North Central Mexico, and the planetary scarring of a Multiple Air Burst, Impact Storm

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In his map, and text, titled Geologic Map of Manuel Benavides area, Chihuahua, Mexico. Map and Chart no. 99, Geologist F. W McDowell assumes without question that only terrestrial volcanism can melt the rocks of the Earth. And this is how he describes the Benavedes structure we see above:

“The caldera is an unusual trap-door type with a hinge zone on the southwest and two separate collapse and eruption margins around the north and east. Its outer diameter is approximately 25 km, which is unusually large for the tuffs that erupted from it, suggestive of a shallow collapse. Inflation or tumescence prior to the eruptions modified a preexisting Laramide fold by bowing it outward toward the north and east; a 31.5 Ma granitoid was intruded into the fold axis, resulting in the formation of skarn deposits in the surrounding limestones of the fold.”

Being well grounded in uniformitarian/gradualist geologic theory, the very idea of a very large, multiple fragment, geo-ablative airburst event would never have occurred to him. But one critical thing that McDowell’s work does not mention is that no seismic, tomographic, or ground penetrating radar, data exists that support his unquestioned assumption that there is a volcanic vent, or magma chamber, at this location. He also fails to describe the crazy mantel physics required for a 17 mile wide, perfectly circular, “hinged trap-door” vent.

Mr. McDowell puts the age of the event at 31.5 million years ago. But the age of an ancient, and exposed, vein of intrusive granite is not a measure of the age of the perfectly pristine ignimbrites blanketing the terrains in the region as the undisturbed capstone.

It will be seen that his estimate 0f age for the emplacement of those materials is probably over-estimated by orders of magnitude. And that close examination of these, and related terrains of the region, reveals the existence of a very different kind of catastrophe from anything any geologist of the past would be capable of imagining. At least, not from the safe, and comfy, uniformitarian/gradualist-assumptive, geophysical paradigm the Earth sciences have used without question, as the foundation of their thinking  for more than 150 years.

The unquestioned assumptions that only terrestrial volcanism can melt the surface of the Earth, or that all geomorphology in the past was the work of  uniform, and gradual, forces we see going on around us today, and ‘The present is the key to the past”, are as hopelessly naïve as flat world theory, or a children’s bedtime story.

Using modern satellite imagery, a very compelling case can be made that Benavedes is on the northeastern edge, of the primary impact zone of a very large, multiple fragment, geo-ablative airburst, impact storm. And that the event happened on a continent wide scale of terrestrial violence that no one on Earth could have conceived of at all until we all saw the fragments of Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter.

I propose that the Benavides structure is not volcanogenic at all. And that it is, in fact, a very different kind of geo-ablative airburst astrobleme. Furthermore, a very good case can be made that it was produced by a few of the larger fragments to fall in a vast cluster, about 500 miles wide, of large, air bursting, comet fragments that hit central Mexico, and west Texas, over a period of only a few seconds, and just a few thousand years ago.

The impact zone is defined as the green oval in the image map below. Most of the examples I present from the Chihuahuan Ignimbrites are within the area circled in red. Benavedes represents a very small part of the overall violence. And it can be found just to the right of the center of the red oval.

ImpactZone

The first thing that caught my eye about the Benavedes structure was that 17 mile wide ring. And the smaller 8 mile wide ring superimposed over it. I saw a very large explosion do something like that a long time ago in the Army, in a training film; albeit on a much smaller scale.

They were showing us examples of different kinds of explosions, and their resulting ground effects. And in one example, a very large, very fast falling, bomb detonated above ground at just the right height to make a ring structure like that. The speed of the falling bomb was about the same as the speed of the expanding detonation shockwave. So that when it detonated just above ground like that, the downwards momentum of the bomb was coupled in with the pressure of detonation shockwave. Instead of a crater, It concentrated the overpressures at the edge of the shockwave. And that shockwave cut into the ground like a giant cookie cutter.

So we see the 17 mile wide, surface compression shock ring from the giant, above ground, explosion of a falling object. But look closely, we also see the shock ring of a smaller explosion about 8 miles wide superimposed over the larger one. So we know we’re looking at the blast effected materials of multiple blasts.

The big one came first. It’s blast wave scoured the ground down to bedrock inside the circle. And the resulting geo-ablative materials were thrown outside the circle. And it’s the lack of symmetry to the emplacement of the resulting ejecta that’s our first clue that we are looking at only a small part of a much larger event.

Notice the character of the materials in the arrowhead shaped splash of ejecta blown to the northwest. It was laid down in the first blast that also produced the larger ring.

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It is perfectly clear that these materials were airborne at the moment of emplacement. This melt didn’t flow along the ground like a lava flow. It flew there in a giant splash of ejecta. And when you zoom in closer, you’ll see that the individual splashes of melted rock are perfectly pristine.

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Zoom in as closely as you like. You’ll see that, since the time of the emplacement event, when this melt splashed down here, there is no sign of weathering, or decomposition of the individual splashes of melt at all .

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There might be a vein of 31.5 million year old intrusive granite exposed in the Benavedes structure. But the age of that ancient, and exposed granitoid intrusion is not a valid indicator of the age of the perfectly pristine splashes of melt blanketing the surface terrains of this 10 mile long splash of ejecta.

The second explosive pulse produced the smaller 8 mile wide surface compression ring on the northern edge of the larger ring. As well as the shorter ejecta curtains on the north, and east of the structure.

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The white line is 1 mile for scale. The way those flows can be seen to have inter-fingered as they collided, at the ridge tops, and leading edges of the flows is consistent with a very fast emplacement of the entire blanket of melt in only a few short seconds.

As with the materials in the Arrowhead shaped splash. These blankets of melt did not look any different when they were still fresh, hot, and smoking.

Mr. McDowell assumes an age of 31.5 Million years, based on the age of the rock that granitoid intrusion. But there is no valid reason to assume that the age of that ancient, and exposed, vein of intrusive granite is the same as the perfectly pristine surface melt formations, that were formed, and emplaced, there. And in spite of the assumption of ancient age, there is no visible sign whatsoever of weathering, or decomposition, in the flow features of the upper layers of melt.

There is no such thing as immortality.  Even the rocks of the Earth crumble to dust after a few million years of exposure to the elements. And since the time of their formation, and emplacement, the stone in the melt formations at Benavedes is in much better condition than the stone we see in the monuments, and ruins, of bronze age Mediterranean civilizations. And those rocks are only a few thousand years old.

But why are the blast effected materials of this explosive event so directional? Ejecta from these blasts flew more than 10 miles to the northwest. What happened to the ejecta on the opposite side of the ring structure? Why didn’t they fly just as far? Stay with me here. I’ll get to that.

OuterRing

Mr. McDowell can assume the Benavedes structure is a volcano if he must. But the simple, empirical fact, is that only impact events make mega breccias. Only giant impact events make mountains of them. And outside the southeast edge of the ring shaped valley of the 17 mile wide shock ring we see that the ejecta has piled up into mountains of mega breccias almost 1000 feet high.

The question of the cause for the directionality of the ejecta from the blasts will begin to make sense as we look further outside the circle.

But first, lets recap.

At Manuel Benavedes we see the detonation shock-ring of an above ground explosion hot enough, and powerful enough, that it ablated much of the surface inside the circle down to bedrock. And the heat, and pressure, of the expanding detonation shockwave pushed the resulting geo-ablative ejecta outside the circle.

But the blast pattern of this explosive event is extremely directional to the northwest. The ejecta on the northwest side of the blast flew more than ten miles. But on the southeast side, on the opposite side of the blast, the momentum of the ejecta was met by a force that was powerful enough to neutralize that momentum, and stop it in it’s tracks just outside the edge of the detonation shockwave.

So what we can say so far, is that at Benavedes we see the blast effected materials of an above ground explosion powerful enough to excavate a 17 mile wide area down to bedrock. The surface compression shockwave of the blast cut into the ground like a giant cookie cutter, forming a 1000 foot deep valley in the bottom of the resulting ring shaped depression.

Yet for all it’s power, the blast effected materials of that explosion were blown more than ten miles to the northwest by a wind already blowing from the southeast with enough force to blow the blast effect materials produced in that explosion aside like setting off a firecracker in a hurricane.

Note the ablative patterns in the mountains just west of Benavides. The arrowhead shaped splash is just off image to the right.

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The mountains in the bottom right are broken down like clumps of flower on a baker’s table. And the geo-ablative patterns of fluid flow on the mountains in the center of the image are dramatic, and obvious.

The pressure of that geo-ablative wind stood up mountains of mega breccias on the southeast edge of the Benavedes ring. The blast wind was powerful enough to knock down whole mountain ranges like clumps of flour on a bakers table. And with enough heat to ablate into them in places like a high pressure blowtorch would cut into a chunk of wax.

In the 1920s, when Harlan Bretz first noticed the patterns of fluid flow in the “Channeled Scablands” of eastern Washington, the patterns he noticed in the aerial photographs were like the ripples you see in the sediments on the bottom of a stream bed. But the ‘ripples’ in Washington are hundreds of feet high. And they were produced by a glacial mega flood.

The mountains below are just south of Benavedes. These mountains raise the ante on catastrophic violence by an order of magnitude from what Bretz was able to see in photos taken from blimps. From about 15 miles up. We see the familiar patterns of fluid flow we would expect if something flowing across a surface left the signature of its movement, like those ripples in a stream bed. But these ‘ripples’ aren’t 2” tall in a stream bed, or even 200 ft tall in a giant flood channel, like the scablands of eastern Washington. This range of mountains rises about 1ooo feet above the surrounding plain.

It wasn’t water that flowed over these mountains. And they aren’t eroded. They were ablated, and deformed, this way by the same impact storm wind that deformed the Benavedes blast, and burned its ablative signature into the mountains shown in the image above like a blowtorch cuts into wax.

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Note the compass symbol in the upper right of the image. North is to the right. When you go looking for the source of that prevailing southeast to northwest hyper thermal blast wind, and you begin to study the full extent of the catastrophe these blast effected materials describe, in addition to many examples of the geomorphology of  A thermal airburst impact structure, you’ll come to places like the one 80 miles south by southwest of Benavides where a large fragment of rock tossed from the Benavedes blast, landed in the still soft melt. That location is described in detail on the page titled An impactite in the melt.

Splash1

There is much to be learned by the character of the pathway that impactite made as it slid through the still soft melt. And we can see in the patterns of flow in the melt alongside its path, that the ignimbrites weren’t quite solidified at the moment that rock gouged a path through them. But the direction of flow we see frozen into the melt along that path, was at right angles to the path of the rock. And there is no deformation of the path itself. So we can know that the melt was still soft, but no longer in motion, at the moment the impactite hit.

By their very nature, the ignimbrites that thing landed in were themselves, deposited in a very fast, wind-driven, pyroclastic density current that had a velocity of hundreds of miles per hour.

As a wind-driven density current, they were only in fluid motion as long as the particles, and fragments of ablative melt remained in atmospheric suspension. And after the last of the ablative airbursts fell, the melt would’ve only been in fluid motion for a few scant seconds before coming to rest. Like the debris from an avalanche that sets up like concrete as the cloud of snow, and ice, comes to rest. The ignimbrites would have begun to solidify very quickly as well.

In other words, the possible time window for the still fresh ignimbrites to be stationary, yet still soft enough for the impactite to make a path through the melt like it slid through wet mud is very small. A few seconds at most.

There is no visible sign of post impact melting of the features of that rock, or the gouge it made through the melt as it came to rest. So like the final note in a vast symphony of fluid motions, it can be thought of as a temporal marker. The path of the impactite marks the exact moment of the last few seconds of the air burst impact storm that formed, and emplaced, the Chihuahuan Ignimbrites. And the perfectly pristine condition of the materials around it as the undisturbed capstone of the terrains, since the time of their emplacement, gives us a very strong indication that whatever else these geo-ablative ignimbrites, and their related terrains are, geologically old they’re not.

An important thing to keep in mind is that, no matter whether a piece of ‘ignimbrite’ is truly volcanogenic, or if we can conclude an ET origin, either way, such materials are always the product of a violent explosive event. And as the blast effected materials of an explosive event, the patterns of movement, and flow, that get frozen into them during emplacement can reveal much of the true nature of the explosive event that put them there.

I don’t want to digress into a discussion about volcanoes. But it’s important at this point to understand the internal structure of these kinds of materials, and how they move during formation, and emplacement. And why it might be easy for geologists of the past who could never have imagined such a thing as a geo-ablative airburst impact event, to get volcanic tuff, and airburst melt, confused. It’s time to put on your fluid mechanics hat.


FLOW FLUIDIZATION

From How Volcanoes Work

The extraordinary velocity of a pyroclastic flow is partly attributed to its fluidization. A moving pyroclastic flow has properties more like those of a liquid than a mass of solid fragments. It’s mobility comes from the disappearance of inter-particle friction. A fluidized flow is best described as a dispersion of large fragments in a medium of fluidized fine fragments. A constant stream of hot, expanding gases keeps the smallest of the fragments (ash and lapilli size particles) in constant suspension. This solid-gas mixture can then support larger fragments that float in the matrix.

The image below below is a section of the Ignimbrite flows about halfway between Benavedes, and El Paso, Texas. The eye height is about 46,000 feet. And the area of the image is about 10 miles wide.

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The direction of movement is from left to right in the image. The clearly legible patterns of flow that were frozen into these pristine pyroclastic materials  at the moment of their formation, and emplacement, don’t make any sense at all if we assume without question that they’re volcanogenic.

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All mass movement across the surface of the Earth requires a motive force. These materials are on nearly level ground. So gravity pulling a pyroclastic flow down a slope, and away from a vent, was not the motive force in the emplacement of these pyroclastic rivers of stone. And while in motion, they didn’t move from areas of highest elevation to lowest.

Study them closely. Those are wind-driven patterns of movement, and flow. Using modern 21st century imagery, we can zoom in close enough, and with high enough resolution, to confidently assign a directional vector to every square meter of those ignimbrite sheets. We can see how it moved as easily as determining which way spilled paint flowed. And we can study the emplacement like reading a dance chart. The rivers of geo-ablative melt were ablated from their parent surfaces, and driven to the locations where they came to rest by the geo-ablative down blasts of the impact storm, like the debris laden froth, and foam, on a storm tossed beach. They moved from areas of highest atmospheric pressure to lowest.

In north central Mexico, and in the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains to the west, there are well over 350,000 cubic miles of pristine ignimbrites like this. Less than 15% can attributed to a volcano. And as we can see in these images, a careful study of the patterns of movement and flow in the ‘orphaned’ ignimbrites, clearly reveals wind-driven patterns of flow

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But they weren’t all airbursts. Here we see where a couple of the fragments, hit, and exploded at ground level. They left star fractures in the bedrock like rock dings in a windshield, and disrupted the flow patterns in the emplacement of the ignimbrites. So we know they happened during the emplacement event. If you spend a few thousand hours studying the emplacement of all of this melt, you’re sure to run across a lot of impact fractures like these. along the way.


In the image below we’ve zoomed in closer to an altitude of about 26,000 feet. And the patterns of flow are getting easier to read.

I often use the comparison, ‘Like the debris laden froth, and foam, on a storm tossed beach.’ Here you can begin to see why.  The direction of flow is from the bottom left, to upper right.

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The detail in the image map above shows that using satellite imagery we really can map the directionality of these flows to a resolution of 1 meter per pixel.

A gravity-driven pyroclastic flow of volcanic tuff moves from highest elevation, to lowest. But a wind-driven pyroclastic flow of ablative airburst melt moves from areas of highest atmospheric pressure to lowest.

During their emplacement, and while they were in motion, the ignimbrites could be thought of as an unconstrained, fluid. Since the motions of an unconstrained fluid are defined by the forces that move it, then when those lines of flow become frozen into rivers of flash melted stone, the patterns of motion become a permanent, and faithful, record of the forces that melted, and moved them.

With an overlay that assigns a directional vector to each pixel of image data in the impact zone, our image map becomes a flow map. And a very highly detailed barometric pressure map of the violently hot, and turbulent, atmospheric conditions driving the formation, and emplacement, of all the melt in North Central Mexico, and Southwest Texas.

The long standing mystery of the source vents, and magma chambers, for all these pristine rivers of flash melted stone, is resolved in the profoundly simple realization that there aren’t any. They didn’t come out of the ground. The sources of all the ignimbrites are simply the barren, ablated, areas behind them where there are no ignimbrites.

And like the melt formations at Manuel Benavedes, the heat, and pressure, to melt, and move, them didn’t come from below either.

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