In Many of my previous posts I’ve focused a lot of attention on some of the “enigmatic depressions” in New Mexico. And there seems to be a strong resistance to the idea that they could actually be impact structures. The most common assumption I hear is that since there are so many of them, they must be all sinkholes.
But as I pointed out in the post titled Sinkholes n Craters, since all material movement in the formation of a karst sinkhole is downwards, there is nothing at all in that process that could account for raised rims between two overlapping sinkholes. And we can clearly see raised rims between craters in the image below.
Here’s a few more examples:
Another common argument I’ve heard is that they don’t look anything like the morphology of a crater; citing the lack of obvious ejecta. I don’t know how long those folks would expect any ejecta from an impact event to survive undisturbed under the influence of the wind, and rain. But let’s look at some certifiable impact structures on mars.
Below is a hi resolution image of a fairly small location inside Gusev crater on Mars. The landing site of the Spirit rover is circled in the bottom left of the image. And if you click on the image for an enlarged view, you can make out the three petals of the landing platform the rover drove off of after landing. The largest crater in the image is Bonneville crater. It is 210 meters in diameter, 14 meters deep and its rim rises 6.4 meters above the surrounding terrain.
It does not rain there, but the wind blows. And as you can see, even with the very high resolution, there is also no obvious expression of the ejecta from any of those craters either.
I hope you’ll take your time. And closely compare the images of terrains in New Mexico with this image of the surface of Mars.
The standard assumption has always been that all impact events, great, or small, must be the result of the impact of a single lone bolide. And part and parcel with that assumption is that they rain down on any given surface in the solar system at a slow, and steady, rate.
So the consensus among planetary scientists is that one can therefore estimate the age of a planetary surface by counting the number of craters. The fewer the craters in any given surface, the younger that surface is thought to be.
But while there is nothing in the images of Mars, or the Moon, that might bring the assumption of a steady impact rate into question, from a forensic perspective those in new Mexico describe a different kind of catastrophic impact event. They all appear in surfaces that can be dated to the Late Pleistocene or Early Holocene. And they describe the almost simultaneous impact of a large cluster of small fragments sometime around the end of the last ice age. Or right about the time something caused the mass extinction of most of the megafauna in North America. And triggered a return to Ice age conditions that lasted something like 1,300 years.
Astronomer W.M. Napier proposed just such an event in his 2010 paper titled Palaeolithic extinctions and the Taurid Complex. In that paper Professor Napier points out that the breakup of comets is now a well recognized path to their destruction.
And if if you are wondering how hard clusters of fragments like I’ve described are to be found in the celestial zoo, it doesn’t take much time to find them. They’re really fairly common.
As a matter of fact take a look at a Hubble Telescope image of the fragments of Comet Linear.
Or the fragments of comet Swchassmann Wachmann 3
The simple fact is that clusters of comet fragments orbiting in the plane of the ecliptic, and in elliptical orbits that cross the orbits of all the inner planets are very common. Therefore cluster impact events must be far more common than has been assumed in the past.
And all it would take is one impact by a cluster of comet fragments like we see above to make NASAs unquestioned assumption that you can estimate the age of a planetary surface by counting the number of craters, and all of the studies based on that assumption meaningless.