The official “discovery” of America in 1492 was preceded just one year earlier by another calamitous event that took place on the other side of the world. Unlike the historic voyage undertaken by Christopher Columbus, however, a momentous occurrence in the South Pacific would go unrecognized for more than five centuries.
In 2003 scientists identified the location of a peculiar feature on the seafloor at the southern edge of New Zealand’s continental shelf. Just south of the Snares Islands, 75 miles southwest of Stewart Island, at more than 500 feet beneath the ocean surface, they found an immense crater 13 miles across. Australian geomorphologist Edward Bryant, with assistance from other professors at Wollongong University, determined that it was not the remains of a sunken volcano but had been excavated by the impact of a celestial object on February 13, 1491. Ascertaining this exact date was made possible by telltale ash layers preserved in an icecore drilled from Siple Dome, so-called because of the 75-mile-wide, 60-mile-long icedome’s proximity to the Siple Coast, along the east side of Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf.
Named Mahuika after the Maori god of fire, the New Zealand depression’s astronomical identity was confirmed by elemental anomalies diagnostic of an extraterrestrial impact, plus the existence of characteristically affected fossil and mineral remains in the area. Among the most reliable and widespread evidence was a profusion of tektites within a 137-mile radius of the strike. Tektites are pieces of natural glass formed when a massive, extremely hot impact liquefies rock and minerals together in the immediate vicinity, combining with sand, and shot into the atmosphere. Mahuika tektites are orange, light green, and clear in visible light.
These and related geological proofs enabled investigators to determine that the comet, asteroid, or large meteor that struck the southwest Pacific in the late fifteenth century triggered widespread seismic upheaval, including numerous volcanic eruptions, throughout the already geologically unstable region. A 57-acre landmass, 3.5 miles wide and 850 feet high, was heaved up from the bottom of Hauraki Gulf, near Auckland, to become Rangitoto Island. These geologic incidents wiped out many animal species, including the moa, predatory Adzebills, and 11 species of flightless birds.
Also driven to extinction was the giant Haast’s Eagle, named after the late nineteenth-century German geologist, Julius von Haast, who first classified the Pouakai, as it was called by the Mauori. This, the largest eagle ever known to have existed, was also the biggest known true raptor, slightly larger even than today’s largest living vultures. It weighed as much as 33 pounds and spread its wings at 9 feet, 10 inches. Even though the largest extant eagles are about 40 percent smaller in body size than Haast’s Eagle, it achieved speeds of 50 miles per hour or more in attack, with “a bodily striking force equivalent to a cinder block falling from the top of an eight-story building” (Kennedy Warne. “Hotspot: New Zealand,” National Geographic Magazine, October 2002). Given its monstrous size, strength and speed, biologists believe the Pouakai was capable of living up to its reputation in Maori legend as a man-killer. But it could not survive the onslaught unleashed by the massive bolide that crashed into the Pacific Ocean more than 500 years ago.
Native New Zealanders were no less threatened. They abruptly abandoned their coastal settlements, but many must have been overcome by mega-tsunamis that rampaged across the Pacific. The towering waves left signs of their widespread devastation in ocean-bottom sediment for early twenty-first century investigators to find throughout eastern Australia at 426 feet above sea level. Comparable deposits dated to the same period occur on the eastern side of Lord Howe Island, in the middle of the Tasman Sea. Even higher levels reaching 492 feet above sea level were found at Australia’s Mason Bay, off the southeast coast of Victoria. But the highest bands occur at Rakiura, New Zealand’s third-largest island, at 721 feet above sea level.
These depositions mean that immense quantities of beach sand were lofted inland by waves ranging from 426 to 721 feet high. Bryant found evidence of 426-foot-high waves generated by Mahuika as far from the impact center as the coast of New South Wales, 300 miles away. By means of comparison, the largest historical earthquakes on record have produced waves up to 196 feet high. Japan was ravaged last March 11 by a seismically induced tsunami that reached a maximum height of 133 feet at Miyako, Iwate prefecture, Tohoku. The National Police Agency there confirmed 15,805 deaths, 5,927 injured, and 4,040 persons missing, in excess of 125,000 buildings destroyed with more than twice as many vehicles lost. Tsunamis produced by the fifteenth century impact were more than six times more powerful than 2011’s Great East Japan Earthquake.
So potent was the Mahuika Event, Bryant speculates, it may have caused the contemporaneous Little Ice Age, a lowering of temperatures around the planet climatologists are still at a loss to explain. He is joined by other professional colleagues from Australia, France, Ireland, Russia, and the U.S. in an ad hoc consortium of established experts in geology, geophysics, geomorphology, tsunamis, tree-ring dating, and archaeology, including the structural analysis of myth. Their ranks include such academic luminaries as Marie-Agnès Courty, a pioneering soil scientist from the European Center for Prehistoric Research, in Tautavel, France; Dee Breger, director of microscopy, Drexel University, Philadelphia; and Bruce Masse, an internationally recognized environmental archaeologist at New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The Holocene Impact Working Group (HIWG) they formed emerged in the Canary Islands from a December 2004 workshop held there on “Comet/Asteroid Hazards.” They began to suspect that mainstream astronomers were wrong in teaching that large-scale extraterrestrial impacts occur on Earth only once every five-hundred thousand to one million years. Instead, group members set out to show that one celestial object hits our planet, generating an explosion equivalent to a ten-megaton bomb, every one thousand years. Their estimate is based on evidence they subsequently collected for five to ten large astronomical collisions over the last ten thousand years, since the close of the last glacial epoch, popularly referred to as the “Ice Age,” until our present time. That climate period is known as the “Holocene.”
HIWG investigators continue to search for clues on the ocean bottom, where they assume a majority of impact craters must have been made, because most of the Earth’s surface is covered by salt water. Some 185 impact craters have been surveyed on land, which makes up less than 30 percent of our planet’s surface. It stands to reason that, over time, far many more extraterrestrial objects must have struck the oceans, but no one has spent much time looking for any traces of them. Turning to this neglected field, HIWG researchers use satellite imagery to locate the presence of suggestive landforms, especially chevrons, because such patterns on the seafloor were caused by mega-tsunamis.
They are wedge-shaped sediment deposits oriented in the direction of specific impact craters. When several such figures all point in the same direction to open water, they often lead to oceanic astroblemes, scenes of the collisions that caused them. A case in point is the discovery of sea-floor chevrons at the bottom of northern Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria, signifying impacts associated with an infamous climatic event beginning in AD 535, when the Northern Hemisphere experienced no summers for ten, consecutive years.
But I was particularly interested in the recent find of four, enormous, wedge-shaped configurations all indicating a specific area on the floor of the Indian Ocean between southeast Africa and western Australia, dated to 3100 BC. This was the same year associated in Survivors of Atlantis (VT: Bear & Company), with a global cataclysm, a veritable event horizon that sharply delineated the sudden emergence of historic civilization from murky prehistory.
In my 2004 book, I tried to show that Comet Encke (named after its early nineteenth century discoverer, the German astronomer, Johann Franz Encke) narrowly missed the earth, raining down a barrage of meteoric debris to prompt mass-migrations from an extraordinarily high culture. Survivors sailed west to the Americas, jump-starting Mesoamerican civilization on the Mexican coast at Vera Cruz. Others fled eastward to impact the Nile Valley, the Fertile Crescent, and Indus Valley. If the Indian Ocean chevrons did indeed point to a 3100 BC impact crater, its discovery would support the probability of a cometary catastrophe near the close of the fourth millennium BC.
Each of the subsurface chevrons discovered at the southern end of Madagascar by HIWG researchers cover more than 62 square miles, with sediment thousands of feet deep, suggesting a tsunami of epic proportions once swept over the Indian Ocean. On close inspection, the chevron deposits were found to contain deep-sea micro-fossils fused with a medley of metals typically formed by cosmic strikes. Additionally, carbonate crystals were recovered from the area in question, together with translucent carbon spherules and fragments of mineral glass. Moreover, core samples from the Fenambosy chevron yielded high levels of nickel and magnetic components commonly associated with impact ejecta.
Encouraged by these discoveries, the investigators steered their search instruments in the direction indicated by the pointing chevrons until they came upon an almost perfectly circular, eighteen-mile-wide depression lying 12,500 feet below the surface of the sea. Referred to as the Burckle Crater, it had been violently excavated by a large asteroid or comet capable of killing off a quarter of the world’s population 5,100 years ago. The resulting tsunami was at least 600 feet high, about 13 times as huge as the wave that inundated Indonesia seven years ago. HIWG paleo-climatologists noted that a boundary change from middle to late Holocene took place at the same time and wondered if the Burckle cataclysm had been responsible for the transformation, given the vast amount of ash it threw into the atmosphere.
Other physical evidence tends to support their speculation. Astronomers already knew that the most active phase of the Taurid Meteor Stream associated with Comet Encke took place at the turn of the fourth millennium BC. As Dr. Duncan Steel concluded, “Thus the night sky around 3000 BC, and for a period of at least one or two millennia after it, was disturbed, contained one or a few major comets recurring annually, coupled with epochs (set by orbital precession) when the annual meteor storm reached prodigious levels.” Dr. Steel is a world-renowned space science authority who has worked with NASA to assess the threat of comet and asteroid collisions and investigate technologies to avert such impacts. He was Associate Professor in space technology at England’s Joule Physics Laboratory, University of Salford (1999 to 2003), and discoverer of the main-belt asteroid “9767 Midsomer Norton,” plus another 11 minor planets. Dr. Steel stated that a series of four comets spaced one month apart made “terrestrial orbit intersections” with the earth in 3100 BC.
Surviving testimony to their terrestrial influence is the 500-foot-wide Henbury crater in north-central Australia, formed around 3100 BC. At the same time, an acidity spike occurred in Greenland’s Camp Century ice core, demonstrating a large, sudden increase of ash-fall worldwide. In Uriel’s Machine (Canada: Fair Winds Press, 2001), authors Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas state that within the last ten thousand years, the direction of the earth’s magnetic field has abruptly changed only twice, more recently in 3150 BC, when a comet or its fragment struck the Mediterranean Sea.
Atlantic Ocean volcanism reached a peak around the turn of the fourth millennium BC, particularly in Iceland, at Mt. Heimay, and in the Azores, an area generally attributed to the location of Plato’s Atlantis. Massive flooding was recorded for the Tigris-Euphrates and the Nile Rivers. In Brazil, the Amazon Basin overflowed creating a now-vanished lake, Lago Amazonicas. Florida Atlantologist, Kenneth Caroli, points out “there was a climate deterioration circa 3090 BC.”
Tree rings in California’s White Mountains show that cooler, wetter conditions prevailed in the American Southwest at that time, and a so-called “dust veil event,” indicating the abrupt appearance of massive ash in the atmosphere, is documented by tree rings in Ireland and England. There was increased cosmic dust input coincident with the widespread burning of various northern European bogs, while the Dead Sea rose 300 feet. “A bombardment episode may have occurred,” according to Caroli. In Antarctica, a distinct spike in sedimentation was demonstrated at Midge Lake, Beyers Peninsula, Livingstone Island, culminating around 2900 BC.
The impact made by these catastrophic events was documented by various peoples around the globe. In Yucatan, the starting date for the Mayan Calendar was set at 3114 BC. The Hindu Kali Yuga (the last of four “world ages”) began in 3112 BC. Egypt’s first dynasty opened in 3100 BC, just as the Early Harappan Ravi Phase abruptly terminated to inaugurate civilization in the Indus Valley, and the Trojan capital of Ilion was founded. The Sumerians’ king-list states that Kish was their first city to have monarchs following a 3100 B.C. deluge, while Ireland simultaneously experienced the construction of New Grange, and the first phase of Britain’s Stonehenge began. Around 3100 B.C., massive copper mining operations got underway in the Upper Great Lakes Region of Lake Superior, just as bronze production was born on the European Continent. Persian tradition recounted specifically that the Great Flood took place in 3103 BC. Previous to that global cataclysm, the world was said to have been dominated by 72 solar dynasties. The same number occurs in the Egyptian Old Kingdom “Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor.” It tells of a distant island in the far west ruled by 72 serpent-kings before it was destroyed by “a fire from heaven” and sank into the ocean. The Egyptian myth of Osiris recounts how he was murdered by 72 conspirators. In arcane Hebrew tradition (the Cabbala), the total number of angels is 72. This repeated figure appears to have been the number of dynasties that governed an antediluvian kingdom before the late fourth-millennium-B.C. catastrophe, as remembered independently by the descendants of survivors in both the Middle East and the Nile Valley.
Such an abundance of complimentary cultural evidence is powerfully underscored by the Holocene Impact Working Group’s discovery of the Burckle impact crater, a surviving shell hole from the heavenly barrage that closed out a former age and turned the first page of recorded history.