Chronological evidence fails to support claim of an isochronous widespread layer of cosmic impact indicators dated to 12,800 years ago

David J. Meltzer, Vance T. Holliday, Michael D. Cannon, D. Shane Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

According to the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis (YDIH), ∼12,800 calendar years before present, North America experienced an extraterrestrial impact that triggered the Younger Dryas and devastated human populations and biotic communities on this continent and elsewhere. This supposed event is reportedly marked by multiple impact indicators, but critics have challenged this evidence, and considerable controversy now surrounds the YDIH. Proponents of the YDIH state that a key test of the hypothesis is whether those indicators are isochronous and securely dated to the Younger Dryas onset. They are not. We have examined the age basis of the supposed Younger Dryas boundary layer at the 29 sites and regions in North and South America, Europe, and the Middle East in which proponents report its occurrence. Several of the sites lack any age control, others have radiometric ages that are chronologically irrelevant, nearly a dozen have ages inferred by statistically and chronologically flawed age-depth interpolations, and in several the ages directly on the supposed impact layer are older or younger than ∼12,800 calendar years ago. Only 3 of the 29 sites fall within the temporal window of the YD onset as defined by YDIH proponents. The YDIH fails the critical chronological test of an isochronous event at the YD onset, which, coupled with the many published concerns about the extraterrestrial origin of the purported impact markers, renders the YDIH unsupported. There is no reason or compelling evidence to accept the claim that a cosmic impact occurred ∼12,800 y ago and caused the Younger Dryas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2162-E2171
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume111
Issue number21
DOIs
StatePublished - May 27 2014

Keywords

  • Black mat
  • Chronology
  • Clovis
  • Pleistocene extinctions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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