Holes in New Mexico, and the Craters On Mars


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.

Published in: Uncategorized on February 16, 2012 at 3:09 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks again for sharing some very interesting information. Do you have any idea of legends, stories or historical records of crater impact sites? I’d like to know how much ancient societies understood this phenomena.

  2. You’re very welcome Teresa.

    In fact, there is really a rich record of catastrophic impact events in ancient myths, and legends. See Bob Kobres’s Comets and The Bronze Age collapse.

    We are only now beginning to realize that a major civilization busting impact event does not always leave a crater at all. For example: If an event like the Tunguska event of 1908 were to hit a major city like New York, it would incinerate almost everything alive directly beneath the blast. And it would level an area of thousands of square miles to the ground. All without making a crater. And it’s a bit frightening to realize that on the grand scale of Large Aerial Bursts, Tunguska wasn’t even a very big one.

    Some other references I would recommend to start off with are:

    An Overview, by Bob Kobres

    A Catastrophist Manifesto, By Han Kloosterman

    W. M. Napier’s Comets, Catastrophes, and Earth’s History And also by Bill Napier, A Neolithic comet

  3. It would occur to me that you could get some sort of information on comet storms by looking at impact scars on the moon, earth and mars. Moon would have impact craters – likely a bunch centered with similar sizes. Earth would have the density current remains. Mars would be somewhere in between – possible impact swarm for the larger fragments.

  4. There’s a two part rub to that. The standard assumption is that all impacts happen 1 bolide at a time. So the planetary scientists at NASA like to estimate the age of planetary surfaces in the inner solar system by counting the number of craters. But all it would take is the impact of one large cluster of comet fragments like we see in what remains of comet Linear after it broke up to play hell with that naïve assumption. It’d throw their age estimates off by billions of years, and make decades of work counting craters in the inner solar system a pointless waste of time.


    As for density currents, in the Earth sciences, such things are also known as pyroclastic flows. The standard uniformitarian assumption is the only imaginable source of such violence on Earth is terrestrial volcanism. I’m afraid the idea of an ablative airburst event hasn’t caught on yet.

    And so far as I know at the present time I’m the only one proposing that major comet airburst storms have produced significant planetary scarring on Earth in the geologically recent past.

  5. Hey Dennis, Really enjoy your site. Two places I would like your opinion of. Lake Poopo, Bolivia. It’s theorized to be the actual location for Atlantis (no laser beams, flying cars or death ray stuff. Just a large civilization) see http://www.atlantisbolivia.org/. If you view with Google maps there looks to be a small crater to the left of the island. Is it? Also there seems to be some odd formations that resememble what happened to the mountains in Mexico. Secondly, Iturralde Structure, Bolivia. “An 8-kilometer (5-mile) wide crater of possible impact origin is shown in this view of an isolated part of the Bolivian Amazon from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). The circular feature at the center-left of the image, known as the Iturralde Structure, is possibly the Earth’s most recent “big” impact event recording collision with a meteor or comet that might have occurred between 11,000 and 30,000 years ago.” What radius of destruction would you expect from an impact that size? Could it be related to your comet hypothesis?

  6. We want you to keep an eye out for bits of spacecraft debris that are scattered across the lunar surface. The LROC camera images that Moon Zoo uses are of such high resolution that you may be able to even spot astronaut’s footprints that were left forty years ago! This is a very hard task as these objects and crash sites are very small (metres to tens of metres), but think of it as an extra challenge whilst you are measuring craters and finding other interesting geological phenomena!

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