April 9, 2016 at 5:18 am

Cosmic Lessons : Burckle Crater, Noah’s Flood and Mosul Dam – Part 2

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mosul, noahs flood, graphic,

Read Part 1 here

Read the entire Cosmic Lessons series to date here

When one becomes a student of the Mysteries, the appearance of the world begins to undergo a subtle transformation. There emerges to the awareness of the seeker of knowledge a perceptible linking of events past, present and future. Time transgressive events take on a peculiar kind of congruency − scale may vary but the fundamental archetypal patterns are revealed to be fractal in nature. These fractal patterns expressed through time govern the tempo of planetary change. History becomes the unfolding of these self-similar patterns expressed through time within the human scale of phenomenon, manifesting according to the same tempo determined by the ratios of the cosmic space/time template juxtaposed upon the world here below. History is the temporal expression within the range of human experience of the ultimate geometric order upon which creation is founded in both space and time.

For a comprehensive exposition of the above point please see our presentation, Cosmic Patterns and Cycles of Catastrophe and if you are pressed for time, you can learn more about the fractal/cyclical nature of the tempo of global change in the following interview with The Antidote.

Such a juxtaposition of events past and present is occurring now in the land that is known as the Fertile Crescent, the same land that emerged from the waters of the great deluge to become the Cradle of Civilization and so history unfolds in a region that has left it imprint stamped indelibly in the collective consciousness of the human race, a land now in turmoil, having suffered through decades of war and strife.

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In concluding last month’s article I asked the question, in regards to the tale of the biblical flood and the ark of Noah: “Is it possible that behind this myth of world destruction by mega-flood, there is a basis in scientific fact?”

in regards to the tale of the biblical flood and the ark of Noah: “Is it possible that behind this myth of world destruction by mega-flood, there is a basis in scientific fact?”

The Deluge is assumed to be factual by evangelical Christians, who take every word of the Bible literally, but generally don’t require any kind of scientific rationale or proof for the event, as it is considered to be entirely an artefact of the supernatural power of God.

Scientists on the other hand are altogether dismissive of a worldwide flood, and, if they grant the story any historical veracity at all it is considered to have been no more than a regional event that became greatly exaggerated in the telling over time. So, the phenomenon becomes either a supernatural event outside the laws of physics or simply an inflated tale of a real historical flood that was confined to a limited region within ancient Mesopotamia, but certainly not an event with global consequences.

I would contend that the reality lies between these two interpretations. The flood was not an incomprehensible, supernatural and uniform drowning of the entire planet, covering all the highest mountains around the world simultaneously, as envisioned in the fundamentalist model, nor is it simply a destructive regional event exaggerated in its scale through multiple iterations. Planetary geology and the New Catastrophism provide us with a model for cataclysmic events that quite effectively explains the source of worldwide flood myths.

The first thing to consider is that the well-known Judeo-Christian story, as most educated people know, is but one of many tales of massive deluges sweeping over the Earth destroying all or a large portion of mankind. The ancient Sumerians told the story of Utnapishtim who, being warned by the god Ea, built an ark in which he, his family, and a few others survive a great deluge; while the Greeks told the tale of Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha, who also being warned of a world destroying flood by Prometheus, built an ark to survive the impending flood. In the old Vedic tales of India we learn of Manu being warned of the oncoming deluge by the god Vishnu in the form of a fish who instructs him to build a great ship. These examples barely scratch the surface of literally hundreds of tales, legends and myths from all over the planet of a mighty world destroying flood from which only a few humans survived. What is truly remarkable about these tales is the similarity, the parallel details, not only in regards to the idea that the world was inundated by a great watery cataclysm, but the idea that certain individuals had forewarning of the imminent disaster and constructed a vessel in which to preserve life. For now I will defer the discussion of the idea of forewarning until I have delved further into the plausibility of the flood itself, a flood which can, and did destroy the known world of the time.

I will start by going back to early in the 20th Century and the work of the last of the 19th Century Diluvialists, geologist George Frederick Wright, who was duly impressed by the widespread persistence of flood tales from around the world, as well as geological evidence which he, not unlike a number of his geologist predecessors, believed to be evidence of extremely large scale floods. In a paper published in 1902 he discusses the ubiquity of the flood myths:

“The account of the Flood in Genesis does not stand alone. Similar traditions are found among nearly all the nations and tribes of the world. So wide-spread and persistent are these traditions, that those who have given attention to the subject have found it difficult to resist the conviction that they relate to a common event with which the ancestors of all the present population of the world were acquainted in its painful reality.” (Wright, George Frederick, 1902, Geological Confirmation of the Noachian Deluge: Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 59, April, No. 234, pp. 282 – 293)

I called Wright the last of many 19th century geologists who could be characterized as catastrophists, who believed the Earth had suffered at least one, or possibly multiple, great catastrophes, including massive diluvial floods. In the foundling days of Earth science, during the period from early in the 19th century to its final decades, esteemed geologists such as William Buckland, Baron von Cuvier, Joseph Prestwich, Roderick Murchison, Alfred Tylor and Adam Sedgewick, were among those who believed large scale floods and catastrophes had occurred and had played an important role in the history of the Earth. By the turn of the 20th Century, however, a strict gradualism came to dominate geological thinking.

Giant floods and catastrophes were considered unscientific, a throwback to Biblical literalism. In fact, the prevailing doctrines of geological science were based upon the principal of Uniformitarianism, that is, the uniformity of natural change. The simple dictum that sums up the primary concept of Uniformitarianism was, and still is, “the Present is the key to the Past.” From this perspective all geological change observed in the record of the rocks resulted from the operation of processes essentially no different from those operating today. Dogmatic Uniformitarianism did allow that the scale or intensity of geological change events might sometimes exceed that of modern experience but these were limited in their scope and range of effects, i.e. a volcanic eruption in one place, an earthquake in another, and so on. George Frederick Wright appears to have been the last of the 19th Century tradition of catastrophist geologists.

As it stands now, early in the 21st century, we have come full circle in our concepts of geological change, recognizing that, yes indeed, vast catastrophes on a global scale have been an intrinsic part of Earth history, and have profoundly affected the evolution of terrestrial life. Equally as profound is the realization that global catastrophes have played a central role in human history as well. The story of this full circle evolution in our understanding of the world in which we live, is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting and important in the history of science and deserves a wide telling.

The story of this full circle evolution in our understanding of the world in which we live, is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting and important in the history of science and deserves a wide telling. Very possibly, it’s a story whose real significance lies in the role it might play in the future survival of our civilization and our species on this planet. But it is a story that receives far less attention than it deserves.

Very possibly, it’s a story whose real significance lies in the role it might play in the future survival of our civilization and our species on this planet. But it is a story that receives far less attention than it deserves.

Returning to the work of George Frederick Wright, we find that like many of his predecessors, he believed the biblical account of the Great Flood had a basis in geological fact, and, like those who came before him, did not necessarily believe every biblical detail needed to be taken as literal fact, or that the flood was caused by anything other than some kind of natural event, albeit a natural event on a scale not experienced from post-diluvian times down to the present.

In the same work quoted above, Wright points out a remarkable parallel between three of the ancient flood accounts: that of the Bible, the Mesopotamian cuneiform account, and the story related by Berossus, the Babylonian writer, historian and astronomer, around 290 – 278 B.C. Wright also discusses critically important geographical details that emerge from these accounts, and his words warrant consideration with the greatest solicitude:

“The story is conclusively shown not to be a legend connected with an ordinary river flood, by the fact that the ark is represented as floating upstream. Upon this point, the Scripture account, the cuneiform tablets, and Berossus are in substantial agreement. According to Genesis, it was not, as it is usually translated, on “Mount Ararat,” but in the “mountains of Ararat,” designating an indefinite region in Armenia; according to the inscriptions, it was in Nizir, a region, in close proximity to Ararat, which is watered by the Zab and Tornadu; while, according to Berossus, it was on the Gordyaean Mountains, included in the same indefinite area. In all three cases, its resting-place is in the direction of the headwaters of the Euphrates Valley, while the scene of the building is clearly laid in the lower part of the valley.”

 persian gulf region

Persian Gulf Region

Again, if you have accessed Google Earth, as I have strongly suggested, or are referring to any other map of the region, you will be able to see that a large portion of the area of discussion lies in modern day Iraq.

At this point I will temporarily digress from the main thread of this tale of events from long ago to a modern day drama playing out in the very region of legend implicated in the remarks by geologist Wright. If we turn our attention to the headwaters of the Euphrates Valley, ostensibly the destination of the Ark, we will find ourselves in northern Iraq. The largest modern city in this region, and the second largest in Iraq is Mosul, with a population of some 1.7 million. It is located about 220 miles north/northwest of Baghdad.

mosul dam, iraq, baghdad, isis, flood,

The city lies along the banks of the Tigris River, about 20 or so miles as the crow flies from the confluence of the Tigris with its tributary, the Zeb, the same Zeb River to which Wright referred in the passage quoted above — the region in which the Great Flood of Genesis presumably carried the Ark of Noah — to the foothills of the Mountains of Ararat, also called the Gordyean Mountains by ancient historians.

gordyean mountains, noahs flood, zeb river, mosul, flood
Mosul now surrounds the site of one of the greatest cities of the ancient world, the Assyrian city of Ninevah, whose ruins lie within the urban sprawl of modern day Mosul. The origins of this city complex go as far back as 8000 years to the earliest settlement. By 5000 years ago (3000 B.C.) it had become the Mesopotamian center for the worship of the goddess Ishtar. It was in the wreck of this very city that Sir Austen Henry Layard discovered the stone planisphere in the ruins of the great library that I have written about in preceding articles. Today, however, Mosul is known for its’ prominent role in the Iraqi War and as I write these words events are unfolding in and around Mosul that have the potential to inflict a tragedy of epic proportions upon this war-ravaged land.

nineveh, ruins, composite

Nineveh was an ancient Middle Eastern city, founded by the Assyrians; now modern-day Mosul, Iraq.

As of early March, 2016, the possibility of another great, cataclysmic flood looms over the region. If this flood should come to pass it will be the product of actions unfolding over the past 4 or 5 decades, and, like the story of Noah’s flood, it is a morality tale of considerable consequence, one fraught with global implications.

As of early March, 2016, the possibility of another great, cataclysmic flood looms over the region. If this flood should come to pass it will be the product of actions unfolding over the past 4 or 5 decades, and, like the story of Noah’s flood, it is a morality tale of considerable consequence, one fraught with global implications.

At this moment the battle to retake Mosul is commencing. Since June of 2014 this city has served as a stronghold for Islamic State fighters, or as they are known in western media, ISIS, or ISIL, perhaps as the very heart of their operation. The city is now the stage for the largest impending U.S. military operation in Iraq since the official end of the war. Mosul is being encircled by a multinational force that is cutting off supply and communication lines and is stepping up both ground and air attacks. Iraqi and Kurdish fighters trained by the U.S. are preparing to enter the city to root out ISIL. It is very possible that the city will undergo significant damage in the process. In fact, ISIL has threatened to destroy artifacts and the ancient walls of Ninevah if the Iraq army attempts to liberate the city. Whether this operation brings an end to, or even a decline in terrorism, or merely opens the way for yet another terrorist group to ply its trade remains to be seen.

flood, mosul, iraq, evacuation, isil

ISIL seizing control of Mosul Dam -2014. Subsequent evacuation of civilians from Mosul and areas that could be affected by flood.

But regardless of the political or military outcome of this impending conflict, there looms a possibility that could render all of the geopolitical maneuvering moot, a very real possibility of a deluge of another sort, one, as I said, that is directly and unambiguously the result of human action. This potential disaster could virtually erase the city of Mosul from the face of the Earth, and drastically impact Dawasah, Sammara, Tikrit, in fact all of the towns and villages lying along the Tigris River even unto Baghdad.

Here’s the situation: About 25 miles north of Mosul lies the Mosul Dam Lake. This lake is an artificial reservoir created between 1981 and 1986 during the reign of Saddam Hussein, by the damming of the Tigris River. The Mosul Dam is the largest dam in Iraq. It is a 2.2 mile wide earthen embankment dam roughly 370 feet high. The lake that it retains holds some 12.5 million cubic meters of water at full pool, about 2.7 cubic miles. Since the onset of its construction the Mosul Dam has been plagued by problems. The bedrock on which it is built is composed of gypsum, limestone and porous anhydrite, material poorly suited for the retention of water to any significant pressure without remedial measures being taken.

Mosul Dam, Water Soluble Gypsum, Collapse Imminent, Grouting, Flood

These remedial measures have taken the form of foundation grouting, a process of injecting fluidized concrete material into the porous rock under high pressure to prevent seepage. Immediately after the filling of the reservoir it was discovered that the bedrock had already begun to erode. The process of grouting the constantly eroding bedrock under the dam has consumed almost one hundred thousand tons of grout from a plant operating in Mosul and has been ongoing since the filling of the reservoir. This task of grouting has involved 300 workers running the grouting machines 24 hours a day, six days a week, at least until ISIL seized control of the dam in August of 2014.

To understand the implications of this development consider this: In the year 2006, 30 years after its completion, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers made an extensive evaluation of the dam’s condition. In the report of their finding the Corps pointed out that the dam’s bedrock foundation was crumbling and called it the most dangerous dam in the world.

In the report of their finding the Corps pointed out that the dam’s bedrock foundation was crumbling and called it the most dangerous dam in the world.

The following year former General David Petraeus warned of potential catastrophe. In spite of those warnings the condition of the dam has continued to deteriorate. Due to social instability resulting from the ongoing war and the chaotic security situation efforts to arrest the continuing erosion have been compromised. Then came summer of 2014. ISIL invaded and took over Mosul and was able to seize control of the dam for several weeks. All the workers, fearing for their lives, fled the area. During this time ISIL threatened to blow up the dam. By the time Kurdish and Iraqi forces managed to drive them away after fierce fighting, ISIL had looted all the grouting equipment. And to add to the problem, the factory in Mosul supplying the grout is the under the control of ISIL. For six weeks there was no grouting performed and, at present, the process is still sporadic. This has greatly aggravated the situation. The effect of this interruption is that new voids within the bedrock foundation will have opened up, but no one is sure just how extensive the damage is.

After the ouster of ISIL an American team of engineers and technicians was dispatched to monitor the condition of the dam. In January of this year the team presented a report to the Iraqi parliament on their findings over the course of a year of monitoring. The report stated that the team had

“identified significant signs of distress and potential failure progression that were not identified when post-ISIL monitoring began. All information gathered in the last year indicates Mosul Dam is at a significantly higher risk of failure than originally understood and is at a higher risk of failure today than it was a year ago.”

Near the end of January, 2016, the highest ranking American General in Iraq, Lt. General Sean MacFarland, warned that the dam was in danger of imminent collapse. American officials called upon the Iraqi government to begin warning Iraqi citizens living along the Tigris River below the dam to be prepared to evacuate. While several solutions to the problem have been offered, and at present an Italian company is in negotiations with the Iraqi government to undertake a series of costly repairs, there is no agreement on the best course of action to be taken. Every proposal has drawbacks and risks.

On March 2 the U.S. edition of The Guardian reported on interviews with Iraqi engineers who worked on the dam 30 years ago. An ominous new development has occurred that makes the situation even more precarious. The Guardian reports:

“Iraqi engineers involved in building the Mosul dam 30 years ago have warned that the risk of its imminent collapse and the consequent death toll could be even worse than reported. They pointed out that pressure on the dam’s compromised structure was building up rapidly as winter snows melted and more water flowed into the reservoir, bringing it up to its maximum capacity, while the sluice gates normally used to relieve that pressure were jammed shut. The Iraqi engineers also said the failure to replace machinery or assemble a full workforce more than a year after Islamic State temporarily held the dam means that the chasms in the porous rock under the dam were getting bigger and more dangerous every day.”

The chief engineer of the original project, Nasrat Adamo, at present living in Sweden and working as a consultant, called the Iraqi government’s plan of evacuation, simply telling people to move 6.5 kilometers from the river, “ridiculous.” The Guardian report quotes from a telephone interview with Adamo.

“We used to have 300 people working 24 hours in three shifts but very few of these workers have come back. There are perhaps 30 people there now,” “The machines for grouting have been looted. There is no cement supply. They can do nothing. It is going from bad to worse, and it is urgent. All we can do is hold our hearts.”

So how bad would a failure of the Mosul Lake Dam be?

Mosul flood, Baghdad

When the flood hits Baghdad, about two days after dam failure, the surge will spread out inundating some 80 square miles of the city, with large sections near the river, the very heart of city, under 13 feet of water.

Assuming that the dam fails catastrophically, which it would be likely to do if it failed at all, 2.7 cubic miles of water will be rapidly introduced into the Tigris River Valley almost instantaneously. That is a lot of water. A massive flood surge will sweep downriver at a rate of about 10 miles per hour, although, initially, much faster. It will travel roughly 40 miles by river from the dam breakout point to the city of Mosul in about 4 hours. The wave could be over 70 feet high as it reaches Mosul. 22 hours later the wave, by now about reduced to about 50 feet high, will reach Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein. 400 miles downriver from the dam is the City of Baghdad. When the flood hits Baghdad, about two days after dam failure, the surge will spread out inundating some 80 square miles of the city, with large sections near the river, the very heart of city, under 13 feet of water.

The wave could be over 70 feet high as it reaches Mosul. 22 hours later the wave, by now about reduced to about 50 feet high, will reach Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein. 400 miles downriver from the dam is the City of Baghdad. When the flood hits Baghdad, about two days after dam failure, the surge will spread out inundating some 80 square miles of the city, with large sections near the river, the very heart of city, under 13 feet of water.

The death toll, not only from the flood itself, but also from the chaotic aftermath, could be a million people or more. The flood will likely knock out Iraq’s electrical system and cause severe effects on agriculture, which is practiced extensively in the fertile bottomlands of the Tigris Valley. There will be a massive population displacement. The flood wave will sweep all before it: cars, trees, wreckage of buildings, corpses of humans and animals, unexploded ordinance. The archaeological tragedy will also be profound. The ruins of ancient Ninevah among other sites, lie in the path of the flood.

On February 29 the U. S. Embassy in Iraq issued a warning, calling the situation “serious and unprecedented.” On Tuesday, March 8, U.S. Central Command briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee on the developing situation. General Lloyd Austin III stated to the committee that “if the dam fails, it will be catastrophic.” On Wednesday, March 9, after a briefing at the United Nations, Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. echoed General Austin’s opinion that a dam failure would be catastrophic and called upon U.N. member nations to lend their support, tweeting: “Work to stabilize Mosul dam must begin ASAP but all countries must step up to fund relief & public education on evacuation routes,” (to date only 8% of the requested 871 billion has been raised.)

Another of the original engineers who worked on the dam, Nadhir al-Ansari, told Newsweek magazine that with spring warmth snowmelt will significantly increase the pressure on the already weakened dam. “In April and May, there will be a lot more snow melting and it will bring plenty of water into the reservoir,” he said. “I don’t think the dam will withstand that pressure.” As I write these words U.S. and Iraqi officials are working on a plan to evacuate up to 1.47 million people—the same plan that Nasrat Adamo called “ridiculous.”

If this dam fails the world will be confronted with a tragedy of epic, near biblical proportions. But it will also be presented with a lesson in mega-scale hydrology that, by extrapolation, could allow modern humankind a real sense of the scale of world-destroying floods experienced by our ancestors in prehistoric times.

If this dam fails the world will be confronted with a tragedy of epic, near biblical proportions. But it will also be presented with a lesson in mega-scale hydrology that, by extrapolation, could allow modern humankind a real sense of the scale of world-destroying floods experienced by our ancestors in prehistoric times.

We can only hope and pray that this is a learning exercise conducted only in our imaginations and computer models. But the situation is appearing increasingly grim. No meaningful repair work has begun on the dam.

Whatever the outcome of this unfolding series of modern events, evidence continues to mount that throughout the history of this planet there have occurred massive, naturally occurring floods that would make the potential Mosul Dam flood look trivial by comparison. And, evidence is continuing to mount that floods of this magnitude were, in fact, experienced, and in some cases survived by those ancestors to whom we owe our present-day existence.

Which brings us back to the flood of Noah.

If the Mosul Dam should fail, the ensuing flood will discharge down the Tigris River, ultimately emptying into the Persian Gulf. This, of course, is the form of any typical river flood. However, as George Wright pointed out, each of the three accounts, Genesis, Berossus and the Sumerian, have an important detail in common: The Noachian flood was not “an ordinary river flood” and this is evident “by the fact that the ark is represented as floating upstream.” This would imply a surge coming from the south, from the direction of the Persian Gulf. George Wright continues with his examination of the Genesis flood narrative through a geological lens:

“Again, in the biblical account, the spread of the water floating the ark is represented to have been occasioned, not so much by the rain which fell, as by the breaking up of “all the fountains of the great deep,” which very naturally describes phenomena connected with one of the extensive downward movements of the earth’s crust with which geology has made us familiar. . . This appears, not only in the language concerning the breaking-up of the great deep which describes the coming-on of the flood, but also in the description of its termination, in which it is said, that the “fountains of the deep were stopped, . . . and the waters returned from off the earth, . . . and decreased continually.” Such clear, simple language pretty certainly belongs to history, rather than to legend.”

In 1902 geologists had virtually no knowledge of cosmic impact events and their geological consequences. We can now readily see that the reference to the fountains of the great deep breaking up, that Wright attributes to “one of the extensive downward movements of the earth’s crust” can be more readily explained by the hypervelocity impact of a large bolide into the ocean, which would, in effect, amount to almost the same thing as Wright is envisioning. The breaking up the fountains of the great deep, then,is a perfectly appropriate metaphor for describing an oceanic cosmic impact event.
The extreme release of thermal and mechanical energy during impact would loft enormous amounts of water vapor into the upper atmosphere that could take weeks to rain out, causing widespread torrential downpours. Stripped of the more exaggerated, obscure, symbolic or moral elements, the account of Noah’s flood begins to assume a different appearance, one potentially compatible with a totally natural event that we now know is completely realistic, even though outside the range of modern experience. Now consider again the words of Genesis from verses 7 and 8:

“and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth: and the ark went upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth . . . The fountains also of the deep, and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. And the waters returned from off the earth continually. . .”

The similarity between the effects of a bolide impact into the ocean and certain details of the Noachian Deluge account in Genesis could be a coincidence. But if you think about the image of those powerful tsunamis of 2004 and 2011 making landfall, driving a flood-wave far inland, and then the return of those floodwaters to the ocean basins from whence they came, can we not see that “the waters returned from off the earth continually?” Thousands of people lost their lives when they were swept back out to sea as the “waters returned from off the earth.”

The late Isaac Asimov, prolific author and scientist, gave thought to the Deluge story as a geological problem and went a step further than Wright, anticipating in 1979 what I have been insinuating here concerning the ultimate trigger for this event. In an article in Science Digest of that year he wrote:

“The possibility that meteors are responsible for at least some biblical events can’t be entirely ruled out . . . Noah’s flood sounds as though just possibly it might have been caused by a meteor, because after all the Ark landed in Ararat, which is the northwest of the region from which it started. It couldn’t have been a river flood—that would have taken it southeast into the Persian Gulf. It looks as though the water came up from the Persian Gulf…Well, if a fairly large meteor had just happened to hit the Persian Gulf and started a huge tidal wave, up-river, it might have created a flood in the proper direction, and washed everything upstream.”

Or, on the other hand, if a large meteor struck the Indian Ocean, as in the scenario indicated by the Madagascar Chevrons and the alleged Burckle Crater event, we could be looking at the same outcome, but actually one with more widespread and devastating consequences than an impact into the Persian Gulf as envisioned by Asimov.

There is other evidence for the possibility of cosmic impact events having affected the Middle East. About 10.5 miles to the northwest of the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in southern Iraq, in what are known as the Al ‘Amarah Marshes, there is a circular structure about 2.1 miles in diameter (3.4 km) discovered by Sharad Master, a geologist with the Impact Cratering Research Group of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. At the time of discovery the circular structure was actually a lake, but as a result of Saddam Hussein draining the marshes in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, it is now only a salt encrusted basin-like feature. It is usually referred to as the Umm al Binni structure after the name of the former lake, sometimes the Al ‘Amarah structure after the marshes.

In 2001 the abstract to a paper by Master was published in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science. Here he presented his preliminary studies of the structure, which he originally discovered by studying Landsat TM and high-resolution ASTER satellite imagery. Master noted that the marsh sediments in which the structure was found were very young geologically, having been deposited as recently as within the last 5 thousand years. In the abstract Masters remarks that, “The strikingly circular shape of the Al ‘Amarah structure, contrasts markedly with the highly irregular shapes of the other marsh lakes in the region.” Because of the extremely young age of the sediments in which the structure was found he was able to rule out processes such as karst solution, tectonic deformation and igneous intrusion that would have resulted from more prolonged development. Through a process of elimination Master postulates that “the structure was formed by a recent bolide impact in the marshlands of southern Iraq, thus accounting for its geometry, and the apparent rim . . . visible in pre-1993 imagery.” He then acknowledges the most significant implication of a recent bolide impact in southern Mesopotamia. “The formation of such a young impact structure may have had a catastrophic effect on the people living in the region. . .” (see: A Possible Holocene Impact Structure in the Al ‘Amarah Marshes, Near the Tigris-Euphrates Confluence, Southern Iraq. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, Vol. 36, No. 9, Supplement, 2001. p. A124)

Um al Binni structure,

High-resolution Aster VNIR (Visible Near Infrared) image of the Um al Binni structure. Image acquired on April 14, 2001

In 2002 Master presented a follow up paper at a conference on Environmental Catastrophes and Recoveries in the Holocene convened between August 29 and September 2, 2002 at Brunel University, in the UK. In this paper the author elaborates on the consequences of an impact origin for the Al ‘Amarah structure:

“The impact, with the energy of hundreds of Hiroshima-sized nuclear bombs, would have had a devastating effect on the regional environment. Since there are no accounts in the writings of Herodotus and Nearchus or later historians, the event must have taken place in the Bronze Age at the dawn of recorded history (between ~3000 and ~1000 BC), and may have inspired the flood legends of Ziusudra and Utnapishtim.”

Based upon a crater diameter of 3.4 km or 2.1 miles, Master estimates that the diameter of the impacting object must have been at least 150 meters, or about 500 feet, possibly up to a thousand feet or more. The size of the object would, of course, vary with its’ density, composition, angle of entry and so on. Master also speculates that if the target area was under water at the time of impact there would have been a substantial tsunami generated, and this possibility might have been the inspiration behind the flood legends of Ziusudra and Utnapishtim. I think it’s more likely that a flood on the scale assumed for the Noachian deluge would result from a Burckle crater sized impact, which would require a bolide some 1 to 2 km in diameter, as opposed to an object 500 feet, or somewhat larger, in diameter.

However, there is no question that the impact of a hypervelocity object of 500+ feet would be regionally catastrophic to an extreme degree. Bear in mind that at 500 feet in diameter this object would pack a punch at least 40 times greater than the mighty Tunguska cosmic blast of 1908. Master estimates that if the object was an iron asteroid with a diameter of only 300 feet the energy of the blast would be almost 10 thousand times greater than the Hiroshima atomic bomb explosion. An event of such magnitude would make a powerful impression upon any witnesses who somehow managed to survive it, and depending upon timing, would have been a major pivotal event in world history.

Master estimates that if the object was an iron asteroid with a diameter of only 300 feet the energy of the blast would be almost 10 thousand times greater than the Hiroshima atomic bomb explosion. An event of such magnitude would make a powerful impression upon any witnesses who somehow managed to survive it, and depending upon timing, would have been a major pivotal event in world history.

In regards to a flood associated with this event, I am more inclined to think that, due to the similarity of details in the accounts the floods of Ziusudra, Utnapishtim and Noah were one and the same flood and more effectively explained by a large Indian ocean impact consistent with Burckle crater. Of course, we must never forget what the elderly priests of Egypt told Solon, as recounted by Plato in his dialogue Timaeus:

“As for those genealogies of yours which you have recounted to us, Solon, they are no better than the tales of children; for in the first place you remember one deluge only, whereas there were many of them.”

Paleohydrology is now revealing the same truth to us in the 21st Century. From all over the planet the imprint of inconceivably large floods is now emerging into visibility as our global awareness evolves through technological advances. Only a few places on Earth have been spared the ravages of these massive diluvial events. Some of these floods were on such a scale that to the perception of any survivors the world, or at least what they knew of it, would indeed have been destroyed.

If there is an insight to take away from a contemplation of events such as I am here describing it is that disasters happen, both natural and manmade. The difference is that manmade disasters are usually avoidable and the result of human folly to one extent or another, while natural disasters, are, for the time being, unavoidable. The best one can do as far as natural disasters are concerned is to adopt strategies of mitigation and adaptation. This absolutely requires a society that is resilient and agile, one able to adjust to a rapidly changing environment, a society not burdened with dependence upon bureaucratic, top heavy, outmoded political institutions and an excessive regulatory environment that inhibits effectual response. We were given a glimpse of this kind of political failure and obstructionism in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans. But that is another story to be taken up at another time.

For now, appreciate the fact that we stand at the threshold of a major shift in our understanding of both Earth history and human history. How we respond to this new knowledge will determine whether or not civilization, and possibly even the human species itself, endures upon this planet. But it should also be kept ever present in our consciousness that there exists a legacy of wisdom and guidance, bequeathed to us from those long-forgotten ancestors who prevailed through the trials and tribulation unleashed by Nature’s cosmic forces upon the face of the Earth at the close of an earlier age, so that when the cycle comes around again, their distant descendants might also overcome and carry the seeds of life, civilization and knowledge into the next world age.

Randall Carlson

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  • Bethany Brandon

    Excellent! Great information — and beautifully written. You’re really getting good at this!

  • Dave Truman

    This is a very informative article. You mention that Zisudra, Manu, Noah and Utnapishtim are all forewarned of an impending catastrophe. I find this highly significant in that it is prima facie evidence from a number of mythical traditions that the antediluvian peoples possessed a sophisticated science of astronomy capable of predicting the collision of extraterrestrial objects with the Earth’s surface.

    Tour article also made me consider further whether some of the characters depicted in the various flood mythologies might actually based on actual prehistoric personages, albeit as garbled memories? You mention Deucalion, who was the grandson of Iaptus. The latter was, of course, the son of Noah in the Hebrew accounts of the Flood. There is, however, another connection in that Manu, who is the first man, is the spiritual son of Brahma – the Vedic creator god. Another name for Brahma in the most ancient Indian sacred scriptures is Prajapati, which David Rohl has credibly suggested may mean, ‘father of Japhet.’