John M. Jensen Jnr. is an independent researcher living in Florida, who has published two books on ancient civilisations and catastrophism. He has explored in depth some of the subjects touched on here. His first book was Ancient Canal Builders(a), which explores the extensive ancient canal network on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States and Mexico. His second offering is Earth Epochs(b) in which he recounts pre-historic global catastrophes, including the Younger Dryas Event of 12,900 YBP, and what he calls the Last Great Cataclysm of 5,000 YBP and the Earth Axial Tilt of 3448 YBP.
However, he seemed to go off the rails when he proposed that humans and dinosaurs co-existed and that the many thousands of dolmens found around the globe were not tombs but places of refuge from carnivorous dinosaurs. No, I’m not making this up. He deals with the subject in greater detail in the well-illustrated Earth Epochs(d). Both of his books can be downloaded for free.(a)(b)
Jensen does mention Atlantis, but without dealing with the matter in any depth, it seems to me that he does accept its reality. I do not agree with all his ideas but I think his work should be read, including his blogs(c) .
The Expanding Earth Hypothesis.
For thousands of years, it was accepted that the surface of the earth was in a static state. This belief persisted until the discovery of America in 1492 and the cartographic improvements during the following century before Abraham Ortelius in his 1596 Thesaurus Geographicus proposed that the Americas had once been joined to Europe and Africa. It is often claimed that in 1620 Francis Bacon commented on the close fit of eastern South America with the west coast of Africa, however, this, according to G.L. Herries Davies, is an exaggerated interpretation of what he actually said(o).
A number of others concurred with the jig-saw suggestion until 1858 when the French geographer Antonio Snider-Pellegrini offered a theory of crustal movement that was more fully developed in 1912 by Alfred Wegener, which he came to label ‘continental drift’(e). Snider-Pellegrini also thought that the Earth had been much smaller at the time of the biblical Genesis(ac)! The big objection to the theory was a lack of a convincing mechanism to explain it(f).
A number of writers have attempted to bring the theory of Continental Drift (CD) into the Atlantis debate. They seem to overlook the fact CD was proposed as a very very slow process, while Plato describes the demise of Atlantis as occurring in a single day and a night.
Wegener’s theory was debated until the late 1950’s when it morphed into the theory of Plate Tectonics (PT) following new developments in earth sciences in particular the recognition of seafloor spreading at mid-ocean ridges. However, PT as we know it demands subduction(z), which in itself has created new problems(aa)(ab).
The theory divides the lithosphere into a number of plates that are constantly moving in various directions at rates of a few centimetres a year. Competing with PT in the early years was the theory of Earth Crustal Displacement advocated by Charles Hapgood which claims that the entire crust of the earth moved as a unit. Endorsed by Albert Einstein it is fundamental to the theory of an Antarctic location for Atlantis proposed by Rose & Rand Flem-Ath.
Unfortunately, Plate Tectonics does not explain everything and ever since it gained the pre-eminence it currently enjoys, various writers have questioned what they perceive as its shortcomings(g)(h)(i).
A totally different proposal is that the earth is expanding. Although the concept did not get much attention until the 1980’s there are antecedents stretching back to 1888(a), when the earliest suggestion was made by the Russian, Ivan Yarkovsky (1844-1902). A year later the Italian geologist (and violinist) Roberto Montovani (1854-1933) proposed(I) a similar mechanism. In 1933, Ott Christoph
Hilgenberg(t) published Vom wachsenden Erdbal (The Expanding Earth) .
In 1963, a Russian lady, Kamilla Abaturova, wrote to Egerton Sykes expressing the view that although her theory of an expanding Earth involved a ‘slow’ process, she proposed that at the time of Atlantis’ the radius of the Earth was 600 km shorter(af). In geological terms, this is far from ‘slow’!
The leading proponent of the theory today is arguably the, now retired, geologist Dr James Maxlow(b). A detailed outline of the theory is also offered on his website(c). For laymen like myself, a series of YouTube clips(d) are probably more informative. I have stated elsewhere that I am sympathetic towards the idea of earth expansion finding it somewhat more credible than plate tectonics. The truth of the matter is that since Ortelius first suggested that the continents of our planet had moved, all that has emerged since is a refinement of that basic idea leading to CD which became PT and as the latter still does not answer all the questions it raises, it is clear that further modification will be required.> In December 2021, Maxlow published an overview of his current thinking on Expansion Tectonics(ag).<
The Expanding Earth Hypothesis may, as its proponents claim, supply all those answers. Others do not think so, which brings me to J. Marvin Herndon who has ‘married’ the theory of an expanding earth with the idea of crustal plates(j) , naming his 2005 concept Whole-Earth Decompression Dynamics (WEDD).
The Thunderbolts.info website has a three-part article seeking to offer “an alternative to plate and extension tectonics”. The anonymous author suggests that an electrical element is involved in the development of our planet. An extensive look at mountain building is also included(y).
Keith Wilson, an American researcher, has also developed a website(k) devoted to the EEH and linking it to Pole Shift. However, he goes further and introduces Mayan prophecies into the subject, which in my view is unwise in the light of recent events or rather non-events!
In the meanwhile, a number of Atlantis researchers have endorsed the EEH including, Stan Deyo, Georg Lohle and Rosario Vieni. Nicolai Zhirov referred to the growing support both in Russia and elsewhere for the EEH citing a number of its supporters, adding that “the idea of the Earth expanding (within reasonable limits) cannot be ruled out altogether as absurd.”[458.126]
A number of websites have dismissed the EEH as pseudoscience, which is confirmed by satellite measurements.(m)(n).
There is also a variation of the standard expansion theory which proposes(q) that expansion may have occurred in fits and starts. There also seems to be evidence that the Earth is not alone with Venus expanding(r) and Mercury contracting(s).
Another matter that may be related to the claim of an expanding Earth is the question of the size of dinosaurs and other creatures and plants millions of years ago, which is claimed to have been impossible if gravity then was the same as today. A book by Stephen Hurrell has expanded on this idea. There is an interesting website(p) that deals with the enormous size of the dinosaurs as well as other creatures at the same period and the support it may offer the EEH.
Neal Adams, a respected graphic artist(u), is a vocal supporter of the EEH(v), but, he has gone further and has also proposed a growing Moon as well(w). Not content with that, he has extended his expansion investigations to other bodies in our Solar System, such as, Mars, Ganymede & Europa(x). Adams considers the term “Expanding Earth” a misnomer and has named his proposed expansion process ‘pair production’.(ad)
A December 2018 paper by Degezelle Marvin offers some new support for the EEH(ae). The author includes an interesting comparison of the problems of the currently accepted paradigm of plate tectonics with possible solutions offered by EEH. The author concludes with;
“The problems with plate tectonics were presented in this paper. Earth scientists dogmatically follow the plate tectonics theory that is falsified by geological data while Earth expansion is clearly a viable candidate to replace plate tectonics. Analysis map of the age of the oceanic lithosphere showed that the isochrons only ft on a smaller Earth with a calculated radius. Mountain formation has even been presented as a logical result of the Earth’s expansion. The average rate of the growth of the Earth’s radius is 1.22cm/year, obtained by geological methods.”
Finally, I cannot help thinking about those Victorians who thought that they had reached the pinnacle of scientific understanding. They were wrong and, I believe, that so are we, although we are slowly, very slowly, edging towards the truth, which may or may not involve the vindication of the Expanding Earth Hypothesis.
(y) https://www.thunderbolts.info/forum/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=16534 (link broken Oct. 2019) See: https://atlantipedia.ie/samples/archive-3326/
(af) Atlantis, Volume 16, No. 1, February 1963.
The Ica Stones are named after a town south of Lima in Peru. They are a collection of many thousands of andesite stones that are allegedly of great antiquity that depict images of extinct animal species including dinosaurs. These ancient stones are also claimed to show the execution of advanced medical procedures. The late Dr. Javier Cabrera Darquea, usually referred to as Dr. Cabrera, built up a huge collection of these stones. This remarkable collection is quoted by many as ‘proof’ of advanced technology co-existing with dinosaurs. Dennis Swift has written Secrets of the Ica Stones and Nazca Lines in which he supports the authenticity of the stones, but then, Swift is a ‘young earth’ creationist and has a vested interest in claiming the co-existence of man and dinosaurs. As Carl Sagan famously said “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, so Swift will need more than artefacts denounced as fakes by so many, if he wishes to overthrow long established scientific evidence regarding the millions of years that elapsed between the time of the dinosaurs and the evolution of man.
Unfortunately, a series of claims and retractions regarding the possible forging of these stones has cast such a cloud over their authenticity that they are no longer acceptable as proof of anything. Some early-date Atlantis seekers used to quote the Ica stones to support the idea of the advanced technology related by Plato existing as early as 9600 BC. Unfortunately, the questionable antiquity of the stones has barred their use in this regard.
A balanced account of the stones can be found on the Wikipedia site(a) as well as another site(b) which has a considerable number of links.
In 1998, Vincente Paris, a Spanish investigator offered further evidence(c)condemning the stones as a hoax.
Asteroids, Comets and Meteoroids are all relatively small objects that inhabit our Solar System. When any of them have orbits that intersect with that of the Earth they are known as Near Earth Objects or NEOs. Asteroids (a word coined by William Herschel [1738-1822]) used to be known as minor planets, while meteoroids is the name applied to asteroids that are less than 50 metres in diameter, although some use 10 metres as the classification threshold.
Meteorites have had a history of being considered divine in origin, leading to different levels of veneration in various cultures(v). In the 2nd century, Clement of Alexandria is said to have concluded that “the worship of such stones to have been the first, and earliest idolatry, in the world.”
What is probably the first recorded death from a meteorite strike took place in India in February 2016(z).
Comets, until recently, were generally thought to be composed of just dust and ice, ‘dirty snowballs’, which have orbits that periodically bring them close to the sun at which stage the interaction of the comet’s dust trail with the solar wind produces a highly visible coma or tail. The nucleus can have a diameter of a couple of kilometres.
The chemical composition of comets is now known to be varied and much more complex than previously believed. In 2015, Comet Lovejoy was ejecting the equivalent of “500 bottles of wine every second” when it was closest to the sun, in the form of ethyl alcohol(w). A close encounter with the Earth would have been interesting!
In 1883 a large comet is estimated to have come within a few hundred miles of Earth. It was photographed and some years later the image was hailed as the first image of a UFO!
In recent years comets have come to be seen as potentially more dangerous than asteroids in the event of a collision. This view was graphically demonstrated when the Levy-Shoemaker comet crashed spectacularly into Jupiter in 1994, after breaking up into as many as 21 large pieces before impacting. This comet was originally about 20 km in diameter. However, the distinction between comets and asteroids has been blurred by asteroids sometimes displaying the features of comets, such as asteroid P2013/P5, which in 2013 produced six cometary-like tails.
In 2022, a report offered evidence that major cometary or asteroidal impacts or airbursts have been more frequent than previously thought. University of Cincinnati’s Professor Kenneth Tankersley and his colleagues have listed many such events that are known to have occurred since one apparently wiped out the dinosaurs. The most disturbing fact is the number of encounters experienced within historical times, for example – “Archaeologists have found meteorites, microspherules, iridium and platinum anomalies, and burned charcoal-rich habitation surfaces at 11 archaeological sites of the Hopewell culture in three states stretching across the Ohio River Valley. While Hopewell people survived the catastrophic event, which occurred between 252 and 383 CE, it likely contributed to their cultural decline.” (as) Jason Colavito is critical of this claim“because the Hopewell did not enter a terminal decline after their proposed impact date of c. 255-300 CE but flourished for another 200 years.”(at)
In 1752, the French astronomer, Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis, expressed the view that “However dangerous might be the shock of a comet, it might be so slight, that it would only do damage at the part of the Earth where it actually struck” and with coincidental foresight added “ Perhaps we should be very surprised to find that the debris of these masses that we despised were formed of gold and diamonds” considering how Richard Firestone and his associates more recently used the existence of nanodiamonds to confirm the cometary impact of 11,000 BC over North America.
Asteroids and comets have been blamed for the demise of Atlantis since the end of the 18th century. It was the Italian polymath, Giovanni Rinaldo Carli, who in 1788 declared  that part of a passing comet hit the Earth and was responsible for the destruction of Atlantis. A century later in his second book  on Atlantis, Ignatius Donnelly similarly claimed that a comet’s collision with Earth was the cause of Atlantis’ destruction(af). Comets rather than asteroids were initially blamed because of their high visibility. However, as our technology advanced and we gradually became aware of the number of large asteroids that intersect with the Earth’s orbit they replaced comets as the more likely cause of historical impacts.
For some decades, Bob Kobres has been studying the evidence for cometary encounters contained in ancient mythologies and their possible association with known events(ah) such as the creation of the Carolina Bays or the Bronze Age Collapse(ag).
The early part of the 20th century saw the eccentric William Comyns Beaumontand the mysterious Hans Schindler Bellamy both supporting the idea of Atlantis being destroyed by an encounter with an extraterrestrial object. The theory has been adopted by a growing number of popular modern writers such as Otto Muck, Egerton Sykes, Andrew Collins, Paul Dunbavin, Karl Jürgen Hepke(a), Frank Joseph explains[102.108] how a number of scholars encouraged by Muck, came forward to publicly state their belief that Atlantis had been destroyed by an extraterrestrial impact or impacts: “They included the world’s foremost authority on Halley’s Comet, Dr M.M. Kamienski, a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences; Professor N. Bonev, one of the 20th century’s leading astronomers at the University of Sofia, in Bulgaria; and Jack Hills, of the prestigious Los Alamos National Laboratory”.
In 1971, Sykes’ Atlantis magazine devoted an entire issue to the matter of impact craters around the globe(ak),>a subject that he also wrote about a few years earlier(av).<
Emilio Spedicato of the University of Bergamo has written(b) and lectured widely on his hypothesis that the last Ice Age was started by an extraterrestrial impact over a continent and ended with a similar event over an ocean. This second impact was the cause of Atlantis’ destruction and Spedicato specifies Hispaniola as containing the location of its capital.
Spedicato is not alone in believing that impacts by large objects have been responsible for the triggering of past Ice Ages. As we have seen a large number of writers have suggested an impact with the Earth as the primary or at least the secondary cause of the destruction of Atlantis(d). These cosmic collisions have occurred throughout the history of our planet, continuing to this day. Most of the impact material is small and burns up in the atmosphere. Some low-density objects have penetrated the atmosphere but disintegrated before actually impacting, generating powerful shock waves commensurate with their size. Such an event was the well-known Tunguska(i) explosion over that area of Siberia in 1908.
Commenting on the Tunguska event Stephen E. Franklin added that “Less than five hours after the Tunguska object exploded at 7:14 AM local time in Siberia, another fireball was seen over Kagarlyk near Kyiv in what is now Ukraine (then part of the Russian Empire) at around 7:00 AM local time followed by the impact of a 1.912 kg stony meteorite.”(ad)
In 2001, Dr Luigi Forschini one of the leaders of an Italian expedition to the Tunguska region studied some of the 60,000 fallen trees and for the first time, they also had access to previously untranslated eye-witness accounts. They concluded that the object had arrived from the southeast at about 11 km per second and that an investigation of its likely orbit concluded that it was more likely that the intruder had been an asteroid rather than a comet. They speculated that it was probably not much more than ‘a pile of rubble’ that broke up completely, leaving no crater(aq).
The most recent (April 2020) Tunguska theory is that it could have been caused by an iron asteroid partially entering and then leaving the atmosphere!(aj) The most bizarre Tunguska suggestion is that it was the result of experiments carried out by Nikola Tesla(al). Another claim is that a massive explosion of escaping underground gas was the culprit(am). July 1st 2021 another update on Tunguska theories revealed very little that was new(ao).
Two similar explosions occurred over South America in the 1930s(ar). However, some are large enough to survive the journey to the surface. Depending on the size, density, speed and angle of approach, the consequences of a large impact are difficult for the average person to appreciate. As Austen Atkinson wrote “A single impact by a rock the size of (London’s) Millennium Dome could devastate the surface of the globe with an explosive release of energy five times more powerful than the entire world’s nuclear arsenal. On 19 May 1996, just such an object came within 280,000 miles of Earth: six hours from a collision. Humankind could have been eradicated.”
The most famous impact is probably that which is known as the Chicxulub Event in the Yucatan took place 66 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs. A 2017 update on Chicxulub studies was presented(ap) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans.
A more recent (2019) paper(ae) reports that “excavations in North Dakota reveal fossils of fish and trees that were blasted with rocky, glassy fragments that fell from the sky. The deposits show evidence also of having been swamped with water – the consequence of the colossal sea surge that was generated by the impact.”
>The Chicxulub event may have been more complicated than generally thought, as a 2022 report revealed that “researchers have now uncovered another crater off the coast of Guinea that might well be Chicxulub’s cousin. The newly discovered feature, albeit much smaller, is also about 66 million years old. That’s a curious coincidence, and scientists are now wondering whether the two impact structures might be linked. Perhaps Chicxulub and the newly discovered feature—dubbed Nadir crater—formed from the breakup of a parent asteroid or as part of an impact cluster, the team suggested.”(aw)<
The Yucatan impact has a rival claimant in the Indian Ocean as the dinosaur killer, known as the Shiva crater. This is claimed as the largest multi-ringed impact crater in the world(an).
11 million years later another impact in the Atlantic is credited with the expansion of the mammals according to a new study by co-author, Dennis Kent from Rutgers University.
An online calculator of impact effects was developed by scientists at Purdue University and Imperial College, London was first published in 2004 and recently updated(g).
By 2009 175 large impact craters have been discovered all over our planet, many more are undiscovered having been destroyed over time by wind and water erosion or hidden by vegetation. In 2006, a crater with a diameter of 30 km was discovered in the Southern Egyptian desert. This discovery may solve a mystery in the same region that has baffled science for over seventy years, namely, the Libyan desert glass that covers an area of 60 x 100 km. However, the largest known impact crater is the Vredefort crater in South Africa with a diameter of 300 km (186 miles). But this may have to take second place to the 300-mile-wide crater identified in Hudson Bay in North America.
The spectacular collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy with Jupiter in July 1994 and how it disintegrated into a number of huge pieces before impacting over seven days, may offer one possible explanation for the mechanism that could produce the apparent clustering of 3rd millennium BC impacts on Earth.
The current estimate is that there are more than 2,000 asteroids exceeding a kilometre in size together with 10,000 over half a kilometre plus millions of smaller items in Earth-crossing orbits; collectively known as ‘Apollo objects‘. The meteor that exploded over central Russia in February 2013 belonged to this Apollo group. Add to this the risk from comets, normally larger than asteroids, and it is obvious that large-scale impacts are inevitable, however infrequent. The good news is that in 2011 it was reported that a NASA space telescope recorded a 40% reduction in their earlier calculation(j) which should be compared with the assessment referred to(f) at the end of the last paragraph of this entry. May 2012 saw further estimates being published(l).
Terminology, definitions and number estimates are constantly changing. Asteroids that are more than 100m across with orbits that come within 7.5 million km of Earth are now referred to as PHAs (Potentially Hazardous Asteroids). As of June 2014, the IAU has listed 1,466 PHAs, while NASA estimates put the actual total in excess of 4,700(q).
As recently as 1953 an asteroid impact with the Moon was photographed as a flash and only in 2002 was the resulting 2Km- wide crater identified. The estimated energy released by this 300-metre-wide object on impact would have been half a Megaton of TNT (35 times the Hiroshima bomb). A hit of this magnitude on Earth could have wiped out a large city.
It must be kept in mind that the immediate damage caused by the impact itself is only the beginning of the story; tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes together with worldwide long-term dust veils could trigger climate change leading to ongoing adverse effects on vegetation and animal life. For humans, this meant death, destruction, floods, repeated crop failures and probably a breakdown in any existing civil order.
It was as recent as the 1930s that geologists were being told that Meteor Crater in the Arizona desert was the only known evidence that an impact, with worldwide consequences, had ever taken place. The site is also known as Barringer Crater after the family who owns it. Until recently, it held the record for the largest impact crater less than 100,000 years old; it’s about 49,000 to 50,000 years old and measures 0.75 miles (1.2 km) in diameter. That is, until 2019, when the Yilan crater was discovered in China, which measures about 1.15 miles (1.85 km) across and likely formed about 46,000 to 53,000 years ago, based on radiocarbon dating of charcoal and organic lake sediments from the site, the NASA statement says(au).
It was also in the 1930s that the first of the Apollo objects were identified. Since then, the number of large identifiable impact craters grew to hundreds and the number of Apollo objects, whose impact would have global implications, became thousands. It then became obvious that the Earth as we know it is at serious risk. World authorities are slowly realising that the probability of similar impacts in the future is simply inevitable.
Until recently, statistical analysis indicates a major impact every 10,000 years; with the last such event occurring 12,000 years ago possibly destroying Atlantis, directly or indirectly. However, in 2006, this estimate was revised downward to a major collision every 1,000 years with the last impact having taken place around 2800 BC, in the Indian Ocean, where an 18-mile diameter crater has been discovered at a depth of 12,500 feet.
However, a paper(x) published in October 2015 has suggested that a study of mass extinctions over the past 260 million years appear to have taken place every 26 million years coinciding with major asteroid/comet impacts.
So far 175 large impact craters(e) have been discovered all over our planet and many more are undiscovered having been destroyed over time by wind and water erosion or hidden by vegetation. In 2006, a crater with a diameter of 30km was discovered in the southern Egyptian desert. This discovery may solve a mystery in the same region that has baffled science for over seventy years, namely, the Libyan desert glass that covers an area of 60 x 100 km. However, the largest known impact crater is the Vredefort crater n South Africa with a diameter of 300km (186 miles). But this may have to take second place to the 300-mile-wide crater identified in Hudson Bay in North America. A 2015 report tells of two impact zones that total more than 400 kilometres across, which were identified in the Warburton Basin in Central Australia(t).
Although it appears that similar suggestions have been made since the 1950s, the debate has now reached a new level. The Hudson Bay feature has generated even greater interest since Richard Firestone, a nuclear physicist together with Allen West and Simon Warwick-Smith published their claim that it was created around 11,000 BC and had human witnesses who preserved their memory of it in their local folklore and that may have been responsible for the extermination of the Clovis people(ai). Firestone’s tentative 11,000 BC date for this event is earlier than Plato’s even more questionable 9600 BC date for the destruction of Atlantis might be connected since the event described by Firestone & Co. would have had global consequences and could have affected any suggested Atlantis location. In 2007, at a news conference during the Joint Assembly of the American Geophysical Union, in Acapulco, Mexico, two archaeologists from the University of Oregon, Douglas J. Kennett and Jon M. Erlandson added geological evidence to support Firestone’s thesis. In 2008 evidence of an exploding comet/asteroid over Canada during the same period was presented(c) by other academics from the University of Cincinnati. However, it must be noted that the Firestone hypothesis has encountered some criticism since the start of 2009 and must therefore be treated with due caution. This criticism appears to be gaining support according to a May 2011 report(h). In June 2012, James Kennett, son of Douglas Kennet mentioned above, was part of a team who announced further evidence of a major impact event 13,000 years ago extending from Pennsylvania and South Carolina as far as Syria(m).
Dr Reinoud de Jonge has written several articles(d) that drew on petroglyphs in Brittany to support his contention that the Earth had an encounter with a cometary body in 2345 BC. This would appear to complement the work of Mike Baillie and George Dodwell, who echoed William Whiston’s proposed date of 2346 BC, for an encounter with a comet that caused the biblical Deluge.
Since only 30% of our globe’s surface is exposed land, it is reasonable to conclude that 70% of impacts will have landed in water, leaving little lasting evidence. However, at least ten of these identified impact craters occurred after the last Ice Age and at least seven of them date from around the third millennium BC, a period when there were widespread cultural collapses.
In a recent book the renowned dendrochronologist, Mike Baillie, has outlined compelling evidence from his discipline combined with ancient mythologies to support the idea of extraterrestrial impacts in early historical times. May I suggest that the mythologies that possibly relate to multiple impacts are in fact recollections of a comet that had been visible for some time before breaking up under the gravitational influence of our planet before impact? This idea was developed by Baillie in a subsequent book written with Patrick McCafferty that focused on Celtic mythological figures. Comets rather than asteroids are more likely to have contributed to the development of myths since an asteroid would not have been visible long enough for it to develop an identity that would be remembered in legend. Graham Phillips has gone further and proposed that a close encounter with a comet in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC triggered the development of monotheism at that time. Furthermore, he contends that as the Earth passed through this comet’s tail, it introduced large quantities of the amino acid, vasopressin that heightened aggression in humans leading to large-scale conflicts worldwide. This comet, 12P/Pons-Brooks is due for another close encounter with Earth in 2024.
A 2012 paper(o) by Fernando Coimbra investigates the influence of unusual astronomical events, in particular comets, on the subject matter of rock art. An earlier paper(p) by Coimbra looks at the swastika as a specific example of a reflection of such an event.
Mythologies, worldwide, offer evidence of these impacts and have been subsequently reinforced by classical writers who describe in non-scientific terms the effects of these extraterrestrial assaults. Pliny wrote in his Natural History (Book II, sec 91) of ‘A terrible comet was seen by the people of Ethiopia and Egypt, to which Typhon, the king of that period, gave his name; it had a fiery appearance and was twisted like a coil, and it was very grim to behold: it was not really a star so much as what might be called a ball of fire.’
Similarly, the Greek myth of Phaëton has been interpreted as a record of an encounter with a comet. Edith and Alexander Tollmann also identified an 11,000 BC impact with the Köfels region of the Austrian Tyrol as one of the impact zones. The interpretation of ancient legends and myths is a matter of subjective response, but the volume of such evidence is so great that the probability of a number of major impacts being within the memory of man, who relayed the experience down to us through the medium of tradition, is quite high.
The fact that our Earth is continually at risk of a cosmic collision, the physical evidence of recent and past collisions, the recording of impacts on the Moon and Jupiter compounded with stories in ancient mythologies offer strong grounds for accepting the possibility of Atlantis being destroyed as a result of a collision with an extraterrestrial object as a credible working hypothesis.
While an asteroid impact destroying Atlantis is relatively easy to accept, some authors have proposed even more dramatic scenarios where the impact was so great that it caused the Poles to change position and/or the Earth’s outer mantle to move relative to the inner core. There is little doubt that cosmic collisions of all the possible natural catastrophes pose the greatest possible threat to life on earth. There is an interesting website(c) that discusses both catastrophes and Atlantis. Another site(e) has a small collection of images of impact craters as seen from space. 2010 produced a frightening upward reassessment of the asteroid threat(f).
In 2001, NASA(k) identified 1,000 asteroids and comets orbiting close to Earth that are capable of causing catastrophic damage to our planet in the event of a collision. An interesting map was published(n) in February 2013 showing the locations of 34,513 impacts dating back to 2300 BC.
Recent deliberate encounters with comets and asteroids have produced images and data that have raised questions about the traditional description of comets being composed of ice and rock. The lines between asteroids and comets are becoming increasingly blurred and new definitions are required(r). The trend now is to see asteroids and comets as part of a continuum. Evidence is emerging that the H20 previously associated with comets may have been OH radicals(s).
The 2014 landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko would appear to have destroyed the ‘dirty snowball’ description of comets, coined in 1950 by the noted astronomer, Fred Whipple, and should now be abandoned.
Although large asteroids or comets have caused and will again cause global catastrophes on a scale that we can only imagine, they are not the greatest potential threat to our existence. It is estimated that our galaxy, like others, is also home to free-floating giant gas planets untethered to any star, which, if they wandered our way, could not only obliterate our planet but de-stabilise our solar system.(u)
Terry Westerman offers a fascinating overview of possible global impact sites on his fully illustrated website(y).
Fortunately, the death and destruction caused by comets are balanced by the probability that they are also the source of life on our planet. This idea is gaining greater acceptance with a further paper(aa) offering additional supportive evidence published in April 2016.
Nevertheless, improved vigilance is required if we are to believe Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario, whose research in 2014 concluded(ab) that hazardous asteroids are 10 times more likely to hit Earth than previously thought!
(q) BBC Focus Magazine, July 2014, page 67.
(ak) Atlantis, Volume 24, Nos 3/4, April-July, 1971.