Secrets of the Carolina Bays

The Untold Story of the Younger Dryas

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CAPTIONS: False color image of the Carolina Bays using LIDAR height measuring technology. Uniform in shape, the bays line up in the same direction. (Image courtesy of North Carolina Department of Transport, LIDAR Flood Mapping Project)

Different Bay populations have different orientations, but vectors extended from all bays, clearly intersect in the Great Lakes region. (Image courtesy of Michael Davias)

The last of the mammoths, before the Apocalypse. All North American megafauna was wiped out precisely 12,900 years ago, at the very beginning of the Younger Dryas Ice Age period.

There is an enduring mystery from prehistoric North America, involving geology, astronomy, climatology and zoology. Unraveling it could tell us a great deal about our world, its history, its climate, its vulnerability, and possibly even our future.

This mystery centers on the so-called Carolina Bays, scattered over, not just the Carolinas, but also Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Kansas, and Nebraska. In fact, the latest survey suggests there are more than 500,000 Bays across these states. Readers might be excused for asking, “Carolina whats?” Despite their pivotal role in the formation of North America, the Bays are anything but well known. The reason they have flown under the popular education and media radar, is that, to this day, no researchers seem to know just what they are.

(In the 1970s, German author Otto Muck, famously argued in his book The Secret of Atlantis [English title] that the Carolina Bays were caused by the breakup of an asteroid before crashing into what is now the Caribbean and destroying what he said was then Atlantis. —ED)

The Carolina Bays are elliptical depressions in sandy sedimentary lands that range from about 50 yards to 10 miles across. And the strangest thing about them is that they all have the same outline and face in the same direction. But what could make surface features collectively point in the same direction? It was proposed by Professor R.T. Kaczorowski (“The Carolina Bays: a Comparison with Modern Oriented Lakes Technical Report no. 13-CRD,” Coastal Research Division, Department of Geology, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina) that they were wind formed over hundreds of years. But equivalent wind-formed lakes in Alaska are misshapen and lie on low boggy ground. The Carolina Bays, by contrast, are virtually uniform in appearance and are spread across both low and higher ground.

Just why anyone would suggest that these enigmatic ‘bays’ were wind formed is perplexing, since they all point towards the same point of origin. As we have indicated, there are collections of similar patterns in several states, but they point in many directions. On the other hand, if we track the various orientations of the Carolina Bays, we find the vast majority point to, and triangulate with, the center of the Great Lakes region.

Initially the bays were deemed to point toward the west of the Great Lakes region. But, apparently, none of the experts bothered to adjust the focal point of Bay origins for Coriolis effects—the apparent force that bends the flight of projectiles in the northern hemisphere to the right. ‘Coriolis’ is caused by the earth’s spin and it affects everything, from the flight of military shells, to the spiraling of hurricanes, which, in the northern hemisphere, is always counterclockwise.

(The Coriolis force was first stated formally as a mathematical formula in an 1835 paper by French scientist Gaspard-Gustave Coriolis, in connection with his theory of water wheels. The term Coriolis force was first employed in connection with meteorology early in the twentieth century. —ED)

This gaping error in the study of the Carolina Bays was not addressed until about 2010, when independent researcher Michael Davias ( recalculated the bay orientations, taking into account not only the Coriolis angle change but, also, making a further allowance for the impact-drift angle. The result, it would appear, is that all of the many Carolina Bay populations point to the center of the Great Lakes. (Michael Davias:


The Younger Dryas Impact

The conclusion is that the Carolina Bays are, in all likelihood, impact-crater depressions. Not, however, depressions created directly by an incoming comet or meteor shower, as many of the earlier researchers claimed, but depressions formed by much slower secondary projectiles displaced from a primary impact source in the Great Lakes. The symmetric flanking arrangement of secondary debris and projectiles on either side of a primary impact, is a known crater-formation pattern called the low-trajectory butterfly impact. In this particular case, the primary meteor must have entered the atmosphere from the northeast at a low angle and struck the center of the Great Lakes region, resulting in two wings of debris being lifted up on either side of the primary impact. Not so much material, however, was displaced to the front or rear of the primary crater, which is why this type of impact is called a butterfly formation.

The reason the northwestern wing of this butterfly is missing is that, at the time, this region was probably covered by an ice-sheet. So the secondary projectiles, here, merely splashed onto the ice sheet and left no trace on the post-glacial surface. The implied presence of an ice sheet covering Dakota and Canada raises questions regarding the form and composition of the secondary projectiles and, also, to the era in which these impacts would have occurred. During the many Ice Ages that have befallen Earth, scientists believe, the Great Lakes area was covered by a mile-thick ice sheet, and for nearly two million years. Barring a few short interglacial periods, the so-called ‘Laurentide’ ice sheet covered the region for most of this time, which would suggest a high likelihood that the primary impact occurred on this massive ice sheet.

Richard B. Firestone (R. B. Firestone, A. West, and S. Warwick-Smith, The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes: Flood, Fire, and Famine in the History of Civilization, 2006, Bear & Company) claimed that the shock wave from this Great Lakes impact created the Carolina Bays. The suggestion, however, that a transient shock wave and wind could have created these massive surface formations of heavy sedimentary silts and sands seems, to me, nonsensical. Michael Davias, I believe, has provided a more plausible mechanism for Bay formation, proposing that the secondary projectiles were blobs of sands and silts uplifted from the primary impact site. Alternatively, researcher and author Antonio Zamora, in his 2014 book, Killer Comet—What the Carolina Bays Tell Us, claimed the Bays were probably made by the impacts of large lumps of ice. If a meteor strikes a mile-thick ice sheet, then the ejecta material must surely include blocks of ice. However, I personally do not find these arguments persuasive.

The more likely explanation, I suspect, is that the primary impact thoroughly smashed and crushed the Laurentide ice sheet before ejecting this crushed ice on a ballistic path toward Carolina, Georgia, and Nebraska—a parabolic suborbital lob that would have taken about eight minutes. So the icy secondary projectiles that eventually splattered in two giant butterfly arcs around the primary impact site had the consistency of snowballs or slush balls rather than of solid blocks of ice. And being soft and deformable, these ultrasonic slush balls left a distinctive morphology upon landing. Only the soft alluvial material would have been marked, not the harder surfaces. Shallow depressions, rather than craters, would have been formed, leaving the subsurface strata undisturbed. Directional ellipses would have been created. After melting away, the icy projectiles would have left no ‘alien’ strata of silicates and clays.


The Impact Era

Having deciphered, I think, the most likely reason for the formation of the Carolina Bays, the next question, it seems, would concern the all-important, but currently unknown, date for this devastating impact-shower. The answer may well be revealed by a closer look at the Bay populations. The impact depressions are, in fact, so plentiful and so widely distributed, that during the bombardment, contemporary flora and fauna must have been virtually extinguished over a vast expanse of North America. As can be seen in the satellite photography of many areas, the elliptical Bays cover the entire landscape, and nothing whatsoever could have survived in the many effected regions. But these are not the only regions that suffered such impacts. They are merely the regions where these slush ball projectiles were fast enough, large enough, and the surface was soft enough, for an enduring mark to be left on the landscape. Indeed, the target region for ejecta may have been much more extensive than the remaining Bay record would suggest.

Another peril would have been the searing surface temperatures generated before these slush balls struck. The air on the leading edge of an ultrasonic slush ball entering the atmosphere at a ‘leisurely’ mach-7, would be heated to about 3,000c—boiling off layer after layer of icy material, just like the ablative heat-shield on an old-fashioned Apollo reentry capsule.

The stagnation air temperature for a Mach-7 projectile at 80,000 feet is about 4,000ºc. The projectile would be slowing down as it reenters, and the stagnation air temperature for a Mach-4 projectile at 20,000 ft. is about 2,000ºc. The stagnation temperature is the temperature an air molecule will experience, if it is struck and accelerated by an ultrasonic body (the molecule becomes stagnant relative to the fast-moving body). The U.S. Space Shuttle initially reentered the upper atmosphere at a staggering Mach-25, before rapidly slowing. (

And while a single fiery reentry vehicle is not going to affect the atmosphere or ground very much, a million projectiles flying in tight formation may well do so. The radiated heat from such a fiery formation may have been, in itself, lethal to all flora and fauna. So here was a classic trial by fire and ice. Any animals caught on the surface during such a dense aerial bombardment would have been instantly extinguished, either by fire, superheated steam, flying debris, deadly shockwaves, or have been encased in ice. The event would have resembled a WWI fusillade on the fields of Flanders, but multiplied a million-fold. Nothing would have survived. In a giant arc from Maryland through the Carolinas and Georgia, onto Kansas and Nebraska, not a tree, a bush, nor a blade of grass would have been left standing.

This instantaneous catastrophe, however, does not even begin to include the wider climatic response to the enormous primary impact. Michael Davias has calculated that the secondary slush balls reached up to 150 miles above Earth, during their suborbital flight towards their butterfly-target areas. But while most of the slush balls had enough mass to reenter the atmosphere, a large proportion of them would have vaporized and stayed aloft as ice crystals and water vapor, blanketing the atmosphere with a fine fog of icy particles. Such a dense layer in the high stratosphere, and even mesosphere, would have had a significant cooling effect on the world climate. Modern climatologists try to scare us with ‘tipping-points’ and ‘runaway events’ after every insignificant hurricane or paltry snowstorm. This event, though, could have been a real tipping point, with perhaps tens or hundreds of years of significantly reduced insulation to warm the surface, and it could have led to the rapid descent into another Ice Age.

If this is true, then the Carolina Bay impacts must be coincident with a mass extinction of fauna, especially in North America, and also coincident with a major change in the climate of the northern hemisphere. The only mass extinction and dramatic climatic event that would match these dual criteria within the last million years or more, is the great Pleistocene extinction at the beginning of the Younger Dryas period some 12,900 years ago, suggesting, I believe, that the primary and secondary impacts that created the Carolina Bays must have happened 12,900 years ago. The Younger Dryas was an era coincident with: the mass extinction of all American megafauna; the extinction of Clovis Man; the extinction of other megafauna across the northern hemisphere; and a significant and enduring cooling of the climate.

On that apocalyptic day, a large meteor streaked across the northern Polar Regions. It skimmed low across Quebec before ploughing into the Laurentide ice sheet that covered the Great Lakes region, creating an enormous elliptical crater in the ice. The displaced ice from this hyper-velocity impact was fractured and crushed into a fine paste, and blobs of this icy material were ejected at ultra-velocity up though the atmosphere and into a ballistic arc down towards their final destination. Millions of these slush balls, of uniform teardrop shape but widely varying sizes, splattered in two giant wings across central and eastern North America, forming clusters of identical elliptical impact depressions orientated towards the Great Lakes area. Thus only 12,900 years ago, the entire eastern half of North America was virtually obliterated, and the world plunged into a little Ice Age.


Ralph Ellis is an author and researcher who has written ten books on revisionary biblical history, and two books on the great megalithic monuments of the world. His latest research is into the celestial and climatic mechanisms that modulated the Ice Ages. For more information, see

Ralph Ellis