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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