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No. 15: Spring 1981

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Iceland And The Iridium Layer

The high concentration of iridium between the Cretaceous and Tertiary eras (about 65 million years ago) is widely interpreted as indicating a worldwide catastrophe caused by the impact of a comet or meteor. The increase of iridium concentration over normal levels is much higher in northern latitudes, suggesting that the impact point is in this region. But no impact scar of the proper size and age exists. However, if one looks for scabs rather than scars, one finds that Iceland is formed entirely of volcanic rocks younger than the Cretaceous. To Fred Whipple of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, these facts dovetail nicely. Iceland was form ed by magma welling up from a 100-km hole in the sea floor blasted out by a 10-km meteor.

(Anonymous; "The Blow That Gave Birth to Iceland?" New Scientist, 89:740, 1981.)

From Science Frontiers #15, Spring 1981. 1981-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987