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No. 8: Fall 1979

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Old tektites in young sediments?

A curious little geological debate now going on concerns the Australian tektites. The age of formation for these tektites, as determined by both fissiontrack and potassium-argon dating lies between 700,000 and 860,000 years. Geological evidence, however, suggests that the tektites fell only 7,000 to 20,000 years ago -- a substantial discrepancy. Surely, say some, these old tektites were washed out of some equally old deposits and transported to the young strata where they now reside. Not so, say Australian geologists, because most of these tektites are found in areas devoid of outcroppings 700,000 years old. Furthermore, the rather fragile tektites show little signs of wear, as they should if transported by flood waters for long distances. These and other geological facts militate against the 700,000-year date. Geologists have questioned the two dating techniques, while geophysicists think the geological evidence is shaky.

(Chalmers, R.O., et al; "Australian Microtektites and the Stratigraphic Age of the Australites," Geological Society of America, Bulletin, 90:508, 1979.)

Comment. It is important to resolve this issue because the dating methods employed are crucial to the now-dominant theory of plate tectonics. In particular, the 700,000-year figure seems to represent a major crisis in biological and geological history.

Reference. We expand on the tektite "age paradox" in ESM3 in our Catalog: Neglected Geological_Anomalies. For a description of this volume, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #8, Fall 1979. 1979-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

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  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987