Sunday, August 02, 2009

Cosmic Impact at the Younger Dryas Boundary

Shock-synthesized hexagonal diamonds in Younger Dryas boundary sediments
The long-standing controversy regarding the late Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions in North America has been invigorated by a hypothesis implicating a cosmic impact at the Ållerød-Younger Dryas boundary or YDB (≈12,900 ± 100 cal BP or 10,900 ± 100 14C years). Abrupt ecosystem disruption caused by this event may have triggered the megafaunal extinctions, along with reductions in other animal populations, including humans. The hypothesis remains controversial due to absence of shocked minerals, tektites, and impact craters. Here, we report the presence of shock-synthesized hexagonal nanodiamonds (lonsdaleite) in YDB sediments dating to ≈12,950 ± 50 cal BP at Arlington Canyon, Santa Rosa Island, California. Lonsdaleite is known on Earth only in meteorites and impact craters, and its presence strongly supports a cosmic impact event ...

No comments: