# Kofels impact

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by blobrana, Mar 31, 2008.

1. ### blobranaRegistered Senior Member

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2,214
Title: Fused rock from Köfels, Tyrol
Authors: Fused rock from Köfels, Tyrol

The vesicular glass from Köfels, Tyrol, contains grains of quartz that have been partially melted but not dissolved in the matrix glass. This phenomenon has been observed in similar glasses formed by friction along a thrust fault and by meteorite impact, but not in volcanic glasses. The explosion of a small nuclear device buried behind a steep slope produced a geologic structure that is a good small-scale model of that at Köfels. Impact of a large meteorite would have an effect analogous to that of a subsurface nuclear explosion and is the probable cause of the Köfels feature.

Latitude: 47° 7'12.00"N, Longitude: 10°55'12.00"E
Diameter: 4 km
Age: 9800 ±100 million years

3. ### blobranaRegistered Senior Member

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2,214
"A cuneiform clay tablet that has puzzled scholars for over 150 years has been translated for the first time. The tablet is now known to be a contemporary Sumerian observation of an asteroid impact at Köfels, Austria and is published in a new book, A Sumerian Observation of the Köfels Impact Event."

5. ### VegaBannedBanned

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1,392
The ancient sumerians used very sophisticated astronomical calculations. No civilization would utilize such sciences unless they needed it for a reason. The origins of their knowledge is reflected in their so called myths. However a majority of their tablets are yet to be decyphered, only a handful of linguistics are able to do so at present.

7. ### cosmictravelerBe kind to yourself always.Valued Senior Member

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Most ancient civilizations used the stars to sail by or to get their bearings on land by.

8. ### VegaBannedBanned

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1,392
True!. But sumerians weren't a seafaring people nor did they travel vast distances. There is no indication in the cuneiforms that they used it for navigating vast distances.

9. ### cosmictravelerBe kind to yourself always.Valued Senior Member

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33,264
They did walk allot so they could still use the stars to get their bearings on land just as well.

10. ### VegaBannedBanned

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1,392
yes indeed however there was no need for any complex astronomy in order to do that!!

11. ### cosmictravelerBe kind to yourself always.Valued Senior Member

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33,264
Yes there was because of the type of terrain they were located in could very easily decieve where they were whenever they walked a great distance.

12. ### VegaBannedBanned

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1,392
Thats just what I said earlier, there is no evidence to suggest they did cover vast distances!

13. ### cosmictravelerBe kind to yourself always.Valued Senior Member

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How's that? How do you know how far they traveled? No one really can say for certain just how far they went. Just like the Chinese who no one knew much about but now we know they sailed over many oceans and went to many lands. But we didn't know that until recently. Same with them, we don't have all of the facts as yet.

14. ### VegaBannedBanned

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1,392
Do you actually believe that their astronomy was used only for navigation purposes?

15. ### blobranaRegistered Senior Member

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It seems that astronomy was not a Sumerian invention. and that “The beginnings of astronomical calculations in Babylonia, which could be tied to the great and as yet unquenched tradition of mathematics, may lie in the sixth century.

http://www.gatewaystobabylon.com/introduction/mesoscience1.htm

All of which is incidental to partially melted quartz at the impact site

16. ### StratigrapherRegistered Member

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4
Köfels Feature Not a Meteorite / Comet Impact

This is an outdated paper, which does not reflect the current state of knowledge about the Köfels landslide.

The melted rock associated with this landslide was identified as "frictionite" created by frictional heat generated by the landslide, the largest in Europe, as discussed by:

Erismann, T. H., 1977, Der bimsstein von Köfels impaktit
oder friktionit?. Material und Technik. vol. 5, pp. 190–196.

Erismann, T. H., H. Heuberger, and E. Preuss, 1977, Der
Bimsstein von Köfels (Tirol), ein Bergsturz-“Friktionit.
Mineralogy and Petrology. vol. 24, no. 1-2, pp. 67-119.

and

Masch, L., H. R. Wenk, and E. Preuss, 1985. Electron microscopy
study of hyalomylonites-evidence for frictional melting in landslides.
Tectonophysics. vol. 115, pp. 131–160.

These above studies clearly demonstrate that the estimated kinetic energy of the rock mass displaced by the landslide would have generated the heat necessary to melt the rock and form the “pumice”, which they called “frictionite” (also known as pseudotachylyte / hyalomylonite). There was no meteorite / comet / asteroid impact involved in its formation. In fact, frictionite has also been found in megalandslides of Peru and Nepal as described by:

Heuberger, H., L. Masch, E. Preuss, and A. Schrocker, 1984,
Quaternary Landslides and Rock Fusion in Central Nepal and in
the Tyrolean Alps. Mountain Research and Developments. vol. 4,
no. 4, pp. 345-362.

Weidinger, J. T., J.-M. Schramm, and R. Surenian, 1996, On
preparatory causal factors, initiating the prehistoric Tsergo Ri
landslide (Langthang Himal, Nepal). Tectonophysics. vol. 260,
no. 1-3, pp. 95-107.

and

Legros, F., J.-M. Cantagrel, and B. Devouard, 2000, Pseudotachylyte
(Frictionite) at the Base of the Arequipa Volcanic Landslide Deposit
(Peru): Implications for Emplacement Mechanisms. The Journal of
Geology. vol. 108, no. 5, pp. 601–611.

There is an extensive discussion of the Köfels landslide and the non-impact formation of the frictionite, which it contains in:

Theodor H. Erismann & Gerhard Abele, 2001, Dynamics of Rockslides
and Rockfalls, Springer-Verlag

In case of the Köfels landslide, Sorenson et al. (2003) concluded:

“Analysis of the Köfels sturzstrom seems to indicate that
most aspects can be explained without recourse to exotic
emplacement scenarios. The bulk of the material resembles
the debris from an energetic but conventional landslide.”

Reference:

Sorensen, S.-A., and Berthold Bauer, 2003, On the dynamics of the
Köfels sturzstrom. Geomorphology, vol. 54, no. 1-2, pp. 11-19.

Additional detailed discussion of the evidence for the Köfels landslide used to argue for the "Köfels Feature" being an meteorite / comet impact can be found in:

Deutsch, A., C. Koeberl, J.D. Blum, B. M. French, B. P. Glass, R.
Grieve, P. Horn, E. K. Jessberger, G. Kurat, W. U. Reimold, J.
Smit, D. stoffler, and S. R. Taylor, 1994, The impact-flood
connection: Does it exist? Terra Nova. vol. 6, pp. 644-650.

They found none of the evidence used to argue for the Köfels landslide being of impact origin to be credible. For example, they found the alleged "shock quartz" discussed in earlier published abstracts was neither "shock quartz" nor formed by an impact. Rather, it was a pseudoshocked quartz created during the landslide. How this pseudoshocked quartz was created is discussed by:

Leroux, H., and J.-C. Doukhan, 1993, Dynamic deformation of
quartz in the landslide of Koefels, Austria. European Journal
of Mineralogy. vol. 5, no. 5, pp. 893-902.

Both the "Diameter: 4 km" and "Age: 9800 ±100 million years" are incorrect. It is not a circular feature and, thus, has no diameter. Concerning the age of the Köfels landslide, Hermanns et al. (2006) stated:

“Pieces of wood recovered from a reconnaissance gallery
in the Tauferberg gave a conventional 14C age of 8710+/-150
years BP (Heuberger, 1966), and an AMS 14C age of 8705+/-
55 years BP (Ivy-Ochs et al., 1998),”

Research of by Ivy-Ochs et al. (1998) substantiates the validity of the radiocarbon dates and refutes the claims that they are somehow contaminated. Cosmogenic isotope dating by Ivy-Ochs et al. (1998) yielded dates of 8880+/-490, 10,070+/-520, and 10,630+/-570 calendar years BP. These dates lie very close to the calibrated radiocarbon date of about 9,700 BP. Considering that the younger cosmogenic isotope date could easily represent post-landslide erosion of the rock surface, which was dated, they confirm that the Köfels landslide occurred thousand of years before either the Sumerian tablet was argued to have been made, or the when the so-called “impact” was suppose to have occurred according to “A Sumerian Observation of the Köfels' Impact Event”. The Köfels landslide is much too old to have any connection with either the tablet or any impact observed in 3123 BC (5123 BP).

References:

Hermanns, R.., L.. Blikra, M. Naumann, B. Nilsen, K. Panthi, D.
Stromeyer, O. Longva, 2006, Examples of multiple rock-slope
collapses from Köfels (Ötz valley, Austria) and western Norway.
Engineering Geology. vol. 83, no. 1-3, pp. 94-108.”

Heuberger, H., 1966, Gletschergeschichtliche Untersuchungen in
den Zentralalpen zwischen Sellrain-und Otztal. Wissenschaftliche
Alpenvereinshefte. no. 20.

Ivy-Ochs, S., H. Heuberger, P. W. Kubik, H. Kerschner, G. Bonani,
M. Frank, and C. Schluchter, 1998, The age of the Köfels event.
Relative, 14C and cosmogenic isotope dating of an early Holocene
landslide in the central Alps (Tyrol, Austria). Zeitschrift fur
Gletscherkunde und Glazialgeologie. vol. 34, pp. 57–70.

Yours,

Douglas

17. ### blobranaRegistered Senior Member

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2,214
Yes, i was already aware of those papers.
And it does indeed seem to have been a conventional landslide.

The "Diameter: 4 km" and "Age: 9800 ±100 million years" and location were only my rough estimates.

18. ### Dr DaveRegistered Member

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There are two other key facts at Kofels that cannot be reconciled with the new hypothesis:
1. On top of the landslide deposit are intact fluvial deposits. These have been scooped out of the valley as the landslides moved. Surely tey could not have survived the hypothesised explosive event intact?
2. The landslide deposit includes blocks that have been displaced >1 km. They are entirely fractured but the consitutent pieces are still in the correct position. This is entirely consistent with other massive landslide deposits, but they are not consistent with a fireball, surely?

I have discussed this new hypothesis with several of the world leaders in massive rock slope failure over the last few days. None believe that the postulated mechanism is credible for Kofels.

19. ### blobranaRegistered Senior Member

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2,214
It seems to me that the intact fluvial deposits and associated landslide deposit would not rule out the possibility that a small impact or airburst caused the landslide.

(Of course, without the evidence such as shocked quartz then a impact scenario is just speculation.)

20. ### StratigrapherRegistered Member

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4
Dear Dave,

Those are some very interesting observations. Do you know where the observations about the "intact fluvial deposits" have been published in the scientific literature?

Another thing, which you and others should do is look up the “Earth Impact Effects Program” by Robert Marcus, H. Jay Melosh, and Gareth Collins on Google or other search engine. (Sorry, I cannot post URLs yet.)

I played around with using the below variables taken from various newspaper articles about the so-called "Köfels impact event":

1. Projectile diameter = 1 km or 1,000 m
2. Projectile Density = 3,000 kg/m3 for dense rock (stony) asteroid and 8,000 kg/m3 for iron asteroid
3. Impact Velocity = 17 km/s (typical velocity for meteorites and asteroids)
4. impact angle = 6 degrees
5. Target type = “Crystalline Rock”, local Köfels geology.
and 6. Distance from Impact = 1,800 miles, the approximate distance from central Israel to Köfels, Austria.

In case of either stony or iron asteroid, which is 1 km in diameter, its impact in Köfels, Austria has no significant effect in central Israel, 1,800 miles away. According to the basic laws of physics, it is impossible for an impact of a 1 km in diameter asteroid in Köfels, Austria to significantly effect anywhere in central Israel. In fact, in most people in central Israel would be completely unaware that either an impact or airburst had occurred in Köfels, Austria according to the estimates of environment effects provided by the “Earth Impact Effects Program”.

Do a Google search for the “Earth Impact Effects Program” by Robert Marcus, H. Jay Melosh, and Gareth Collins. It is a very fun and revealing online calculator that can estimate "the regional environmental consequences of an impact on Earth." This program can estimate "the ejecta distribution, ground shaking, atmospheric blast wave, and thermal effects of an impact as well as the size of the crater produced."

Yours,

Douglas

21. ### Dr DaveRegistered Member

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2
Douglas,

The fluvial sediments are described in the Sorenson and Bauer (2003) paper:

"Ancient Ötz river gravel and morainic material can be found on top of the blocks and between joints. Since the Ötz river has never flowed at such high elevation, the gravel must have been scraped out of the riverbed (together with material from moraines covering river terraces) by the landslide and deposited on top of and between its constituent blocks."

These materials certainly do exist as I have seen them in situ. Bond and Hempsell (2008) postulate a fireball with a diameter of 5 km at Kofels (see page 91). I do not believe that fluvial gravels would survive an event of this magnitude intact (especially if the event was large enough to shock quartz). The calculated impact pressure (page 93) on the landslide surface was 1.5 GPa - can fluvial gravels really sustain this without damage? Incidentally, shocked quartz requires pressures of 50 GPa.

Your point re Israel - Bond and Hempsell (2008) suggest that the impact in the Middle East was due to the rentry of the plume not from the impact shockwave (page 79): "the energy dissipated in the atmosphere on re-entry of the plume...would be sufficient to cause conflagration of any exposed combustible material. It is probable that many more people died under the plume than died in the Alps due to the primary imapct".

Dave

22. ### blobranaRegistered Senior Member

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2,214
It seems strange that the writers chose to make the connection with the Kofels landslide and Sumerian observations recorded on a clay tablet.
There are meteor impact sites in the Middle East that could have been used instead.
Some impactors would have been quite large and recent, and more importantly witnessed by humans.

23. ### StratigrapherRegistered Member

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4
In “Cuneiform clay tablet translated for the first time”, posted on the “Physorg” web page stated:

Mark Hempsell, discussing the Köfels event, said:
"Another conclusion can be made from the trajectory.
The back plume from the explosion (the mushroom
cloud) would be bent over the Mediterranean Sea
re-entering the atmosphere over the Levant, Sinai,
and Northern Egypt.”

It is starting to sound like the major difference between “A Sumerian Observation of the Köfels' Impact Event” and “Armageddon” is the latter is a film and starred Bruce Willis. The comment about the “plume from the explosion” being bent over Mediterranean Sea and "re-entering" the Middle East and igniting “any flammable material” is scientifically bankrupt and silly. As discussed and modeled by planetary geologists for impacts and observed in nuclear explosions, the “plume” / fireball generated only produces thermal radiation for a few seconds to minutes. After that very short period of time, it quickly cools and become incapable of igniting anything. Of course, the plume from a nuclear explosion will be radioactive unlike an asteroid impact (Collins et al. 2005, Glasstone and Dolan 1977).

Concerning this aspect of an impact, Collins et al. (2005) stated;

“The actual process is much more complex than the
simple description here and we refer the interested reader
to Glasstone and Dolan (1977) for a more complete
exposition. With continued expansion, the fireball
cools; as the temperature approaches a critical temperature,
known as the transparency temperature T* (Zeldovich and
Raizer 1966, p. 607), the opacity rapidly diminishes and the
thermal radiation escapes, bathing the Earth’s surface in
heat from the fireball. The thermal radiation lasts for a
few seconds to a few minutes; the radiation intensity decays
as the expanding fireball rapidly cools to the point where

Thus, the time during which the so-called “plume”, as Dr. Hempsell calls it, can ignite anything is quite brief, “few seconds to a few minutes”, as stated above. There is insufficient time for the so-called “plume” to be blown “back” over 1,000 to 2,000 miles and ignite locations in the Middle East. The only things that will catch fire are within line of sight of and relatively close to the fireball during the few seconds to a few minutes during, which it exists. Given the distances from the impact, the “Earth Impact Effects Program” of Collins et al. (2005) indicates that the fireball from the impact of a one km in diameter asteroid lies below the horizon of all of the Middle East. Thus, it is physically impossible for the impact to have started any fires in the Middle East according to the “Earth Impact Effects Program” of Collins et al. (2005).

I plugged the below parameters into the “Earth Impact Effects Program” of Collins et al. (2005) to simulate the alleged “Köfels impact event”.

1. Projectile diameter = 1 km or 1,000 m
2. Projectile Density = 3,000 kg/m3 for stony or 8.000 kg/m3 for iron asteroid
3. Impact Velocity = 17 km/s
4. impact angle = 6 degrees
5. target type = “Crystalline Rock”
6. distance from Impact = 1,800 miles, the approximate distance from central Israel to Köfels, Austria.

In case of a one kilometer in diameter asteroid with density of 3,000 kg/m3 (stony asteroid), the estimated impact speed is 12 km/sec (7.3 miles/sec). At this impact speed, the model predicts that no fireball will be created. As a result, no thermal radiation damage occurs anywhere. If the Projectile Density equals 8,000 kg/m3, as in case of an iron asteroid, the impact speed is high enough to create fireball. However, the Middle East does not receive any thermal radiation and any destruction from it because the Middle East lies below the Earth’s horizon relative to the impact. Because the fireball created by the impact dissipates, as noted above by Collins et al. (2005) within a “few seconds to a few minutes”, it is physically impossible for the “plume” created by the impact to set anything within the Middle East on fire. In addition, neither a stony nor iron asteroid one km in diameter is large enough to create an impact capable of throwing material both high and far enough to rain back down as incandescent blobs of material 1,800 miles away (Collin et al. 2005). Therefore, it is physical impossible, as incorrectly claimed by Dr. Hempsell, for either either a stony asteroid or iron asteroid one km in diameter to have ignited fires the Middle East.

The “Cuneiform clay tablet translated for the first time”, posted on the “Physorg” web page also stated

“This trajectory explains why there is no crater at Köfels.
The in coming angle was very low (six degrees) and
means the asteroid clipped a mountain called Gamskogel
above the town of Längenfeld, 11 kilometres from Köfels,
and this caused the asteroid to explode before it reached
its final impact point. As it travelled down the valley it
became a fireball, around five kilometres in diameter (the
size of the landslide).”

Again, Dr. Hempsell seems to have blissfully disregarded basic principles of impact dynamics. A one km in diameter asteroid, regardless of whether it is stony or iron, does not remain intact as it passes through the atmosphere until it hits either a mountain peak or the ground. Because of the relatively weak nature of these materials, an asteroid of this size starts to break apart as it travels through the atmosphere. By the time that the asteroid had gotten close to the ground there would have not been single solid asteroid for “a mountain called Gamskogel” to have “clipped”. Rather the asteroid would be a cluster of fragments that still impact anything they might encounter with enough force to obliterate it. At best. the mountain would have intercepted a few fragments out of the swarm of asteroid fragments. At best, these fragments would have noticeably cratered Gamskogel and, at worst, obliterated the mountain had it intercepted a significant part of the main mass. The swarm would have continued groundward without exploding.

The first case is a stony asteroid with a density of 3,000 kg/m3. According to the “Earth Impact Effects Program” of Collins et al. (2005), the stony asteroid will begin to break up at an altitude of 54,000 meters (177,000 ft) and will reach the ground in a broken condition. Although in broken condition, the same model indicates that 29,100 MegaTons of kinetic energy would be released at impact. On impact the release of this amount of kinetic energy would create a final, circular impact crater with a diameter of 5.8 km (3.6 miles) and depth of 0.5 km (0.3 miles). Given this amount of kinetic energy, Gamskogel, not the asteroid swarm, would have been “exploded”, had even part of it hit this mountain.

The second case is an iron asteroid with a density of 8,000 kg/m3. According to the “Earth Impact Effects Program” of Collins et al. (2005), the iron asteroid will begin to break up at an altitude of 14,200 meters (46,400 ft) and will reach the ground in a broken condition. At impact, the model indicates that the swarm of asteroid fragments would have hit at 16 km/sec (9.8 miles/sec) and released 138,000 MegaTons of kinetic energy. This amount of kinetic energy would create a final, circular impact crater with a diameter of 9.7 km (6.0 miles) and depth of 0.59 km (0.36 miles) according to Collins et al. (2005). Again, with this amount of kinetic energy, Gamskogel, not the asteroid swarm, would have been “exploded”, had even part of it hit this mountain.

Given the enormous amount of kinetic energy involved and the “broken” nature of an asteroid as it approached impact, the claim that the “asteroid clipped a mountain called Gamskogel above the town of Längenfeld, 11 kilometres from Köfels, and this caused the asteroid to explode before it reached its final impact point” would be regarded by a competent planetary geologist as a scientifically illiterate fairy tale such as disaster movies like “Armageddon”. Given the enormous amounts of kinetic energy involved with a mass of stone or iron one kilometer in diameter, even if fragmented, traveling at 12 to 17 km/sec would have obliterated even a mountain such as Gamskogel if it was hit by any significant part of this mass. Wherever, including Gamskogel, this mass of rock or iron hit, a circular hole in the ground 5.8 to 9.7 km in diameter would have been created according to the basic laws of physics used by Collins et al. (2005) to make their “Earth Impact Effects Program”.

References:

Colllins, G. S., H. J. Melosh, and R. A. Marcus, 2005, Earth Impact Effects Program: A Web-based computer program for calculating the regional environmental consequences of a meteoroid impact on Earth. Meteoritics & Planetary Science. vol. 40, no. 6, pp. 817–840

Glasstone S. and P. J. Dolan, 1977, The effects of nuclear weapons, 3rd edition. Washington D.C.: United States Department of Defense and Department of Energy.

Note: Amazon.com indicates that this book was published by “WritersPrintshop” According to their web page, WritersPrintshop is a “design, print and distribution service”, which “is designed to support self-publishers”. It must be nice to not worry about bothersome formalities such as peer-review that regular publishers might require.