I did something interesting and would like to share it…
About a year ago Michael Davias shared with me his Excel spreadsheet pertaining to the Carolina bays. And what a spreadsheet it is. The amount of work Michael put into locating and quantifying their locations and sizes and alignments boggles my mind. It was, as I understand it, tied in with his LIDAR work on the bays. And without LIDAR, probably the majority of the bays simply are not find-able. The two – LIDAR and the data – go hand in hand, but the numbers of bays is really up there, and to think that he was able to extract so much precise data about the bays is just mind-numbing. My hat goes off to Michael for doing so much foundational work.
THE CAROLINA BAYS, BY THE NUMBERSMaybe the first question that comes to your mind is how many of them Davias was able to find. The answer to that is 43,900 bays. [Author’s note: I have since been apprised that the number is pushing 45,000 now; the work goes on… I will continue to use the 43,900 number in this post, however… Laziness…LOL]
So the world now has a fairly precise count of the Carolina bays. It is not half a million, as some have speculated. It is 43,900. But 43,900 is still a LOT of bays. It is also a very large database from which to derive statistical meaning.
How many types of bay planforms are there? Five types exist in the eastern USA. Michael gave the three types the names BayCarolina, BayBell, and BaySouth, bayShore, and bayOval. A sixth type regardless of shape is called BayWest, strictly on location – out in the Great Plains.
What is the size range? The largest one is 7.95 km x 6.19 km. The smallest is 0.03 km x 0.03 km.
The farthest north bay is at latitude 41.76°N; the farthest south is at 30.79°N. The farthest east is at 72.80°W; the farthest west is at 100.80°W (in the Bay West group. Of those in the eastern USA, the farthest west is at 87.62°W.
Michael looked at them by their azimuths and determined that there was a single centroid for them all. I won’t go into what conclusions he came up with. But it is west of Saginaw Bay. His work covers that. I did it another way – and came up with almost the same answer. So both azimuth-wise and distance-wise, the same area seems to be the center of the Carolina bays.
I decided to look at them from another point of view – to see if there was a centroid based solely on distance. They LOOKED like the formed an arc, and having done design work, sometimes it was necessary to find a center for some points, so that part is a piece of cake, usually. The distances from the Centroid to the center of one of the bays I ended up giving the name of “centroidal distance“. In doing so, I initially thought that there would not be anything to come from this. It was solely as an exercise. Find a center and find out that it didn’t really mean much. I thought there could be a bell curve to the charted centroidal distances, but if so, it would only by some strange happenstance.
Wow, was I surprised.
Recall this first: All of this is empirical evidence, real-world, measured numbers. Like in real science. Davias plotted the geographic locations of the bays, and all of this is real, quantified data, measured from real bays found on LIDAR. The LIDAR accentuated and made clear so much about Carolina bays that it not only showed thousands that were essentially invisible on maps or in person, but it also mae measuring them much easier and more precise.
All I was doing was looking to find a best-fit centroid. Davias did all the real work. My toying with it was simply to look at the distance of each bay from some centroid. They looked like they had a central radiating point, but DID THEY?
Yes, in fact, they did.
Initially, using Saginaw Bay as the Centroid, I got this initial result:Wow. That actually looks like a bell curve. Not perfect, but damned close. I think that if a statistician were to look at that, he would find a significance to that. I noticed, though, that the peaks of different curves were offset from each other. Add to that the extra bump on the left (and a smaller on on the right). After perusing this for a bit with my fairly geometric mind, I thought going after a different Centroid that those bumps (left AND right) might fall out – that a better alignment would have a more concentric pattern. So I went looking for a location that would tighten up the bell curves. Here is what I ended up with: Double WOW. Now THAT is a helluva spike. It’s a nice, really tight set of bell curves, and all the main ones peaking at the same distance from the Centroid. There does appear to be ONE point, the Centroid of the arc of the Carolina bays. That centroid is geographically very close to Davias’ azimuthal centroid – a very interesting finding, considering that the centroid is on average about 1240 km away from the Eastern bays.
DO note that not only are the peaks of the main types within the same VERY narrow 1200-1250 km range, but the drop-off on either side of that rang is quite steep. This appears to tell us that, if the bays are secondary impacts from ejecta, then most of the ejecta was lofted with very nearly the same energy and velocity.
One more point about that last graph: The sharpness of the curves is strictly because they are grouped in 50-km swaths. Certainly that is quite narrow already. However, with narrower groupings – say, 10-km or even 5-km bands – the peaks would drop a good bit and the curves would round off much more. Perhaps a project for another day…
There is NOT a lot of variation. 97.4% of the bays in the eastern USA are within a 250-km band from 1150 km to 1400 km. This in itself is a very narrow band. Again, consider how far away the Centroid of this data IS – 1240 km on average.
Here is what it looks like on the map (Google Earth):This all argues very strongly against any local causes. Alternatively, it argues that anyone pushing local causes has to then take the extra step of explaining why there is a Centroid out in north central Illinois that is mathematically tied to the locations of at least 97.4% of the eastern Carolina bays.
- The mean of all Eastern bays from the Centroid is 1239.057 km.
- The mean of the (Eastern) bayBell bays from the Centroid is 1223.757 km – only 15 km from the overall mean.
- The mean of the (Eastern) bayCarolina bays from the Centroid is 1238.254 km – only 0.8 km from the overall mean.
- The mean of the (Eastern) baySouth bays from the Centroid is 1255.150 km – only 16 km from the overall mean.
- The mean of the (Eastern) bayShore bays from the Centroid is 1271.285 km – only 32 km from the overall mean.
- The mean of the (Eastern) bayOval bays from the Centroid is 1264.711 km – only 26 km from the overall mean.
- ALL Eastern bays fall within the range of 1050 km to 1450 km.
Now, I was hoping to see something that could be construed loosely as a bell curve, a “normal distribution curve”. What I got was a set of very narrow bell curves – for nearly all of the Eastern USA Carolina bays.
Essentially, something like 98% of all eastern bays are within the very narrow range of 1100 km to 1300 km.
If you look very closely at the chart above, you will see a reddish line between about 650 km and about 900 km. That is the BayWest type, out in the Great Plains – the Western bays. They are all much closer to the Centroid than the Eastern bays. There are very few of these – only 1.355% of the bays that Davias using LIDAR was able to find. Davias has a map that shows why there are not more, consistent with his hypothesis. And that map shows that the Laurentide Ice Sheet extended down to the northern edge of the bayWest bay area. Thus he represents his argument that the other ejecta toward the west landed on the ice sheet and was erased at or before the time when the ice sheet retreated.
(In a somewhat similar way, whatever bays existed in the hillier regions in the eastern USA were erased by much higher erosion rate due to the greater force of water flowing down steeper slopes.)
THE CENTROID LOCATION
The Centroid for the 43,900 bays, based upon a common distance, is at 42.289867°N, 89.405583°W. That does not quite line up on the same latitude with Saginaw Bay, which is at 43.91666°N (and 83.58333°W).
Davias had argued – and I agree with him (especially now) – that if the Carolina bays are secondary impact craters, then the Earth’s normal rotation eastward during the flight of the ejecta materials would present a researcher with a “proxy” impact site, somewhat west of Saginaw Bay. If it hit in Saginaw Bay, then Saginaw Bay would rotate eastward, but the arrangment of the Carolina bays would point to a location west of Saginaw Bay. This would be true no matter which method of finding a Centroid is used – his or the one here.
His centroid is in south central Wisconsin. The method used in this post arrives at a centroid in north central Illinois.
The two are close enough that perhaps with further analysis they can be merged or one can win out. I have no idea which would win out.
ASSUMPTIONS USED AND METHODOLGY
This method assumed initially:
- The pattern of the Carolina bays is a circular pattern, just as a starting hypothesis. (It was expected that instead the pattern would be more oval/elliptical. That this ellipticity turned out not to be true was a big surprise. The pattern DID turn out to be quite circular. This might suggest to you – OR ME – that perhaps I did something wrong – but I cannot find any error in the spreadsheet used. All I did was to measure the distance on a globe using spherical trigonometry.)
- The Earth is assumed here for convenience to be spherical with a diameter equal to the mean between the polar diameter and the equatorial diameter. I used the value of 12,734.92 km.
- Initially it was assumed here that Saginaw Bay (43.91666°N 83.58333°W) was the Centroid, to see if there was a pattern worth pursuing. If this had give no interesting results, the inquiry would have ended there.
- It was assumed here that there would be a Centroid other than Saginaw Bay that would probably give better results, but where that might have been was up in the air.
- I assumed that, if Davias was right about the rotation of the Earth while ejecta was following some trajectory, then the Centroid would be to the west of Saginaw. So that is where I focused my attention – right or wrong.
The methodology of locating the location of the Centroid was mostly trial and error, entering new coordinates and seeing how the curves changed. The closer I got to south central Wisconsin/north central Illinois, the tighter the bell curves became, plus the secondary peaks on the curves (on each side of the peaks of the bell curves shown in Figure 1 above) went away.
With this much consistency of distances – this narrow range – it is very difficult to argue that this Centroid is not somehow intrinsically connected to the Carolina bays in the Eastern USA.
But what IS the connection? If it is not an ET impact in the northern part of Illinois or nearby, with secondary impacts mostly near the US Eastern Seaboard, then what else might connect them?
Absolutely nothing else comes to mind.
[Added 2015 Dec 9] Seeping hydrogen gas has recently been reported in a scientific journal to have been found in and around the Carolina bays in North Carolina. How such seeps might tie in with some distant centroid (me) or angular centroid (Davias), I can’t imagine. Wind and water have always been acknowledged to exist in the bays as secondary forces, causing re-working of bays and bay rims. But as far as originally forming the bays, these two fail to explain how they could have made the bays in the first place. This has been covered elsewhere and is not one of the subjects of this blog post. Davias, in particular summarizes these and other failed bay formation explanations. Thus, in the scientific literature, the formation of the bays remains unsolved. This blog post is written as much to simply add evidence as to try to explain the bays and their mysterious genesis.
A BRIEF FURTHER DISCUSSION
The ET impact origin for the Carolina bays has long since been discarded, because all known impacts were of a hyper-velocity type, with very high energy levels, very high temperatures, and very high pressures involved. No such evidence has been found in the area of the Carolina bays.