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The Younger Dryas impact hypothesis: A requiem

The Younger Dryas impact hypothesis: A requiem

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Published by George Howard
The Younger Dryas (YD) impact hypothesis is a recent theory that suggests that a cometary or meteoritic body or bodies hit and/or exploded over North America 12,900 years ago, causing the YD climate episode, extinction of Pleistocene megafauna, demise of the Clovis archaeological culture, and a range of other effects. Since gaining widespread attention in 2007, substantial research has focused on testing the 12 main signatures presented as evidence of a catastrophic extraterrestrial event 12,900 years ago. Here we present a review of the impact hypothesis, including its evolution and current variants, and of efforts to test and corroborate the hypothesis.
The Younger Dryas (YD) impact hypothesis is a recent theory that suggests that a cometary or meteoritic body or bodies hit and/or exploded over North America 12,900 years ago, causing the YD climate episode, extinction of Pleistocene megafauna, demise of the Clovis archaeological culture, and a range of other effects. Since gaining widespread attention in 2007, substantial research has focused on testing the 12 main signatures presented as evidence of a catastrophic extraterrestrial event 12,900 years ago. Here we present a review of the impact hypothesis, including its evolution and current variants, and of efforts to test and corroborate the hypothesis.

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Published by: George Howard on Mar 02, 2011
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09/19/2011

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The Younger Dryas impact hypothesis: A requiemNicholas Pinter, Andrew C. Scott, Tyrone L. Daulton, Andrew Podoll,Christian Koeberl, R. Scott Anderson, Scott E. IshmanPII: S0012-8252(11)00026-2DOI: doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2011.02.005Reference: EARTH 1686To appear in:
Earth Science Reviews
Received date: 3 August 2010Accepted date: 15 February 2011
Please cite this article as: Pinter, Nicholas, Scott, Andrew C., Daulton, TyroneL., Podoll, Andrew, Koeberl, Christian, Anderson, R. Scott, Ishman, Scott E., TheYounger Dryas impact hypothesis: A requiem,
Earth Science Reviews
(2011), doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2011.02.005This is a PDF file of an unedited manuscript that has been accepted for publication.As a service to our customers we are providing this early version of the manuscript.The manuscript will undergo copyediting, typesetting, and review of the resulting proof before it is published in its final form. Please note that during the production processerrors may be discovered which could affect the content, and all legal disclaimers thatapply to the journal pertain.
 
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ACCEPTED MANUSCRIPT
The Younger Dryas impact hypothesis: A requiem
Nicholas Pinter
1,*
, Andrew C. Scott
2
, Tyrone L. Daulton
3
, Andrew Podoll
1
,Christian Koeberl
4
, R. Scott Anderson
5
, and Scott E. Ishman
1
1
Southern Illinois University, Dept. of Geology, Carbondale, IL 62901-4324, USA
2
 Royal Holloway University of London, Dept. of Earth Sciences, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX,UK 
3
Washington University in St. Louis, Dept. of Physics, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
4
University of Vienna, Dept. of Lithospheric Research, Althanstrasse 14, A-1090 Vienna, Austria,
and
Natural History Museum, Burgring 7, A-1010 Vienna, Austria
5
 Northern Arizona University, School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability,Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA
Corresponding author.E-mail addresses: npinter@geo.siu.edu (N. Pinter), a.scott@es.rhul.ac.uk (A.C. Scott),tdaulton@physics.wustl.edu (T. Daulton), apodoll@siu.edu (A. Podoll),christian.koeberl@univie.ac.at (C. Koeberl), scott.anderson@niu.edu (R.S. Anderson),sishman@siu.edu (S.E. Ishman).
Abstract
The Younger Dryas (YD) impact hypothesis is a recent theory that suggests that acometary or meteoritic body or bodies hit and/or exploded over North America 12,900 yearsago, causing the YD climate episode, extinction of Pleistocene megafauna, demise of theClovis archaeological culture, and a range of other effects. Since gaining widespreadattention in 2007, substantial research has focused on testing the 12 main signaturespresented as evidence of a catastrophic extraterrestrial event 12,900 years ago. Here wepresent a review of the impact hypothesis, including its evolution and current variants, and of efforts to test and corroborate the hypothesis.1
 
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ACCEPTED MANUSCRIPT
The physical evidence interpreted as signatures of an impact event can be separated intotwo groups. The first group consists of evidence that has been largely rejected by thescientific community and is no longer in widespread discussion, including: particle tracks inarcheological chert; magnetic nodules in Pleistocene bones; impact origin of the CarolinaBays; and elevated concentrations of radioactivity, iridium, and fullerenes enriched in
3
He.The second group consists of evidence that has been active in recent research anddiscussions: carbon spheres and elongates, magnetic grains and magnetic spherules,byproducts of catastrophic wildfire, and nanodiamonds. Over time, however, thesesignatures have also seen contrary evidence rather than support. Recent studies have shownthat carbon spheres and elongates do not appear to represent extraterrestrial carbon norimpact-induced megafires, but rather fungal sclerotia and arthropod fecal material that are asmall but common component of many terrestrial deposits. Magnetic grains and spherulesare heterogeneously distributed in sediments, but reported measurements of unique peaks inconcentrations at the YD onset have yet to be reproduced. The magnetic grains are certainly just iron-rich detrital grains, whereas reported YD magnetic spherules are consistent with thediffuse, non-catastrophic input of micrometeorite ablation fallout, probably augmented byanthropogenic and other terrestrial spherular grains. Results here also show considerablesubjectivity in the reported sampling methods that may explain the purported YD spheruleconcentration peaks. Fire is a pervasive earth-surface process, and reanalyses of the originalYD sites and of coeval records show episodic fire on the landscape through the latestPleistocene, with no unique fire event at the onset of the YD. Lastly, with YD impactproponents increasingly retreating to nanodiamonds (cubic, hexagonal [lonsdaleite], and theproposed n-diamond) as evidence of impact, those data have been called into question. Thepresence of lonsdaleite was reported as proof of impact-related shock processes, but theevidence presented was inconsistent with lonsdaleite and consistent instead with2

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