[meteorite-list] A Metallic Asteroid May Have Coincided With The Fall Of Rome
From: Sterling K. Webb <kelly_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 10:18:26 2004
Hi, Mark, Ron, List,
The event you're referring to, Mark, happened in 534-537 AD, not
436-437. There are two books out about this event. One is by the Irish
dentrochronologist Bailley (spelling of name uncertain) and I can't
immediately recall the author of the other.
One suggests a small comet or asteroid strike as the best explanation
for all these sudden disastrous events; the other suggests an eruption of
Krakatoa. There was an earlier eruption of Krakatoa that was about 10
times bigger than the 1880's event, and there are lots of places where
that eruption's ash and lava can be found.
BUT, so far it has proved undatable. Geologically, it can only be
pinned down to a 1200 year range of likely dates, which is a pretty loose
fit. There were a number of authors who have dealt with parts and pieces
of this puzzle previously.
The British astronomers Clube and Napier found evidence 20 years ago
for an impact event at this time in England and for numerous other small
"strikes" in many parts of the globe; they suggest a "shower" event in
which the Earth was bombarded by a multiplicity of small to medium
strikes which would not leave one big crater but many small, easily
eroded ones. And a shower event, could be spread out over many years, of
course, or repeat periodically for a century or so.
And then, there's the recently suggested connection between impact
events and volcanic events, which might mean that chosing one cause or
the other (impact vs. volcanic) is less clear cut than it might seem. Of
course, this idea has earned its share of pooh-pooh'ing. I suggested it
40 years when I was a grad student and received more than my share of
pooh's as I recall.
As a physicist, my argument was that sudden volcanic and tectonic
events (earthquakes) have to be triggered by something (physical things
have causes), since the configuration of forces that makes them happen
remains in force for years, decades, centuries without anything at all
happening, then all at once they let go.
There is no obvious cause detectable for these events (else we could
predict them), no big change in forces, etc. Therefore, the triggering
event is not overtly large in magnitude (just bad luck). That would mean
that one good kick in the crust is more than enough if correctly placed.
Hey, we even have a name for it in physics: metastable.
Geologists don't like the idea, though... Go back and play with your
electrons, is pretty much their response.
If you like negative evidence, one could point to the fact that
disappointed vulcanologists frequently complain that this has been the
quietest century for volcanoes in a long, long time, and we haven't had
even one respectable small cratering event this century, either.
mark ferguson wrote:
> Hi Ron and List
> Seems many things happened in the 5th century AD. A
> meteorite impact sure would upset the masses, but
> findings from around the world show a significant
> volcanic event occurred about 436-437 AD. Writings
> from many places indicate severely diminished sunlight
> hrs for many months and lending credibility to the
> term "The Dark Ages". It appears that a super plinian
> volcano, very possibly Krakatoa, let loose and effects
> may well have been felt world wide. Sulphuric spikes
> in ice corings correlate the date as well as tree
> rings from lock and bog fortresses in Ireland. A
> Chinese prince writes of yellow dust falling to the
> ground so thick you can scoop up handfuls and with the
> sun shinning only dimly for an hour or two a day, he
> fears how to feed his people as the crops won't grow
> in conditions like this. A plague runs rampant though
> the "civilized world" of the Roman Empire and Europe
> since the sun shipitifullyully for a couple hours a
> day and cold temperatures have set in when it should
> be warm. Famine hits hard in South America and disease
> speads in the Moche Empire. This, I believe is what
> happened to the Roman Empire and the Moche of Peru. I
> also believe it caused the dark ages, and it isn't
> just a term used to describe a time of no advancement
> and loss of intelligence in a civilization.
Received on Sun 09 Feb 2003 01:39:28 AM PST