Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What Scientists really mean when they say things.

May 8, 2018

What Scientists really mean when they say things.
Authoritative statements in scientific journals should not always be taken literally. I.J.Good has made a collection of them.

“It has long been known that…”
I haven’t bothered to look up the original reference.

“While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to these questions…”
The experiment didn’t work out, but I figured I could at least get a publication out of it.

“High purity …”, “Very high purity…”, “Extremely high purity…”, “Super high purity…”
Composition unknown except for the exaggerated claim of the suppliers.

“…accidentally strained during mounting”
…dropped on the floor.

“It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding…”
I don’t understand it.

“Unfortunately a quantitative theory to account for these effects has not been formulated…”
Neither does anybody else.

“It is hoped that this work will stimulate further work in the field.”
This isn’t very good, but neither is any of the others on this miserable subject.

“The agreement with the predicted curve is excellent” …good” …satisfactory” …fair.”
Fair. Poor. Doubtful. Imaginary.

“As good as could be expected considering the approximations made in the analysis.”

“Of great theoretical and practical importance.”
Interesting to me.

“Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study.”
The results on the others didn’t make sense and were ignored.

“These results will be reported at a later date.”
I might possibly get around to this some time.

“Typical results are shown.”
The best results are shown.

“Although some detail has been lost in the reproduction, it is clear from the original micrograph that…”
It is impossible to tell from the micrograph.

“It is suggested…”, “It may be believed…”, “It may be that…”
I think.

“The most reliable values are those of Jones.”
He was a student of mine.

“It is generally believed that…”
A couple of other guys think so too.

“It might be argued that…”
I have such a good answer to this question that I’ll raise it.

“Correct within an order of magnitude.”

“Well known.”
(i) I happen to know it, or (ii) well known to some of us.

“The reason is, of course, obvious.”
(i)Not in the least, or if it really is: (ii)I was not the first to think of it, but I think I got it independently.

From “Eureka: A book of scientific anecdotes”, by Adrian Berry.



May 7, 2018

What is most affected by Coriolis Effect is the horizontal component of the bullet trajectory. Because of the Coriolis effect, every moving object not connected to the ground is always deflected to right in the Northern Hemisphere, and always toward left in the Southern Hemisphere. The deflection is not east or west, but specifically to the right or left with reference to the shooting direction. It doesn’t matter in which direction you shoot; it is a function of latitude and average bullet speed. Its effect is maximum at the poles, and decreases as one moves toward the Equator, where it is minimal. The explanation of this phenomenon is more difficult than the explanation of Eötvös Effect, so I won’t go into it into detail.

Here’s an example of error due to Coriolis effect: firing the same .308 175gr bullet at 2700fps muzzle velocity, from a latitude of 45° in the Northern Hemisphere, the deflection at 1000yds will be of 3in to right. At the North Pole, where the effect is maximum, the deflection will be a little more than four inches. The deflection will be the same in the Southern Hemisphere, but it will be to the left, instead.

Loadout Room dot Com

Herndon Bay GPR

May 7, 2018

GPR data are acquired in time, not depth. The data are recorded and processed relative to the ground surface. In order to present the GPR transect as something resembling a geologic cross section, it has to be surface normalized or topographically corrected.

Topographic Correction of GPR Profiles Based on Laser Data

Data obtained by GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) are displayed as a continuous cross-sectional profile. Surface, generally, is not flat. As a result, the image becomes distorted and the depth calculated from the surface no longer represents the true and exact position of electrically distinctive layers and objects in materials. In order to get real geologic cross section, GPR data must be corrected. This is paper discusses a new method using the color point cloud data obtained by a Vehicle-borne laser scanning system to compensate for elevation fluctuate. Elevation profile can be extracted from topographic data of survey site acquired using laser scanner, which can then be used to offset the error of GPR data. Through the discrete points in the survey line, each trace of the profile has its own elevation value showing a vertical difference from the reference profile with maximum elevation, then time shifts value of traces vertical offset versus the reference trace of profile can be obtained. At last, the results of topographic correction for radargrams that look extremely like the real geologic cross section are presented, which allows us to get a better profile interpretation and position of the objects and layers in the subsurface.

Di Zhang et al 2014 IOP Conf. Ser.: Earth Environ. Sci. 17 012251


The GPR transect in Moore et al., was also corrected for terrain (surface normalization) using LiDAR.

The data were acquired with a 300 ns recording window. This is approximately 5-9 m. The depths on the GPR transect are gross approximations due to the variability of the velocity field. While a surface normalized GRP transect looks like a geologic cross section, it is not. It is a geophysical approximation of a geologic cross section.


On depth sections, the top of the Black Creek Group mud facies is essentially flat from the extant basin to second oldest rim. The mud facies under the oldest rim is about 1 m higher than the rest of the rims and basin.

Geoprobe core data reveal wave ravinement into the underlying Cretaceous muds, with muddy sand incorporated throughout the oldest sand rims during the initial period of high-energy lacustrine processes (Figure 4). Coring of sand rims demonstrates the scoured nature of the underlying mud facies, with an elevation drop between the older remnant basin surface to the east and the more recent basin due to scour associated with the initial period of migration and sand rim construction (Figures 3c and 4).

pg 155


The fact that Carolina bays can migrate, yet maintain their characteristic oval shape, orientation, and rim sequences demonstrates that these landforms are oriented lakes shaped by lacustrine and eolian processes. Clear evidence of basin scour into the underlying Cretaceous sandy mud, reveals that Carolina bays are capable of migrating while backfilling remnant basins with a regressive sequence of paleoshoreline deposits as the position of the basin margin changes through time.

pg 167



Uniformitarian Impact Craters, Part Deux: Carolina Bays Edition

April 25, 2018

Alternate title:  Carolina Bays are as antithetical to impact craters as any dents in the ground could possibly be.

Guest essay by David Middleton


In my previous essay, we discussed the differences between uniformitarian geology and drawing cartoons on Google Earth images.  Several commentators brought up the “Carolina Bays” in defense of crater hunter cartoonists.  Carolina Bays have also been cited as evidence for the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis (YDIH). Since I was already in the process of composing a post on Carolina Bays, my second post on uniformitarian impact craters will focus on Carolina Bays and other obviously wind-oriented geomorphological features.

Please note: This post is not about the pros and cons of the YDIH.  Much of the evidence presented supporting the YDIH is interesting and some of it might even be compelling.  This post is about one aspect of the evidence put forward on behalf of the YDIH: the Carolina Bays.  As “evidence” of the YDIH, the Carolina Bays might even be worse than amateur crater hunters drawing cartoons on Google Earth images.  I am happy to entertain questions and even genuine debate about the geomorphology, stratigraphy and other geological/geophysical aspects of the Carolina Bays and related features.  Comments that start out with, “But how can you explain [the black mat, nanodiamonds, microspherules, the Terminal Pleistocene extinctions, Clovis culture or the lack thereof, biomass burning, etc.] will receive the following reply:

989 (1)

Non sequitur = Does not follow from.   The Carolina Bays being impact craters does not follow from other possible evidence for the YDIH.

Please also note: This is a long post and I just made it longer with the preceding paragraph.  If you don’t want to read it… then don’t.  If you don’t read it, but insist on commenting, the reply will unlikely to be courteous… Particularly if the comment is along the lines of “TL DNR.”  These sorts of comments will likely receive this sort of reply:

The Carolina Bays: Not Impact Features

First, the Arm Waving “Science”

Firestone et al. 2007 cited the Carolina Bays as potential evidence for the YDIH.

The other sample sites were in and around 15 Carolina Bays, a group of ≈500,000 elliptical lakes, wetlands, and depressions that are up to ≈10 km long and located on the Atlantic Coastal Plain (SI Fig. 7). We sampled these sites because Melton, Schriever (20), and Prouty (21) proposed linking them to an ET impact in northern North America. However, some Bay dates are reported to be >38 ka (22), older than the proposed date for the YD event.


Glass-Like Carbon.

Pieces up to several cm in diameter (Fig. 4) were found associated with the YDB and Bays, and their glassy texture suggests melting during formation, with some fragments grading into charcoal. Continuous flow isotope ratio MS analysis of the glass-like carbon from Carolina Bay M33 reveals a composition mainly of C (71%) and O (14%). Analysis by 13C NMR of the glass-like carbon from Bay M33 finds it to be 87 at.% (atomic percent) aromatic, 9 at.% aliphatic, 2 at.% carboxyl, and 2 at.% ether, and the same sample contains nanodiamonds, which are inferred to be impact-related material (see SI Fig. 11). Concentrations range from 0.01 to 16 g/kg in 15 of 15 Bays and at nine of nine Clovis-age sites in the YDB, as well as sometimes in the black mat, presumably as reworked material. Somewhat similar pieces were found in four modern forest fires studied (see SI Text, “Research Sites”).


Age of the YDB.

The YDB at the 10 Clovis- and equivalent-age sites has been well dated to ≈12.9 ka, but the reported ages of the Carolina Bays vary. However, the sediment from 15 Carolina Bays studied contain peaks in the same markers (magnetic grains, microspherules, Ir, charcoal, carbon spherules, and glass-like carbon) as in the YDB at the nearby Topper Clovis site, where this assemblage was observed only in the YDB in sediments dating back >55 ka. Therefore, it appears that the Bay markers are identical to those found elsewhere in the YDB layers that date to 12.9 ka. Although the Bays have long been proposed as impact features, they have remained controversial, in part because of a perceived absence of ET-related materials. Although we now report that Bay sediments contain impact-related markers, we cannot yet determine whether any Bays were or were not formed by the YD event.


“Melton, Schriever (20), and Prouty (21)” are from 1933 and 1952 respectively.  Frey (22) is from 1955.  No one noticed the Carolina Bays as a distinct morphological feature prior to the advent of aerial photography.

↵ Melton FA, Schriever W (1933) J Geol 41:52–56.Google Scholar
↵ Prouty WF (1952) Bull GSA 63:167–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
↵ Frey DJ (1955) Ecology 36(4):762–763.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

When Carolina Bays were first observed on aerial photos, the first hypothesis was that they were the result of a series of meteoric impacts, because they kind of look like craters.  Subsequent work has found no evidence whatsoever that the shallow depressions were the result of impacts.  And all of the age estimates make the Carolina Bays far older than the Younger Dryas.  We will revisit the geology and age determinations of the Carolina Bays later in this essay.

This really struck me…

The other sample sites were in and around 15 Carolina Bays…

“In and around”?  How about location maps?  Lat/Lon or some other location data?

Then they cite the two papers from 60-80 years ago as a basis to investigate the Carolina Bays as potential impact sites, ignore everything published since 1955 and conclude with:

Although we now report that Bay sediments contain impact-related markers, we cannot yet determine whether any Bays were or were not formed by the YD event.

Of course you can “determine whether any Bays were or were not formed by the YD event.”  Because there is no evidence to support this idea.  Even if their “impact-related markers” constituted evidence for the YDIH, an air-bursting bolide*, 12,900 years ago would have showered the Carolina Bays with “impact-related” materials.

*Yes, I know that “air-bursting bolide” is redundant.

Impact event

The cometary impact hypothesis of the origin of the bays was popular among earth scientists of the 1940s and 50s. After considerable debate and research, geologists determined the depressions were both too shallow and lacking in any evidence for them to be impact features. Reports of magnetic anomalies turned out not to show consistency across the sites. There were no meteorite fragments, shatter cones or planar deformation features. None of the necessary evidence for hypervelocity impacts was found. The conclusion was to reject the hypothesis that the Carolina Bays were created by impacts of asteroids or comets (Rajmon 2009).

A new type of extraterrestrial impact hypothesis was proposed as the result of interest by both popular writers and professional geologists in the possibility of a terminal Pleistocene extraterrestrial impacts, including the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis. It said that the Carolina Bays were created by a low density comet exploding above or impacting on the Laurentide ice sheet about 12,900 years ago.[29] However, this idea has been discredited by OSL dating of the rims of the Carolina bays, paleoenvironmental records obtained from cores of Carolina bay sediments, and other research that shows that many of them are as old as, or older than, 60,000 to 140,000 BP.[13][14][15][30][31]


The Wikipedia entry is surprisingly quite good… Probably because there’s no Gorebal Warming or any other left-wing environmental aspect to the Carolina Bays and/or the YDIH.

From Firestone et al., 2007 SI Text…

Carolina BaysThe Carolina Bays are a group of »500,000 highly elliptical and often overlapping depressions scattered throughout the Atlantic Coastal Plain from New Jersey to Alabama (see SI Fig. 7). They range from ≈50 m to ≈10 km in length (10) and are up to ≈15 m deep with their parallel long axes oriented predominately to the northwest. The Bays have poorly stratified, sandy, elevated rims (up to 7 m) that often are higher to the southeast. All of the Bay rims examined were found to have, throughout their entire 1.5- to 5-m sandy rims, a typical assemblage of YDB markers (magnetic grains, magnetic microspherules, Ir, charcoal, soot, glass-like carbon, nanodiamonds, carbon spherules, and fullerenes with 3He). In Howard Bay, markers were concentrated throughout the rim, as well as in a discrete layer (15 cm thick) located 4 m deep at the base of the basin fill and containing peaks in magnetic microspherules and magnetic grains that are enriched in Ir (15 ppb), along with peaks in charcoal, carbon spherules, and glass-like carbon. In two Bay-lakes, Mattamuskeet and Phelps, glass-like carbon and peaks in magnetic grains (16-17 g/kg) were found ≈4 m below the water surface and 3 m deep in sediment that is younger than a marine shell hash that dates to the ocean highstand of the previous interglacial.

Modern Fires. Four recent modern sites were surface-sampled. Two were taken from forest underbrush fires in North Carolina that burned near Holly Grove in 2006 and Ft. Bragg in 2007. Trees mainly were yellow pine mixed with oak. There was no evidence of carbon spherules and only limited evidence of glass-like carbon, which usually was fused onto much larger pieces of charcoal. The glass-like carbon did not form on oak charcoal, being visible only on pine charcoal, where it appears to have formed by combustion of highly flammable pine resin.

Two surface samples also were taken from recent modern fires in Arizona; they were the Walker fire, which was a forest underbrush fire in 2007 and the Indian Creek Fire near Prescott in 2002, which was an intense crown fire. Trees mainly were Ponderosa pine and other species of yellow pine. Only the crown fire produced carbon spherules, which were abundant (≈200 per kg of surface sediment) and appeared indistinguishable from those at Clovis sample sites. Both sites produced glass-like carbon fused onto pine charcoal.


All told, Firestone et al., 2007 wasn’t batschist crazy.  There was a fair amount of arm waving; but they didn’t really drift off into Art Bell land.

Next, the Science Fiction

Cue the theme from Twilight Zone.  Firestone 2009 was essentially a variation of Firestone et al., 2007, with a few bits of SyFy tossed in,

West also investigated sediment from 15 Carolina Bays, elliptical depressions found along the Atlantic coast from New England to Florida (Eyton and Parkhurst, 1975), whose parallel major axes point towards either the Great Lakes or Hudson Bay as seen in Fig. 3. Similar bays have tentatively been identified in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, and Nebraska (Kuzilla, 1988) although they are far less common in this region. Their major axes also point towards the Great Lakes. The formation of the Carolina Bays was originally ascribed to meteor impacts (Melton and Schriever, 1933) but when no meteorites were found they were variously ascribed to marine, eolian, or other terrestrial processes.

West found abundant microspherules, carbon spherules, glass-like carbon, charcoal, Fullerenes, and soot throughout the Carolina Bays but not beneath them as shown in Fig. 4. Outside of the Bays these markers were only found only in the YDB layer as in other Clovis-age sites.

Figure 3. The Carolina Bays are »500,000 elliptical, shallow lakes, wetlands, and depressions, up to »10 km long, with parallel major axes (see inset) pointing toward the Great Lakes or Hudson Bay. Similar features found in fewer numbers in the plains states also point towards the Great Lakes. These bays were not apparent topographical features until the advent of aerial photography.

Figure 4. At two sandy Carolina Bays magnetic grains, carbon spherules and glass-like carbon (vitreous charcoal) are found distributed throughout the Bay sediment.


Glass-like Carbon: Pieces of glass-like carbon, up to several cm in diameter, have been found in the YDB layer at most sites with concentrations in sediment ranging from 0.01- 16 g/kg. Glass-like carbon doesn’t exist naturally and the man-made varieties are shown to have a structure similar to Fullerenes (Harris, 2004). Nanodiamonds were found in a Carolina Bay sample. The PGAA analysis of glass-like carbon sample from the Carolina Bays is shown in Table 2. It is 90 wt.% C and analysis by 13C NMR indicated that it is 87 at.% aromatic, 9 at.% aliphatic, 2 at.% carboxyl, and 2 at.% ether. PGAA shows that the sample contains significant amounts of SiO2 (4.8 wt.%) and Al2O3 (1.0 wt.%), probably from contamination by YDB sediment. A significant quantity of nitrogen (0.66 wt.%) and trace amounts of TiO2 (0.067 wt.%) and FeO (0.08 wt.%) were found. The ratio of TiO2/FeO=0.8 is comparable to that found in magnetic grains and microspherules.

A sample from the Carolina Bays shown in Fig.8 was found to grade from glass-like carbon at one end to wood on the other. The wood was identified by Alex Wiedenhoft (private communication) as Yellow Pine, a species native to the Carolinas at the time of the YDB. Glass-like carbon can be produced by the thermal decomposition of cellulose at 3200 °C (Kaburagi et al. 2005) but such high temperatures would normally consume the entire tree. The composition of this sample is consistent with a tree that was impacted by a rapidly moving, high-temperature shockwave that produced glass-like carbon on only one side as it passed. The anoxic conditions following the shock wave would have stopped further burning.

Figure 8. A carbon sample from a Carolina Bay that varies from the shiny, melted appearance of glass-like carbon at the top to Yellow Pine on the bottom. This can occur if the sample were exposed to the 3200 ° shockwave that “melted” one side of a tree but failed to destroy it entirely due to anoxic conditions behind the shockwave.

Radiocarbon dates for six glass-like carbon samples from the Carolina Bays are summarized in Table 2. Dates range from 685-8455 yr BP, much younger than the age inferred from their statigraphic context. The discrepancies are not as large as for the carbon spherules suggesting that these samples are predominantly composed of tree cellulose with additional 14C-rich carbon mixed into the glass-like carbon by the shockwave.

Journal of Cosmology

Radiocarbon dates for six glass-like carbon samples from the Carolina Bays are summarized in Table 2 [Table 3?]. Dates range from 685-8455 yr BP, much younger than the age inferred from their statigraphic context. The discrepancies are not as large as for the carbon spherules suggesting that these samples are predominantly composed of tree cellulose with additional 14C-rich carbon mixed into the glass-like carbon by the shockwave.

The 14C dates for the “six glass-like carbon samples from the Carolina Bays” range from 685-8,455 years before present (1950 AD).  Even after calibrating the 14C dates to calendar years, the bits of burnt would are way too young to be evidence for the YDIH.

14C ky Calendar ky
9.6 11
10.2 12
11 13
12 14
12.7 15
13.3 16
14.2 17
15 18
15.9 19
16.8 20
17.6 21
18.5 22
19.3 23
20 24
0.685 0.307
8.455 9.824

Radiocarbon Year Conversion

In Firestone et al., 2007 they allowed for the possibility that the glassy bits of burnt wood could have been the product of forest fires.  Two years later and flying solo, the glassy bits of wood had been “exposed to the 3200 ° shockwave that “melted” one side of a tree but failed to destroy it entirely due to anoxic conditions behind the shockwave.”  °F or °C?  Not that it matters.

Even if the glassy bits of wood were the result of some sort of air-bursting bolide, it doesn’t constitute evidence for the Carolina Bays being impact features, much less evidence that they were suddenly created at the Younger Dryas Boundary (YDB).  The Bay ridges range from 27 ka to well over 100 ka.  The basin fill can be as young as a few hundred years old.  Stuff falling out of the sky 12,900 years ago could have easily been buried in Carolina Bays, even in the ridges.

This has become one of the most oft-repeated memes among YDIH proponents:

West also investigated sediment from 15 Carolina Bays, elliptical depressions found along the Atlantic coast from New England to Florida (Eyton and Parkhurst, 1975), whose parallel major axes point towards either the Great Lakes or Hudson Bay as seen in Fig. 3.

It’s often accompanied by variations of this image:

The wrongness of the image above is spectacular.

Carolina Bays and Similar Features Do Not Point at the Great Lakes or Hudson Bay

There are several recent detailed USGS surficial geology quadrangles in which Carolina Bays and comparable features have been mapped in detail.   Almost none of the “parallel major axes point towards either the Great Lakes or Hudson Bay.”  If the major axes were parallel (as many are in the Carolinas), they couldn’t all point at any common feature.

These examples are from the Surficial Geologic Map of the Elizabethtown 30′ × 60′ Quadrangle, North Carolina (Weems et al., 2011).


Elizabethtown 7.5 minute quadrangle, surficial geology, Carolina Bay features generally have azimuths of 305-320° azimuths. As does much of the drainage and underlying structural geology.  USGS

Zooming in on one of the more prominent bays:


Warwick Mill Bay. 310° azimuth.


Map unit legend.

Big Juniper Bay and cross section B-B’…



Note that Qwm fills a depression in Qwb and Qhm fills depressions in Qwm and Qwb.

LiDAR images yield a similar picture:


“LIDAR elevation image of 300 square miles (800 km2) of Carolina bays in Robeson County, N.C.” (Wikipedia).


LiDAR image of Herndon Bay. (Modified after Moore et al., 2016).

The Carolina Bays have a western cousin: Nebraska’s Rainwater Basins;  where we have a brand new, detailed map of a series of Rainwater Basins: Surficial Geology of the Fairmont 7.5 Minute Quadrangle, Nebraska (Hanson et al., 2017).


Azimuths of Rainwater Basins in the Fairmont 7.5 minute quadrangle range from 10-87°. The large Rainwater Basin in the south-central portion of the map appears to have migrated to the northwest. (Modified after Hanson et al., 2017)


This Rainwater Basin appears to have migrated from Section 22, to Section 15/21, to Section 16.


Map unit legend for Fairmont quadrangle.

Put it all to together and we have:


Maybe the bolides exploded over Nebraska and North Carolina, bombarding the Great Lakes and Saskatchewan with eolian debris  (/SARC)

I could pull geologic maps all day long, and the results would only get worse for the Carolina Bays being evidence for the YDIH.  Which makes me wonder if Firestone ever looked at any geologic maps.

The older, lower resolution Quaternary geologic map of the Savannah 4 degrees x 6 degrees quadrangle (Colquhoun et al., 1987) covers all of South Carolina and much of Georgia and North Carolina.  While most of the Carolina Bays trend from NW-SE, some trend from N-S, some aren’t even particularly elliptical.


Portion of Savannah 4×6° quadrangle. Red dashed ovals indicate N-S trending Carolina Bays.

Why Would Anyone Expect Impact Craters to be Elliptical?

Why are impact craters always round? Most incoming objects must strike at some angle from vertical, so why don’t the majority of impact sites have elongated, teardrop shapes?

Gregory A. Lyzenga, associate professor of physics at Harvey Mudd College, replies:
“When geologists and astronomers first recognized that lunar and terrestrial craters were produced by impacts, they surmised that much of the impacting body might be found still buried beneath the surface of the crater floor. (Much wasted effort was expended to locate a huge, buried nickel-iron meteorite believed to rest under the famous Barringer meteor crater near Winslow, Ariz.) Much later, however, scientists realized that at typical solar system velocities–several to tens of kilometers per second–any impacting body must be completely vaporized when it hits.

“At the moment an asteroid collides with a planet, there is an explosive release of the asteroid’s huge kinetic energy. The energy is very abruptly deposited at what amounts to a single point in the planet’s crust. This sudden, focused release resembles more than anything else the detonation of an extremely powerful bomb. As in the case of a bomb explosion, the shape of the resulting crater is round: ejecta is thrown equally in all directions regardless of the direction from which the bomb may have arrived.

“This behavior may seem at odds with our daily experience of throwing rocks into a sandbox or mud, because in those cases the shape and size of the ‘crater’ is dominated by the physical dimensions of the rigid impactor. In the case of astronomical impacts, though, the physical shape and direction of approach of the meteorite is insignificant compared with the tremendous kinetic energy that it carries.


Scientific American

“Only roughly 5% of all craters (greater than 1 km in diameter) observed on Mars, Venus, and the Moon have elliptical shapes with an ellipticity of 1.1 or greater”

Planetary and Space Science
Volume 135, January 2017, Pages 27-36

Oblique impact cratering experiments in brittle targets: Implications for elliptical craters on the Moon

Tatsuhiro Michikami, Axel Hagermann, Tomokatsu Morota, Junichi Haruyama, Sunao Hasegawa


Only roughly 5% of all craters (greater than 1 km in diameter) observed on Mars, Venus, and the Moon have elliptical shapes with an ellipticity of 1.1 or greater, where the crater’s ellipticity is defined as the ratio of its maximum and minimum rim-to-rim diameters (Bottke et al., 2000). Although elliptical impact craters may be rare on solid-surface planetary bodies, a better understanding of the formation of elliptical craters would contribute to our overall understanding of impact cratering. For instance, it is well-known that crater size depends on impact angle (e.g., Elbeshausen et al., 2009).


Fig. 2. Photographs of elliptical craters created by impacts into targets without a cavity at various impact angles. Projectiles came from the left of the photograph.

Planetary and Space Science

Do any of the simulated craters above look even remotely like Carolina Bay features?  Many Carolina Bay features are very smooth ellipses, often with ellipticities >1.5.

“Elliptical impact craters are rare among the generally symmetric shape of impact structures on planetary surfaces.”

The transition from circular to elliptical impact craters

Dirk Elbeshausen, Kai Wünnemann, Gareth S. Collins
First published: 15 October 2013


[1] Elliptical impact craters are rare among the generally symmetric shape of impact structures on planetary surfaces. Nevertheless, a better understanding of the formation of these craters may significantly contribute to our overall understanding of hypervelocity impact cratering. The existence of elliptical craters raises a number of questions: Why do some impacts result in a circular crater whereas others form elliptical shapes? What conditions promote the formation of elliptical craters? How does the formation of elliptical craters differ from those of circular craters? Is the formation process comparable to those of elliptical craters formed at subsonic speeds? How does crater formation work at the transition from circular to elliptical craters? By conducting more than 800 three‐dimensional (3‐D) hydrocode simulations, we have investigated these questions in a quantitative manner. We show that the threshold angle for elliptical crater generation depends on cratering efficiency. We have analyzed and quantified the influence of projectile size and material strength (cohesion and coefficient of internal friction) independently from each other. We show that elliptical craters are formed by shock‐induced excavation, the same process that forms circular craters and reveal that the transition from circular to elliptical craters is characterized by the dominance of two processes: A directed and momentum‐controlled energy transfer in the beginning and a subsequent symmetric, nearly instantaneous energy release.

1 Introduction

[2] The vast majority of impact craters on planetary surfaces, moons, and asteroids are circular in plan. Only 5% of the crater record—at least on Mars, Moon, and Venus—shows an elliptical morphology [see e.g., Schultz and Lutz‐Garihan1982Bottke et al., 2000]. Elliptical craters result from impacts that occur at a very shallow angle of incidence. If a cosmic object (projectile) strikes the planetary surface (target) at an angle smaller than a certain threshold angle, the resulting crater shape deviates from a circular symmetry and becomes elongated in the direction of impact. The ellipticity of the crater increases with decreasing impact angle [Gault and Wedekind1978]. From the point of view of celestial mechanics, moderately oblique impacts are the norm and the most likely angle of incidence is 45°. Half of all impacts occur at even shallower angles and only ~5% of all impacts strike the target at an angle of 12° or less [see Gilbert1893Shoemaker1962]. Accordingly, Bottke et al. [2000] concluded that the threshold angle to form elliptical craters must be 12° in order to match the observational record that 5% of all craters have an elliptical morphology.

[3] More detailed studies both by laboratory experiments [Gault and Wedekind1978Christiansen et al., 1993Burchell and Mackay1998] and numerical simulations [Collins et al., 2011] revealed that the angle below which elliptical craters form, the so‐called critical angle, depends on the properties of the target material. Based on numerical models of oblique crater formation and results from laboratory experiments, Collins et al. [2011] proposed that the critical angle for the formation of elliptical craters is a function of cratering efficiency, here defined as the ratio of crater and projectile diameter.


[11] Ellipticity ε is defined as the length of a crater divided by its width. To distinguish a circular from an elliptical shape, some sort of threshold value has to be defined for ε. This is a relatively arbitrary choice; however, to stay in line with previous studies on this subject, we follow the definition by Bottke et al. [2000], who consider craters as elliptical if the ellipticity ε is larger or equal to 1.1.



Elbeshausen et al., 2013, Figure 5
Ellipticity as a function of the impact angle and cohesion (projectile diameter L = 500 m, friction coefficient f = 0.7, impact velocity is U = 8 km/s).

The Pleistocene substratum of Carolina Bays and Rainwater Basins is largely unconsolidated sand.  Even Pleistocene “sandstone” buried at depths of 20,000′ in the Gulf of Mexico tends to be poorly consolidated (friable in geologeese).  Sand control is a major well completion issue in the Gulf of Mexico: Producing the oil & gas without filling up the wellbore with sand is often a challenge.

Herndon Bay is particularly elliptical.  If we assume that the substratum is poorly consolidated sand, we find:

  • Cohesion of sand = 0.0 MPa
  • Herndon Bay ellipticity = 1.8

The impact angle would have had to have been about 1-2° and the meteoric object would have had to have impacted intact to generate such an elliptical crater.  I don’t think there is an adequate adjective to tack onto “unlikely” to cover this bit.  The next bit gets better.

There are 190 documented, confirmed impact craters on Earth (well, 189 if you don’t count Upheaval Dome).  There are possibly 500,000 Carolina Bay type features on Earth, probably many more.

If only 5% of craters on Mars, the Moon, and Venus exhibit an elliptical morphology, generally defined as an ellipticity >1.1… What are the odds that 99.96% of the craters on Earth would be elliptical, with ellipticities often exceeding 1.5?

Now that we’ve demonstrated that Carolina Bays and similar features aren’t mysteriously pointing at the Great Lakes or Hudson Bay, were formed thousands of years prior to the YDB, that elliptical craters are rare and that it would be almost impossible for Carolina Bays to be elliptical impact craters, let’s look at one of the most well-documented Carolina Bays.

Herndon Bay

Read THE_QUATERNARY_EVOLUTION_OF_HERNDON_BAY.  The full text is available.  It’s the most thorough geological and geophysical investigation of a Carolina Bay feature I have been able to locate.


Geological investigations of Herndon Bay, a Carolina bay in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina (USA), provide evidence for rapid basin scour and migration during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3 of the late Pleistocene. LiDAR data show a regressive sequence of sand rims that partially backfill the remnant older portions of the bay, with evidence for basin migration more than 600 meters to the northwest. Basin migration was punctuated by periods of stability and construction of a regressive sequence of sand rims with basal muddy sands incorporated into the oldest rims. Single grain OSL ages place the initial formation of each sand rim from oldest to most recent as ca. 36.7 +/- 4.1, 29.6 +/- 3.1, and 27.2 +/- 2.8 ka. These ages indicate that migration and rim construction was coincident with MIS 3 through early MIS 2, a time of rapid oscillations in climate. The fact that Carolina bay basins can migrate, yet maintain their characteristic shape and orientation, demonstrates that Carolina bays are oriented lakes that evolved over time through lacustrine and eolian processes. This research also indicates that Carolina bays can respond rapidly during periods of climatic transition such as Dansgaard-Oeschger or Heinrich events.

Figure 3 from Moore et al., 2016:


Figure 3. LiDAR imagery and elevation profiles for Herndon Bay: a) 3D LiDAR view [20 percent exaggeration], b) LiDAR planview showing elevation, GPR transect [white line], and Geoprobe core locations, c) and d) elevation profiles showing Geoprobe® core and OSL sample locations/ depth. The LiDAR data are provided by the North Carolina Floodplain Mapping Program (http:// and were collected using 3-5 meter point spacing and a vertical accuracy of less than or equal to 20 cm Root Mean Squares Error (RMSE).

Cores were taken from the the four ridges (HB1, HB2, HB3 and HB4).  The latitude and longitude of each core is clearly identified and the depth from which the three Optically-Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) samples were extracted are clearly documented.  The sandy rims become progressively younger as the bay migrated from SE to NW.  It’s kind of difficult for impact craters to migrate.

The youngest sandy rim, HB1, was deposited about 15,000 years before the Younger Dryas.


Figure 9. Single grain OSL age estimates (computed at one-sigma) for sand rims plotted over the GISP2 Oxygen Isotope curve (Ice core data provided by the National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, Boulder [] and the WDC-A for Paleoclimatology, National Geophysical Data Center [], Boulder, Colorado), Grootes and others, 1993. Dansgaard-Oeschger events (2-8) are indicated by number (Dansgaard and others, 1993).

It’s funny… Since the mid-1990’s, Optically-Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) has literally revolutionized Quaternary geology and geoarchaeology.

What is OSL?

OSL is an acronym for Optically-Stimulated Luminescence.

Optically-Stimulated Luminescence is a late Quaternary dating technique used to date the last time quartz sediment was exposed to light. As sediment is transported by wind, water, or ice, it is exposed to sunlight and zeroed of any previous luminescence signal. Once this sediment is deposited and subsequently buried, it is removed from light and is exposed to low levels of natural radiation in the surrounding sediment. Through geologic time, quartz minerals accumulate a luminescence signal as ionizing radiation excites electrons within parent nuclei in the crystal lattice. A certain percent of the freed electrons become trapped in defects or holes in the crystal lattice of the quartz sand grain (referred to as luminescent centers) and accumulate over time (Aitken, 1998).


Utah State University

I wonder how many detractors of uniformitarianism also reject OSL… hmmm?

Oriented Lakes and Other Wind-Oriented Features

Maybe these impact craters are pointing at Tunguska? (/Sarc)

The oriented lakes of Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula, Western Arctic Coast, Canada: a GIS‐based analysis

M. M. Côté C. R. Burn
First published: 25 March 2002


The orientation, size and shape of 578 lakes on Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula were obtained from 1 : 250 000 Canadian National Topographic Survey map sheets, using ArcView geographic information system. These lakes are outside the glacial limits in a tundra plain with <15m relief. The lakes range from 20 to 1900 ha, and have mean orientation N07 °E, with standard error 1.6°. The maps show 145 former lake basins, with lakes inset in 130 of these. The mean orientations of the basins and inset lakes are not statistically different from each other or the general population. Several theories have been proposed for the origin of the oriented lakes, and one theory attributes the orientation to cross winds establishing currents that preferentially erode the ends of the lakes.


Permafrost and Periglacial Processes

Or, maybe, oriented lacustrine features are fairly common occurrences…

Growth Secrets of Alaska’s Mysterious Field of Lakes

Mari N. Jensen
June 27, 2005

The thousands of oval lakes that dot Alaska’s North Slope are some of the fastest-growing lakes on the planet. Ranging in size from puddles to more than 15 miles in length, the lakes have expanded at rates up to 15 feet per year, year in and year out for thousands of years. The lakes are shaped like elongated eggs with the skinny ends pointing northwest.

How the lakes grow so fast, why they’re oriented in the same direction and what gives them their odd shape has puzzled geologists for decades. The field of lakes covers an area twice the size of Massachusetts, and the lakes are unusual enough to have their own name: oriented thaw lakes.

“Lakes come in all sizes and shapes, but they’re rarely oriented in the same direction,” said Jon Pelletier, an assistant professor of geosciences at The University of Arizona in Tucson.

Now Pelletier has proposed a new explanation for the orientation, shape and speed of growth of oriented thaw lakes. The lakes’ unusual characteristics result from seasonal slumping of the banks when the permafrost thaws abruptly, he said. The lakes grow when rapid warming melts a lake’s frozen bank, and the soggy soil loses its strength and slides into the water. Such lakes are found in the permafrost zone in Alaska, northern Canada and northern Russia.

Previous explanations for the water bodies’ shape and orientation invoked wind-driven lake circulation and erosion by waves.


University of Arizona

Even though the “thousands of oval lakes that dot Alaska’s North Slope” are oriented perpendicular to the prevailing wind direction, Pelletier’s model indicates that the cause is seasonal permafrost melting.  Whether wind-driven or permafrost driven, they aren’t impact driven.

The fact is that the cause of oriented lake features is not known with any degree of certainty.  However, meteoric impacts don’t fit any of the observations.  It does appear that wind patterns play a significant role; but other local factors are also very important.

Just for grins, here’s another wind-oriented feature:


Isochore Map of Porous Norphlet Sandstone. (Frost 2010). Pointing at the Great Lakes?

Unfortunately, no.  The Norphlet points at Minneapolis…


“Just a bit outside”… And 160 million years too early… And 20,000′ too deep.

The Norphlet is an Upper Jurassic formation deposited under very arid conditions.  The Upper Norphlet is eolian and characterized by “Seif” dunes.  Under Mobile Bay, the Norphlet is at a depth of about 20,000’… Yet, through the miracle of uniformitarian geology, it was relatively easy to characterize the Norphlet as an eolian sequence, rather than impact craters or Gulf of Mexican Ignimbrites.






Oriented lakes of Alaska

Nebraska Rainwater Basins

Paper No. 180-0


ZANNER, C. William, School of Natural Resource Sciences, Univ of Nebraska, 133 Keim Hall, Lincoln, NE 68583-0915, and KUZILA, Mark S., Conservation and Survey Division, University of Nebraska, 113 Nebraska Hall, Lincoln, NE 68583-0517

The Carolina Bays of the Atlantic Coastal Plain are one of the more enigmatic geomorphological features in North America. These elliptical depressions occur in a variety of sizes, are oriented NW-SE, and have rims most visible on the southeast edge. They have often inspired flights of fancy as scientists and the public have sought ways to explain them. Part of the fascination stems from the perception that they are unique to the Coastal Plain. South of the Platte River in east central Nebraska, USGS DOQs reveal a multitude of oval shaped features that share SW-NE orientation. They occur in a variety of sizes and have rims on the southeast edge. Locally they are called Rainwater Basins. Bays occur in Coastal Plain sandy sediments; however, the Basins of Nebraska occur in a loess-mantled landscape. Orientation of Bays and Basins is opposite, but both are perpendicular to regional prevailing wind directions. Prior work of Kuzila suggested that the Nebraska Basins exist where a loess dated at ~27000 radiocarbon years before present provides a pre-existing topography. Soil survey maps of the area show that some rims of the Basins are sandy. Cores from the area indicate that a sandy landscape was buried by loess. Upper parts of these sandy deposits are well sorted; fluvial sands and gravels occur below these sorted sands. Using coring and OSL dating we are currently documenting the age of this sandy surface. Our hypothesis is that the Basins on the current land surface originally formed as blowouts or low spots in abandoned Platte River fluvial sands and gravels. The ~27000 radiocarbon years and later loess actually draped a pre-existing topography formed in these sands. We also offer that these features would be recognized as an analog of the Carolina Bays if not for their loess cover. This suggests that Carolina Bays are not unique features, and any explanation for their existence should also help explain Nebraska’s Rainwater Basins.
GSA Annual Meeting, November 5-8, 2001
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 180
Quaternary Geology/Geomorphology (Posters) II
Hynes Convention Center: Hall D
1:30 PM-5:30 PM, Thursday, November 8, 2001


Radiocarbon and Luminescence Dating at Flamingo Bay (38AK469): Implications for Site Formation Processes and Artifact Burial at a Carolina Bay


Weems, R.E., Lewis, W.C., and Crider, E.A, 2011, Surficial geologic map of the Elizabethtown 30′ × 60′ quadrangle, North Carolina: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1121, 1 sheet, scale 1:100,000.



Côté, M. M. and Burn, C. R. (2002), The oriented lakes of Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula, Western Arctic Coast, Canada: a GIS‐based analysis. Permafrost Periglac. Process., 13: 61-70. doi:10.1002/ppp.407

Elbeshausen, D., Wünnemann, K., Collins, G.S., 2013. The transition from circular to elliptical impact craters. Journal of Geophysical Research Planets 118, 2295–2309.

Firestone,  R. B., A. West, J. P. Kennett, L. Becker, T. E. Bunch, Z. S. Revay, P. H. Schultz, T. Belgya, D. J. Kennett, J. M. Erlandson, O. J. Dickenson, A. C. Goodyear, R. S. Harris, G. A. Howard, J. B. Kloosterman, P. Lechler, P. A. Mayewski, J. Montgomery, R. Poreda, T. Darrah, S. S. Que Hee, A. R. Smith, A. Stich, W. Topping, J. H. Wittke, W. S. Wolbach.  Evidence for an extraterrestrial impact 12,900 years ago that contributed to the megafaunal extinctions and the Younger Dryas cooling.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Oct 2007, 104 (41) 16016-16021; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0706977104

Firestone, R.B. The Case for the Younger Dryas  Extraterrestrial Impact Event: Mammoth, Megafauna, and Clovis Extinction, 12,900 Years Ago.  Journal of Cosmology, 2009, Vol 2, pages 256-285.  Cosmology, October 27, 2009

Frost, Weldon G.  The Somewhat Accidental Discovery of the Mobile Bay Gas Field: A Story of Perseverance and Good Fortune.   Search and Discovery Article #110133 (2010).  Posted June 16, 2010

Hanson, P. R.,  A. R. Young, A. K. Larsen, L. M. Howard1, and J. S. Dillon.  Surficial Geology of the Fairmont 7.5 Minute Quadrangle, Nebraska. USGS 2017.

Michikami, T.,  A. Hagermann, T. Morota, J. Haruyama, S. Hasegawa.  Oblique impact cratering experiments in brittle targets: implications for elliptical craters on the Moon. Planet Space Sci, 135 (2017), pp. 27-36

Moore, Christopher & Brooks, Mark & Mallinson, David & Parham, Peter & Ivester, Andrew & K. Feathers, James. (2016). The Quaternary evolution of Herndon Bay, a Carolina Bay on the Coastal Plain of North Carolina (USA): implications for paleoclimate and oriented lake genesis. Southeastern Geology. 51. 145-171.

Weems, R.E., Lewis, W.C., and Crider, E.A, 2011, Surficial geologic map of the Elizabethtown 30′ × 60′ quadrangle, North Carolina: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1121, 1 sheet, scale 1:100,000.

Zanner, C. William.  Nebraska’s Carolina Bays.  GSA Annual Meeting, November 5-8, 2001.


Uniformitarian Impact Craters… “Same as it ever was.”

April 21, 2018

Over the past few years (2010-2018), WUWT has featured at least 14 posts on the possibility that the Younger Dryas stadial could have been triggered by an impact event.  It’s an interesting debate… Proponents of a Younger Dryas impact event have been able to put forward some interesting evidence; however their hypothesis is not yet widely accepted.

One of the things I have noticed in the debates of this subject is that anything short of hailing the Younger Dryas boundary (YDB) as the equivalent of the K-T boundary tends to cause the impact aficionados to wield the words “uniformitarian” and “uniformitarianism” as if they were some sort of logical weapons.  Here’s an example from the comments on Don Eastertook’s post on the Younger Dryas:


In a uniformitarian-only world, this conclusion is warranted. But as Stephen J Gould determined in paleontology, evolution isn’t one big slow, creeping gradualism. Instead, a punctuated equilibrium shows up in the record. Punctuated equilibrium MUST also apply to geology, no matter how much geologists resist.


Why geologists insist that Xixcalub was a catastrophe but there hadn’t been one since makes little sense. It is not as if they haven’t seen a comet cause monumental fireballs on a planet before – in the time of man. In the time of video, even. Was there an impact at the YD onset? Evidence keeps accruing that it did.

Since it is controversial, the old guard will – of course – continue to pull up the uniformitarian spiel and argue that nothing could possibly have happened in the time of Man. That mind set was set in stone the minute Lyell latched onto Agassiz’ ice ages: Nothing happens that isn’t happening in their 19th century micro-moment in time. Framed within uniformitarian perception, all evidence will, OF COURSE, be seen by the old guard to support their gradualistic memes. What’s new? Science has ever been thus. New ideas are rebutted as long as possible by old frameworks – until the day comes when the old guard dies off – and new blood sees that the new framework answers more questions than did the old.



And another:

Some of the denials of the YD impact event are getting ludicrous.

There can no longer be any argument that the YDB layer is in fact a global impact layer. There is only one other global stratigraphic horizon with the same assemblage of impact markers; the Cretaceous/Tertiary Boundary layer.


But to pretend that an impact event of such magnitude had no effect on the climate, or biosphere of this world is absurd. And to leave the old Uniformitarian/Gradualist assumptive theories in the box in the light of this new knowledge doesn’t make a lot of sense either.



These comments simply demonstrate that the authors don’t have the slightest clue about the principle of uniformitarianism (more on this subject later).

In one discussion in which I was involved, the blog A Catastrophe of Comets was cited as evidence of the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis.   The owner, “Crater Hunter,” circles up things that he thinks are impact craters on Google Earth images and the rails about “uniformitarian geologists” being unable or unwilling to see these obvious impact features because we blindly adhere our outdated principle of “uniformitarianism.”

Here are a couple of prime examples:

  1. The Mexican Impact Zone
  2. The Benavides Impact Feature

The Mexican Impact zone

Three years ago I noticed some catastrophic geology, consisting of thousands of cubic miles of blast melted rock forms in north central Mexico, that, for numerous reasons, could not be confidently explained by volcanism. In what sparse literature you can find about them, they are referred to as the ‘Chihuahuan Ignimbrites’.

The geology maps described the materials that had gotten my attention as volcanic tuff, or ‘ignimbrite’ (the word is from the Latin for ‘Fire Cloud Rock’). But in the same way you can visually recognize which way the materials in a flow of spilled paint, mud, or lava, moved while they were liquid, even after they have come to rest, and solidified. In good satellite imagery, the emplacement motions of those rivers of melted stone in central Mexico can be easily read. And It’s when you begin to study the directionality of the fluid emplacement motions of those pyroclastic materials that you run into a mystery.

At this altitude you can’t easily determine the condition, or the actual patterns of movement, and flow, in the impact melt.


A fundamental characteristic of the formation, and emplacement of a fluid density current, is violent, explosive motion. And when you zoom in close anywhere in that area, and you study the perfectly pristine ejecta, breccias, and rivers of flash melted stone, the easily discernable patterns of emplacement motion are all consistent with very quick motion like ejecta in an impact event.

The landforms rising among the pristine rivers of melted stone weren’t heavily eroded for millions of years. They were heavily ablated a few thousand years ago in a giant, multiple fragment, thermal airburst, event that lasted just a few seconds.

The materials described here, and on the page I’ve labeled A Thermal Airburst Impact Structure are the pristine product of that ablation.


Crater Hunter, 24 April 2010

There is nothing mysterious about the “Chihuahuan Ignimbrites.”  Nor is there any possibility that the And the rhyolitic eruptions from which they were sourced occurred in the Mid-Tertiary…

Petrogenesis of voluminous mid-Tertiary ignimbrites of the Sierra Madre Occidental, Chihuahua, Mexico

Maryellen Cameron, William C. Bagby and Kenneth L. Cameron


The mid-Tertiary ignimbrites of the Sierra Madre Occidental of western Mexico constitute the largest continuous rhyolitic province in the world. The rhyolites appear to represent part of a continental magmatic arc that was emplaced when an eastward-dipping subduction zone was located beneath western Mexico.
In the Batopilas region of the northern Sierra Madre Occidental the mid-Tertiary Upper Volcanic sequence is composed predominantly of rhyolitic ignimbrites, but volumetrically minor lava flows as mafic as basaltic andesite are also present.



Major ignimbrites and volcanic centers of the Copper Canyon area: A view into the core of Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental

Eric R. Swanson, Kirt A. Kempter, Fred W. McDowell and William C. McIntosh


Reconnaissance mapping along Copper Canyon highway has established ignimbrite stratigraphic relationships over a relatively large area in the central part of the Sierra Madre Occidental volcanic field in western Chihuahua, Mexico. The oldest ignimbrites are found in the central part of the area, and they include units previously mapped from north of the study area, in and around the Tomóchic volcanic complex. Copper Canyon, at the southern end of the study area, exposes younger units, including the intracaldera tuff of the Copper Canyon caldera and five overlying ignimbrites. Well-exposed calderas are found near San Juanito, in the central part of the map area, and at Sierra Manzanita, to the far north. Stratigraphic evidence for yet another caldera in the northern part of the area is found in the Sierra El Comanche. The stratigraphic and limited available isotopic age data suggest that volcanism was particularly active ∼30 m.y. ago. This reconnaissance survey also documented lava-flow lithologies consistent with previous observations from Tomóchic that intermediate lavas have erupted throughout that area’s volcanic history and that basaltic andesite became particularly abundant as felsic volcanism waned.



Even if the mid-Tertiary ignimbrites of the Sierra Madre Occidental of western Mexico were caused by an extraterrestrial impact event, they would have occurred ~30 million years prior to the extinction of the North American megafauna.  The Chihuahuan Ignimbrites aren’t even remotely related to a possible impact event within the past few thousand years and the features identified as “the pristine radial outwards flowing pyroclastic density current surrounding the mountain a couple of hundred miles away,” were a series of ridges composed of Cretaceous limestone and shale.

This region of Mexico was over a subduction zone during the Tertiary. The region is rife with intrusive and extrusive Tertiary-aged igneous rocks and Cretaceous sedimentary rocks.

Crater Hunter seemed to be focused on a lineation that he claimed was part of “the pristine radial outwards flowing pyroclastic density current surrounding the mountain a couple of hundred miles away.” As nearly as I could tell, he thought the NE-striking lineation in the image below was part of a recent radial pyroclastic flow…

A quick look at a geologic map of the region shows that the lineation is a ridge composed of NW-dipping Cretaceous-aged limestone & shale.


Schematic representation of geologic map of the area.  The strike and dip symbols indicate the azimuth (strike) of the structure and the angle at which the formation is tilted (dip). The symbol in the legend indicates a strike of N 45° E and a dip of 48° to the NW. This is a very steep dip.

There are lots of volcanic and igneous outcrops in the area… All of them of Tertiary age and most rhyolitic or granitic… None of them are even remotely associated with impact-related geology and “the pristine radial outwards flowing pyroclastic density current” isn’t even part of the Chihuahuan Ignimbrites.  They are ridges composed of Cretaceous limestone and shale.

On to the Benavides Impact Structure…

The Benavides Impact Structure

A large, multiple airburst, geo-ablative impact structure.

The semi circular ring of The Benavides Impact Structure is 17 miles wide. Just across the border from Terlingua, Texas, and Big Bend National Park, USA.


The melted material did not come out of the ground. There is no vent, magma chamber, or any volcanic system whatsoever. The blankets of melt, and ejecta, consist of the original surface terrain, flash melted from above, and quickly blown away, from its points of origin.


As for the age? That remains to be determined. But, as you can see for yourself, since the moment of their emplacement, these splashes of ejecta, and impact melt, have not undergone any significant weathering at all. What ever else they are, those pristine ejecta curtains are not old at all.The maps show this area to be volcanic due to the melt formations. But don’t you believe it. There is no volcanic vent here.


Most uniformitarian geologists agree that terrestrial volcanism is the only possible source of enough heat, and pressure to melt rocks on the Earth. And most of them don’t believe in impact events. I disagree with both of those assumptions.

But you can’t have a ‘vent’ without a magma chamber to vent from. And there is no seismic, ground penetrating radar, aeromagnetic, or any other data that describes a magma chamber under the Benavides structure. There is also no convincing explanation in the literature for the crazy mantle physics required for a 25 kilometer diameter, perfectly circular, “hinged trap door” vent.

And, at 60 bucks for a copy of the map, I’m not buying any.


Crater Hunter, 28 December 2009

The geologic maps of the area are free, if you know where to look and read a little Spanish.  Since the terms of usage prohibit reproducing the maps, I have just sketched schematic representations of the geologic maps over key portions of Crater Hunter’s impact fantasies.

“The semicircular ring of The Benavides Impact Structure” is a granite-cored anticline…

Geologic map of the Benavides area…


Schematic representation of Benavides area geologic map. Original geologic maps available form

Granite is an intrusive igneous rock – It didn’t erupt. It was emplaced ~30 mya during the mid-Tertiary. It intruded into a section of Cretaceous carbonates and marine shales that were deposited ~90-120 mya. The rocks dipping away from the Tertiary-aged granite intrusion are composed of Lower Cretaceous limestone and marine shale. There are also some extensive Tertiary-aged andestite lava flows to the east of the anticline.

These rock outcrops are not pristine… 10’s of millions of years’ worth of section have been eroded from this area. The areas that I think he is describing as ejecta fields are among the youngest rocks in the region. These are mostly Quaternary polymictic conglomerates… Consolidated piles of angular, chunky rock and dirt that have been eroded from the cuestas and other positive features over the last few 10’s to 100’s of thousands of years. This area doesn’t get a lot of rainfall; but when it does get rain, it rains torrentially. The v-shaped notches were cut by running water. These intermittent streams (arroyos) are only active during the brief periods of heavy rain. The rock fragments eroded from the ridge-lines remain angular and large because they are only transported a short distance before the arroyo dries up.

As for there being no “vent, magma chamber, or any volcanic system whatsoever”… The region is riddled with vents and magma chambers. The outcrops of intrusive igneous rocks (granite, syenite, porphoritic andesite, etc.) are the surface expression of eroded batholith-type and other intrusive features… They are ancient magma chambers. During the Tertiary, this area was directly over an active subduction zone.

Geologists actually went out there and looked at the rocks.  They measured strikes and dips.  They collected samples of the rocks for mineralogical analyses and then, they actually mapped the geology.

They didn’t sit at home and draw pictures on Google Earth images.

This Crater Hunter comment is truly uniformed, “Most uniformitarian geologists agree that terrestrial volcanism is the only possible source of enough heat, and pressure to melt rocks on the Earth. And most of them don’t believe in impact events. I disagree with both of those assumptions.”

This brings us to the actual point of this post: Uniformitarianism.

Every geologist I’ve ever met, went to school with or have worked with knows what an astrobleme is.

Upheaval Dome is fascinating.  Geologists with extensive experience studying impact features conclude that it is an astrobleme (eroded remnant of a meteoroid or asteroid impact crater). Geologists with extensive experience in salt tectonics tend to conclude that it is the eroded remnant of a “pinched-off salt diapir”.   The late Eugene Shoemaker was probably the foremost expert on impact features and he was certain that Upheaval Dome is an impact feature.  Martin Jackson, with the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, is probably the foremost expert in salt tectonics and he was certain that Upheaval Dome was a salt tectonics feature.  Both hypotheses are the result of geologists employing the principle of uniformitarianism.

How could uniformitarianism “blinded” geologists confirm the impact origins of Barringer Meteorite Crater or allow for a debate about the origins of Upheaval Dome?  In the case of Upheaval Dome, either method of formation would be an oddity… An oddity that may just merit a future detailed post.


The layman’s misunderstanding of uniformitarianism is at the core of this issue.


Initial thinking on earth history was inspired by the bible. The recognition that major rock series are characterized by a distinct set of fossils lead to the belief that the fossils of each rock series were result of a creation and then were subsequently destroyed by some catastrophic event (e.g. the biblical flood). The main proponent of this theory was the French naturalist Georges Cuvier. In the 18th century there was even a case when some unfortunate geologist (Johann Jacob Scheuchzer, 1672-1733) found skeletons of giant salamanders and identified them as the victims of the biblical flood.  The problem was that upon close inspection, these flood victims had long tails and sharp claws.  Thus, it earned the proponent quite a bit of ridicule.  Generally speaking, this way of looking at the geologic record, namely to assume that a series of immense, brief, and worldwide upheavals changed the earth greatly and produced mountains, valleys, and various other large scale features, came to be known as catastrophism.

The theory of catastrophism was challenged by James Hutton in the late 18th century, who in his theory of uniformitarianism proposed that uniform gradual processes (such as for example the slow erosion of the coast by the impact of waves) shaped the geologic record of the earth over an immensely long period of time. He assumed that the acting processes were the same than those that we see in action at present (rivers, volcanoes, waves, tides etc.). Darwin later on based his theory of the origin a species on Hutton’s theory.

The sedimentary structures that we saw earlier in this lecture serve as a good illustration how uniformitarianism works. Cross-bedding for example can be observed to form in modern river channels and also in experimental setups called flumes.  We learn from these observations what kind of current velocities are needed to produce cross-bedding in a given grain size, and we realize that cross-bedding can be used as an indicator of current flow direction.  We can apply what we learn from modern cross-beds to interpret the rock record in terms of flow velocities and flow direction.  Likewise, finding ancient equivalents of modern mudcracks suggests to us that we look at sediments that dried out beneath the air, and were thus deposited on land.

In more modern times, some amendments have been made to the theory of uniformitarianism. One of these would be that it was recognized that catastrophic events are as much part of geologic history as the uniform action of the everyday processes. For example, sediment supply to the oceans is not a constant flux of matter. There is a considerable episodic component to sedimentation, e.g. storms are major agents of sediment redistribution in shelf seas, floods and exceptionally strong rains are responsible for most of the erosion and sediment redistribution on the continents. Undoubtedly, the physical and chemical principles (e.g. gravity, thermodynamics) that govern geologic processes of the present have also applied in the past.  Yet as is visible in the present, frequent small deviations from equilibrium and unstable behavior (minor catastrophes, such as earthquakes, floods, storms) must have been an integral part of these processes. Similarly, the evolution of life was not a single succession of tiny evolutionary steps as originally envisioned by Darwin. We are now able to see that there were episodes of accelerated (punctuated) evolution, usually as a response to a change in environmental conditions, such as climate (ice ages, warming of the earth), the advent or immigration of new predators and the utilization of new food sources. Extremely rare (and catastrophic) events, such as the impact of large meteors, may have had a profound influence on our planet. Yet meteors fall onto the earth on a daily basis, just as it rains every day.  In that sense, meteorite impacts are quite normal and part of the spectrum of everyday processes.  Only very rarely does a “doomsday” meteorite that is 10 or more km in diameter hit the Earth and cause severe disruptions.   To sum it up: The natural laws do not change with time and they have and will determine interior and external processes of the earth. Even the extremely rare event (e.g. meteor impacts) is part of the many geologic processes governed by these laws. Even though something, like for example the December 2004 tsunami, appears to us as a unique catastrophe, over the long run it is a normal and recurring event. It does not follow, however, that the rate of geologic processes is the same today as it was in the past.  Some processes, such as mantle convection do probably stay stable over long time periods, but others, such as glaciation were at times very intense in the past (ice ages), but are presently less significant for continental erosion.  So, a brief definition of Uniformitarianism would be: the natural laws that govern geologic processes have not changed over geologic time, but the rate at which certain geologic processes operate can vary.  Uniformitarianism also has been paraphrased as “The Present is the Key to the Past“.

Indiana University

Uniformitarianism doesn’t preclude catastrophic events; nor does it stipulate that all processes must occur at a constant gradual rate.  And it certainly doesn’t blind geologists to actual evidence of impact features.  Many of the world’s 190 confirmed impact craters (technically 189 because they count Upheaval Dome as confirmed) would be unknown if not for geologists employing uniformitarian methods to identify them.  34% of the confirmed impact craters are not exposed at the surface.  53% of the confirmed impact craters have been drilled, either intentionally or inadvertently while drilling for something else.  The craters without surface expressions were identified by uniformitarian geologists/geophysicists interpreting geological and geophysical data.

Uniformitarianism says “The Present is the Key to the Past.”  Understanding present day geological processes enables geologists to decipher the geologic past.

High Impact Drilling

While uniformitarian geologists totally missed the Mexican and Benavides impact zones, they have identified many many impact features   I drive right by one of these on a weekly basis (well, within a few miles of it).  The Marquez meteor crater is a few miles west of I-45 in Leon County Texas.

While the Madisonville Meteor doesn’t get all of the technical details exactly right, they do provide a decent summary:

Marquez dome crater shows comet impact

Posted Tuesday, August 26, 2008 6:00 pm
by Patrick Page, Special to The Meteor

Madison County residents are fortunate to live near two sites of interest to the world’s scientific community.

One location is the Bediasite- or tektite-strewn field in Grimes County to the south. The other is the Marquez Dome Impact Crater located in extreme northwestern Leon County near the small rural community of Marquez.

Centered at Latitude 31 degrees 17 minutes North and Longitude 96 degrees 17 minutes West, the Marquez Dome Impact Structure is a crater caused by either a meteorite or part of a comet striking the earth about 60 million years ago.


There is an interesting history associated with the area around the impact site. Early pioneers could not find water when they tried to dig wells. The water sands and water-holding strata had been so disrupted and pulverized by the impact that wells were not to be had. There was also the strange looking soil found on the dome. Normal soil in the area was sandy with reddish iron ore coloration. In the dome area, a black waxy soil was present that should have been found miles to the north in the black land prairie region. In addition, pieces of yellow-to-gray limestone rocks and boulders were strewn about and protruded half buried from the hillsides.

The black waxy soil and pieces of yellow limestone were brought to the surface by what we now call the rebound effect. When a meteorite strikes the earth, soil, rocks and boulders from deep within the earth are heaved up by the force of impact and exposed on the surface where they would not normally be found.

It was not until recently that scientists and geologists recognized the Marquez structure as a meteorite impact site and not a salt dome as was originally thought. Salt domes dot the Texas costal [sic] plain and are believed to be caused by molten [sic]  salt under tremendous pressure working its way up toward the earth’s surface. The resulting upward deformation in geological strata and formations above the salt results in a dome-like shape, hence the name “salt dome” or diaper [sic].

There were several things about the Marquez Dome Structure that puzzled geologists including the discontinuous or jumbled and pulverized strata that showed up on seismograph traces as opposed to the expected bending and folding upward seen in other salt domes. Another mystery was the lack of salt. When oil wells were drilled in the area, they did not encounter the expected plug of salt which should have been directly beneath the surface bulge. In the 1980s, oil company geologists recognized that the Marquez dome structure was the partially uncovered central uplift of a complex crater caused by impact from an extraterrestrial object or meteorite. Since that time many other oil wells have been drilled in the area and some are producing oil and gas.


Madisonville Meteor

The [sic] notation indicates errors in the newspaper article.  Coastal has an “a” in it; the salt is mobile, not molten; and the difference between a salt diaper and a salt diapir is very significant.

While hints of the Marquez impact crater were present in the surficial geology, it was confirmed by uniformitarian geologists and geophysicists. By integrating the surficial & subsurface geology with geophysical surveys (seismic reflection profiles and gravity data) they were able to map out the structure of the crater… without drawing circles on Google Earth images.


Figure 2 and part of Figure 3 from Wong et al., 2001.  The Marquez impact crater is the disturbed area outlined in red above the Buda limestone.


Figure 3 from Wong et al., 2001 with interpretation overlaid on seismic profile.


Figures 3 and 7 from Wong et al., 2001.  Stratigraphic column and idealized cross section.  The central uplift is on the left, most notable in layer D, which includes the Pecan Gap limestone.  This section was uplifted approximately 1120 m.

The funny thing is that when I looked at a Google Maps image of the Marquez impact crater, I noticed a ring of gas well production pads right over the crater!


The red thingy is pointing at center of the Marquez impact crater. The white rectangular thingies are natural gas well production pads. The semi-circle-ish treeline east of the impact might be related to the central uplift, which is partially exposed… Or it might be a coincidence.

Way back in the early to mid 1980’s, Leon County was in my area of responsibility at Enserch Exploration and I did some of the geophysical work for several wells that Enserch participated in.  Enserch had an interest in the TXO A-1 Marshall well, which was the discovery well for the very prolific Upper Jurassic Cotton Valley Lime pinnacle reef play.  Unfortunately, the well experienced an underground blowout and charged up many of the overlying Cretaceous reservoirs, resulting in the drilling of the A-1X relief well.  Enserch didn’t pursue the pinnacle reef trend at that time, largely because the reef facies could not be resolved with the existing 2d seismic data.  Marathon Oil acquired TXO in 1989 and began shooting 3d seismic in the area and did fairly well in this “impact play,” a “3D seismic play,” “an expensive play,” and “a dangerous play.”

When I overlaid a map from Montgomery 1996 on the Google Maps image and it sure looked like the Marquez crater sat right over the heart of the Cotton Valley Lime pinnacle reef play.  The 1 and 2 Poth wells were two of Marathon’s first wells in the play.


Cotton Valley Lime pinnacle reef play map overlaid on Marquez Google Maps image… Yeah, I know, it’s cluttered.

Each paper included a N-S seismic profile… So I spliced them together to demonstrate how unrelated the Marquez impact crater is to the Cotton Valley Lime pinnacle reef play.


Composite seismic profile of Paleocene Marquez impact crater and Jurassic Cotton Valley Lime pinnacle reef discovery.  (Note: the Cotton Valley seismic profile is reversed to put north on the right. (Wong et al., 2001 and Montgomery 1996).  I don’t think the crater actually overlies the graben to the south of the Marshall well.  Even if it did, a Paleocene impact would have no relationship to buried faulting along the Jurassic shelf edge.

While the Marquez impact crater is located directly (more or less) over a large natural gas field, it is totally unrelated to it… But there are impact craters that are directly related to oil & gas production.

While Thomas Gold was busy writing The Deep, Hot Biosphere, uniformitarian geologist Harold Hamm was busy making a sizable oil discovery in the Ames impact crater.

Impact of Harold Hamm

Many geologists had believed impact craters unlikely locations for petroleum. Hamm, who had drilled wells in the Ames area since the early 1960s, thought otherwise. Although wells had been drilled nearby, no one had attempted to reach deep into the crater.

In 1991, a geologist at Continental Resources found something unusual in the site, so the company drilled a deeper than the normal well – about 10,000 feet – and struck oil. Initial production from this first well was about 200 barrels a day. Cumulative production figures through 2006 show production in the Ames crater area approaching 11 million barrels.

According to the American Association of Professional Geologists, the potential for petroleum production from impact craters “seized the attention of the Oklahoma oil industry in the early 1990s. Several new, deep wells in the Sooner Trend produced exceptional amounts of oil and gas.”

Since Hamm’s discovery, many more wells have been completed in the Ames crater, some producing more than a million barrels of oil. About 30 of the original wells are still producing. In 1994, the combined flow from three wells averaged more than 2,000 barrels of oil and 730,000 cubic feet of gas per day.

The Ames crater impact site is one of only six oil-producing craters in the United States. It is among the largest producing craters producing 17.4 million barrels of oil and 79.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

Hamm was the primary developer of the museum (also know as the Ames Astrobleme Museum) and spoke at the 2007 dedication during Ames Day, an annual fundraising event for the volunteer fire department.


Ames Astrobleme Museum

As a uniformitarian geologist, Harold Hamm understood that an impact crater in a sedimentary basin with an active petroleum system might just be a good place to look for oil.  As an astrophysicist with no understanding of geology Thomas Gold, on the other hand, made up a straw man fallacy about hydrocarbon formation and considered the Siljan Ring impact crater to be a good place to look for oil.

Which brings us full circle…

“Most uniformitarian geologists agree that terrestrial volcanism is the only possible source of enough heat, and pressure to melt rocks on the Earth. And most of them don’t believe in impact events. I disagree with both of those assumptions strawmen.”


Note: I first started putting together a post on impact events several years ago.  The project kept expanding and I kept setting it aside.  A recent discussion about uniformitarianism in the comments section of my Martian Muddy Waters post inspired me to finish and post the section on uniformitarianism.  


Barton, Roger, Ken Bird, Jesus Garcia Hernandez, Jose M. Grajales-Nishimura, Gustaveo Murillo-Muneton, Ben Herber, Paul Weimer, Christian Koeberl, Martin Neumaier, Jack Stark.  High-Impact Reservoirs. Oilfield Review. Volume: 21, Issue: 4.  Publication Date: 02/01/2010

Cameron, M., Bagby, W.C. & Cameron, K.L. Petrogenesis of voluminous mid-Tertiary ignimbrites of the Sierra Madre Occidental, Chihuahua, Mexico.  Contr. Mineral. and Petrol. (1980) 74: 271.

Geesaman P. J., Trudgill B. D., Hearon T. E. IV, Rowan M. G. (2015) New Evidence for Long-Term, Salt-Related Deformation at Upheaval Dome, SE Utah (abstract). Adapted from oral presentation given at the AAPG Annual Convention & Exhibition, Denver, CO, 2015. AAPG Search and Discovery Article #10756.

Gold, Thomas.  The deep, hot biosphere.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA Vol. 89, pp. 6045-6049, July 1992 Microbiology

Grace, R. D., Kuckes, A. F., & Branton, J. (1988, January 1). Operations at a Deep Relief Well: The TXO Marshall. Society of Petroleum Engineers. doi:10.2118/18059-MS

Jackson, M., & Hudec, M. (2017). Salt Tectonics. In Salt Tectonics: Principles and Practice (p. I). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Jackson M. P. A., Shultz-Ela D. D., Hudec M. R., Watson I. A., Porter M. L. (1998) Structure and evolution of Upheaval Dome: A pinched-off salt diapir. Geological Society of America Bulletin, Volume 110, No. 12, pp. 1547-1573. doi: 10.1130/0016-7606(1998)110<1547:SAEOUD>2.3.CO;2

Jeffrey, A., & Kaplan, I. (1989, December 1). Asphaltene-Like Material in Siljan Ring Well Suggests Mineralized Altered Drilling Fluid (includes associated papers 20322 and 20395 ). Society of Petroleum Engineers. doi:10.2118/19898-PA

Kriens B. J., Shoemaker E. M., Herkenhoff K. E. (1999), Geology of the Upheaval Dome impact structure, southeast Utah. Journal of Geophysical Research, Volume 104, Issue E8, pp. 18867–18887. doi: 10.1029/1998JE000587.

Kring, David A.  Guidebook to the Geology of Barringer Meteorite Crater, Arizona (a.k.a. Meteor Crater) 2nd editionb ©2017, Lunar and Planetary Institute LPI Contribution No. 2040

Montgomery, Scott. (1996). Cotton Valley Lime Pinnacle Reef Play: Branton Field. AAPG Bulletin. 80. 617-629. 10.1306/64ED8854-1724-11D7-8645000102C1865D.

Swanson, Eric R., Kirt A. Kempter, Fred W. McDowell, William C. McIntosh; Major ignimbrites and volcanic centers of the Copper Canyon area: A view into the core of Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental. Geosphere ; 2006 (3): 125–141. doi:

Wong, A. M., Reid, A. M., Hall, S. A., Sharpton, V. L. (2001) Reconstruction of the Subsurface Structure of the Marquez Impact Crater in Leon County, Texas, Based on Well-Log and Gravty Data, Meteoritics vol 36, No. 11.


Guns vs Freedom

February 20, 2018

Despite a ludicrously low Freedom Score for these United Stats and a fair bit of Trump Derangement Syndrome, Freedom Housr compiles annual ratings of nations ranked by freedom.

Wikipedia has a tabulation of nations ranked the estimated number of firearms per 100 residents.

This is what happens when I cross plot the two data sets:

Freedom and Guns 1

Sorted by firearms quintile.

Freedom and Guns 2

Sorted by freedom quintile.



Freedom and Guns 4

The Americas


Freedom and Guns 5

Enter a caption

From of all publications, Surgical Neurology International

Surg Neurol Int. 2012; 3: 133.
Published online 2012 Oct 29. doi: 10.4103/2152-7806.102951
PMCID: PMC3513846

America, guns, and freedom. Part I: A recapitulation of liberty
Miguel A. Faria, Jr.


The role of gun violence and street crime in the United States and the world is currently a subject of great debate among national and international organizations, including the United Nations. Because the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the individual right of American citizens to own private firearms, availability of firearms is greater in the U.S. than the rest of the world, except perhaps in Israel and Switzerland. Indeed, although the American people continue to purchase and possess more firearms, homicides and violent crimes have continued to diminish for several decades because guns in the hands of the law-abiding citizens does not translate into more crime. As neurosurgeons, we can be compassionate and still be honest and have the moral courage to pursue the truth and find viable solutions through the use of sound, scholarly research in the area of guns and violence. We have an obligation to reach our conclusions based on objective data and scientific information rather than on ideology, emotionalism or partisan politics.

“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States.”

Noah Webster, an examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, 1787.



“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms. disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” — Italian Criminologist Cesare Beccaria, “On Crimes and Punishment,” quoted in Thomas Jefferson’s Literary Commonplace Book.

Scholarship published in the criminologic, sociologic, and legal literature in the last 30 years show that the defensive uses of firearms by citizens amount to 2.5 million uses per year and dwarf the offensive gun uses by criminals. In the United States, between 25 and 75 lives are saved by a gun in self and family protection for every life lost to a gun in crime.[38] Medical costs saved by guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens are 15 times greater than costs incurred by criminal uses of firearms. Guns also prevent injuries to good people and protect billions of dollars of property every year.[13,29,30,38,39,41]


In Part II of “America, Guns and Freedom,” this essay will conclude with the experience of the United States in juxtaposition with the rest of the world in terms of the experience of violence with firearms, multiple and accidental shootings, the relationship of guns and suicide, and perhaps most troubling of all — the relationship of civilian disarmament to the development of tyrannical governments and genocide. In a better light, Part II of this essay will end with a discussion of how armed citizens can preserve their freedom and republican form of self-government, more commonly referred to as representative democracy.

Surg Neurol Int. 2012; 3: 135.
Published online 2012 Nov 16. doi: 10.4103/2152-7806.103542
PMCID: PMC3513850

America, guns and freedom: Part II — An international perspective
Miguel A. Faria, Jr.

The need for reducing gun violence is discussed along with the necessity for citizens to assume some responsibility for protecting themselves, their families, and their property from criminal elements because the police cannot physically be everywhere to protect us all of the time. The problem of sensationalization of gun crimes by the media, multiple shootings by deranged individuals, accidents with firearms, suicide rates, and children with guns are discussed.

The relationship of civilian disarmament in the context of tyrannical governments and genocide are also explored. Incidents in which liberty has been extinguished because firearms have been banned and citizens have been disarmed by increasingly oppressive governments, and the converse, countries where freedom has been preserved by armed citizens are also described. We conclude that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens deter crimes, and nations that trust their citizens with firearms have governments that sustain liberty and affirm individual freedom. Governments that do not trust their citizens with firearms tend to be despotic and tyrannical, and are a potential danger to good citizens — and a peril to humanity.


In fact, there was a modest increase in both homicide and suicide rates in the United States after prohibition in the 1920s and again following the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968 [Figure 1]. Those trends have fortunately subsided.[18,19,27,28]



Depending on the level of culture and social progress, violence can take different forms in different societies.[39] For example, in the mid-twentieth century, the communist government of dictator Joseph Stalin killed more Soviet citizens through privation, forced labor, and famine than soldiers who succumbed while fighting the Germans in World War II on the battlefields of Russia.[36]

More recently, in 1994, the Hutu-led Rwandan government massacred between 800,000 and 1.1 million people, mostly Tutsis, in a genocide carried out largely with machete-wielding government forces. The massacres took place despite the presence nearby of the United Nation “peace-keeping” forces, armed with automatic weapons, who failed to intervene. The Tutsis were not only surprised, but also unarmed and helpless.

Civilian disarmament has always preceded genocide in authoritarian and totalitarian states. In the gruesome, but monumental book, Lethal Laws, we learn that repressive governments that conducted genocide and mass killings of their own populations have first always disarmed their citizens.[37] The political formula for accomplishing this goal, hallmarks of tyrannical governments, is and remains: public propaganda against firearms, followed step-by-step by gun registration, banning, confiscation, and finally total civilian disarmament. Enslavement of the people then follows easily with limited resistance.[12] This is what happened in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Red China, Cuba, and other totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. In Part I, I presented the reader with short introductory vignettes about the ghastly incidents in Poland, Hungary, and Cuba, as they relate to civilian disarmament in both war and peacetime.



In debunking the myth that “guns increase violent crime,” Richard Poe, the former editor of FrontPage Magazine, has rebutted the false assumption that America is more violent than other nations, again emphasizing that more people during the twentieth century were killed in other countries by their own governments than by war, while reaffirming that gun control laws have almost always preceded genocide or mass murder of the people (democide) by their own governments.[32,36,37]

While the United States and Switzerland have more guns per capita than any of the other developed countries, they also have more freedom in general than countries with draconian gun control laws. Even Japan, a country that has embraced democracy and Western mores in many ways, still has the centuries-old tradition of subordination of individualism to the state, and the collective Japanese citizens have less individual freedom than those of Switzerland, where virtually every citizen is armed and individual freedom is paramount…


We have an obligation to reach our conclusions based on objective data, historical experience, and scientific information, rather than ideology, emotionalism, expediency, or partisan politics. Moreover, the lessons of history sagaciously reveal that whenever and wherever science and medicine have been subordinated to the state, and individual freedom has been crushed by tyranny, the results for medicine have been as perverse as they have been disastrous, as the barbarity of Nazi doctors and Soviet and Cuban psychiatrists amply testified. Beyond the abolition of freedom and dignity, the perversion of science and medicine becomes the vehicle for the imposition of slavery and totalitarianism.[1,5,15,16,37,44] Governments that trust their citizens with guns are governments that sustain and affirm individual freedom. Governments that do not trust their citizens with firearms tend to be despotic and tyrannical. Let us conclude Part II, the final chapter of this essay, with the wise words of another American statesman, this time Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826), the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States of America, who warned us, “When the government fears the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny.”

Freedom and Guns 6

Firearms vs freedom in Europe

Comey lying on Twitter

February 3, 2018


December 11, 2017


Evolution of Standard Oil Company

November 27, 2017


Define Irony

November 6, 2017


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