Cosmic impact 12,800 years ago? – University of Copenhagen

GeoGenetics > News > Cosmic impact 12,800 y...

06 September 2014

Cosmic impact 12,800 years ago?

Hall's Cave, Texas

In a recent article published in Geology Tom Stafford from CGG and colleagues discuss the evidence, timing and significance of a possible extraterrestrial impact ca. 12,800 years ago.

The hypothesis originated in 2007 and posits that an impact event occurred in northern North America and significantly affected climates, caused the Younger Dryas cooling event, was a contributing factor to the late Pleistocene megafauna extinction and caused major changes in Clovis human populations.Hall's Cave, Texas.

Coming field season will test hypothesis

Despite numerous studies presenting evidence for and against the hypothesis, definitive evidence remains elusive. Stafford and colleagues from Texas A&M University USA will test the hypothesis by conducting two weeks of field work at Hall’s Cave, Texas during October 2014 and by performing numerous analyses on these samples in Denmark and the United States.

International and interdisciplinary collaboration

Preliminary work in July 2014 laid the foundation for the October work, which will include an exhaustive mineralogical and TEM examination for nanodiamonds throughout the 20,000 year sediment record, pollen and spore analyses to determine paleoecological changes, magnetics and XRF on cores, thin sections for petrographic studies, sedimentary aDNA to assess extinction timing, bar coding aDNA for paleontological  investigations and single-species aDNA to quantify DNA decay kinetics.Hall's Cave, Texas.

These analyses presently include four researchers from GeoGenetics, one professor from Aarhus University Geology, two colleagues from the University of Texas-Austin and Texas A&M and one scientist from Perth, Australia.

Funding for this interdisciplinary, international project is largely from GeoGenetics, with additional funding by Texas A&M. The goal of this work is to use the unique geological record at Hall’s Cave to determine if the extraterrestrial hypothesis is valid or not and if so, what are the paleoecological implications.



Nanodiamond-rich Layer Across Three Continents Consistent with Major Cosmic Impact at 12,800 CAL BP. Geology, 28 August 2014.


From Tom Stafford's field work at Hall’s Cave, Texas during July 2014.

Hall's Cave, Texas.

Hall's Cave, Texas.

Click on image to enlarge.