Arguments and evidence against a Younger Dryas impact event

M. Boslough, K. Nicoll, V. Holliday, T. L. Daulton, D. Meltzer, N. Pinter, A. C. Scott, T. Surovell, P. Claeys, J. Gill, F. Paquay, J. Marlon, P. Bartlein, C. Whitlock, D. Grayson, A. J.T. Jull

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34 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present arguments and evidence against the hypothesis that a large impact or airburst caused a significant abrupt climate change, extinction event, and termination of the Clovis culture at 12.9 ka. It should be noted that there is not one single Younger Dryas (YD) impact hypothesis but several that conflict with one another regarding many significant details. Fragmentation and explosion mechanisms proposed for some of the versions do not conserve energy or momentum, no physics-based model has been presented to support the various concepts, and existing physical models contradict them. In addition, the a priori odds of the impact of a >4 km comet in the prescribed configuration on the Laurentide Ice Sheet during the specified time period are infinitesimal, about one in 1015. There are three broad classes of counterarguments. First, evidence for an impact is lacking. No impact craters of the appropriate size and age are known, and no unambiguously shocked material or other features diagnostic of impact have been found in YD sediments. Second, the climatological, paleontological, and archeological events that the YD impact proponents are attempting to explain are not unique, are arguably misinterpreted by the proponents, have large chronological uncertainties, are not necessarily coupled, and do not require an impact. Third, we believe that proponents have misinterpreted some of the evidence used to argue for an impact, and several independent researchers have been unable to reproduce reported results. This is compounded by the observation of contamination in a purported YD sample with modern carbon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-26
Number of pages14
JournalGeophysical Monograph Series
Volume198
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics

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    Boslough, M., Nicoll, K., Holliday, V., Daulton, T. L., Meltzer, D., Pinter, N., Scott, A. C., Surovell, T., Claeys, P., Gill, J., Paquay, F., Marlon, J., Bartlein, P., Whitlock, C., Grayson, D., & Jull, A. J. T. (2012). Arguments and evidence against a Younger Dryas impact event. Geophysical Monograph Series, 198, 13-26. https://doi.org/10.1029/2012GM001209