehistorical calibrations. Be it as it may, the chief problem is the undeniable occurrence of geophysical activity quite incompatible with the radiometric, varve, and microparticle indicators of the Greenland glaciologists.

Nuclear blasts of recent years do put in an appearance. Why is it then that remote events are apparently prevented by wind patterns of the upper atmosphere from carrying signals to Greenland? A cyclonic explosion large enough to expel material from the Earth into space might not send dust the great distance to the Greenland ice cap, but I doubt this.

The most remarkable feature of the ice core records is their uniform quality. Could this be a "defined" hence spurious uniformity? Precipitation of water and oxygen isotopes, climate, and underlying rock temperatures are surprisingly constant over thousands of years. "Post-glacial" times show "surprisingly stable accumulation conditions" [12] . The 800 top meters of the Camp Century core count off 4000 years with uniform temperatures. No other climatic indicator on this planet shows such a uniformity.

Microparticle concentrations do alter substantially with "the end of the Wisconsin glaciation;" they "suggest high storminess and/ or atmospheric turbidity at that time" [13] . Considering that Greenland was so-named not only because Eric the Red was hustling immigrants but because he found the land more verdant than today, the waxing and waning of pollen signals should have by now prompted another technique of validating the use of ice varves in setting up a time scale. A continuous series of annual (or decennial) pollen density rates have not been published, to my knowledge. The Greenland scientists report concentrations of volcanic activity in this latest millennium and in the millennium from -6000 to -7000. This does not conform to the impressions left with us by ancient history and geology. The first millennium and the second millennium B. C. were both marked by very heavy volcanism so far as legend and archaeology can be depended upon, and heavy disturbances may have been almost continuous before then.

The Danish group speaks of a dry period 18,000 years ago in the ice core period [14] . In other places [15] it marks dusty turbulence, but not in the dry period. Why does not the dryness raise dust in noticeable amounts? And why does not precipitation in dry years contain more microparticles than in wet years?

The Greenland core ends in many meters of debris, which may or may not originate from a grinding of the bedrock; it may be a settling of debris when the undermost ice diffuses and spreads out leaving the debris behind, or turns to water and seeps out. In the Antarctic, the lowest meters constitute a shallow lake, rendered so perhaps by the pressure of the ice sheet alone.

Or is the pressure supplemented by warmth emanating from the rocks below? And is this temperature constant? Does an ice cap melt from the top or from the bottom, or both? Does it glide off and calve from the top or the bottom? Most scientists will agree that ice is disposed of from below. If such is the case, the time measured by different cores will probably be affected by the conditions of the Earth - the depth of the crust, the proximity of mantle magma intrusions, the stresses and strains horizontally suffered by the ice.

Will dust and particles descend in a given column faster over time than the original ice varve to which they pertained? Probably so, because of greater density and hardness. This may be the source of the bottom debris, but the bottom debris may not be so immobile as we conjectured above and may be moving out laterally at a faster rate than its bulk presence would indicate. An accelerated rate of bottom removal would only make the core younger and the present ice age longer than the scientists believe. Instead of registering the 100,000th year at the bottom, hundreds of thousands of years may have slipped away, and only the latest 100,000 years is present in the core. That is, provided the years are registered accurately.

But the core is measured annually for hundreds of years at the top, and then in averages for the balance of the core. The statistical projection may depart far from the reality. The curve adopted to portray the rate of thinning of varves in the first hundreds of years will take very different shapes with only slightly different initial assumptions and observations. Also, the warmer the base of the core, the younger the core averages above.

The Greenland cores have been synchronized to some extent by the investigators, and they are well aware of the serious discrepancies that begin to appear, and of how at one slice a core will signal an event that is not signaled at what should be the corresponding slice of a second core. That is, local conditions on the Greenland ice cap itself, operating in what is logically the most uniform of environments, will occasion salient differences between presumptively equivalent crosssections. If this is happening within Greenland, how well can Greenland register events around the world? Not even the Laki (Iceland) eruption of 1783 correlates. This immense disaster registered high at the Crete drill site in acid fall-out but at best feebly at the Dye 3 and Milcent drill sites. The incongruity demands a satisfactory explanation.

Some small and large parts of each core are defective for analysis, for various reasons. The defects do not, in the investigators' opinion, occur because of external events destroying the validity of the rest of the cores, and we must accept their judgment in this regard. But suppose that there occurred a severe temperature rise over the whole of the cap and much of the ice melted and flooded away, and upon their remnant was founded a new progression which endured for a thousand or even three thousand years; would not this catastrophe go unnoticed in the ice core, and the remnant be dated as a regular recession from rates calculated from the layering of the new ice? Is this not very similar to a typical problem of unconformity in stratigraphy?

Again we turn to the unreal niceness of the rates of accumulation and the neatly descending diminishing varves. The oxygen 18 isotope, annually giving us a high and low of its deposition as the year cycles from warm to cold, seems like a measures too good to be true. Is it possible that the measure works only in those years that have a high and low between certain limits, and that when the limits are exceeded, one way or the other, the ratio

no longer registers? Is it possible indeed that the O 18 ratio is defining, rather than measuring, temperatures?

And what is true of the ice may be true of the measuring instrument. Why should the oxygen 18 isotope be constant in vapor of the atmosphere (apart from normal temperatures that affect whether it falls or does not fall)? Would not cosmic and solar storms, and everything else affecting the atmospheric gases

tend to disturb the measuring gas, too? The O 18 uniformity may be both judge and executioner of time and occurrences. The investigators have endeavored heroically to stabilize irregularities of the isotope signal by checking microparticle density, varve thickness, and acid content against the gas test, and one can observe in their efforts the progression of the common sense idea of varves into a nightmare of adjustments, extrapolations, complex indices, and averages. No articles can contain and describe for the outsider all the reassurances that he may need and should have; good faith and the objectivity emerging from teamwork will have to be involved.

The anxiety of the external critic is augmented by the inattention of the literature to seeming contradictions of the type previously alluded to, the studies of glacial conditions elsewhere which indicate decisive events that somehow should be called forth from the ice cores-cases like Niagara Falls, for instance. Another example would be a study of the late ice-free period off of Labrador, when a considerable flora grew on the land nearby at 21,000 carbon-14 years B. P., and where postglacial vegetation had hitherto been dated at 8,000 to 10,000 years B. P. [16] . Other examples would be the massive recent deposits and arctic human communities referred to earlier. There have been severe recent climatic changes, say most glaciologists, natural historians, and historians of ancient cultures. It is inconceivable that these are not, in one way or another, sometimes if not always, registered in ice cores of 100,000 years of age. Climatic and disastrous events would clump together at times, guaranteeing a more effective signal to be registered in the ice; Tunguska would be only a single instance of this. That the proven inconstancy of solar storms, hence of particle bombardment of the atmosphere, would not

affect O 18 concentration in atmospheric vapor from one year to the next and from one century to another, is highly unlikely.

Walter Sullivan of the New York Times, himself author of a formidable treatise on geology, Continents in Motion, reported directly upon the Greenland drilling expeditions (August 9, 1981). He describes the physical set-up at Dye 3, a multi-national effort with scientists of five nations as participants, that has drilled 6600 feet to bedrock. He writes:

Like the North Sea drilling platforms, it is a community on stilts, with extensive living quarters, dining facilities and recreation rooms. Every few years it is jacked higher on its stilts to keep it well above the accumulating snow.

Bemused by their predicament, I inquired of Mr. Sullivan on August 20, 1981:

Perhaps you can solve this puzzle which has occasioned some friendly arguments hereabouts. If the stilts of the living quarters of the scientists have had to be raised considerably since the project began, because of the accumulation of snow, say 10 centimeters of snow [actually the true fall is more], and this 10 centimeters represents at the same time a compression downward of the ice (that is, it is a true rise in the altitude of the ice cap) would not, at a uniform rate of precipitation, the ice cap of, say, 2 kilometers depth, have been built up from bed rock in 20,000 years?

Sullivan replied on Sept. 10, 1981 that "the station's true elevation above sea level does not change substantially," for "The snow accumulates; Dye 3 is jacked up; and the ice beneath it flows away toward the coast." Also, "Central Greenland has probably been covered with ice considerably more than a million years, but the older ice has long since gone out to sea as icebergs."

For the moment, it may be that the altitude of the camp remains the same, although this may be difficult to measure from "8700 feet above sea level." This means that roughly every decade about 100 centimeters moves out toward the sea. But this bottom 100 centimeters represents many hundreds of years. All of this ever-worsening bottom record is finally destroyed each decade.

A warming period with high precipitation might wipe out long stretches of time, younging the entire core, fattening the top layers and pressing out larger sections of the bottom, even while the total column length might remain the same. The action might proceed rapidly, under certain meteorological conditions. Even though the recent period of several centuries might be well-marked, the lower sections of the core would be uninformative. But as we have seen, there do exist problems with the recent sections.

I have implied that the altitude has not been measured, or at least precisely measured, within the limits demanded of the problem, that is, over several decades and in centimeters. All glaciologists are divided into three parts: those who say the ice caps are growing, those who say they are diminishing, and those who say they are constant. If it happens that the cap is here growing, and has grown by an average of a meter per decade, then the drilled core will be only 20,000 years old or less, which would suit short-time quantavolutionists well.

I cannot think that the glaciologists, so apparently scrupulous in their methodology, have calculated coefficients of correlations between the a) ? (O 18 ) and b) particle and c) varve-thickness measures of the cores drilled at the several Greenland sites. Yet I have not come across them, and my cursory ocular inspection leads me to fear that the correlations are low, perhaps even to the point of insignificance. But these measures are themselves complex indices and the several variables that compose them also require correlation. Multiple correlation techniques need to be applied. If the correlations are absent, but can be raised to significance by grouping annual varves into decades, or even centuries, then some claims of ice core glaciology will be damaged but the large claim that interest us, from our radical perspective, will possibly remain strong, namely, that no worldwide catastrophe involving atmospheric contamination can have occurred over the past 20,000 years. If this single claim is or were to be firmly established, it would have to be concluded that glaciology has eliminated the theory of recent quantavolutions in natural history.

Has this claim in fact been established on scientific and empirical foundations? The more regular that glacial history in Greenland is portrayed by the tests, the more a critic is inclined to see some major and fatal flaw in the system. It is too early to take a final position on ice core chronometry, and incomparably more research into the matter would be required than is presented here. As with sedimentary varves and tree rings, a great confidence must be devised upon the investigators, or the outsider must be guided hand in hand through the process to appease his doubts; some of the greatest catastrophists have been persuaded of their views by intimate contact over long periods of time with the morphology of the regions of their work-the Utah deserts, the Sierra Nevadas, and so on, yet they are not believed by most scientists.

Meanwhile, every interested scholar will take up his position in terms of his interests, biases, and hopes. Acting as one of them, the present writer must shepherd his own flock of theories. These contemplate a world history that experiences a half-dozen major quantavolutionary episodes over the past 14,000 years. During this period of catastrophes, Greenland would have been severed on all sides from a Pangean land mass. It would have been deluged by ice, then overrun by tides, then subjected some 6000 years ago to another deluge of ice. Much of the ice (and snow) would have originated exoterrestrially. Cataclysms are pictured that would build a kilometer of ice in a short time. Many successive waves of snow and ice, whirled about, as pure and free from dust as outer space itself, would have plunged upon Greenland. Would some semblance of a calendar of the years finally remain to be manifested when, on top of it, two thousand fairly regular years succeeded, lending a false conception of what lay below? Probably.

Notes (Chapter 11)

1. Hammer et al., "Dating of Greenland Ice Cores by Flow Models, Isotopes, Volcanic Debris, and Continental Dust," 20 Glaciology, 82 (1978), 3.

2. W. Dansgaard et al., 218 Science 4579 (24 Dec. 1982), 1273

3. Unpubl. note of August 1977. Cf. II S. I. S. R. 2 (1977) 31; Soc. Interdisc. Studies R. 4 (1980), 82.

4. Letter of Sept. 20,. 1983.

5. See I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, Part I, A. de Grazia, Chaos and Creation, and V. Clube and W. Napier, Cosmic Serpent, together with other studies of the same writers and numerous other authors, cited in these texts and in the pages of the S. I. S. R., Kronos and Pensée magazines. See also Part I, here above.

6. C. V. Hammer, H. B. Clausen, an W. Dansgaard, in 288 Nature, 20 Nov. 1980, 233.

7. New Scientist. Sept. 2, 1982, 620.

8. Soviet Weekly. June 26, 1982.

9. Earth in Upheaval, "Supplement: Forum Address," (1953).

10. Ibid. 287, citing studies of Suess, Science, Oct. 24, 1952.

11. Glaciology, 20.

12. Ibid. 12.

13. Science, March 15, 1976.

14. Glaciology, 12, e. g.

15. G. Vilks and P. J. Mudie, "Early Deglaciation of the Labrador Shelf," 202 Science (15 Dec. 1978), 1181-3.


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