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A Tunguska type event in the states?

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Extremely poor quality science.

The claim that a cometary air burst in the eastern US set the forests on fire, peppered the ground with meteorites, and nearly wiped out the Hopewell native culture is a highly doubtful claim.

1. The very dense element Iridium bonds well with iron, which is why it is found almost exclusively in asteroids and their impact sites. But iridium is only about 150 parts per trillion in comets on average and would almost be unnoticeable in debris from a large airburst. Iridium is naturally occurring and is also the product of volcanism as well. Platinum does occur in both comets and asteroids though.

2. Hopewell peoples collecting meteorites for jewelry is not possible since comets do not have iron and do not produce known meteorites. A modern example is the Tunguska event with nothing confirmed ever recovered.

3. Airbursts do not cause fires. Again, Chelyabinsk and Tunguska confirm this. 

4. A comet shaped mound called the Milford Earthworks is only a modern inference interpretation. There were dozens of other mound and earthwork structures at the same site.  A small cometary airburst would not have been seen prior as a comet with a tail, but rather an instantaneous event lasting a dozen or so seconds. Airburst events, like Chelyabinsk and Tunguska, are lines of light before they explode. The Milford Earthworks mound has a fan shaped tail not characteristic of an airburst.

5. The supposition that one of the records of 69 "historically documented' near Earth comets was the culprit is ludicrous.  If a recorded comet large enough to create a visible tail seen for weeks were to strike the Earth the energy released would have created a massive crater.

6. Lead author, Anthropologist Kenneth Tankersley, promoting the cometary destruction of the Hopewell communities is questionable in his interpretation of native American stories of sky serpents and snakes as the cause for the decline of the culture. His agenda is to prove his theories based on questionable evidence. However, his evidence of, "a container of micrometeorites, collected at the sites. A variety of meteorites, including stony meteorites called pallasites, were found at the Hopewell sites", proves his cometary theory false. Pallasites are NOT cometary material at all. Neither are stony meteorites.

7. His Wyandot tribal account of "a dark cloud that rolled across the sky and was destroyed by a fiery dart" has the event backwards. A blazing fiery dart would occur first followed by a lingering cloud, which could have grown darker. 

Everything about this 'ScienceAlert' article is suspect. I would expect the article to be formally discredited or refuted in the near future. It needs to be peer reviewed.

We need real science, not wishful speculation based on questionable evidence.





Edited by billpeters
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