The Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis (YDIH) is based on the claim that around 12,800 years ago the Earth had an encounter with a very large asteroid or comet that broke up in an airburst over North America and of which some fragments possibly hit the ground directly(a).
Many effects that have been linked with this event with varying levels of enthusiasm including a suggested association with the demise of Atlantis. Elsewhere, megafaunal extinctions, cataclysmic floods, the disappearance of the Clovis people and the creation of the Carolina Bays(g), have all been proposed as consequences of this episode.
In 2006, Richard Firestone, Allen West & Simon Warwick-Smith published the foundations of the YDIH in The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes . A year later the hypothesis had a more public airing at the American Geophysical Union Press Conference, Acapulco, Mexico, May 23(d). This was followed the same year by the publication of a formal paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America(f).
Since then volumes have been written on the subject, both pro and con(c).
A 2014 paper(h) entitled Nanodiamond-Rich Layer Across Three Continents Consistent with Major Cosmic Impact at 12,800 Cal BP by Charles R. Kinzie et al., has developed further the idea of this event being associated with the Younger Dryas. In a similar vein is an article(f) from Megan Gannon.
December 2014 saw Graham Hancock raising the issue of a cometary cause for the Younger Dryas and its possible association with ancient Egypt(e).
Kevin A. & Patrick J. Casey are the American authors of a series of papers currently available on the academia.edu website(a), which are concerned with a globally catastrophic event that occurred 13,000 years ago. providing them with a title of ’13K Theory’. The kernel of their theory is that originally the Earth had two moons that at some later point collided, producing our current Moon, while the remnant of the second one eventually exploded over North America kick-starting what we refer to as the cooler Younger Dryas period.
They claim that this event wiped out megafauna, altered the Earth’s axis and created our mountains, the Earth being generally flat before the dramatic episode! They are adamant that it was not a comet or asteroid that caused the devastation, and so clash with the work of Richard Firestone and his colleagues.
Their final paper is entitled Atlantis Revisited(b), in which they nominate Rockall as being ‘by far’ the most likely location of Atlantis. They also claim that the war between the Atlanteans and the Greeks took place before the 13K Event. Enjoy.
Randall Carlson is an architect, geomythologist and catastrophist. He is the founder of Sacred Geometry International(a). Carlson also features in Graham Hancock‘s book, The Magicians of the Gods. Hancock’s book focuses on the cometary impact in the 11th millennium BC, proposed by Richard Firestone et al. nearly a decade ago. Hancock returns to the subject again in his latest offering, America Before .
*On his GeoCosmicRex website(c) he outlines the early 20th century ideas of J Harlen Bretz and others who sought to explain the American Scablands as the result of the frequent catastrophic bursting of ice dams, with as many as 80 such events.
Since then, new data and new thinking has led many to a dramatic revision of conclusions and a more coherent theory to explain the creation of the Scablands and the sudden return to Ice Age conditions during the Younger Dryas Period. This is a consequence of the Firestone cometary impact theory, which has continued to gather support.*
(b) See Archive 2720
Dr Michel-Alain Combes (1942- ) is a French amateur astronomer with a PhD in astronomy from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI). For forty years he has studied impact catastrophism and published his views in his book, La Terre Bombardée (The Bombarded Earth). His extensive website(a) endeavours to combine history, myth and science and includes a reference to Atlantis, as well as a kind mention of this site. His book can also be read on his site (French).
Combes delivered a paper in English(b) to a 2008 Conference in Paris entitled; The Apocalypse of the Year 10,000 BC – Myth or Reality? It has been proposed that this event may have created the Carolina Bays and destroyed Atlantis as proposed by Otto Muck.
Furthermore, it has also been linked to the onset of the mini ice age known as the Younger Dryas as described by Firestone, West and Warwick-Smith in their book The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes.
In 1992, Asteroid ‘3446 Combes’ was named in his honour.
(a) http://www.astrosurf.com/macombes/index.html (French)
The Holocene Impact Working Group (HIWG)(a) was created by researchers into different aspects of geosciences, who believe that cometary impacts were more frequent during the recent past than generally accepted. It is concerned with the growing number of impact craters being discovered and the evidence of consequent mega tsunamis. Its membership includes Mike Baillie, Richard Firestone and Bruce Masse(b).
The New York Times reviewed the work of the HIWG in 2006(c).
Younger Dryas also known as Dryas III was a mini Ice Age that lasted from around 10,700 BC until around 9600 BC. It is named after a wildflower called Dryas octopetala that flourished during this relatively short period. In Ireland the period is known as the Nahanagan Stadial and in Britain as the Loch Lomond Stadial. For about thirteen hundred years the glaciers had been slowly retreating until within a short timespan temperatures dropped and they began to advance again. The cause of this cooling is not absolutely clear. One view is that a sudden release into the North Atlantic of vast quantities of fresh water that had been contained by huge ice dams is assumed to have closed down the Gulf Stream, resulting in a twelve hundred year lowering of global temperatures. There is evidence that the change only took one or two decades. The same threat is said to exist today with the possibility of the melting of the Greenland ice cap. It also seems that this YD cooling ended with the same rapidity.
A recent application of archaeoastronomy by Martin Sweatman and Dimitrios Tsikritsis led them to conclude that the carved symbols at Göbekli Tepe recorded an encounter involving the explosion or impact of part of Encke’s Comet around 13,000 years ago, which triggered the Younger Dryas Event that provided the impetus for the Neolithic Revolution. Sweatman later expanded their work in his book Prehistory Decoded  and in an article on the Ancient Origins website(k).
Kevin A. & Patrick J. Casey maintain that a globally catastrophic event occurred 13,000 years ago(j). The kernel of their theory is that originally the Earth had two moons that at some later point collided, producing our current Moon, while the remnant of the second one eventually exploded over North America kick-starting what we refer to as the cooler Younger Dryas period. They are adamant that it was not a comet or asteroid that caused the devastation, and so clash with the conclusions of Richard Firestone and his colleagues.
A completely different view is expressed in Rod (Carl) Martin’s latest book , where he proposes that the Younger Dryas ended as a result of a catastrophic event. Is it possible that there were two cataclysmic episodes? John Ackerman, a keen follower of Immanuel Velikovsky claims that there were two such events related to “the capture of the Moon into its current orbit,” marking the beginning and the end of the Younger Dryas period(q).
In 2015, a paper constraining the impact date to within 100 years using Bayesian statistical analyses, now proposed as 12,835 -12,735 years ago(h).
Coincidentally, Emilio Spedicato independently arrived at the conclusion that it was a cometary impact in the North Atlantic that was responsible for the Younger Dryas. Subsequently, when temperatures rose again it resulted in the flooding of vast areas of low-lying landmasses that in Spedicato’s opinion included Atlantis, which he locates in Hispaniola.
Conflicting evidence regarding the possibility of the Younger Dryas being caused by such an impact is impartially outlined on the internet(a).
The November 2013 issue of the BBC Focus magazine (p.30) had a brief article on the impact theory, noting that the northern hemisphere saw a drop of as much as 15°C around 11,000BC. In the absence of a suitable impact crater of the right age, there is still much scientific scepticism(b).
However, in early 2017, further possible evidence of an impact at the start of the Younger Dryas was offered by a team led by Christopher Moore of the University of South Carolina, when they identified a distinct layer of platinum in the soil that coincided with the start of YD. Commenting on this anomaly Moore noted that “Platinum is very rare in the Earth’s crust, but it is common in asteroids and comets.”(e) In 2019, Moore published further data(m) supporting the extraterrestrial impact theory, based on studies carried out on sediments, which date back 20,000 years, from White Pond Lake, situated in southern Kershaw County, South Carolina. “Other examples of excessive platinum grains have been found across Europe, western Asia, Chile, South Africa(r) and North America.” (n)
In early 2018, two papers were published online(i), reinforcing the YD impact theory and adding evidence that the event resulted in a conflagration that “may have consumed ?10 million km2, or ?9% of Earth’s terrestrial biomass.” Related to this is a paper by Andrew Collins that draws attention to the ‘Usselo horizon’, a charcoal-rich layer of between 1 and 8 inches, found on all continents, indicating widespread fires, now dated to 12,900 years ago(l).
Ice cores from Greenland indicate a further cooling period circa 6200 BC that may be related to the abandonment of many Neolithic settlements during this period. Other periods of abrupt climate change have been identified from 3800 BC to 3500 BC and 2800 BC to 2000 BC.
The fact that Plato’s apparent date for the demise of Atlantis, circa 9600 BC, roughly corresponds with the current, best estimate for the date of the Younger Dryas is interesting but unfortunately not conclusive proof of any direct connection. In the absence of any supportive archaeological evidence, a linkage between Atlantis and the Younger Dryas will have to remain a matter of faith rather than fact. Interesting but inconclusive.
Recent discoveries in northern Sudan of dozens of skeletons, the majority of whom were apparently killed by flint-tipped arrows, have led to the suggestion(c) they were the result of food shortages resulting from the Younger Dryas that in turn led to warfare over diminished food availability.
I note that Robert Schoch claims that there is no evidence to support the Younger Dryas impact theory, instead he believes that “it was most likely due to reduced solar activity at that time, a solar shut-down.”(o) Schoch’s wide-ranging critique has been refuted by the Comet Research Group.(p)
R. Cedric Leonard (1934- ) is from Oklahoma and has worked as an electronic technician, initially in the U.S. Navy and later in private industry, from which he retired in 1990. He has studied Comparative Religion, Sanskrit and Classical Greek and has a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Oklahoma. He is also self-taught in Egyptian, Canaanite and Phoenician inscriptions. He has also speculated on the possibility of the Phoenician alphabet having its origins in Atlantis and possibility of a connection with the Glozel Tablets(c).
His Sanskrit studies led him to investigate stories of the vimanas or ancient Hindu flying machines. He has produced several booksand scientific papers on the subject of Atlantis and ancient India. He has also written on the existence of UFO’s in ancient Egypt(d), Mesopotamia(h) and the Bible, particularly the Book of Ezekiel(e). He has also produced a paper(f) about archaeological mysteries in general.
Although retired, he still maintains his very interesting Atlantis website(a), which covers a range of subjects including connections between Cro-Magnon Man and ancient Egypt with Atlantis.* Unfortunately, his website has now (2019) gone offline.*
He locates Atlantis along The Mid-Atlantic Ridge and offers geological, mythological, linguistic and paleontological evidence to support this idea and for its destruction following worldwide catastrophes around 10000 BC. He has also written a paper(g) on the asteroid/comet impact around the same time, which created the Carolina Bays and its possible connection with the destruction of Atlantis. This encounter was brought to the notice of a wide audience by Richard Firestone and his colleagues by their book, The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes.
Leonard himself recognises that his belief in prehistoric flying machines may lead some readers to dismiss his carefully thought out theory on Atlantis, but he is adamant that both existed. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that Leonard is one of the few writers on the subject who has produced original material to support the idea of Atlantis’ existence.
Some of Leonard’s work can be found plagiarised on the Internet, most blatantly by the artist, Charles Alexander Moffat(b).
(h) See: Archive 2881*
Richard Firestone together with his co-authors Allen West and Simon Warwick-Smith have written one of the most impressive accounts of a cosmic collision that led to the extinction in North America of large mammals such as the mammoth and sabre-toothed tiger and the concurrent disappearance of the Clovis people at the end of the last Ice Age. Their impact theory also offers a credible explanation for the Carolina Bays. However, they propose that this collision had catastrophic global consequences. The three scientists are prepared to consider the possibility that Plato’s Atlantis story, however garbled, is related to the same episode[0110.328]..
Since the publication of their book some evidence(a) has emerged that would appear to conflict with their core thesis. This criticism appears to be gaining support according to a May 2011 report(b)(d). However, in September 2012 it was reported that further intensive investigation has revealed flaws in the evidence gathering of Firestone’s critics(f). The interdisciplinary team of scientists from seven U.S. institutions concluded that “a disregard of three critical protocols, including sorting samples by size, explains why a group challenging the theory of a North American meteor-impact event some 12,900 years ago failed to find iron- and silica-rich magnetic particles in the sites they investigated.”
Strong resistance to the Firestone claims continued into 2013 when the Royal Holloway and the Sandia National Laboratories along with 13 other universities across the United States and Europe mounted further challenges(g).
The waters were muddied further when it was revealed that Allen West was formerly known as Allen Whitt, who was convicted in California of posing as a state-licensed geologist(b) and fined $4,500! He legally changed his name in 2006. His respected co-authors were apparently unaware of his history and as a consequence of West’s central role in the data gathering, the hypothesis is considered by some to be tainted. This may be a case of shooting the messenger instead of the message, a view discussed at length on the Internet(e).A spirited defence of both West in particular and the theory of the team in general has also been written(c) and should be read in order to get a more balanced view of this particular controversy.
The core debate has rumbled on ever since. In July 2015 the University of California, Santa Barbara, released the results(h) of research, led by James Kennett, which again supported the impact theory and “has narrowed the date to a 100-year range, sometime between 12,835 and 12,735 years ago.”
The battle has continued, apparently inconclusively, with more papers being published by all sides. July 2018 saw an update of the controversy published on the Science News website(i), with no sign of the war ending.
*Nevertheless, in late 2019, further evidence has emerged that appears supportive of Firestone’s theory. Where previously nanodiamonds were an important feature in the presentation of his ideas the latest studies focus on platinum as an important marker(j).*
Inspiration resulting from an interview with Firestone led Kevin Curran to a study that ended with the publication of Fall of a Thousand Suns, in which he investigates the effect of extraterrestrial encounters on the development of early religious beliefs.
The Destruction of the Athenian Army, together with that of Atlantis, as related by Plato, (Timaeus 25d) makes no sense if the whole story is allegedly offered as a morality tale, where the wicked and corrupt Atlanteans are destroyed because of their evil ways. Normally, such a story would show the allegedly morally superior Athenians prospering and triumphant over their opponents. The very fact that both military protagonists were destroyed, though not necessarily at the same time, would seem to be at odds with the idea of it being a morality tale and instead adds to the credibility of Plato’s narrative as containing some historical truth. Bernard Suzanne offers a totally different interpretation based on the background and motives of Critias(a). Serbian Atlantis sceptic, Slobodan Dušanic (1939-2012), has noted(b) that “while the Atlantis myth has been recognised, with good reason, by the majority of modern Platonists as a parable, no consensus has been reached on the parable’s character or precise purpose.” I’m not sure if this is a criticism of Plato or of modern scholarship!
Plato’s description of the demise of Atlantis and the obliteration of Athens has prompted many writers to link these occurrences with more global events. The association of Atlantis with catastrophism has persisted for over a century, ever since Ignatius Donnelly published his landmark book Atlantis and his contribution to catastrophist literature Raganorak. However, the idea of Atlantis as a victim of a global or at least a very widespread catastrophe was articulated as early as 1788 by Giovanni Rinaldo Carli who claimed that a close encounter with a comet caused worldwide devastation that included the permanent inundation of Atlantis.
In more recent times, commentators such as Stuart L. Harris have specified the cause of Atlantis’ destruction as an encounter with Nibiru (Marduk) in 9577 BC, in a number of papers (c)(d)(e) on the Academia.edu website. If the demise of the Athenian army was concurrent with that of the Atlanteans, 9577 BC is far too early, as Athens does not emerge as a structured society many thousands of years later. However, Harris’ early date is close to the that of the Younger Dryas and the extraterrestrial encounter that bombarded North America, which has been highlighted by Richard Firestone and others.
Atlantis is recorded by Plato as being destroyed in ‘a day and a night’, which led George H. Cooper to made the point that the knowledge of the speed of its demise could only have come from ‘survivors or passing mariners’ and should have been incorporated into the traditions of many nations[236.283].
*What is clear, is that Plato identifies an earthquake as the primary cause of Atlantis’ destruction. If that earthquake was triggered by a very close encounter with the likes of Carli’s comet, it would needed to have come near enough to the Earth and been so highly visible as to demand its inclusion in the destruction narrative!*
The bottom line is that the date of the destruction of Atlantis and its army is not known, although it has been assumed by commentators to have occurred shortly after the war with Atlantis. All that Plato says is that it happened “at a later time’ Similarly, However, Plato records the destruction of the two armies in the same passage (Tim.25d-e) in a manner that might suggest a common cause, a view that I’m inclined to accept.
Catastrophism today is the name given to a school of thought that supports the idea that the history of the Earth has been punctuated by natural events such as floods, fires and asteroid strikes that have caused widespread if not global devastation and that some of these events occurred within the memory of man and are recorded in worldwide mythologies.
Georges Cuvier (1768-1832) is sometimes referred to as ‘the father of paleontology’ and an early exponent of catastrophism.
Worryingly, it is now more generally accepted that further catastrophes will occur as a result of future cometary/asteroidal strikes. One such close encounter, around 2800 BC, was considered by the Christian catastrophist, Donald W. Patten, to have generated the Deluge of Noah(j) and was the source of the flood legends found around the world! Patten nominates Mars as the intruder(l), an idea also advocated by Elsar Orkan, who, however, proposes a date of around 8000 BC for this encounter.
Some readers may think that the subject has no direct connection with Plato’s Atlantis, however, his text refers to a number of catastrophic events that clearly brought devastation to Athens, Atlantis and beyond. The Flood of Deucalion and earlier inundations, Phaeton and other cosmic encounters, plus conflagrations and earthquakes all point to periods of great instability in the early prehistory of the Aegean region and quite probably much further afield.
Jürgen Spanuth devotes chapter 4 of his Atlantis of the North to an examination of “the natural catastrophes of the 13th century BC” that deals with Phaeton and the blizzard of floods, earthquakes and eruptions that beset the Eastern Mediterranean at the end of the 2nd millennium BC. Some of these matters have been recently expanded upon by Nur & Cline(f)(g) and endorsed by Stavros Papamarinopoulos[0750.73].
August 2013 saw studies published(h) which pointed the finger at climate change as the cause of the widespread political instability in that region during the second millennium BC.
Claude Schaeffer, a celebrated French archaeologist, declared in 1948 that on at least five occasions during the Bronze Age the Middle East had been subjected to widespread catastrophic destruction as a result of natural events rather than human activity.
Immanuel Velikovsky is arguably the best know of the 20th century catastrophists, who published two books in the 1950’s that provoked widespread controversy that continues today. There is an interesting albeit a sceptical review of catastrophism in the last century by Patrick Moore & Bob Forrest in Chapter 14 of More Things in Heaven and Earth(k).*Paul Dunbavin, author of Towers of Atlantis , has published a paper(n), highly critical of Velikovsky’s work.*
In 1964, the Belgian mathematician René Gallant (1908-1985) published Bombarded Earth which dealt in great detail with the consequences of meteorite impacts with the earth. Gallant, perhaps because of his amateur status as a geologist, never received the attention he deserved.
More recently Allan & Delair produced another book that identified 9500 BC as the date of a global catastrophe following an encounter with a comet. Their conclusions are at variance with Velikovsky’s, particularly regarding dates. Professor Mike Baillie of Queens University, Belfast is a well-known dendrochronologist who has recently entered the debate with his book, Exodus to Arthur that adds evidence from his discipline to support the theory of cometary or asteroidal impacts with the Earth. Unfortunately his work is confined to the last 4,500 years and so casts no further light on the 9,500 BC date apart from offering support for the possibility of extraterrestrial impacts.
However, Richard Firestone and his co-authors have researched an impact ‘Event’ the occurred 13,000 years ago and caused devastation in North America including the creation of the hundreds of thousands of Carolina Bays and some of the outbursts of Lake Missoula. Like Baillie, they claim that a memory of this event has been preserved in the folktales of many of the North American Indians. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the latest developments in catastrophist research.
The destruction of Atlantis has been linked to a number of possible catastrophic events including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and asteroid strikes. Plato’s account cites a flood as the immediate cause of the disappearance of Atlantis. In the 18th century Giovanni Carli was probably the first to link a cometary encounter with the Earth as the cause of Atlantis’ demise. This idea has been supported by numerous writers ever since with Emilio Spedicato being one of its leading exponents today.
There are numerous sites on the Internet relating to catastrophism of which one(a) can be recommended as a good starting point for further study. Andy Blackard has listed(b) events connected with global upheavals around 3200 and 2000 BC. An Australian archaeologist, Peter Jupp, is the creator of the Ancient Destructions website(e) which deals with a number of historical mysteries including, Baalbek and Antarctica.
A more recent book by Robert Argod postulates that many of these historical catastrophes were caused by an irregular series of accelerated tectonic movements, although he does not offer a credible mechanism to explain the triggering of such upheavals. Is it possible that the strikes by or near misses with extraterrestrial objects, proposed by so many, generated the tectonic shifts proposed by Argod?
Professor Trevor Palmer has written a comprehensive history of catastrophes and catastrophism from the earliest times and its relevance today. His Perilous Planet Earth includes a couple of chapters in which he reviews Atlantis theories in the context of catastrophism.
Dr Michel-Alain Combes has a PhD in astronomy from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI). He has an extensive website(i) dealing with catastrophism, which translates quite well.
2012 was been promoted as the date of the next worldwide catastrophe based on a highly questionable interpretation of the Mayan calendar. New Age gurus were promising a change in global consciousness, whatever that means. If interested you can read more of this nonsense online(c) or consider a more balanced view(d).
A huge catastrophist bibliography is available online(m).
(i) http://www.astrosurf.com/macombes/index.html (French)