Including Original "Paul H. Letters" Copyright © 1996-2018 Paul V. Heinrich - All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 21 November 2000

The Wild Side of Geoarchaeology Page

The Wild Side of Geoarchaeology Page

Table of Contents

Mysterious Origins of Man

NBC's The Mysterious Origins of Man made a number of claims concerning the possible presence of Atlantis in Antarctica, Precambrian (2.8 billion-years old) human artifacts, and anomalous Tertiary artifacts. Given the applicability of geology to investigating such extraordinary claims, taking a look at them proved irresistible. As a result, I prepared several FAQs about various aspects of the The Mysterious Origins of Man which I posted to sci.archaeology, alt.archaeology, and other newgroups. FAQs that are archived at the Talk.Origins Archives are listed below.

Mysterious Origins of Man Web Pages

The below link is a listing of web pages with information about various segments
of the The Mysterious Origins of Man.

Fingerprints of the Gods

Given the huge volume of material presented in the Fingerprints of the Gods, it is impossible to evaluate all of it. I examined several critical exhibits, e.g. Exhibits 3, 4, and 5, to explore the validity of what the author, Mr. Graham Hancock, considered to be critical pieces of evidence for Antarctica once having been Atlantis and for Hapgood's Earth Crustal Shift hypothesis. As time permitted, I also reviewed most other exhibits. Finally, posts concerning claims made by Mr. Hancock about the Piri Reis Map, a plumb tree, and the Cuicuilco Pyramid in Mexico are included.
Other articles about the ideas of Graham Hancock can be
found in Articles.

Alledged "Evidence" of Earth Crustal Displacement (Pole Shift)

Ancient Maps

For information about the Piri Reis Map of 1513, go to:
Gregory C. McIntosh
The Piri Reis Map of 1513.
University of Georgia Press
Atlanta, Georgia.

Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco)

Archaeology of the Gulf of Cambay ( Khambhat )

Age of Sphinx

For information about the age of the Sphinx, go to:
Paul Jordan
The Riddle of the Sphinx.
Sutton Publishing

Hall of Ma'at Papers on the Age of the Sphinx

Atlantis and Lemuria

Some general notes on Atlantis and Lemuria unrelated to either Fingerprints of the Gods or The Mysterious Origins of Man.

Out of Place artifacts

Bosnian "Pyramids"

Stone Balls / Stone Spheres

I have written two popular articles about natural stone balls (stone spheres). They are:1. Heinrich, P.V., 2007a, The Giant Concretions of Rock City Kansas. BackBender's Gazette. vol. 38, no. 8, pp. 6-12
and 2. Heinrich, P.V., 2007b, Megaspherulites. BackBender's Gazette. vol. 38, no. 7, pp. 8-12.
The former, Heinrich (2007a), can be downloaded as apart of BackBender's Gazette. vol. 38, no. 8 and the latter,
Heinrich (2007b), can be downloaded as apart of Bender's Gazette. vol. 38, no. 7.
The Le site d'Irna has two web pages about natural stone balls (stone spheres), which are cannonball concretions. They are:

Go to Fossil Page.

Go to Home Page. Send email to

Version 5.0
March 4, 2008Copyright (c) 1996-2008 Paul V. Heinrich All rights reserved.

Dating of Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco) Site, Bolivia

Dating of Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco) Site, Bolivia

Below is an article that I once posted to the alt.archaeology newsgroup which discusses the age of the Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco) Site in Bolivia near Lake Titicaca.
Author; P. V. Heinrich
Date: 1998/05/06  
Forums: alt.archaeology

For the thread "Re: Tiahuanaco / Titicaca" and in
message <>,
Martin Collins wrote:
>On Thu, 29 Jan 1998 22:32:36 GMT,
> (Doug Weller) wrote:
>>On Thu, 29 Jan 1998 21:13:49 +0100, in alt.archaeology,
>>A.R. van Ekeren wrote:
>>>I've seen a documentary on Discovery Channel about
>>>the different theories around Atlantis.  Some scientists
>>>think Plato's description of Atlantis could correspond
>>>with Tihuanaco.  This is lying on the border of Lake

In addition to Tiwanaku, also called "Tiahuanaco," what
place hasn't been claimed to be the site of Atlantis?  
I have read of Wisconsin, Antarctica, the North Atlantic,
and numerous other places being claimed to be the site
of Atlantis.  So far I haven't seen the Cydonia region on
Mars claimed to be Atlantis.  But, I have yet to read a
certain new book on the "archaeology" of Mars.  

>>>Parts of this city are on land and are subject to
>>>archaeological investigation, but part could be
>>>still under the waters.

>Tihuanaco (pick your favorite spelling) is currently
>about 12 km from Lake Titicaca although it was once
>a lake port.

The available research shows that Tiwanaku was never
a port city on Lake Titicaca.  Looking at available maps
and geomorphic studies, it is quite clear that Posnansky
(1943) was an inexperienced geomorphologist.  His
so-called shoreline appears to be nothing more than the
valley wall of a river valley cut into the deposits of
Lake Ballivan on which Tiwanaku lies.  The plain of Lake
Ballivan, except where cut out by younger fluvial valleys,
extends from the modern Lake Titicaca shoreline eastward
(up-valley) past Tiwanaku.  The plain of Lake Ballivan
finally ends at a small fragment of the older and higher
lake plain of Lake Cabana at the easternmost tip of the
valley.  Within this valley, younger and lower lake plains
are lacking (Lavenu 1981:Fig. 6, 1992:Fig. 4).  The age of
Lake Ballivan is undetermined, but it is at least over a
100,000 years old (Clapperton 1993).

I have also examined the "wharf" described by Posnansky
(1943).  So far, I find the same lack of evidence for it
having been a "wharf" as for Tiwanaku having ever been
a port.  In my opinion, the claim that Tiwanaku was port
with a wharf is nothing more than the wishful thinking by
Posnansky (1943) for which proof is lacking.  This claim
has become part of the mythology surrounding Tiwanaku
that various authors blindly repeat without evaluating
the facts for themselves.

[NOTE: The actual lake port was at Iwawe which was
connected to Tiwanaku by a land road (Browman 1981).]

>>But Tiwanaku is firmly dated to the first millennium
>>AD, long after Plato.

For some of the evidence, there is a compilation of
radiocarbon dates from the Tiwanaku Site at:

1.  "Radiocarbon Database for Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru"
by Mariusz S. Zi—lkowski, Mieczyslaw F. Pazdur , Andrzej
Krzanowski, and Adam Michczynski at:

2. Dates for the Tiwanaku Site are specifically at:

>A German astronomer, whose name I can't quite bring
>to mind right now, spent many years at Tihaunaco and
>concluded from the archaeoastronomy of the site that it
>could be up to 15,000 years old. Of course this view is
>not popular amongst archaeologists.

It is not that his "view" that is unpopular among
archaeologists.  Rather, it is the authors who blindly
repeat this claim as the gospel truth without taking the
time and trouble to understand what they are writing
about who are unpopular with archaeologists.  What is
also not popular among archaeologists is the habit of
numerous authors to simply ignore almost all of the
research done since Posnansky (1943) because of their
failure either to do their homework or failure to include
critical facts that contradict their pet hypothesis about
Tiwanaku being constructed by Atlanteans, refugees of
Atlantis, or space aliens.  For example, few, if any, of
these authors mention anything about the 29 radiocarbon
dates that have been used to date the deposits at
Tiwanaku.  These dates can be found at:

A number of these dates are from stratigraphic units
and contexts that date the construction of structures at
Tiwanaku.  As I have time, I hope to prepare a detailed
analysis of the context of these dates that illustrates
how silly it is of people, who apparently are completely
clueless about the archaeology of this site, to dismiss
these radiocarbon dates as being nothing more than the
remains of "campfires."

Astronomical Dating

A problem is that Tiwanaku, also called "Tiahuanaco,"
is completely unsuitable for dating by archaeoastronomy.
In order to do this type of analysis, the structure have
to be undisturbed by prehistoric and historic alteration
and reconstruction.  Unfortunately, these have all taken
place extensively at Tiwanaku.

First, Tiwanaku, including the Kalasasaya, have been badly
damaged by the mining of stones within, defacing of
structures, and altered by well-meaning, but ill-considered
reconstructions.  The massive disturbance of this site has
been noted by a variety of observers, including people who
are nonarchaeologists and without reason to suppress
anomalous archaeological finds.

For example, the disturbance of Tiwanaku, "Tiahuanaco,"
was described in the politically incorrect and less than
polite language of his day by Verrill (1929) when he wrote:

   "Through the ages that had then passed since Tiahuanaco
   had become a veritable "Place of the Dead" and, through
   the centuries that have passed since the days of Incan
   dominion, this most ancient American city has been
   desecrated, looted, literally torn to bits.  Choice portions
   of its magnificent sculptured stone work have been
   carried off by the natives and used to build their own
   miserable huts, and there is scarcely an Indian dwelling
   within miles of the ruins that does not possess a doorstep,
   a lintel, or some portion of its walls formed of fragments
   of Tiahuanaco.  Even the rough, narrow, filthy streets of
   the villages are, in places, roughly paved with pieces of
   carved or worked stones filched from the ruins.  The
   little Spanish church at the modern village of Tiahuanaco
   is almost entirely constructed of portions of the ancient
   town, and flanking the entrance are the heads and
   shoulders of two colossal stone images that were
   ruthlessly knocked from the bodies of Tiahuanaco's
   stone gods. The Indian farmers have surrounded their
   stony thin soiled fields with walls constructed of
   stonework from the ruins, and vandals, collectors, and
   curio seekers have done their part. But the greatest
   damage of all, the most ruthless and inexcusable
   destruction, was caused by the railway whose tracks run
   directly through the center of the ancient city. Thousands
   of tons of stone, idols, statues, monoliths, carved
   columns, magnificent doorways, immense slabs and
   priceless sculptures were broken up, crushed and used
   for ballasting the tracks."

Clearly, long before Posnansky (1943) studied Tiwanaku, it
had been badly disturbed.  He was studying a site severely
damaged by stone mining, looting, and vandalism.   As a
result, even his pains-taking study of the site would have
been badly skewed by the severe disturbance to this site.
This is one reason why his dating of Tiwanaku has been
ignored by archaeologists.

Concerning the Kalasasaya, Verrill (1929) also notes;

   "About one thousand feet from the base of this former
   pyramid is the so-called Temple of the Sun, or
   Kalasasaya, perhaps the best preserved of the ruins.  Here
   is an immense rectangular terrace nearly five hundred
   feet square with its edges outlined by rows of cut stone
   columns from fifteen to twenty feet in height.  Originally
   the entire area within the boundaries of these columns
   was paved with carefully cut and fitted stones, but
   between the natives and the railway builders, who
   found these paving blocks most useful for their
   purposes, scarcely a trace of the ancient pavement now
   remains.  Originally, also, the upright columns were
   connected or capped by timbers or other stones, for the
   tops are carefully and accurately mortised, evidently
   with the purpose of supporting lintels.  At a short
   distance from the ruins, and facing the east, is a
   solitary huge stone image, its face marred and scarred
   by vandals and time, but still gazing with an enigmatical
   smile towards the rising sun, though it alone remains
   of all the hundreds of similar statues that once flanked
   the temple."

Note that hundreds of statues have been removed from
around the temple.  This is also true of other parts of the
site.  The wholesale removal of idols, statues, monoliths,
and other types of stonework from the site, renders the
reconstruction of  sight lines and identifying "solstice
markers" totally speculative.  Because there exists no
documentation of the stonework removed prior to the research
of Posnansky (1943) and their location, it is virtually
impossible to know how the configuration of sight lines
have been altered.  Also, it is virtually impossible to
know that the alignments used by Posnansky (1943) to date
the structure are either parts of the same sight line,
fragments of unrelated sight lines, or even deliberately
constructed with astronomical alignments in mind.

Also, after the work of Posnansky (1943), there has been
heavy reconstruction of the outer wall of Kalasasaya.  For
example, if a person looks at photos from the 1950's of the
Kalasasaya, a person sees a number of small stone buildings
which were removed for reconstruction.  Any astronomical
alignments associated with these building would have been
either destroyed or severely altered.  In addition, it is
unclear what parts of the Kalasasaya were reconstructed;
how it was reconstructed; and whether there was any
scientific basis for the reconstruction.  More often then
not, rebuilding was done with concern for making the site
pleasing to tourists and with little regard for how the
structure originally looked.  As a result, it might be very
difficult, at this time, to independently demonstrate that
any "solstice markers" or sight lines used in
archaeoastronomy studies are either part of the original
structure or even related to each other.

Even if a person could determine parts of the building
to be part of the original structure, it would very difficult
to tell if critical parts of the sight lines or critical marker
posts have been removed in historic or prehistoric times.

A real mystery about the Tiwanaku Site is that Posnansky
(1943) clearly knew how badly trashed the Tiwanaku Site
was when he mapped it.  Yet, he disregarded these obvious
problems and tried to date the site using archaeoastronomical
methods that he should have known would produce relatively
meaningless results.   He simplistically assumes without any
hard evidence that astronomical alignments were unaltered
by the destruction that the Tiwanaku site has suffered.  He
also assumes without either the benefit of inscriptions or
any ethnographic or other data that buildings were
astronomically aligned to a high degree precision in specific

It is like an archaeologist finding the base of the
Louisiana State Capitol a thousand years from now and
lacking any written record of it.  Because it is aligned
in an east-west direction, he /she assumes that it must
have been aligned a high degree precision to some
astronomical event and uses that assumption to date it.
The result is "Garbage In, Garbage Out" regardless of how
skillfully the surviving parts of the building have been

About Tiwanaku, Browman (1981) states:

   "The site is very poorly preserved and imaginatively

Similarly, Isbell (1986) states:

   "the original megalithic facade of the Kalasasaya,
   the other great U-shaped complex at Tiwanaku, is
   poorly preserved and imaginatively reconstructed."

Likely, too much undocumented destruction and alteration
has occurred at Tiwanaku for archaeoastronomy dating to be
done on it.  It would be like getting a watch that has had
most of its springs and gears ripped from it to work, much
less correctly tell time.

References Cited

Browman, David L., 1981, New Light on Andean Tiwanaku.
American Scientist. vol. 69, no. 4, pp. 408-419.

Clapperton, C., 1993, Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology
of South America. Elseiver. New York.

Isbell, W. H., 1986, Early ceremonial monuments in the
Andes. Archaeoastronomy. vol. 9, no. 1-4, pp. 134-155.

Lavenu, A., 1981, Origine et evolution neotectonique du
lac Titicaca. Revue d'Hydrobiologie tropicale. vol. 14,
no. 4, pp. 289=297.

Lavenu, A., 1992, I.1 Formation and geological evolution.
In C. Dejoux and A. Iltis, eds., pp. 3-15, Lake Titicaca: A
Synthesis of Limnological Knowledge. Kluwer Academic
Publishers, Boston.

Posnansky, Arthur, 1943, Tihuanacu: the Cradle of American
Man. J. J. Augustin Publisher, New York.

Verrill, A., 1929, the Oldest City in the New World. Travel.
vol. 53, pp. 12-16. (September 1929)

Final Note:

The most detailed references about Tiwanaku, "Tiahuanaco,"
have been published by Carlos Ponce Sangines.  However,
all of his work has only been published in Spanish.  These

Ponce Sangines, Carlos, 1947, Cer?mica Tiwanacota.
Revista Geogr?fica Americana. vol. 28, pp. 204-214.

Ponce Sangines, Carlos, 1969a, Descripci—n Surmaria del
Templete Semisubterraneo de Tiwanaku. 4th ed., La Paz,
Bolivia, Los Amigos de Libro.

Ponce Sangines, Carlos, 1969b, La ciudad de Tiwanaku,
Separata de. Arte y Arquelog’a, vol. 1.

Ponce Sangines, Carlos, 1981, Tiwanaku: Espacio, Tiempo
y Cultura. Ensayo des Ventesis arquelog’ca. 4th ed., La Paz.
Bolivia, Los Amigos de Libro.

Other References About Tiwanaku:

Abbott, M. B., Binford, M. W., Brenner, M., and Kelts, 
K. B., 1997, A 3500 14C yr high-resolution record of
water-level changes in Lake Titcaca, Bolivia/Peru.
Quaternary Research, vol. 47, no. 2, pp. 169-180.

Binford, M. W., Kilata, A. L., Brenner, M., and others,
1997, Climatic variation and the rise and fall of an 
Andean civilization. Quaternary Research, vol. 47, 
no. 2, pp. 235-248.

Kolata, Alan L., 1993,  The Tiwanaku: portrait of an 
Andean civilization. Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge.

Kolata, Alan L., 1996, Tiwanaku and Its Hinterland: 
Archaeology and Paleoecology of an Andean Civilization,
University of Chicago, Chicago.

Paul V. Heinrich           All comments are the     personal opinion of the writer and
Baton Rouge, LA            do not constitute policy and/or
                           opinion of government or corporate
                           entities.  This includes my employer.

"To persons uninstructed in natural history, their country
or seaside stroll is a walk through a gallery filled with
wonderful works of art, nine-tenths of which have their faces
turned to the wall."
- T. H. Huxley
NOTE; modfified March 3, 2001 to correct URLs for radiocarbon
dates of Tiwanaku.

Return to Wildside Index Page.
Return to Home Page.
Version 4.0 Dec 18, 2001 Copyright © 1996-2002 Paul V. Heinrich All rights reserved.

Pliocene Fossils

Pliocene Fossils


Outcropping strata of Pliocene age, 1.8 to 5.2 million years old, consist of reddish and orange fluvial sands and gravels mapped as the Willis Formation, Citronelle Formation, or the Upland Complex. Typically, these sediments consist of slightly unconsolidated and weakly cemented quartz sands and chert gravels. These coarse-grained sediments commonly exhibit channels, cut and fill structures, scour surfaces, and large-scale cross-bedding. Minor beds of silt and clay are interbedded with the coarse-grained sediments. The general consensus is that the Citronelle Formation / Upland Complex was deposited as part of a gently sloping coastal plain was built up by the coalesced flood plains of numerous braided streams and rivers (Manning and McFarlan 1989, Parsons 1967).

Gravel Fossils

Gravel fossils are invertebrate fossils found in chert gravel within the Willis and Citronelle formations. They are much older than it and originated outside of Louisiana. These Paleozoic marine invertebrate fossils were initially buried about 330 to 425 million years ago within limestones that were partially silicified to form chert. Later, the cherts and its fossils were eroded, transported by rivers, and eventually deposited within Louisiana and Mississippi as chert gravel (Dockery 1995).

Vertebrate Fossils

The teeth and metacarpals of the early Pleistocene, three-toed horse Coromohipparion emsliei have been reported as having come from Pliocene deposits the Tunica Hills of West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana (Manning and McFarlan 1989). However, since they were found loose in bed of a modern stream, their association with the Citronelle formation is uncertain. Additional finds will be needed to establish whether these fossils came from Pliocene Age strata.

References Cited

Dockery, III., David T., 1995, Rocks and Fossils Collected from Mississippi Gravel. Mississippi Geology, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 25-42.
Manning, E. M., and MacFadden, B. J., 1989, Pliocene three-toed horses from Louisiana, with comments on the Citronelle Formation. Tulane Studies in Geology, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 35-46.

Final Note

Any vertebrate or plant fossils found within the either the Willis or Citronelle formations would be of great scientific interest to geologists and paleontologists. If you know of any fossils found within the Citronelle Formation of Louisiana or Mississippi, please, drop a letter or e-mail to;
Paul V. Heinrich,
Research Geologist
Louisiana Geological Survey
Energy, Coast and Environment
Building, Room 3079
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803
225-578-4398 - workdays

Return to Fossil Page
Return to Home Page.
Version 5.0
January 25, 2008Copyright ゥ 1996-2008 Paul V. Heinrich All rights reserved.

Fingerprints of the Gods Re: Piri Reis Map

Fingerprints of the Gods

Re: Piri Reis Map

I recommend that anybody interested in the Piri Reis Map read:
Soucek, Svat, 1996, Piri Reis and Turkish Mapmaking After
Columbus. Studies in the Khalili Collection, Volume II. Oxford
University Press, Cambridge.
Gregory C. McIntosh
The Piri Reis Map of 1513.
University of Georgia Press
Atlanta, Georgia.
Both are excellent sources of information about the Piri Map of 1513.
Both have extensive discussion concerning the source maps and
cartographic data from which he compiled Piri Reis Map of 1513.

Below is a post that I posted to sci.archaeology on August 10, 1996
about the Piri Reis Map.
William Miller wrote:

   "Does anyone have any good recommendations for additional
    information on the progress of research and studies into
    the Piri Reis Map?"

Someone needs to provide some sort of evidence that it
is indeed an accurate map.  The examinations that I have
made of it show all sorts of errors that certainly falsify
any claim of unusual accuracy for this map.  Also, the
methodology used to determine the longitude and latitude
of the map allowed all sorts of unintentional fudging.  As
Mallery in his, "Rediscovery of Lost America", on page 145

    "Midway in my research on the old charts and maps,
    I discovered that the grids marked on them were incorrect.
    After deciding that these incorrect grids had probably
    been added much later by persons other than the original
    draftsman, I removed them and worked out what I consider
    to be the correct grids.  During this time it became obvious
    that each map or chart was an assembly of several charts
    and/or maps of contiguous areas and that the separate
    charts or maps combined to produce a single map were not
    all drawn to the same zero point."

The basic assumption of Mallery is that the maps were
originally accurate and any errors are the result of later
copying and compilation.  As a result, any error, whether it
was part of original source map(s) or not, is erased in the
reconstruction of the original "source map(s)" on which a
particular map is based.  Thus because removing errors
regardless of their origin is a standard part of reconstructing
the original source map(s), it is not surprising that they are
remarkable accurate.  However, these reconstructed source
maps may have no basis in fact because no proof is offered
that the errors that they corrected were indeed the result of
the copying and compilation process and not actually part of
the actual source map.

Dr. Hapgood fixed up the Piri Reis Map in much the same
way.  The accuracy that the Piri Reis Map has results from
his "source maps" being reconstructed with the
assumption that original source maps were accurate and
any errors in it came from copying and compilation.  Thus,
any errors in the Piri Reis map were eliminated by
fitting the Piri Reis to modern maps and accounting for
the misfits by adjusting the boundaries and separate grids
of his hypothesized and unproven "source maps".  The
latitude and longitude on the Piri Reis is accurate because
Dr. Hapgood drew the boundaries and lat.-long. grids on his
"source maps" in order eliminate errors the gross errors
exhibited by the Piri Reis as best as he could.

Although the Piri Reis Map mentions the existence of various
source maps, there a complete lack of any evidence for the
correctness of boundaries and grids of the alleged source
maps drawn by Hapgood (1966, 1979).  The reconstructed
"source maps" are assumed to be accurate because they
eliminated many of the errors present in the uncorrected
Piri Reis Map.  However, there is no proof whether these
errors were in the alleged original "source maps" or created
during compilation.  Dr. Hapgood reasoned that because
the hypothetical grids and "source maps" of his can
remove the errors proves these maps are accurate and,
since they are accurate, that proves that the error was created
by copying and compilation of the Piri Reis Map and not in
the source maps from which it was made.  Thus, one is the
proof of the other without any other independent evidence
including not even one of the alleged "source maps" from
which the Piri Reis Map was compiled.  As a result, the
alleged accuracy of the Piri Reis Map could just
be the result of the assumptions made by Dr. Hapgood
as to the source of the errors in the existing map.

Even with this fixing, there are still lots of problems with
the Piri Reis Map remaining.

    "I find this map fascinating, and would like to
    see what other studies have been published regarding
    the trigonometric travelogue used to make such an
    accurate map so long ago."

The Piri Reis Map itself is grossly inaccurate.  The claims of
accuracy apply only to the "source maps" reconstructed by
Mr. Hapgood.  As discussed above, the accuracy of these maps
likely is the result of the assumptions used in reconstructing
the "source maps" and is in reality nonexistent.

What needs to be done is for someone to track a couple
of the original source maps from which the Piri Reis
Map was compiled.  Otherwise, the reconstructions of
the "source maps" made by Dr. Hapgood are pure
speculation lacking any independent evidence
confirming their correctness.  Without any solid proof
for the validity of the "source maps" reconstructed by
Dr. Hapgood, the claims of accuracy for the Piri Reis
Map are simply claims lacking any supporting evidence.

Another example of the problems with this map are
illustrated by the claims that it shows the ice-free
coastline of Antarctica.

I address some of these claims in brief at:
The Long Explanation

The source of the ice-free claim is a cartographic analysis by
a Lt. Colonel Ohlmeyer of the Strategic Air Command
According to an appendix in Hapgood (1966, pp. 244-245),
one of the major claims by the 8th Reconnaissance Technical
Squadron (SAC) USAF in their letter report of August 14, 1961

    "b. As stated by Colonel Harold Z. Ohlmeyer in his letter
    (July 6, 1960) to you, the Princess Martha Coast of Queen
    Maud Land, Antarctica, appears to be truly represented on
    the southern sector of the Piri Reis Map. The agreement of
    the Piri Reis Map with the seismic profile of this area made
    by the Norwegian-British Swedish Expedition of 1949,
    supported by your solution of the grid, places beyond a
    reasonable doubt the conclusion that the original source
    maps must have been made before the present Antarctic
    ice cap covered the Queen Maud Land coasts."

However, Lt. Colonel Harold Z. Ohlmeyer, 8th
Reconnaissance Technical Squadron and Dr. Hapgood all made
significant errors that invalidate their conclusions.  First,
both Lt. Colonel Ohlmeyer and Dr. Hapgood incorrectly assume
that the subglacial topography of Antarctica is the same as the
ice-free topography of Antarctica. The actual subglacial topography
differs from a hypothetical ice-free topography because of the
293,778,800 cubic kilometers of ice that either lies grounded
on bedrock or stacked as ice rises on bedrock islands (Drewry
1982, sheet 4).  The sheer weight of this ice has depressed the
continent of Antarctica and associated crust by hundreds of
meters.  Should the weight of the Antarctic ice be removed
form the Antarctic crust, isostatic rebound would raise the
subglacial topography as much as 950 meters (3100 feet) in
the interior to 50 meters (160 feet) along the coast.  Furthermore,
melting of all of the world's ice, of which Antarctic ice cap
is 90 percent of the total, would raise sea level by about 80
meters (260 feet)(Drewry 1983, sheet 6).  Thus, the modern
subglacial bedrock topography and the modern coastline
differs significantly from the coastline and topography of a
hypothetical ice-free Antarctica.  Thus, the topography and
coastline that Lt. Colonel Ohlmeyer and Dr. Hapgood claim
match the Piri Reis Map would be different from the
topography and coastline that would characterize a
hypothetical ice-free Antarctica.

Second, the Piri Reis Map lacks any topographic contours.  If
contours are lacking on the Piri Reis Map, the topographic data
needed to compare the topography shown by the 1949 seismic
data with the topography of the Piri Reis Map on a scientific
basis are completely lacking.  Without this data, the claims of
Lt. Colonel Ohlmeyer and Dr. Hapgood are nothing more personal
opinions, certainly not proof, that cannot be scientifically tested.

Finally, the single seismic line, i.e. the seismic profile of the
Norwegian-British Swedish Expedition of 1949, is insufficient
evidence to determine if the subglacial bedrock topography of
Antarctica resembles the Piri Reis map.  The problem is that
the comparison is being made along one essentially randomly
chosen line.  Neither Lt. Colonel Ohlmeyer, Dr. Hapgood, nor
the 8th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron could know whether
the topography outside of this line, a good 99.9 percent of the
area resembled the Piri Reis map because they lacked any
other data in addition to the seismic profile.  Even the map of
the bedrock geology of Antarctica compiled in 1972, Heezen
et al. (1972) shows that even by that date the bedrock topography
lying beneath Queen Maud Land was largely unmapped and
unknown.  Thus, even in 1961, because of insufficient
information, it would have been impossible for anybody to make
any positive claims about whether the Piri Reis Map and the
subglacial topography shows any resemblance.

Since 1949 and 1966, Drewry (1982) compiled the available
data obtained from seismic  surveys and radio echo soundings
into what still considered the most comprehensive mapping
that has ever been published.  A comparison of the portion
of the Piri Reis map, which they claim to be Antarctica, with
a both more recent subglacial bedrock topography map
(Drewry 1982, sheet 3) and a bedrock surface map isostatically
adjusted for glacial rebound (Drewry 1982, sheet 6) showed
a distinct lack of any striking similarities their coastlines and
that of the Piri Reis Map.  The lack of correspondence between
the Piri Reis Map and an ice-free Antarctica is not surprising
given the evidence presented by Linde (1980) that the source
maps for the other parts of the Piri Reis Map are of no great

The Problem of An Ice-Free Antarctica

As previously discussed, there is an abundance of evidence that
demonstrates that Antarctica was covered by a fully developed
ice cap between 40,000 to 6,000 B.P. contrary to the claims of
FOG and Hapgood (1966, 1979).  This evidence includes ice core
data (Jouzel et al 1987, Lorius et al. 1979), cores from the Ross
Sea (Licht et al. 1996, Kellogg 1979), palynological data from tip
of South America (Heusser 1989), and numerous radiocarbon
dates from glacio-lacustrine deposits and deltas (Stuvier et al.
1981).  In fact, these and other studies show that a maximum
development of the ice cap and Ross Ice Shelf occurred during
that period, 21,000 to 16,000 B.P. (Denton et al. 1991), which
falsifies all of the claims made by FOG, "The Mysterious
Origins of Man," and Hapgood (1966, 1979) about the glacial
history of Antarctica.

As I have reviewed in previous posts, numerous studies, e.g.
Denton et al. (1991) and Marchant et al. (1986) present an
abundance of evidence that Antarctica was last completely
ice-free over 14 million years ago.  Deep cores and borings made
into sediments filling deep basins within and thousands of
kilometers of seismic data from the continental shelf of
Antarctica confirm these studies (Cooper et al. 1995).  Thus,
at no time was Antarctica ice-free enough for maps showing
either a totally or partially ice-free Antarctica to have been
made during the last 14 million years or so.


The clearest deduction that can be made from the above analysis
is that there is no evidence of any advanced map-making
technology being involved in the production of the Piri Reis
Map.  There is really no evidence that the accuracy that it does
have reflects accuracy in the original source maps because of the
assumptions and methodology used to reconstruct the boundaries
and grid of the alleged source maps.  If a person automatically
assumes that the errors are all the result of poor compilation,
then the "source maps" reconstructed using that assumption
are naturally going to be accurate.  They may be accurate, but
will still be purely fictional and lack any resemblance to
the actual source maps from which the Piri Reis Map was

References Cited

Bentley, C. R., and Ostenso N. A., 1961, Glacial and subglacial
topography of West Antarctica. Journal of Glaciology. vol. 3,
no. 29, pp. 882-912.

Cooper, A. K., Barker, P. F., Brancolini, G. (eds.), 1995,
Geology and seismic stratigraphy of the Antarctic Margin.
Antarctic Research Series, vol. 68, American Geophysical Union,
Washington, D.C., 303 pp.

Denton, G. H., Prentice, M. L., and Burkle, L. H., 1991,
Cainozoic history of the Antarctic ice sheet. in R. T.
Tingey (ed.), pp. 366-433, The Geology of Antarctica.
Claredon Press, Oxford.

Drewry, D. J. (ed.), 1983, Antarctica: Glaciological and
Geophysical Folio. Scott Polar Research Institute,

Hapgood, C. H., 1966, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, 1st
Edition, Chilton Books, Philadelphia.

Hapgood, C. H., 1979, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, 2nd
Edition, E. P. Dutton, New York.

Heezen, B. C., Tharp, M., and Bentley, C. R., 1972, Morphology
of the Earth in the Antarctic and Subantarctic.  In Antarctic
Map Folio Series no. 16. American Geographical Society.

Heusser, C. J., 1989, Climate and chronology of Antarctica
and adjacent South America over the past 30,000 years.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, vol. 76,
no. 1/2, pp. 31-37.

Jouzel, S. J., Dansgaard, W., and many others, 1987, Vostok
ice core: a continuous isotopic temperature record over the last
climatic cycle (160,000 years). Nature. vol. 239, pp. 403-408.

Kellogg, T. B., Truesdale, R. S., and Osterman, L. E., 1979, 
Late Quaternary extent of the West Antarctic ice sheet: New
evidence from Ross Sea cores. Geology. vol. 7, pp. 249-253.

Licht, K. J., Jennings, A. E., and others, 1996, Chronology of
late Wisconsin ice retreat from the western Ross Sea, Antarctica.
Geology. vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 223-226.

Lorius, C., Jouzel, S. J., and many others, 1979, A 150,000-yr
isotopic climatic record from Antarctic ice. Nature, vol. 316,
pp. 644-648.

Lunde, P., 1980, The Oronteus Finaeus Map. Aramco
World Magazine. (Jan-Feb 1980)(accessible from:
under LUNDE02 ART

Marchant, D. R., Denton, G. H., Swisher, C. C., and
Potter, N., 1996, Late Cenozoic Antarctic paleoclimate
reconstructed from volcanic ashes in the Dry Valleys
region of southern Victoria Land. Geological Society
of America Bulletin, vol. 108, no. 2, pp. 181-194.

Stuvier, M., Denton, G. H., and others, 1981, History of marine
ice sheet in Antarctica during the last glaciation: a working
hypothesis. In G. H. Denton and T. J. Hughes (eds.), pp. 319-
436, The Last Great Ice Sheets. Wiley-Interscience, New York.

....signature omitted......

Other Significant References to Read

Below are recent publications, which either provide or summarize
the results of research which thoroughly disprove claims of an ice-free
Antarctica as proposed by Mr. Hapgood and others.Anderson, J. B., 1999, Antarctic Marine Geology.
University of Cambridge Press, Cambridge, United
Domack, E. W., Jacobson, E. K., Shipp, S., and Anderson,
J. B., 1999, Late Pleistocene-Holocene retreat of the West
Antarctic Ice-Sheet system in the Ross Sea: Part 2,
Sedimentologic and stratigraphic signature. Geological
Society of America Bulletin, vol. 111, no. 10, pp. 1517-1536.
Francis, J. E., and Hill, R. S., 1996, Fossil plants from the
Pliocene Sirius Group, Transantarctic Mountains: evidence for
climate from growth rings and fossil leaves. Palaios. vol. 11,
pp. 389-396.
Kennett, J. P., and Hodell, D. A., 1995, Stability or instability
of Antarctic ice sheets during warm climates of the Pliocene.
GSA Today. vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 1,10-13.
Surgen, D. E., Marchant, D. R., and others, 1995, Preservation
of Miocene glacier ice in East Antarctica. Science. vol. 376,
no. 6539, pp. 412-414.
Shipp, S., Anderson, J. B., and Domack, E. W., 1999, Late
Pleistocene-Holocene retreat of the West Antarctic Ice-
Sheet system in the Ross Sea: Part 1,Geophysical results.
Geological Society of America Bulletin, vol. 111, no. 10,
pp. 486-1516.
van der Wateren, D., and Hindmarsh, R., 1995, Stabilist strike
again. Science. vol. 376, no. 6539, pp. 389-391.
Wilch, T. I., McIntosh, W.C., and Dunbar, N. W., 1991,
Late Quaternary volcanic activity in Marie Byrd Land:
Potential 40Ar/39Ar-dated time horizons in West Antarctic
ice and marine cores. Geological Society of America
Bulletin. vol. 111, no. 10, pp. 1563-1580.

Ancient Maps

1. Minds in Ablation Part Five: Charting Imaginary Worlds
(More discussion of Hapgood, Mallory, and interpreting ancient maps).2. Minds in Ablation Part Five Addendum: Living in Imaginary Worlds.
(Even more discussion of Hapgood, Mallory, and interpreting ancient maps).
3. Columbus and the Piri Reis Map of 1513 by Gregory C. McIntosh
(May/June 2000 Mercator's World)
4. Reply by Gregory C. McIntosh
in the letters to the Editor (September/October 2000 Mercator's World)

Return to Wildside Index Page.
Return to Home Page.
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Paul V. Heinrich Home and Louisiana Fossil Page

Paul V. Heinrich Home

and Louisiana Fossil Page

Paul V. Heinrich E-Mail:

All comments are the personal opinion of the writer and do not
constitute policy and/or opinion of government or corporate entities
including my employer.
Materials on this page are (c) 2008 by Paul V. Heinrich unless otherwise noted. Please contact the author for distribution details. There probably will not be a problem anyway, but please ask.

Table of Contents

Louisiana Fossil Page
Louisiana Geology
  • Other Interests

  • Louisiana Fossil Page

    Common Animal and Plant Fossils of LouisianaFossils can be found within Louisiana. These fossils include Pleistocene vertebrate fossils, i.e. Mastodons and Mammoths, various Miocene vertebrates, and the Eocene fossil whale,Basilosaurus. Abundant invertebrate fossils can be found within the Pleistocene chert gravels, Pleistocene loesses, and outcropping Tertiary strata.

    Louisiana Geology

    Special Topics in Louisiana Geology1. Fault-Line Scarps in Southwest, Louisiana

    2. Pimple Mounds

    Pimple Mound - A term used along the Gulf Coast of eastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana for one of hundreds of thousands of low, rudely circular or elliptical domes composed of loamy sand. Their basal diameter ranges from 3 m to more than 30 m and height ranges from 30 cm to more than 2 m. (definition modified from "Dictionary of Geological Terms" by R. L. Bates and J. J. Jackson. See also their definition for Mima Mound).
    Pimple Mounds
    General Pimple Mound References
    Geoarchaeology of Pimple Mounds References

    3. Driskill Mountain, Louisiana's Highest Point

    The highest point in Louisiana is Driskill Mountain in Bienville Parish.

    Geologic Map of Louisiana

    Information About Louisiana Geology

    For information about the geology of Louisiana, a person can contact the Louisiana Geological Survey at:
    Louisiana Geological Survey
    Universitiy Station, Box G
    Baton Rouge, LA 70893-4107
    Phone: (504)388-5320
    Fax: (504)388-5328

    Free Rock and Fossil Articles and Geologic Maps

    At the below links, free articles in the form of PDF files can be downloaded
    from the Public Information Series web page1. Geology and Hurricane-Protection Strategies in the Greater New Orleans Area (2.6 MB)
    2. 46-Million-Year-Old Marine Fossils from the Cane River Site, North-Central Louisiana (800 KB)
    3. Louisiana Geofacts Brochure (1.6 MB)
    4. Generalized Geologic Map of Louisiana (7.2 MB)
    5. Earthquakes in Louisiana (284 KB)
    6. Active Faults In East Baton Rouge Parish (340 KB)
    7. Louisiana Petroleum Industry Facts (1.2 MB)
    8. Lignite Resources in Louisiana (688 KB)
    Louisiana geologic maps in the form of PDF files can be downloaded from
    the geologic Maps web page

    Other Interests

    Science Fiction

    Local Archaeology, Rockhound, and Geoscience Groups

    Fantastic Geoarchaeology Page

    My Excursions into the "Wild Side" of Archaeology

    Geological, Paleontological and Other WWW Sites


    Radiometric Dating



    • Louisiana Marine Mammal Stranding Network -- A network of
      volunteers charged with collecting information on stranded
      marine mammals within the state. They also assist live, stranded
      marine mammals and attempt to rehabilitate them.
    • The Marine Mammal Center -- Northern California's marine
      mammal rescue, rehabilitation, and release resource.
    • Bats are very important, but not very popular and much maligned
      animals. The Bat Conservation International's educational web
      site may change your mind about them.

    Send email to

    Version 11.0
    Jan, 2008Copyright (c) 1996-2008 Paul V. Heinrich All rights reserved.

    Miocene Vertebrate Fossils

    Miocene Vertebrate Fossils


    Until recently, vertebrate fossils of Miocene age (23.7 to 5.3 million years ago) have been unreported from Louisiana. The lack of such fossils had been puzzling given the broad outcrop of nonmarine strata that crosses Louisiana and the numerous vertebrate fossil sites that have been found in nonmarine strata within adjacent parts of Texas. As of early 1993, the only documented Miocene vertebrate fossil known from Louisiana was a proboscidean (ancestral elephant) fossil from Vernon Parish. A couple of fossil bird tracks from Grant Parish, once considered to be of Miocene age, have turned out to have come from older, Oligocene strata.

    Proboscidean Fossil, Vernon Parish

    In 1941, the first Miocene vertebrate fossil found in Louisiana consisted of the anterior end of two lower tusks (articulated mandibular) found 4.5 miles (7.2) kilometers) southeast of Leesville, Vernon Parish, Louisiana. It was found by Mr. Carl L. Hilderbrand about 21 feet, 9 inches (6.63 meters) below the surface of the ground in embedded in light-colored, sticky clay where it had been exposed and shattered by a scraper. It apparently had come to light as the result of excavations associated with the construction of U.S. Army facilities at Fort Polk. Fortunately, it had been collected by Mr. Hilderbrand and given to the U.S. National Museum (Arata 1976).
    Later, Madden (1986) was able to examined this fossil, now known as USNM 16644, because it had been donated to the museum. He determined this fossil, USNM 16644, to be the remains of a gomphothere, an early ancestor of the elephant, named Gompotherium obscurum. Judging form the age of strata in which it has been found elsewhere, this gomphotherelived sometime between 15 to 5.2 million years ago.

    Fort Polk Fossil Vertebrates

    During Mid-1993, U.S. Army personnel at the Main Post of Fort Polk found the first large concentration of Miocene vertebrate fossils within Louisiana. In an excavation, their first find was the jaw of a small, primitive Miocene horse that was encrusted by calcium carbonate. Later examination of the site by Louisiana State University (LSU) paleontologists and them, found several other large vertebrate fossils at that site. Also, the LSU paleontologists discovered thin limestone beds that contained numerous vertebrate teeth (Schiebout 1994).
    The remains of eight orders of mammals, as well as crocodile and fish remains were recovered from three sites in Fort Polk. The fossils recovered from rained-washed exposures of clay include a horse jaw, three horse teeth, a camel jaw, a fragments of a gomphothere tooth and skull, and fragments of a jaw from a deer-size artiodactyl called _Prosynthetoceras francisi_. The thin limestone beds yielded about 200 small teeth per ton of material processed for fossils. These fossils consisted of mostly teeth and other small bones of small mammals from Rodentia, Insectovora, Chiroptera, Lagomorpha, and Carnivora. In addition to these fossils, crocodile teeth and fish teeth and vertebrate have been recovered from the thin limestone beds (Schiebout 1994).
    Few other types of fossils have been found in association with the Miocene vertebrate fossils at Fort Polk. The only known invertebrate fossils so far found are small, high-spired snails that are vaguely turritellid. Unfortunately, these snails are so poorly preserved that they cannot be identified. In addition to these snails, the thin limestone beds contain numerous charophytes. Charophytes are ovoid microscopic grains with spiral grooves and composed of calcium carbonate. They are the fruiting bodies of algae.

    Future Discoveries

    The above fossil discoveries clearly show that the Miocene strata of Louisiana definitely contain numerous vertebrate fossils. When people have taken the time and trouble to closely examine outcrops, they have eventually found vertebrate fossils. As indicated by other sites within adjacent parts of Texas, the rare typically, black-stained, chert gravels within the Miocene strata should be especially examined for vertebrate fossils.
    The vertebrate fossils found should be mentioned to interested scientists. Furthermore, any limestone beds composed of caliche or any other carbonate concretions that lie within these Miocene strata should be reported regardless of whether they contain fossils or not. As shown above, these beds often contain numerous microscopic vertebrate fossils. Contact addresses are given below.
    Dr. Judith Schiebout
    Dept. of Geology and Geophysics
    Louisiana State University
    Baton Rouge, LA 70803
    504-388-3353 - workdays
    Paul V. Heinrich,
    Louisiana Geological Survey
    Energy, Coast, and Environment
    Building, Room 3079
    Louisiana State University
    Baton Rouge, LA 70803
    225-578-4398 - workdays

    Reference Cited

    Arata, A. A., 1966, A Tertiary probosidian from Louisiana. Tulane Studies in Geology, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 73-74.
    Jones, M. H., Schiebout, Judith A., and Kirkova, T. J., 1995, Cores from the Miocene Castor Creek Member of the Fleming Formation, Fort Polk, Louisiana: relationship to the outcropping Miocene terrestrial vertebrate fossil bearing beds (CORE). Transactions of the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies. vol. 45, pp. 293-202.
    Madden, C. T., 1986, Gomphothere proboscidean Gomphotherium from Miocene of Louisiana. Abstracts with Programs Geological Society of America. vol. 18, no. 3, p. 252-253.
    Schiebout, Judith A., 1994, Fossil vertebrates from the Castor Creek Member, Fleming Formation, western Louisiana. Transactions of the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies. vol. 44, pp. 675-680.

    Miscellaneous Miocene Fossil Web Sites

  • Agate Fossil Beds NM Home Page

  • Ashfall Park, Nebraska

  • Miocene and Pliocene Fossil Peguins

  • Local Fossils of Santa Cruz County, California

    Return to Fossil Page
    Return to Home Page.
    Version 4.0
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  • Mammoths and Mastodons

    Mammoths and Mastodons

    - Under Construction -

    by Paul V. Heinrich
    Preliminary Draft (unedited)
    Phase 0 - January 1, 1996

    Mammoths and Mastodons

    In Preparation
    Unfortunately, this page is still in preparation. For pages with prepared material on them, see Petrified Wood and Miocene Vertebrate Fossils pages.

    Fossil Bear

    Despite, the large area of Louisiana occupied by outcropping Bentley Alloformation, very few native fossils have been reported from it. The only vertebrate fossils definitely known to have been found in it consist of fragmentary bear bones, Ursus species, found near Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana. When found, they were reported by newspapers as being the bones of a fossil hominid (Arata and Harmann 1966).

    References Cited

    Arata, A. A., and Harmann, G. L., 1966, Fossils Ursus reported as early man in Louisiana. Tulane Studies in Geology, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 75-77.

    Reference Concerning Other Pleistocene Vertebrate Fossils

    This is a brief list of books, from Dr. Rick Toomey of the Illinois State Museum, that are good introductions to various Pleistocene vertebrate fossils that have been found around the world.
    Archer, M.A., Hand, S.J., and Riversleigh, H. G., 1989, The Story of Animals in Ancient Rainforests of Inland Australia, Balgowlah, NSW. Reed Books, 264pp.
    Guthrie, R. D., 1990, Frozen Fauna of the Mammoth Steppe. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, 323pp.
    Kurten, B., 1968, Pleistocene Mammals of Europe. Aldine Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 317pp.
    Kurten, B., 1976, The Cave Bear Story, New York: Columbia University Press, 163pp.
    Kurten, B., and Anderson, E., 1980, Pleistocene Mammals of North America. Columbia University Press, New York, 442pp.
    Pielou, E. C., 1991, After the Ice Age, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 366pp.
    Stuart, A. J., 1982, Pleistocene Vertebrates in the British Isles. Longman Inc., London, 212pp.
    Sutcliffe, A. J., 1985, On the Track of Ice Age Mammals. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 224pp.

    Note About Pleistocene Fossils

    Any vertebrate or plant fossils found within the either the Pleistocene deposits of Louisiana would be of great scientific interest to geologists and paleontologists. If you know of any fossils found within the Citronelle Formation of Louisiana or Mississippi, please, drop a letter or e-mail to;
    Paul V. Heinrich,
    Research Geologist
    Louisiana Geological Survey
    Energy, Coast and Environment
    Building, Room 3079
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803
    225-578-4398 - workdays

    Return to Fossil Page
    Return to Home Page.
    Version 4.0
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    Louisiana Petrified Wood

    Louisiana Petrified Wood

    Picture by Paul V. Heinrich

    Petrified Wood

    Petrified wood consists of a wide variety of minerals including silica, silicates, carbonates, sulfates, sulfides, oxides, and phosphates. They all can permineralize wood to form petrified wood (Adams 1920). However, petrified wood most commonly consists of silica (Si02) in the form of either opal or chert (Stein 1982).
    Silicified wood is usually found within one of two types of strata. First, it occurs within accumulations of volcanic ash, tuff, and breccia, e.g. the petrified forests of Yellowstone National Park. Second, silicified wood also occurs within sands, silts, and muds deposited by rivers and streams that have hardened to sandstones, siltstones, and shale. Typically, the sandstones, siltstones, and shales that contain silicified wood also contain redeposited tuffaceous materials or volcanic ash. The silicified wood found in Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona and the Miocene strata of Louisiana and Texas occur within such strata (Knauth 1972:44).

    Origin of Petrified Wood

    Silicified wood forms in these deposits, because of the presence of dissolved silica within the groundwater. The silica is derived from the dissolution of the volcanic material by the groundwater within the volcanics or sediments. This dissolved silica in the form of monomeric silicic acid attaches itself to the lignin and cellulose of the wood. With time, a layer of the monomeric silicic acid forms on the exposed woody tissues. The monomeric silicic acid dehydrates into silica gel. Additional layers of the monomeric silicic acid attach to this silica gel eventually filling and encasing the wood with silica gel. A rapid loss of water converts the silica gel into amorphous silica (opal) (Leo and Barghoorn 1976; Scurfield and Segnit 1984).
    Within 10 to 40 million years, the opal of the silicified wood further dehydrates and crystallizes into microcrystalline quartz (chert). Factors such as temperature and pressure may speed or slow the process, but eventually the opal of the silicified wood becomes chert (Stein 1982). During the change from opal to chert in silicified wood, the relict woody texture may either be retained or lost.
    During the silicification process, various materials and minerals may be incorporated into the silica gel. For example, manganese dioxides, iron oxides, organic matter and authegenic clay can alone or in combination color the opal or chert that forms silicified wood. Because each piece of wood becomes silicified in its own local geochemical environment, the trace and major materials and elements that it contains will vary greatly from piece to piece even within the same stratum (Knauth 1972:45; 1981). Therefore, trace element analysis is generally useless in tracing the source of any silicified wood.

    Types Of Petrified Woods

    Within the Tertiary strata that outcrop in southeast to southwest Texas and into Louisiana, three types of silicified wood can be recognized. They are rather nondescript silicified wood, palm wood, and a massive silicified wood. The nondescript silicified wood consists of silicified wood that possesses a recognizable woody structure. The relict woody structure is fine and nondescript. It is not identifiable without oriented thin sections, specialized references, and comparative material (Blackwell et al. 1983:2). Therefore, this type is best described just as "silicified wood".
    The second type of silicified wood is commonly called including the State Fossil "petrified palm wood" by geologists and rock collectors. Palm wood is a group of fossil woods that contain prominent rod-like structures within the regular grain of the silicified wood. Depending upon the angle at which they are cut by fracture, these rod-like structures show up as spots, tapering rods, or continuous lines. The rod-like structures are sclerenchyma bundles that comprise part of the woody tissues that gave vertical strength to the Oligocene and Miocene tree genera, Palmoxylon (Blackwell et al. 1983:4-5).
    The third type of silicified wood is massive silicified wood. The silicification of the wood or subsequent transformation of silica gel to opal or chert has obliterated any trace of the grain of the former wood. The destruction of the structure of the silicified wood has resulted in a massive opal or chert that lacks any visible indication of its origin. Because of its variable, massive nature and heterogeneous trace element composition, many investigators, e.g. Jolly (1982) and Jolly and Kerr (1984), have often failed to recognize the nature of this material. The Eagle Hill Chert found within West-Central Louisiana is a local, massive silicified wood (Heinrich 1984). A similar massive silicified wood called "golden palm" occurs in equivalent strata within East-Central Texas (Patterson 1985).

    References Cited

    Adams, S. F., 1920, Replacement of wood by dolomite. Journal of Geology. vol. 28, no. 6, pp. 356-357.
    Blackwell, W. H., Powell, M. J., and Dukes, G. H., 1984, Fossil wood from Bayou Pierre and White Oak Creek, south central Mississippi. Mississippi Geology. vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 1-6.
    Heinrich, P. V., 1984, Lithic resources of western Louisiana. Louisiana Archaeology, vol. 13, pp. 102-124.
    Hughes, J. T. , 1985 , Conversation with P. V. Heinrich, May 5, 1985, Canyon, Texas.
    Jolly, K., 1982, Lithics. In: Eagle Hill: A late Quaternary upland site in western Louisiana. Center for Archaeological Research the University of Texas at San Antonio Special Report. no. 12, pp. 290-300.
    Jolly, K., and Kerr, A. C., 1984 , Analysis of Artifacts. In: Occupation and settlement in the uplands of West-Central Louisiana. Center for Archaeological Research the University of Texas at San Antonio Special Report no. 17, pp. 112-149.
    Knauth, P. L., 1972, Oxygen and hydrogen isotope ratios in chert and related rocks. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Geology, California Institute of Technology, Stanford.
    Knauth, P. L., 1972, 1981, Phone conversation with Paul V. Heinrich, May 3, 1981, Champaign, Illinois.
    Leo, R. F., and Barghoorn, E. S., 1976, Silicification of wood. Harvard University Botanical Museum Leaflets. vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 1-47.
    Patterson, L. W., 1985, Conversation with Paul V. Heinrich, May 30, 1985, Houston, Texas.
    Perttula, T. K., 1984, Patterns of prehistoric lithic raw material utilization in the Caddoan area: the western Gulf Coastal Plain. In: Prehistoric chert exploitation: studies from the Midcontinent. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Center for Archaeological Investigations Occasional Paper no. 2:129-148.
    Plummer, F. B., 1932, Cenozoic Systems in Texas. In: The geology of Texas Volume 1 Stratigraphy. University of Texas Bulletin no. 3232, pp. 519-818.
    Scurfield, G. and Segnit, E. R., 1984, Petrifaction of wood by silica minerals. Sedimentary Geology. vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 149-167.
    Servello, A. F., 1985, Conversation with Paul V. Heinrich, May 1, 1985, Anacoco, Louisiana.
    Servello, A. F., and Bianchi, T. H., 1983, Geomorphology and cultural stratigraphy of the Eagle Hill area of Peason Ridge. In: U.S.L. Fort Polk archaeological survey and cultural resources Management program. University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette.
    Stein, C. L., 1982, Silica recrystallization in petrified wood. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology vol. 52, no. 4, pp. 1277-1282.

    References Concerning the Petrified Wood of Louisiana and Adjacent Parts of Texas

    Berry, Edward Wilber, 1916, The Flora of the Catahoula Sandstone. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper no. 98, pp. 227-251.
    Berry, Edward Wilber, 1926, Pre-Columbian petrified wood industry. Pan-Am. Geologist. vol. 45, no. 4, pp. 273-276
    Brownen, Geneva, 1967 Petrified Wood. Lapidary Journal. vol. 29, no. 12, pp. 2214-2218s.
    Chadwick, Michael L., 1988, Identification and geological significance of petrified wood from the Oligocene Catahoula Formation, Jasper County, Texas. Master's Stephen F. Austin State University. Nacogdoches, TX, United States. 77 pp.
    Dukes, George H., Jr., 1961, Some Tertiary fossil woods of Louisiana and Mississippi. Am. Jour. Botany. vol. 48, no. 6, pt. 2, p. 540.
    Frazier, Don W., 1966, Paragenesis of silica in silicified woods of the Whitsett Formation (Eocene), in (Brazos, Karnes, Polk, McMullen counties) Texas. unpublished Master's thesis, University of Houston. Houston, TX, United States.
    Frazier, Don W., 1967, Paragenesis of silica in silicified woods of the Whitsett Formation (Eocene) in Texas. The Texas Journal of Science. vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 415-416.
    Hudson, Steve, 1982, Bass fishermen's paradise lures rock collectors with an abundance of gem quality petrified wood. Lost Treasure. vol. 7, no. 8, pp. 64-67.
    Hudson, Steve, 1986, Expeditions; Wood hunt. Lapidary Journal. vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 42-48
    Hueber, F. M., Nambudiri, E. M. V., Tidwell, W. D., and Wheeler, E. F., 1986, Petrified nyctaginaceous wood from Eocene strata of Texas and Louisiana. American Journal of Botany. vol. 73, no. 5, pp. 701.
    Hueber, F. M., Nambudiri, E. M. V., Tidwell, W. D., and Wheeler, E. F., 1991, An Eocene fossil tree with cambial variant wood structure. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology. vol. 68, no. 3-4, pp. 257-267.
    Knowlton, Frank Hall, 1888, Description of two species of "Palmoxylon" from Louisiana. Proceedings of the United States National Museum, no. ?, pp. 89-91.
    Manchester, Steven R., 1983, Fossil wood of the Engelhardieae (Juglandaceae) from the Eocene of North America; Engelhardioxylon gen. nov. Botanical Gazette (Chicago). vol. 144, no. 1, pp. 157-163.
    McMackin, C. E., 1984, Petrified wood from east to west; some we've liked best. Lapidary Journal. vol. 37, no. 11, pp. 1582-1588.
    Naumann, R-C, 1964, Wood replacements of Fayette Co., Texas. Lapidary Journal. vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 187-191.
    Plummer, F. B., 1932, Cenozoic Systems in Texas. In: The geology of Texas Volume 1 Stratigraphy. University of Texas Bulletin no. 3232, pp. 519-818
    Preston, Nolan E., 1988, Expeditions; a family outing in Southeast Texas. Lapidary Journal. vol. 41, no. 12, pp. 61-62.
    Roberts, Leo Bogan, 1940, Petrified wood composed of iron oxide. Journal of Geology. vol. 48, no. 2, pp. 212-213.
    Senkayi, A. L., Dixon, J. B., and Hossner, L. R., 1984, Transformation of silica minerals during weathering of petrified wood. Program and Abstracts - Annual Clay Minerals Conference. vol. 21, pp. 104.
    Sloat, Lou W., 1977, Texas' Sam Rayburn Dam. Rock & Gem. vol. 7, no. 11, pp. 16-18, 20-22.
    Sloat, Lou W., 1977, East Texas petrified forest. Lapidary Journal. vol. 30, no. 10, pp. 2326-2331.
    Sloat, Lou W., 1981, "Hunting the Catahoula in Texas". Lapidary Journal. vol. 34, no. 12, pp. 2640-2645.
    Thomas, L. H., 1986, Elusive in Louisiana. Lapidary Journal. vol. 40, no. 3, p. 54-56
    Zeitner, June Culp, 1988, Louisiana's agatized palm. Lapidary Journal. vol. 42. no. 4, p. 43-46.

    References Concerning the Petrified Wood of Mississippi

    Blackwell, Will H., 1982, Fossil "dogwood" from the Pleistocene of central Mississippi. Botanical Gazette (Chicago). vol. 143, no. 3, pp. 395-400.
    Blackwell, Will H., 1983, Fossil wood from "Sand Hill," western central Mississippi. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. vol. 110, no. 1, pp. 63-69.
    Blackwell, Will H., 1984, Palmoxylon from Bayou Pierre, Copiah/ Claiborne county line, southwestern Mississippi. American Journal of Botany. vol. 71, no. 5, Part 2, pp. 113.
    Blackwell, Will H., 1990, Finds of fossil wood from Upper Cretaceous sediments, northeastern Mississippi. Mississippi Geology. vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 7-14.
    Blackwell, Will H., and Dukes, George H.,, 1981, Fossil wood from Thompson Creek, Yazoo County, Mississippi. Mississippi Geology. vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 1-6.
    Blackwell, Will H., and Dukes, George H., 1982, Fossil hop-hornbeam wood from Rankin County, central Mississippi. Mississippi Geology. vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 10-14.
    Blackwell, Will H., Brandenburg, David M., and Dukes, George H., 1981, The structural and phytogeographic affinities of some silicified wood from the mid-Tertiary of West-central Mississippi. In: Geobotany II, Robert C. Romans, pp. 203-220. Plenum Press. New York, NY, United States.
    Blackwell, Will H., Chang, Audrey, and Dukes, George H., 1981, Pleistocene fossil wood from West-central Mississippi. Miscellaneous Series Publication - Botanical Society of America. no. 160, pp. 42.
    Blackwell, Will H., Powell, Martha J., and Dukes, George H., 1983, Fossil wood from Bayou Pierre and White Oak Creek, southwest-central Mississippi. Mississippi Geology. vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 1-6.
    Cahoon, Elizabeth J., 1970, Paraphyllanthioxylon from Alabama. American Journal of Botany. vol. 57, no. 6, Part 2, pp. 759.
    Cahoon, Elizabeth J., 1972, Paraphyllanthoxylon alabamense; a new species of fossil dicotyledonous wood. American Journal of Botany. vol. 59, no. 1, pp. 5-11.
    Clark, Ronald, 1984a, Distribution, probable origins and mineralogy of some Cretaceous and Tertiary permineralized woods occurring in Mississippi. Science in Mississippi; the Journal of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences. vol. 29, supplement, pp. 19.
    Clark, Ronald, 1984b, Distribution, probable origins and mineralogy of some Cretaceous and Tertiary permineralized wood occurring in Mississippi. Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America. vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 129.
    Dockery, David T. III, 1987, Petrified palm "wood" from Thompson Creek, Yazoo County, Mississippi. Mississippi Geology. vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 10-11.
    Fairbanks, Ernest Emerson, 1946, Unique Alabama petrified woods. Mineralogist. vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 121-122.
    McMackin, Carleton E., 1984, Petrified wood from east to west; some we've liked best. Lapidary Journal. vol. 37, no. 11, pp. 1582-1588.
    Mitchell, James R., 1989, Paleontology; Mississippi petrified wood. Lapidary Journal. vol. 42, no. 12, pp. 41-42.
    Roberts, Leo Bogan, 1948, Petrified wood. Journal of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences. vol. 3, pp. 165-166.
    Rohn, Kenneth H., 1984, Petrified wood and agate in Mississippi. Jewelry Making Gems & Minerals. vol. 557, pp. 48-50.

    Petrified Wood Page

    A very nice page on petrified wood is a page about Petrified Wood From Western Washington By Ed Strauss.

    Return to Fossil Page
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    Version 4.0
    Dec 18, 2001Copyright © 1996-2002 Paul V. Heinrich All rights reserved.

    Louisiana Fossil Page

    Louisiana Fossil Page

    Common Animal and Plant Fossils of Louisiana

    - Under Construction -

    Table of Contents

    Fossils can be found within Louisiana. The State Fossil is petrified palm wood, which is a form of petrified wood. Other fossils include Pleistocene vertebrate fossils, i.e. mastodons and mammoths, various Miocene vertebrates, and the Eocene fossil whale, Basilosaurus. Numerous invertebrate fossils can be found within the Pleistocene chert gravelsPleistocene loesses, and outcropping Tertiary strata.

    1. Plant Fossils

    1. Petrified Wood (Tertiary)
    2. Petrified Palm Wood (State Fossil) (Tertiary)
    3. Buried Forests (Pleistocene and Holocene)
    4. Tree Molds (Pleistocene)

    2. Invertebrate Fossils

    1. Loess Fossils and Loess - Land and freshwater mollusks found in Pleistocene loesses.
    2.Gravel Fossils - Paleozoic marine fossils found in the chert gravel that
    characterizes the Citronelle Formation (Upland complex) of Louisiana.
    3. Tertiary Fossils - Marine fossils found within Tertiary marine
    units that outcrop within northern and central Louisiana.

    3. Vertebrate Fossils

    Pleistocene, 10,000 to 1.8 million years BP (mastodons, mammoths, and others)
    Pliocene, 1.8 to 5.2 million years BP (horses)
    Miocene, 5.2 to 23.7 million years BP (ancestral elephants, horses, and many other types)
    Oligocene, 23.7 to 36.6 million years BP (bird tracks and sharks teeth)
    Primitive Eocene Whales
    Eocene, 36.6 to 57.8 million years BP (primitive whales, i.e. Basilosaurus)
    Paleocene, 57.8 to 66.4 million years BP
    Mesozoic (Cretaceous), 66.4 to 144 million years B.P.

    4. Geologic Map of Louisiana

    The Geologic Map of Louisiana is modified from the "The Generalized Geologic Map of Louisiana, 1990."

    Free Articles about Louisiana Fossils, Rocks, and Geology

    At the below links, free articles in the form of PDF files can be downloaded
    from the Public Information Series web page1. 46-Million-Year-Old Marine Fossils from the Cane River Site, North-Central Louisiana (800 KB)
    2. Louisiana Geofacts Brochure (1.6 MB)
    3. Generalized Geologic Map of Louisiana (7.2 MB)
    From the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science, there is:
    1. Fossil Hunting in Louisiana Gravels (3.4 MB)

    6. Geological Time Scale

    Geologic Time Scale Figure and Discussion.
    Terms such as "Pleistocene," "Pliocene," "Miocene," "Oligocene," "Eocene," and "Paleocene" given above refer to a few of many periods of relative time, from younger to older, that compose the Geologic Time Scale. These periods and other units of geologic time are units of relative time that scientists have subdivided the geologic history of the Earth on basis of the differing fossil assemblages they contain. Because these periods were named and ordered prior to the development of the theory of evolution and radiometric dating, the relative age of these periods to each other was based upon relationships (most commonly, vertical/stratigraphic position) that geologists repeatedly observed in outcrops.

    7. Organizations

    8. List of State Fossils

    List of State Fossils

    9. Special Topics

    Fossil Bats in Louisiana
    Angola Mastodon

    10. Other Fossil Notes

    Pterosaur of the Lost WorldFossil Upright Tree Trunks

    Return to Home Page.
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    Version 5.0
    JAnuary 25, 2008Copyright (c) 1996-2008 Paul V. Heinrich All rights reserved.

    Artifacts or Geofacts?

    Artifacts or Geofacts? Alternative Interpretations of Items from the Gulf of Cambay.

    (Preliminary Draft - Subject to revisions as comments and new pictures are received)

    On April 23, 2002, there was posted to the Graham Hancock web a set of pictures titled "Artefacts from the Gulf of Cambay". In the introduction to this set of pictures, Graham Hancock stated;
    "Artefacts brought up by dredge from 40 metres depth from the suspected city structures in the Gulf of Cambay, north-west India."
    Without the benefit of any detailed peer-review or publications in scientific journals, much has been made about the significance of these alleged artifacts from the bottom of the Gulf of Cambay. The significant problem with both press releases and web pages that describe these items is that they provide little, if any, hard data that authenticates the identification of these items as valid artifacts or bones. Despite the giddy claims of either a "Lost" or an ancient Indian civilizations as described in Vedic literature, some caution needs to taken by the various parties in the making the claims being made about these items.
    The Alleged "Artifacts"Given the significance of the claims being made for artifacts recovered from the Gulf of Cambay, remarkably little, if anything has been published. As of the time that this article was written, nothing has been published in any scientific literature about these artifacts. At this time, the only known source of pictures had been newspaper articles, popular books (Hancock 2002a), and web pages (Hancock 2002b). Being an experienced archaeological geologist familiar with lithic materials used to prepare artifacts and concretions created by both pedogenic and marine processes, these artifacts naturally attracted my attention. However, an examination of the artifacts illustrated by Hancock (2002b) generated a considerable skepticism my part as to whether many of these so-called "artifacts" illustrated by Hancock (2002b) are really artifacts.Item 1 of Hancock (2002b)The first item that Hancock (2002b) discussed, Item 1, was illustrated at:
    About this artifact, Hancock (2002b) stated:
    "Ridged or turned effect on outer surface, looks as though it could have been turned on some sort of lathe. There is a hollow passage through the middle, possibly drilled."
    A better pictures of Item 1 can be seen on NIOT (2002)
    Looking at the pictures that Hancock has posted at the above URL, Hancock greatly overstates the regularity of the surface. Although ridged, the profile of this object undulates quite irregularly. Also, the ridges are neither as continuos nor formed as a machined object should be.
    Furthermore, Hancock (2002b) seems to be unaware that concretions known to be natural, not man-made, show the same "ridged or turned effect" that he described above. For example, Figure 1 illustrates Pleistocene concretions that occur in glacial lake deposits along the Fraser River near Endako and Quesel, Canada that exhibit identical, if not better formed, "ridged and turned effect" that Hancock (2002b) presumes to be indicative of man-made origin. In addition, these concretions exhibit symmetry that is superior to any of the objects he illustrates in the first three items. Innumerable carbonate concretions, like the ones illustrated in Figure 1, occur in exposures of laminated, Pleistocene glacial lake silts within Central British Columbia. One of the best localities for finding these concretions is the "Big Slide", a large landslide that exposes laminated lake silts a few kilometers north of Quesel, British Columbia (Clague 2002). Clague (1987) described the laminated silts in which these concretions occur in detail.

    Figure 1, Natural carbonate concretions from near Endako, British Columbia. Concretion in upper right corner is 4 cm long. Reproduce from Plate 7 of Kinder (1923) with permission.

    For Item 1, Hancock (2002b) concluded:
    "Overall appearance of this object indicates it was manufactured or created by hand rather than having been formed by natural forces within the environment."
    It making this statement, Hancock (2002b) overlooked the fact that the cementation of thinly laminated sediments, as in case of the above calcareous concretions, can produce a ridged cylindrical concretion like Item 1. As illustrated in Figure 1, concretions of undoubted natural origins exhibit a development of ridges and symmetry far superior to any of the objects that he hypothesized to be artifacts. Despite their well-developed ridges and superior symmetry, these concretions are without question concretions of natural origin. The concretions from laminated lake silts near Endako and Quesel, Canada refute the interpretation of Hancock (2002b) that the overall appearance of Item 1 is any indication that it is man-made.
    The ridges on Item 1 can be explained by the precipitation of some sort of cement around a pre-existing burrow within either flat-laminated or cross-laminated sand. The hole in the specimen, which is remarkably off-centered for a drill hole, as interpreted by Hancock (2002b), is the burrow itself. The ridges on the specimen represent individual sand laminae of the sand bed penetrated by the burrow. The distance that each ridge extends from the burrow reflects the texture of the sand laminae. The coarser laminae would extend further from the burrow than the finer sand laminae because the greater porosity would allow the cementation of the laminae it to penetrate further away from the burrow. A hypothetical cross-section of Item 1 is shown in Figure 2.

    Figure 2: Hypothetical cross-section of Item 1 illustrating its internal structure.

    As interpreted in Fig 1., Item 1 of Hancock (2002b) is also intriguing in that its layers of laminated "coarser sand and laminated "finer" sand alternate on a centimeter-scale. The smooth curve of the alternating "coarser sand and "finer" sand indicate that laminae likely become progressively coarser, reach a maximum grain size, become progressively finer, reach a minimum grain size, and than then become progressively coarse in a repeating cycle. Unfortunately, the photographs are not clear enough to count the number of laminae within each cycle but it appears to be in the range of 10 to 20 laminae. This is intriguing as 14 laminae coarsening to fining cycle would be characteristic of centimeter-scale tidal deposition representing the daily deposition of laminae between Slack Tide (the "finer" sand) and Neap Tide (the "coarser" sand). In such a case, the sine wave-like form of Item 1 ultimately reflects cyclic variations in grain size of laminae as a result of tidal deposition. The variations in grain size control the cementation of this sand and produce a concretion with a wavy surface.
    According to the available information, e.g. Gupta (2002), there exist several potential sources of such a nodule, specifically a carbonate nodule. Gupta (2002) noted several potential sources of concretions, specifically carbonate concretions, presence of carbonate-cemented sediments (caliche ?) containing calcified root casts (rhizo-concretions and rhizoliths) underlying the bottom of the gulf and the presence of calcareous sandstone in samples that they dredged from the bottom. The carbonate-cemented sediments, rhizoliths, and calcareous sandstone could very easily be the source of this and other of the concretions that Hancock (2002b) illustrates. Finally, numerous authors, e.g. Brown and Farrow (1978) and Pope et al. (1990), have documented the cementation of burrows in underwater environments by the precipitation of carbonate as the result of fermentation of either sedimentary organic matter and microbial oxidation of either biogenic or thermogenic methane.
    Item 2 of Hancock (2002b)Hancock (2002b) illustrated Item 2 at
    This is very likely another concretion, Item 1, which is discussed above. Item 2 is also illustrated by Sen (2002:Fig 3c) as a possible stone bead. Looking at Item 2, a person can see surface striations, although at a finer scale, like Item 1. As in case of Item 1, the striations could represent laminations of laminated sand, in which the nodule developed. The laminations can be seen because cementation of the sand progressed further out from the center of the nodule within relatively coarser-grained laminae than in finer-grained laminae. The short segment of the item that is thicker than the rest of the nodule represents the coarsest and, thus, most porous of the sand laminae penetrated by the burrow or root. This is illustrated by Fig 3.

    Figure 3: Sketch showing hypothesized internal structure of Item 2. The coarser laminae because of their greater permeability are cemented further from the center of the item (concretion).

    In Figures 4 and 5, segments of a carbonate concretion from High Island, Texas shows the same general cylindrical shape as Item 2. The High Island concretion lacks the surface striations that Item 2 possess because instead of forming in laminated sand, it formed within rather homogenous silty clay.

    Figure 4, Natural concretion from McFaddin Beach at High Island, Texas showing complex morphology that natural concretions can exhibit. Copyright (c) 2002 Paul V. Heinrich

    Figure 5, Side view of fragment of concretion illustrated in Figure 4 from McFaddin Beach at High Island. Notice cylindrical shape of its "stem". It could easily be mistaken for the arm of a water worn figurine. Copyright (c) 2002 Paul V. Heinrich
    Item 3 of Hancock (2002b)Item 3 can be seen at Item 3 is yet another nodule created by the cementation of a burrow. In this case the large circular flanges likely reflect the difference in permeability between thin layers of sand and finer grained sediments. In case of Item 3, the greater porosity along sand seams in less permeable fine-grained (clayey) sediments allow cementation to occur much further from the burrow. This illustrated in Fig. 6

    Figure 6, Sketch showing hypothesized in internal structure of Item 3. Part A of this figure shows the concretion after the sand, muddy sand, mud, and burrow fill has been cemented. Part B shows a block of bottom sediment with the layers of sand, muddy sand, mud, and burrow fill before the burrow and surrounding sediment has been cemented and the uncemented sediment eroded from around it.
    Item 4 of Hancock (2002b)At, Hancock interprets the objects shown in Item 4 as being:
    "Group of four objects including tooth, ivory bead and spoon."
    Because of the small size of the objects, it is difficult to identify many of the items. As indicated by Sen (2002:Fig. 3a), the middle object appears to be a very badly worn tooth. The "tooth" is very badly worn and obviously has been rolled and tumbled by both cyclone and tidal generated bottom currents for a long period of time. As discussed below for the Roman era pottery found at the bottom of the Gulf of Cambay within the area surveyed, the presence of human teeth and even other remains is not at all surprising and even quite predictable. Because innumerable people have been either drown by the storm surges of tropical cyclones or drowned in shipwrecks within the Gulf of Cambay, it is not at all surprising that human remains of any type can be found in the area surveyed for archaeological remains. Once either swept out to sea or sunk in shipwrecks, such human remains, including small objects like teeth will be widely distributed by the strong currents associated with the backflow of the storm surge and the tidal currents that characterize the Gulf of Cambay. Similarly, small objects such as spoons and beads could very be introduced into the Gulf of Cambay by either shipwrecks or the backflow of cyclonic storm surge and redistributed around the bay by tidal currents.
    Item 5 of Hancock (2002b)Item 5 of Hancock consists largely of objects, often of irregular shape that are characterized by a central hole in them. Such objects, called "Cambay pedants" by an archaeologist friend, are not man-made objects. The variety and irregularity of the objects are consistent with them being natural concretions. Even the circular holes these flat objects have are found in naturally formed concretions. Where they have been either bored by marine organisms or formed around either burrow or roots, the holes can be remarkably round as illustrated in Fig. 3d of Sen (2002:387). Other examples of similar concretions can be seen at NIOT (2002).
    Virtually identical objects, complete with holes and shapes illustrated by Hancock (2002b) and Sen (2002), can be found in many places along the Texas and Louisiana coasts and elsewhere, Fig. 7. Along McFaddin Beach near High Island, Texas, natural concretions virtual identical to the "Cambay pedants" can be found loose on McFaddin Beach as seen in Figure 7. Fig. 8 shows a pseudo-effigy created by a flat type of nodule that also occurs in irregular shapes and holes as the "Cambay pedants". Fig. 9 shows a geometric design in a natural concretion of the same type that also forms the "Cambay pendants". "Cambay pedants" occur widespread and have been found at widely separated places as Lake Texoma, Texas and, as illustrated by Kinder (1923:plate 10), the valley of the Ottawa River in Ontario as shown in Figure 10. Because the nodules from High Island, Texas form by the cementation of fine-grained sediment, including clay and silty clay, they often can be indistinguishable from pottery to the point of confusing the most expert archaeologist. As I have time, I will make pictures of other "Cambay pendants" and post them to a "Cambay pendant" web page.

    Figure 7, Concretion from beach at High Island, Texas showing form of "Cambay pednants". Long axis of this concretion is about 7 cm in length. Courtesy and copyrighted by Mr. David C.

    Figure 8, Flat concretion from the beach at High Island, Texas with human form. Copyright (c) 2002 Paul V. Heinrich

    Figure 9, Another flat concretion from High Island, Texas that exhibits geometric designs that could be mistaken for etching. Long axis of this concretion is about 5cm in length. Courtesy and copyrighted by Mr. David C.

    Figure 10, Pleistocene carbonate nodule from the Ottawa River Valley, Ontario, Canada. Maximum width of this concretion is 8 cm. Reproduce from Plate 10 of Kinder (1923) with permission.
    Item 6 of Hancock (2002b)At, Hancock illustrates a piece of rock with what Hancock (2002b) identifies as
    "Reddish pottery fragments set within stony matrix."
    It is difficult to identify the reddish objects from the photograph. However Gupta (2002) does report "artifact bearing conglomerate and sandstone" that were examined by Dr. S. P. Gupta (Indian Archaeological Society}, J. P. Joshi (former Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India) and Alok Tripathi (Head of the Underwater Archaeology Wing of the Archaeological Survey of India). According to Gupta (2002):
    "The pottery pieces seem to belong to the early two centuries of the Era establishing the fact that there was a settlement here which was engaged in the Roman Trade. There are several such sites on the Gujarat Coast, the pottery from which also indicate the same."
    The presence of Roman pottery indicates that the some of the sandstones and conglomerates are not Early Holocene fluvial deposits as suggested by Gupta (2002). Rather, its presence would indicate that some of the gravel sands and sands at the bottom of the Gulf of Cambay are more likely gravelly lags created by an initial episode of shoreface erosion and repeated reworking of the gulf bottom by tidal currents. The underwater cementation of such deposits, after the pottery was incorporated into them, can be explained by the precipitation of carbonate cements caused by the fermentation of either sedimentary organic matter and microbial oxidation of either biogenic or thermogenic methane. The ability of organic matter fermentation and methane oxidation to produce lithified deposits either of sandstone, coquina, and mudstone in an underwater environment is demonstrated by Howard (1990), Stakes et al. (1999), Pope et al. (1990), and Jorgensen (1992).
    The presence of Roman era pottery among the artifacts collected from the area of the alleged Cambay "sites" also demonstrates widespread dispersal and mixing of artifacts of a wide variety of ages across the gulf bottom within the area examined. The introduction of the artifacts could have happened by two major processes. First, given the extensive nautical traffic that has occurred throughout the Gulf of Cambay over the millennium, it can be assumed that numerous vessels have sunk. After sinking the disintegration of these vessels and their contents would have released considerable numbers of artifacts of various types and ages into the Gulf of Cambay. After, their release, currents, at velocities as much as 3 to 4 km per second, would have redistributed smaller artifacts over the Gulf of Cambay. In case of pottery, a relatively light material in terms of density, such currents are quite capable of moving large pieces of pottery long distances over just a few decades. Heavier objects would be concentrated as a bottom lag of gravel size material.
    Finally, the Gulf of Cambay is subject to intense tropical cyclones. Such typhoons generate very strong storm surge that erode and scour the coast and can wash large portions of entire villages out into the Gulf of Cambay. The storm surge might erode and transport fragmented pottery, small artifacts, and other artifacts attached to wooden infrastructure. Although these storms fail to generate geostrophic currents within the Gulf of Cambay, the backflow of the storm surge after the storm has passed creates a temporary movement of water from the land into the gulf. This backflow can move such debris offshore into the gulf immediately after the cyclone has pasted. Once in the Gulf of Cambay, the pottery and human remains, including teeth, can further scattered all over the Bay of Cambay by strong tidal currents. As a result, whatever grabbed from the bottom is a mixture of rocks, teeth, and artifacts from wide variety of sources and ages that typically lacks an interpretable archaeological context. The abundance of reworked Roman pottery is such strong proof of this problem.
    Item 7 of Hancock (2002b)At, Hancock (2002b) identifies Item 7 as: "Possible carving representing the neck and head of a deer or other animal." From what can be seen in the photograph, this is likely another sandstone, likely carbonate, nodule as described above. The observation that appears to be "symmetrical" is a useless criterion as even naturally formed concretions can be symmetrical. It is curious that Hancock (2002b) lauded the skill of the carving although the alleged carving is so vague and formless that it can't be identified to the type of animal being carved with any certainty.Item 8 of Hancock (2002b)At, Item 8 is claimed by Hancock (2002b) to be a slab of stone "suggested by the NIOT" to be engraved with archaic script" or some other deliberate engraving. However, the faint markings can alternatively be interpreted as the badly worn burrows of marine invertebrates in a slab of sandstone. In his February 26 (2002) post to Oceansp@ce, a "FREE online marine science & ocean technology newsletter", Kenyon (2002) identified the so-called "writing" on this slab as trace fossils. He concluded:
    "Not for nothing are these commonly called 'hieroglyphs' as they are a trap for the unwary."
    The badly worn nature of this slab makes identification of the precise trace fossil genera difficult from photographs. Two possibilities are the trace fossil genera Planolites and Palaeophycus. Both Planolites and Palaeophycus are trace fossils created by the feeding process of worm like invertebrates. The burrows of each genera are straight to gently curved, cylindrical or nearly cylindrical. Both burrows are either more or less horizontal, or oblique to bedding planes as they course through the sediment in irregular courses. The path of each burrows may cross each other, but neither genera branches. Palaeophycus differs from Planolites in that the burrows of the former are unlined while the burrows of the latter are lined. Figure 8 illustrates the bottom of slab covered by Planolites sp.

    Figure 11, Bottom of slab showing abundant Planolite burrows from the Chalk Canyon formation of New Mexico. From Schur (2000) with permission.

    Examples of one of these burrows, "Planolite explanation", can be found at: and
    My first job as a "Geologist and Geomorphologist" / archaeological geologist for a Cultural Resource Management (CRM) company involved writing the chapters on the natural setting and archaeological geology of the survey area in George Washington National Forest, Virginia. Because they were short of field "grunts", they "drafted" into helping with field survey work. Just before I arrived, they made one of the great "finds" of survey work, which was described to me as a marvelous panel of "rock art" lying inside a low rock shelter within the survey area. Naturally, they had prepared great plans the take the National Forest Service archaeologist to look at it and even release a press release, about having found such a major piece of rock art in this part of Virginia.
    However, the picture abruptly changed when the crew, with which I was working, decided to take, with the permission of the boss, a long lunch break so that everyone in the crew could have a look at the newly found "rock art". Needless to say, I just about had a heart attack when we got to the "site". Immediately upon viewing the "rock art", it was quite clear that the "rock art" lay not only on a bedding plane but also continued into the outcrop. Also, the "rock art" consisted of a rounded furrow made when the sediment was soft, which in a few places, still contained cylindrical pieces of the lithified sediment that still filled its spiral track. It was quite clear that the "rock art" was in really the spiral track of Paleozoic marine invertebrates. Of course, it took a lot of documentation to argue my case, being the bearer of highly unwelcomed news. Fortunately, everyone involved was open-minded to listen to my arguments. In this case, trace fossils had confused a group of well-trained professional archaeologists consisting of two Ph.Ds and three M.Ss in archaeology. The problem was not that any of these people were stupid. In fact, they were quite intelligent people. The problem was that the schools, which they had gotten their education, had no way of predicting that studying the esoteric branch of paleontology involving trace fossils, ichnology, would be of any benefit to their students.
    Also, detailed discussions and illustrations of trace fossils can be found in Bromley (1996) and Ekdale (1992).
    Item 9 of Hancock (2002b)At, Hancock (2002b) illustrated Item 9. This item is unconvincing as an artifact as it lacks of any real evidence for the so-called "cut or tool marks" that is claimed to be present on the piece of wood. Instead the piece exhibits an irregular break that lacks either the flatness or striations that a person would expect from this piece of wood having been sawed. In fact, the ridges trend into base, often perpendicular to the base of the break, something would not be expected from it having been sawed. These ridges are much too irregular to even be unconvincing evidence of any sort of tool, including either chisels or wedge. An additional picture of this piece of wood can be found at:
    Radiocarbon Dating of Item 9
    Hancock (2002b) stated:,
    "A piece of wood amongst the artifacts (photographs below) was carbon dated at two different laboratories - one giving a date of 8500 years ago and the other of 9500 years ago."
    Also, Gupta (2002) stated:
    "The carbonised wood pieces recovered were taken up for dating using C14 technique in the Birbal Shahni Institute of Palaeo Botany, Lucknow and in National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad. Preliminary results of the analysis of samples have revealed that the age range was between 8150 and 7680 years before present (BP) (by the Birbal Shahni Institute) and 9910-9330 years BP (by the National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad)."
    First, there is a significant problem with the provenience of this specimen. According to the available reports, this piece of wood was simply dredged off the bottom of the Bay of Cambay. There is no evidence that this piece of wood was in anyway associated with either any alleged ruins or alleged artifacts. There is no of knowing whether this piece of wood was eroded from Holocene coastal or fluvial deposits and transported into, and reburied by tidal currents where it was later found or was buried in situ. Even if the radiocarbon dates from this piece of wood didn't contradict each other, it is still unknown what exactly this piece of wood dates. It is well documented that the presence of organic material yielding radiocarbon dates inconsistent with sea level curves within the sediments of the western inner continental shelf of India, of which the Gulf of Cambay is an extension, is both a very common and significant problem as documented by Mascarenhas (1997). Thus, the radiocarbon dates obtained from the piece of wood illustrated by Hancock (2002b) are virtually meaningless in any interpretation of material found in the Gulf of Cambay.
    Second, Hancock (2002b) overstated the age of the youngest sample. The date of 8500 BP that he provides above is clearly too old for the 8150 to 7680 BP by almost 600 years of the date provided by Gupta (2002). This is significant because this error minimizes the considerable difference in age between the dates obtained by the Birbal Shahni Institute of Palaeo and the National Geophysical Research Institute.
    Finally, neither of the dates of the Birbal Shahni Institute of Palaeo and the National Geophysical Research Institute overlap within the range, presumably a standard deviation of the actual date. The youngest and oldest of the ranges given above differ by as much as 1,650 to 1750 years. Given the small size of the piece of wood dated, it is unlikely that dating different parts of the wood, e.g. heartwood versus outside rings can explain this different. Two distinctly different dates from the same piece of wood likely means significant problems either with the sample that was dated or problems with the process of dating of the wood occurred. It is possible that either one of these dates or neither accurately reflects the age of the sample but until other dates are done from this piece of wood, the interpretation of either date remains uncertain. Also, it is difficult, if not careless, to interpret any date without information concerning the counting times, carbon isotope values, species of wood, and other important data having been released.
    For example, knowing whether the dated plant fragments or wood is from a C3, C4 or CAM plant can be useful information. If the ratio of carbon isotopes that characterizes either a C3, C4 or CAM plant is inconsistent with the paleobotanist's identification of the plant, the radiocarbon date is clearly problematic and potentially erroneous. In this case, the archaeologist should report and discuss the implication of the problem.
    Final NoteIt must be remembered, that it can be quite easy and is quite common for nongeologists to be confused by natural rock formations. When confronted with natural phenomenon they are unfamiliar with, even the best of scientists can be mislead. A case in point in which I was personally involved concerned some magnetic anomalies found off of Breton Island, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. On the basis of very well defined magnetic anomalies, it was presumed that submerged shipwrecks existed offshore of Breton Island at five locations. Preliminary testing of these magnetic anomalies found no evidence of cultural material, except large concentrations of calcareous nodules that possibly could be interpreted as ballast. A detail study of the nodules showed that they were far too soft to have been ballast and based upon radium isotopes were far to young, only five to eight years old, to be the result of historic shipwrecks. Petrographic and isotopic analyses of the alleged ballast showed it to be carbonate concretions created by the precipitation of calcium carbonate as the result of the oxidation of methane seeping from underlying sedimentary strata. It was determined that these concretions were also magnetic from the formation of magnetic iron-bearing minerals contemporaneous with the precipitation of the carbonate minerals. The result of the investigations clearly showed that what well-trained archaeologists interpreted to be magnetic anomalies and ballast associated with shipwrecks, in fact, were "pseudo-shipwrecks" created by natural processes associated with the degradation of hydrocarbon seeping naturally into the sea floor (Irion and Heinrich 1986).
    For a classic example of people confusing natural concretions with man-made objects, go read Heinrich (1996), "The Mysterious Origins of Man: The South African Grooved Sphere Controversy".
    Additional Reading
    Additional comments about the alleged archaeological finds in the
    Gulf of Cambay can be found in " Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age: A Review of Part II" by Nic Flemming at:"".
    This and other topics concerning archaeology are discussed on the messageboard at "In the Hall of Ma'at" web page.
    References cited
    Bromley, R. G., 1996, Trace Fossils: Biology and Taphonomy. Special Topics in Palaeontology, London, Unwin Hyman, 280 p.
    Brown, B. J., and Farrow, G. E., 1978, Recent dolomitic concretions of crustacean burrow origin from Loch Journal of Sedimentary Petrology. vol. 48, no. 3, pp. 825-833.
    Clague, J. J., 1988, Quaternary stratigraphy and history, Quesnel, British Columbia. Physique et Quaternaire. vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 279-288.
    Clague, J. J., 2002, personal communications, May 3, 2002, Dept. of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Barnaby, British Columbia.
    Ekdale, A. A., 1992, Muckraking and mudslinging: The joys of deposit-feeding. In Maples, C. G., and West, R. R. (eds.), Trace Fossils. Short Courses in Paleontology No. 5, Paleontological Society, Knoxville, Tennessee, p. 145-171.
    Gupta, S. P., 2002, Marine Archaeological Findings in the Gulf of Cambay, Gujarat. Indian Archaeological Society. no date, last visited May 5, 2002.

    Hancock. G, 2002a, Underworld: Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age. Penguin Books, London.
    Hancock, G., 2002b, Artefacts from the Gulf of Cambay. Graham Hancock. April 23 2002, last visited May 5, 2002.

    Heinrich, P. V., 1996, The Mysterious Origins of Man: The South African Grooved Sphere Controversy. Talk.Origins Archive. April 8, 1996, last visited May 5, 2002.

    Howard, R. O., Jr., 1990, Petrology of hardbottom rocks, Mississippi-Alabama-Florida continental shelf. Unpublished Master's thesis, University of Alabama. Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
    Irion, J., and Heinrich, P. V., 1986, Phase II Cultural Resources Investigation of Submerged Anomalies, Breton Sound Disposal Area, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. Report by R. Christopher Goodwin and Associates, Inc., New Orleans, Louisiana under Contract Number DACW29-92-D-0011, Delivery Order 0003, for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District, New Orleans, Louisiana.
    Jorgensen, N. J., 1992, Methane-derived carbonate cementation of marine sediments from the Kattegat, Denmark: Geochemical and geological evidence. Marine Geology. vol. 103, no. 1-13.
    Mascarenhas. A., 1997, Significance of peat on the western continental shelf of India. Journal of the Geological Society of India. vol. 49, no. 2, pp. 145-152.
    NIOT, 2002, More Artifacts. April 2002, last visited on May 3, 2002.
    Neil K., 2002, Letters: Archaeological Finds in Bay of Bengal - Part Two. Oceansp@ca, The FREE online marine science & ocean technology newsletter, No. 402, February 14, last visited May 5, 2002.
    Poppe, L. J., Circe, R. C., and Vuletich, A. K., 1990, A dolomitized shelfedge hardground in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Sedimentary Geology. vol. 66, no. 1-2, pp. 29-44.
    Schur, C. 2000, Trace Fossils and Sedimentary Structure of the Miocene Chalk Canyon Formation. April 1, 2000, last visited May 5, 2002.
    Sen, N., 2002, The seabed reveals artifacts, Will India now hone its skills and tools for diving into the realm of marine archaeology? Current Science. vol. 82, no. 4, p. 395.
    Stakes, D. S., Orange, D. L., Jennifer, B., Salamy, Karen, A., and Maher, N., 1999, Cold-seeps and authigenic carbonate formation in Monterey Bay, California. Marine Geology. vol. 159, no. 1-4, pp. 93-109.

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