The Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis

A Comet Or Meteorite Hit North America

08.02.2023 | by Callum Ogunremi
Shutterstock by Bernhard-Staehli
Shutterstock by Bernhard-Staehli

So what is the Younger Dryas?

The Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis refers to a widespread cooling event that took place over the northern hemisphere from 12,900 to 11,600 years ago.

Geological evidence indicates it was a sudden and singular event that caused a massive upheaval to the earth’s ecosystem. People of the time were pushed back into the Stone Age, and many species of animals went extinct.

We’ll look at some geological evidence of this period, as well as what caused it.

Impact Hypothesis

is a theory that claims a comet, asteroid, or meteorite caused the extinction of many species at the end of the last ice age.

In 2007, the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis was proposed by geophysicist James Kennett and his colleagues. They suggested that a comet or meteorite hit North America at the beginning of the Younger Dryas, a period of cold climate lasting from 12,900 to 11,500 years ago.

The hypothesis was based on several lines of evidence

The main signatures that had been presented as evidence for impact by the original proponents of the hypothesis were.

A layer of black mat carbon containing nanodiamonds and other unusual materials in sediments from all over North America. Along with a layer of magnetic grains from living organisms deposited in sediments across North America. Also a layer of spherules in sediments throughout North America,

Disturbed soil horizons across much of North America containing nanodiamonds. Including a layer of carbon-rich material in lake sediments dating to 12,900 years ago at Lake Cuitzeo in Mexico. A layer of charcoal and soot particles in lake sediments dating to 12,900 years ago at Lake Cuitzeo in Mexico. Also a layer of magnetic grains from living organisms deposited in sediments across Europe and Asia;

Why do people deny the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis?

The Hypothesis proposes that a comet or asteroid impact occurred around 12,900 years ago, leading to a sudden cooling of the Earth’s climate and the onset of a brief period of glacial conditions known as the Younger Dryas. However, not all scientists accept this hypothesis, and there are several reasons why some people may deny it:

Lack of evidence

Some scientists argue that there is not enough evidence to support the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. They suggest that the proposed impact craters and other physical evidence have alternative explanations, such as volcanic activity or erosion.

Alternative explanations

Some scientists propose alternative explanations for the Younger Dryas, such as changes in ocean circulation or solar activity. They argue that these explanations are more consistent with the available data than the impact hypothesis.

Skepticism of the research

Some scientists are skeptical of the research supporting the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis, particularly because some of the initial research was conducted by non-experts in the field. They suggest that more rigorous and independent research is needed to confirm the hypothesis.

Paradigm shift

Most importantly, the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis challenges existing paradigms in the fields of geology, paleoclimatology, and archaeology. Many scientists are resistant to accepting a new hypothesis that requires a radical shift in the base assumptions which many of their modern conclusions are founded upon.

The Younger Dryas impact hypothesis suggests a cosmic impact, possibly a comet or asteroid, occurred about 12,800 years ago, causing a rapid cooling event known as the Younger Dryas. While the hypothesis has gained some support from geological and archeological evidence, it remains a subject of debate among scientists.

Some studies have found evidence of extraterrestrial materials and impact craters that may support the theory, while others have failed to find such evidence. Additionally, some critics argue that the cooling event could have been caused by other factors, such as changes in ocean currents or volcanic activity.

What we can take away from this

While the theory has not been definitively proven or disproven, it has spurred ongoing research and debate about the possible causes of the Younger Dryas cooling event and its impact on human civilization. Ultimately, the evidence and implications of the Younger Dryas impact theory will continue to be examined and evaluated by the scientific community.

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