539 AD and 1014 AD . . . the tsunamis from hell
Two massive comet or asteroid strikes in the past 1500 years altered Eastern North America’s history. The one in 539 AD devastated the South Atlantic Coast and permanently changed its geography. It left the South Atlantic Coastal Plain almost uninhabited. Hundreds of Uchee and Muskogean communities were wiped off the face of the earth. For obvious reasons, survivors headed north to the mountains.
Over a decade ago, I attended a conference in Macon, GA on the Swift Creek Culture. An anthropology professor matter-of-factly mentioned that all the Swift Creek Culture villages in the South Atlantic Coastal Plain were abandoned around 550 AD. About the same time, a large town with mounds on the Etowah River in Northwest Georgia began a rapid decline.
I asked the professor that didn’t he think it was odd that all these villages were below the Fall Line, while the Swift Creek Culture continued above the Fall Line in the Upper Piedmont and Southern Appalachians? About 50 years later, the mound-building Napier Culture appeared in the same region.
The professor had no answer and presented the impression that this was not significant issue. He was wrong, and geologists now have the answer. It’s happened before and it could happen again.
The 1014 AD tsunami in the North Atlantic
A thousand years ago the coasts of North America and Western Europe were devastated by the impact of an object or objects from space. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed by a combination of superheated steam and supersonic particles in North America, followed by sudden wall of water that came crashing down on communities in North America and Europe a few hours later.
A recent computer simulation, which created the image above, was carried out by the scientists of the Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It calculated the impact of a comet striking the North Atlantic Ocean at a speed up to 150,000 mph (241,401 km/h). All humans living on the coast from Newfoundland to Florida would have been exterminated.
In South Carolina, the tidal surge would have drowned most people living around Winyah Bay, Charleston Bay and Port Royal Sound, leaving the bays uninhabited. In Georgia, the tidal surge would have pushed up the Altamaha and Savannah Rivers at least 50 miles, inundating riverside villages.
Evidence in Europe of a catastrophe in 1014 AD
European scholars have always known about the records of a massive wave of water that swept up the rivers and estuaries of northwestern Europe on September 28, 1014. That would be September 22 in the calendar used today. Historians in each country affected probably assumed that the tsunami was a local phenomenon until recent years, when they began comparing notes. There was no mention of earthquakes prior to the tidal wave. They suspected that something extremely large or a cluster of large objects struck the North Atlantic Ocean, but initially couldn’t prove it.
Dr. Simon Haslett, a geology professor at the University of Wales has been studying the accumulating evidence produced by other geologists, and also historians. In 2012 he found evidence of tsunami damage along the coasts all continents that adjoin the Atlantic. He also found absolute proof both in geological and historical records of a smaller tsunami that killed thousands of people along the coasts of Cornwall, Wales and Ireland on January 20, 1606 AD.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle tells us that in England 1014 AD, on the night of St. Michael’s day (September 28, 1014) “came the great sea-flood, which spread wide over this land, and ran so far up as it never did before, overwhelming many towns, and an innumerable multitude of people.”
It is estimated that about 80,000 people died in the British Isles from this wave. The numbers may have been higher, because Irish and Scottish geological records indicated even more catastrophic effects on their Atlantic coasts. However, there is less specific information about which towns and villages were destroyed. Several credible observers stated that there was a blue haze in the night time sky for many years after the tidal wave.
Other Medieval records confirm the geological evidence. William of Malmesbury in “The History of the English Kings” (vol. 1) states, “A tidal wave, of the sort which the Greeks call euripus, grew to an astonishing size such as the memory of man cannot parallel, so as to submerge villages many miles inland and overwhelm and drown their inhabitants.”
A sea flood is also mentioned in the Chronicle of Quedlinburg Abbey (Saxony), where it states many people died as a result of the flood in the Low Countries (Jutland, Holstein, Friesland, the Netherlands and Belgium) in 1014. Lower waves also struck Denmark and Sweden.
The 1014 tsunami in North America
Now geologists in North America are finding solid evidence that the effects of the 1014 tsunami or a cluster of tsunamis in that year were even more catastrophic on the Atlantic Coast. The impact was so violent that extraterrestrial debris splattered inland along the coasts of Canada and the United States southward to the islands of the Caribbean.
Forensic geologist Dallas Abbott of the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University has found evidence of a large meteor or comet strike in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, which hurled extraterrestrial debris over 3800 km (2361 miles) to a bog in the Black Rock Forest in New York. The material was dated to around 1014 AD.
Abbot also found debris from a meteor or comet strike in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Basin that also dated to 1014 AD. Evidence of such a mega-tsunami during the early 11th century in the Atlantic Ocean is undoubtedly also lurking along the coastlines of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
In 2007 a team of North Carolina geologists, led by Stephen Culver, Kathleen Ferrell and Benjamin Horsea, published evidence that the coastline of their state had once been protected by a chain of barrier islands and tidal marshes such as those that shield the mainland of Georgia. Either a Class 5 hurricane or a tsunami had destroyed these islands in the 11th century.
The Outer Banks are the remnants of these islands, which were splashed back by the ripples of a tidal surge or tsunami. These geologists are further concerned that multiple fractures in the Continental Shelf could cause the Outer Banks to slide into the ocean, creating a mega-tsunami.
The scale of this 1014 disaster would have had a major cultural impact on the indigenous peoples of the Americas. There are stone inscriptions of a great flood along the coast of Mexico and Central America in the early 11th century AD. It is possible that the Aztec legend of the death of the Fourth Sun originated in the cataclysmic events of 1014 AD.
Since the late 20th century archaeologists have known that many new communities appeared in what is now the Southeastern United States in the period between 1000 AD and 1050 AD. They cultivated several crops indigenous to Mesoamerica and South America. They introduced much more sophisticated architecture and town planning concepts.
Newcomers also appeared at a thriving village near the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, now called Cahokia, during that era. By 1050 AD the newcomers were razing the original village and building a city on a grand scale. Was massive destruction along the Gulf Coast and in the Caribbean Basin associated with these stark changes?
Currently, the earliest radiocarbon date for the Track Rock Terrace Complex in the Georgia Mountains is c. 1018 AD. It is undoubtedly no coincidence that the construction of that particular terrace followed the tsunami and multiple meteor strikes. What better location to avoid a wall of ocean water coming at you than living on the crest of a mountain?
Research into the 1014 AD disaster reveals an earlier one
Geologists have recently discovered evidence that an earlier comet or asteroid strike and tsunami in 539 AD, combined with volcanic eruptions, probably had an even more catastrophic impact on the world . . . in particular, the Southeastern United States and Caribbean Basin. The natural disaster brought down several civilizations in the Americas and triggered the Dark Ages in Europe.
The large lakes near the Fall Line, seen by early explorers of South Carolina and Georgia, probably were 1500 year old vestiges of a massive comet or asteroid strike. As will be explained below, there was formerly earthen dams across coastal rivers, in some locations over 100 feet (32 m) high
Once ice cores in Greenland and Iceland had revealed a massive spike of atmospheric ammonia levels in 1014, scientists decided to go further into the past. It has been known since 2010 that massive volcanic eruptions during the 530s AD in Mexico and Iceland left large level of trace minerals in the Arctic ice sheet. This caused the scientists to originally miss something else going on in 539 AD.
In 2013, Dr. Robert Dull of the Environmental Science Institute at the University of Texas in Austin announced results of tests, which indicated that the Ilopango volcano in El Salvador kicked off a period of cooling in the world’s climate. In 536 at least two large volcanoes also erupted in Iceland. For decades afterward a bluish haze over the northern hemisphere and tropics caused famines and probably a horrific plague.
A strain of bubonic plague began in China and by 540 AD wiped out somewhere between 30% and 50% of the population of the old Roman Empire. This “Little Ice Age” ushered in the Dark Age of Europe and made the Eastern Roman Empire extremely vulnerable to future invasions by Islamic armies from rural desert regions in the interior of the Middle East that were far less affected by the plague.
In 2009, Dallas Abbot of Columbia University found nodules associated with a major asteroid or comet strike at the “500s AD level” of the Greenland Ice Shelf. She insisted that either a comet or asteroid played a role in the climatic catastrophe. In 2010 a Greek archaeologist, Dr. Amand Laoupi, reinforced Abbot’s theories by revealing a second ammonia spike in the Arctic ice shelf in 539 AD. The spike was clearly unrelated to Icelandic volcanic activity.
When a large meteor, asteroid or comets strikes the ocean, intense heat and mechanical energy, plus several gases are released into the atmosphere. These gases are trapped in the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps. Volcanic eruptions leave several chemical traces in the ice caps; primarily sulfates. There was an enormous ammonia spike in 1014 AD. Volcanoes do not emit ammonia.
In 2013 two scientists in Japan, Haruna Sugahara and Koichi Mimura, finally answered the question of whether the catastrophic strikes in 539 AD and 1014 AD were asteroids or comets. It was already known that comets were essentially dirty ice balls that contained the type of debris which could become the type of nodules that Dallas Abbot had found in several locations along the Atlantic Coast.
In 1994 chunks from the Shoemaker-Levy Comet crashed into Jupiter, creating massive explosions, visible on earth. The largest explosion was the width of the planet Earth. The Japanese scientists’ analyzed the electro-magnetic waves emitted by these explosions. Shoemaker-Levy contains large amounts of frozen ammonia. A super-sized comet striking the Atlantic Ocean could have both caused gargantuan shock waves and filled the atmosphere with ammonia.
The recent computer simulations by the Sandia National Laboratory found that superheated steam, ammonia and the solid particles within a comet would be ejected at sub-orbital velocities into the edge of the exosphere (space.) This would cause them to be more equally spread around the globe than the pollution from volcanoes. The combined effect of both the comet and the volcanoes would be sufficient to cause a Little Ice Age on earth AND chemically disrupt the photosynthesis of plants for many decades. The presence of ammonia high in the atmosphere would explain the blue haze that enveloped Earth for several years after the 1014 AD.
The location of the 539 AD comet strike was somewhere in the ocean channel between Florida and the Bahamas. The scientists, studying this strike and resultant tsunami did not delve into its impact pattern because they were from other regions of the world. They were primarily interested in its effect on the world’s climate.
Cultural collapse in Eastern North America
The decline of the Hopewell Culture in the late 400s AD is widely known. Construction at Hopewell sites is believed to have halted by 500 AD. However, the precise date of the last Hopewell construction has never been fixed. The disappearance of the Hopewell Culture has been linked to a series of volcanic eruptions in Mexico and Central America that rapidly cooled the climate of that part of the world.
The sudden decline in the mid-500s AD of an advanced, Native American society of town builders in the Lower Southeast is less well known. Known as the Swift Creek Culture, these people lived in towns with large mounds unlike the Hopewell People, who lived in transient villages. The Swift Creek towns were generally located in or near fertile river bottom lands. This suggests that they were seriously into farming. The best known Swift Creek towns are today called Leake Mounds, near Cartersville, GA (northwest mountains) and Kolomoki Mounds, near Blakely, GA (Gulf Coastal Plain.)
Unlike the Hopewell Culture, the Southeastern towns and villages seemed to be thriving up until the mid-500s. Something caused the sudden abandonment of the villages near the coast in that era.
During that same period, people in Kolomoki Mounds began living in underground homes, known as keyhole houses. The Gulf Coastal Plain has a humid, sub-tropical climate. Before and after the keyhole house period, Native Americans in the region lived in lightly structured huts that were designed for ventilation. These lightly structured houses left very few traces for archaeologists to uncover. Burrowing into the ground is something one does to say warm when it is cold outside.
Three hundred miles to the north at the Leake Mounds in the Etowah River Valley near Cartersville, GA, archaeologists did not find any keyhole houses, but the population dropped suddenly. Many villages and towns that had been occupied since 200 BC-100 BC were abandoned in that region.
Architectural evidence suggests that the climate in the Scioto River Basin of Ohio became so bitterly cold during the late 400s and early 500s AD that humans had no time or energy to maintain ceremonial earthworks. Three hundred and seventy miles southward in northwest Georgia, the climate chilled to the point that agriculture was not possible, so people dispersed into hunter-gatherer villages. Three hundred miles farther south in Southwest Georgia, gardening was still possible, but winters were like those normally seen in the Great Lakes Region.
A tsunami debris ridge overlooked by geologists
While searching for the actual site of Fort Caroline in 2013, I stumbled upon a geological feature, completely ignored by regional geologists. A major reason for this lapse of scientific curiosity is the hyper-conservative environment among academicians in the Lower Southeast right now. So when scientists elsewhere discovered a massive tsunami on the South Atlantic Coast, no one locally dared to “make waves” (if you excuse the pun) by challenging orthodox descriptions of the coastal region’s geological history.
The commander of Fort Caroline, Captain René de Laudonnière, spoke frequently in his memoir about his “beloved little mountain” from which he could see the ocean 12 miles away. The current 1/12th scale, fake Fort Caroline is five miles from the ocean. That seemed impossible. It would required a hill about 80 feet tall to see over the trees all the way to the ocean.
I looked around for such an elevation on topographic maps. By golly, there was a strange 85 feet high ridge, perpendicular to the Altamaha River, 12 miles inland just as Captain René de Laudonnière had described. It did not follow the pattern of the “marine terraces” created by gradual receding of the Atlantic during the last Ice Age. Yet no geological text even mentioned it. Surely, some Georgia geologist would have questioned such an abnormal feature, but it seemed to be the same situation as the Georgia archaeologists ignoring all the stone ruins. They didn’t understand it so they didn’t dare mention it. The ridge did not fit the “model” which some authority figure had created for geological change.
The pattern of this ridge exactly matched satellite images of the debris ridge left by the 2011 tsunami in Japan, only it was much, much taller. According to research done by scientists at the USGS and universities in the Northwestern United States, an 85 feet high debris ridge today would be equivalent to a 120 feet tall tsunami! A 1500 year old, 85 feet tall, eroded debris ridge might have been created by a 150 feet tall or higher tsunami. The catastrophic damage was unimaginable, but it would have been followed by an earthen dam along the entire coast from Savannah to St. Augustine.
Most of Georgia’ and Northeast Florida’s Coastal Plain would have been under water for decades, if not centuries. The patterns of rivers would have been altered as some debris ridge dams broke before others.
That is exactly what we see today. The original outlet of the St. Johns River near St. Augustine was blocked by the debris ridge, which was much closer to the ocean in Florida. We will get to that next. There were once barrier islands between Jacksonville and St. Augustine. The backed up waters first broke through at St. Marys Sound, GA between Cumberland and Amelia Island, scouring a deep bay. Much more recently, they broke through at the current mouth of the St. Johns River. This is why the mouth of the St. Johns was too shallow for sea-going vessels, until it was dredged in the 1850s.
I then charted the location and height of the debris ridge with GIS software. That gave surprising results. A section of an ellipse was visible. I then converted these points into the mathematical equation for an ellipse.
As can be seen below, the comet or asteroid struck from the southeastern skies off the coast of Florida between St. Augustine and Cape Canaveral at an obtuse angle and low pitch. The shock wave forces were lateral off Northern Florida so its barrier islands were obliterated and pushed to the mainland.
In contrast, just north of present day Cape Canaveral, the shock waves were directed in a southwestward and southward direction. The contents of the obliterated barrier islands were pushed eastward by the resultant curvilinear forces, created by the resistance of the land mass to these forces. The result was the creation of Cape Canaveral.
Geologists have always speculated on the odd shape of Cape Canaveral because it seems contradictory to the northward flow of the Gulf Stream. It is likely that this cape originally extended much farther into the ocean.
The 539 AD and 1014 AD tsunamis are established scientific facts now. However, to date, anthropologists have not changed their orthodox explanations of the South Atlantic Region’s Native American history. It is now known that there were two population extermination events in that region during the past 1500 years. There is little doubt that such cultural traumas affected the future.
Could a tsunami strike the Atlantic Coast of North America again? Scientists say, “Yes.” Might want to carry a good life preserver and football helmet along the next time you meander down to the beach.
Note: Architects and structural engineers are required to have an extensive, professional level knowledge of the Mechanics of Deformable Bodies, which was the branch of physics, utilized to calculate the comet’s impact. Comets leave very little long term debris residue, since they are essentially balls of dirty ice.
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