Annotated Bibliography for Catastrophism: Geology

Corliss, William R. Unknown Earth: A Handbook of Geological Enigmas.
The Sourcebook Project, Glen Arm, Maryland, 1980.

Many sections of this work will be of interest to catastrophists. Chapter 1 discusses stratigraphic anomalies. Included are discussions on the Flood, the drift, and the ice ages.

Chapter 7 which presents some geological myths and legends, including the origin of the Chimaera legend from a "burning mountain" (Chamira), resulting from kindling of a slow release of inflammanble gas from a crevice. Corliss also discusses the legend of Niobe and her children, relating it to a great bust of the Mother Goddess Cybele carved out of the rock in a valley between Mount Tmolus and Mount Sipylus. Corliss also discusses Lot's wife, California as an island, and New World versions of the Deluge myth.

Harris, Stephen L. Agents of Chaos.
Mountain Press Publishing Company, Missoula, Montana, 1990.

Harris discusses the role of geological phenomena such as earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, and meteorite impacts in shaping the face of the earth. He concentrates on the occurrence of such phenomena in the United States.

Harris provides a good example of geomythology in chapter 29 in which he describes the relationship between the Klamath legend of Llao and Skell with the explosive formation of Crater Lake from Mount Mazama about 6,900 years ago. Harris notes that the Indian legend "preserves an amazing number of geologic facts." The existence of this legend suggests that such stories can reliably encode knowledge of catastrophic events, and that such stories can be passed down orally for thousands of years.

In Chapter 26, Harris describes the "world's largest flood," resulting from the breaking of the glacial dam at Lake Missoula about 12,000 years ago. The resultant flood waters carved out the Channeled Scabland in east-central Washington -- an area of almost 2,000 square miles -- in a matter of days. The flood waters reached heights of up to 1,200 feet at the Wallula gateway. Harris notes that there are Indian legends of a great flood in this area. Is it possible that the memory of this Missoula flood has been transmitted over a period of 12,000 years?

In several places, Harris speaks about the possible relationship between meteoritic impact events and the formation of "hot spots." For example, Harris suggests that the enormous volcanic activity of the Deccan flats in India at the close of the Cretaceous stemmed from an impact which penetrated the earth's crust down into the mantle. Harris also suggests an impact origin for the Columbia River plateau and associated Snake River plateau and Yellowstone volcano.

Imbrie, John and Katherine Palmer Imbrie. Ice Ages: Solving the mystery.
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA., 1979.

The Imbries present a clear popular account of the history of the discovery of the ice ages and the astronomical theory for their cause suggested by Milutin Milankovitch.

The Milankovitch theory, espoused by the Imbries, does not explain why there have been long periods of time without ice ages, nor why ice ages come about so suddenly. The Imbries suggest the explanation may lie in the distribution of continents as a result of continental drift. I personally find it more likely that Clube and Napier's suggestion -- that global cooling is caused by enhanced dusting resulting from the disintegration of large comets in earth-crossing orbit -- is correct. The interrelationship of the Milankovitch cycles to cometary disintegrations, land distribution on the Earth, possible variations in the density of interstellar dust depending upon the solar system's galactic position, and possible variations in the Sun's output remain to be worked out.

Wood, Robert Muir. The dark side of the earth.
Allen & Unwin, London and Boston, 1985.

Wood's book will be of interest to catastrophists because of its interesting description of the relationship between the geologist Harry Hess and Velikovsky. Hess was one of the few professional geologists whose active career spanned the "paradigm shift" to plate tectonics. Muir suggests that Hess's open-mindedness contributed to his ability to survive the shift when many of his colleagues did not. Hess never subscribed to Velikovsky's theories, but he believed they should be treated seriously and judged on their scientific merit. Hess asked Velikovsky to lecture to his students, most likely in order to press home the idea that even basic beliefs might change over time.

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Last modified by pib on March 20, 1999.