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No. 96: Nov-Dec 1994

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The 536 ad dust-veil event

Circa 536 AD, our planet suffered a great geophysical calamity, as proved in tree-ring measurements and human records of the period. Until astronomical catastrophism became more fashionable in recent years, the so-called "dust-veil" event of 536 AD was blamed on a huge volcanic eruption. Work by M.G.L. Baillie now casts doubt upon interpretation.

"Now tree-ring data, published by Professor Mike Baillie of Queens University of Belfast, has brought catastrophes almost into modern times. The tree rings show that in the mid 530s -- just about the time civilisation on Earth suffered a sharp setback -- there was a sudden decline in the rate of tree growth which lasted about 15 years. Clearly, something dramatic had happened.

"There are two possibilities: a huge volcanic eruption or a collision between the Earth and a solid object: an asteroid or comet. Ice-cores drilled from Greenland show no evidence of large-scale volcanic activity at that time, so Professor Baillie and others now believe a cosmic impact is more likely. The result would have been to throw up a huge veil of dust and debris, cooling the Earth and producing widespread crop failures."

(Anonymous; "Raining Death and Dark Ages," London Times, July 27, 1994. Cr. A. Rothovius)

In the scientific literature, Baillie has elaborated on the cosmic-projectile theme, adding that the dust veil could also have been created when the solar system passed through a cloud of cosmic dust.

(Baillie, M.G.L.; "Dendrochronology Raises Questions about the Nature of the AD 536 Dust-Veil Event," The Holocene, 4:212, 1994. Cr. L. Ellenberger)

Comment. The scientific literature hints of dust-veil events in more recent times: (1) the white-sky phenomenon of 1912; and (2) the "dry fog" of 1783. See details in GWC1 and GWD4 in Tornados, Dark Days, etc. Ordering information here.

From Science Frontiers #96, NOV-DEC 1994. 1994-2000 William R. Corliss