CCNet, 28 September 1999


     "Compelling evidence that there was a Great Flood, as told in the 
     Old Testament story of Noah's Ark, has been found far below the
     waters of the Black Sea by an American expedition."
              -- The Times, 27 September 1999

    THE TIMES, September 27 1999

    THE TIMES, 27 September 1999

    Yahoo! News, 27 September 1999

    Phil Bland <>

    Ron Baalke <>

    Luigi Foschini <>


From THE TIMES, 27 September 1999

COMPELLING evidence that there was a Great Flood, as told in the Old
Testament story of Noah's Ark, has been found far below the waters of
the Black Sea by an American expedition.

Underwater surveyors, led by Robert Ballard, the renowned
oceanographer who found the Titanic and other sunken ships of the
20th century, have discovered an ancient coastline at a depth of

"I am not sure whether it is Noah's flood or not Noah's flood, but I
do buy that there was a flood," said David Mindell, one of the

The Ballard team was working from a theory about the biblical flood
of antiquity propounded by two marine geologists from Columbia
University in New York, William Ryan and Walter Pittman, in their new
book, Noah's Flood.

As Dr Ballard explained; "During the last great Ice Age glaciers
advanced across the surface of the world. That lowered the sea level
400ft. Then, 12,000 years ago at the end of the Ice Age, the glaciers
began to retreat."

With its lower sea level, the eastern Mediterranean was cut off from
the Black Sea so that when the oceansstarted to rise, the Black Sea
did not.

Dr Ballard continued: "Around 7,600 years ago, guess what happens?
The Mediterranean breaks through a natural dam at the Bosphorus and
catastrophically floods the land surface. People living there are
400ft below sea level and in trouble. They are facing a flood equal
to 10,000 Niagara Falls."

This flood was on a far greater scale than the one described in
Genesis, which is said to have lasted for 40 days and 40 nights,
covering every living thing on Earth beneath 24ft of water other than
Noah, his family and his pairs of animals carried to safety on the

In the new theory, it is believed that each day for two years ten
cubic miles of ocean water cut through the widening Bosphorus channel
as it flowed into what was then a fresh water lake, raising the level
by six inches a day.

The incoming salt water, more dense than the fresh water it
displaced, plunged to the bottom of the lake bed, transforming it
into a sea where the depths support no life.

This area of inert darkness is known as an abyss that is anoxic,
meaning that the trapped water could not circulate and has lost its
oxygen, according to an account in yesterday's Washington Post. "Such
conditions exist nowhere else in the world," Dr Ballard told the

The theory supposes that in this dead zone wooden ships will be
preserved intact, possibly still with their Bronze Age sails, and
just waiting for Dr Ballard and his team. "I want to find the story
of Jason and the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece," he
said. But this search for ancient mariners may have to wait until
next year when Dr Ballard wants to employ the US Government's
remotely operated undersea exploration vehicle. The explorers are
convinced that there may be many ships on the bottom because the
Black Sea served as a commercial waterway from Ancient Greece to
Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire. But the waters were known to
be hazardous, according to Roman historians.

For his expedition, Dr Ballard has attracted marine archaeologists
who had viewed him sceptically as a treasure hunter but he has not
enriched himself by taking artefacts from the Titanic nor his other
great finds, the liners Lusitania and Andrea Doria, and the German
battleship Bismarck and the American aircraft carrier

Dr Ballard has participated in 120 deep-sea expeditions. This summer
he found two Phoenician vessels more than 3,000 years old.

----- dispatches from an expedition to
the floor of the Black Sea in search of proof of the flood of the
Noah story

Copyright 1999 Times Newspapers Ltd.


From THE TIMES, 27 September 1999



Scientists may have discovered the truth about Noah's Flood

Those who moan that this autumn has been horribly wet should put their
gripes into perspective; 7,600 years ago, a cascade of water travelling
80 kilometres an hour, with 200 times the force of the Niagra Falls,
created the Black Sea. According to scientists whose research we report
today, this was the Great Flood. The Book of Genesis is the gospel
truth - up to a point.

Two American academics, Walter Pitman and William Ryan, argue that
before the Flood the Black Sea was a fertile area with a freshwater
lake. Lying below sea level, a natural dam at the end of the Bosphorous
held back the Mediterranean. At the end of the last Ice Age, sea levels
gradually rose, eventually breaching nature's defence. As the seawater
poured in, the freshwater it displaced floated to the top of the new
sea. This blanket starved creatures on the ocean floor of oxygen,
killing organisms that might otherwise have destroyed human artefacts.

Scientists and archaeologists will rejoice at this news. This one
catastrophe might explain why stories of mankind meeting a watery end
permeate so many cultures. As well as the Book of Genesis, there is the
Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh, the Indian legend of Manu being warned by
a fish of approaching floods, and the Eskimo tale of how the ocean rose
to cover the "whole land". Using the technology that was used to
discover the Titanic, the land where Noah built the Ark can now be

Contrary to the Bible, this Great Flood was not caused by 40 days and
nights of rain, it did not cover the whole globe, nor did it subside
after 150 days. But such an observation misses the astounding point. If
the American scientists' theory is correct, although the Book of
Genesis might embroider the story, it records an actual event.

Centuries of rationalism have left many minds sceptical of the Bible's
worth as a literal historical source. Hardened by science, few believe
in Scripture's wilder stories. For example, how could a 600-year-old
man and his family have built a ship out of "gopher wood" large enough
to hold two of "everything that creeps on the ground"? But if we
ignore its stories we lose a compelling account of mankind's
early history.

Man's progress now allows him to separate fact from fiction. But a
forensic investigation of the Bible risks treating the Good Book as
simply a spectacular historical source. Attempts to disentangle the
truth threatens Scripture's mysticism. As Matthew Arnold wrote, "the
language of the Bible is literary, not scientific language; language
thrown out at an object of consciousness not fully grasped, which
inspired emotion".

Copyright 1999 Times Newspapers Ltd.


From Yahoo! News, 27 September 1999

Natural Catastrophes Spawn Surge In Disaster Studies

By Eva Sohlman

LONDON (Reuters) - As the 1990s draw to an end with fearsome
earthquakes, hurricanes and refugee crises, the problem of how to
cope is fast becoming a subject for practical and academic
study the world over.

Questions about the effectiveness of relief are seldom out of the
news as extreme weather widely seen as the result of climate change
-- such as the hurricane that led to the evacuation of 3 million
people from the eastern United States this month -- adds to the
effects of wars and earthquakes.

Ian Davies, a professor of disaster management at Cranfield
University near London who has worked in the field since the early 
1970s, says the increase in interest and in the number of disaster
studies courses is remarkable -- above all in wealthier countries
such as the United States, where natural hazards have cost an average
of $1 billion a week since 1989.

Leading universities such as New York's Columbia, the University of
California Los Angeles (UCLA) and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore all
offer courses in disaster preparedness, response, mitigation and

"In 1972 (British charity) Oxfam had three people working with
disaster management. Today they have more than 90," Davies said.


Inevitably the increased incidence of natural disasters and the
greater involvement of the international community have also
mobilized funding with the aim of developing expertise.

The wide-ranging and hands-on courses twin practical and theoretical
elements such as program planning, ecological change, evaluation of
disaster preparedness programs and reviews of warning and monitoring

John Twigg, doctor of Geological Sciences at University College,
London, said: "I believe these courses could make a difference
because they give a good balance and allow people working in the
field to take a wider perspective. The students tend to be more
mature, which suits aid agencies very well as they most often look
for experienced people."

Teachers are from a variety of backgrounds -- academics from the
social sciences, engineers, geologists and people who have worked in
the Third World and with emergency management.

As universities and aid agencies begin to examine the fruits of the
teaching, Davies said: "There is no specific general evaluation but
you do hear less of bad management and more of positive
responsibility compared to 10 years ago."

The interest in disaster studies has led to a deeper examination of
where responsibility for handling crises lies.

Professor Gilbert Burnham, director of the Center for Refugee Health
and Disaster Studies at Johns Hopkins, says universities should play
three principal roles in disaster and refugee studies: research,
teaching and the distribution of expertise to organizations.

"It is natural that universities take ownership of research and
teaching which deals with the consequences of the research as most
aid agencies seldom have the capacity or time to evaluate
disaster management," Burnham said. "Development programs should
stabilize countries, improve the welfare of their citizens and make
them more crisis-resistant."

He stresses the importance of individual responsibility but adds:
"We shouldn't lessen the responsibility of governments, but we know
they sometimes fail to take on the obligation, so communities should
share it."

Dennis Mileti, director of the Natural Hazards Research and
Applications Information Center at the University of Colorado, says
disaster awareness and shared responsibility are vital.

"Really big catastrophes are getting larger and will continue to get
larger, partly because of things we've done in the past to reduce
risk," he said. "For example, building a dam or levee may protect a
community from the small- and medium-sized floods the structures were
designed to handle ... but if a major flood occurs, causing failure
of the dam, it means even greater losses."

Mileti's study "Disasters by Design: A Reassessment of Natural
Hazards in the United States" showed long-term planning was failing
and urged community leaders to expect future disasters for
their communities.

To truly take responsibility for disasters they could face in the
next 100 to 200 years would predicting and preparing for deaths,
injuries and dollar losses, the study said.

"At the moment we are postponing disasters for future generations,"
Mileti said.

Copyright 1996-1999 Reuters Limited


From Phil Bland <>


Don't know if this is any use to you, but maybe as a follow up to the
small impacts on Mars story, we've done some work (and are now
collaborating with Horz) about the survivability of small meteorites on
Mars surface. See the October 'Sky and Telescope' p.18, and a recently
accepted paper in Icarus. Our modelling suggests between 500 and
500,000 meteorites (>10 grams and <50 grams) per square km on Mars -
very big accumulations. The major determinant on the overall number is
weathering rate.

best wishes,


Dr. Phil Bland
Department of Mineralogy
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 5BD, UK
tel: 44 (0) 207 942 5628
fax: 44 (0) 207 942 5537


From Ron Baalke <>

Earth's Peculiar Neighbors
Physical Review Focus
24 September 1999

An asteroid heading toward Earth makes a good movie plot, but
astronomers haven't yet found any heavenly bodies on such a collision
course. There are plenty of asteroids in our neighborhood of the
solar system, however, and a team of physicists has now discovered
several new types of near-Earth-asteroid orbital motion. In the 27
September PRL they describe their theory and computer simulations of
the orbits of three known asteroids. They conclude that although we
are safe from collisions with such objects, there may be many
asteroids inhabiting these newly discovered orbits, including
undiscovered satellites of Earth.

The orbits are examples of "coorbital motion," where the asteroid is
locked into a gravitational dance with a planet and the Sun, rather
than orbiting the Sun independently. In one simple type of coorbital
motion an asteroid could stay close to Earth's orbital track, always
remaining some distance ahead of Earth as the two bodies orbit the
Sun. The asteroid could move slightly faster than Earth, advancing
farther around the sun (from Earth's perspective) with each year.
After many years it could advance all the way around the Sun to a
point not far behind Earth, before slowing down again and appearing
from Earth to turn back the other way.

Asteroid (3753) Cruithne appeared to be in such a "horseshoe" orbit
when it was discovered a few years ago, but its highly eccentric
(egg-shaped) trajectory and steep inclination with the plane of the
solar system couldn't be explained by current theories, says Fathi
Namouni of Queen Mary and Westfield College in London. Namouni and
his colleagues developed a theory for coorbital motion based on the
long-term average position of the asteroid as the shape and
orientation of its elliptical orbit evolves with time. They found
several new classes of motion, and unlike previous theories, their
predictions are valid for highly eccentric and inclined orbits. To
check their predictions, the team ran computer simulations for a few
real asteroids to see their orbital tracks 105 years into the past
and future. These asteroids exhibited all of the newly discovered

In "retrograde satellite motion"--one of the new classes of
motion--an asteroid can slowly orbit a planet at a great distance,
perhaps half the distance between the planet and the sun. Cruithne
appears to be in a "compound" orbit--a combination of retrograde
satellite motion and a modified horseshoe. The team also discovered
that high eccentricity asteroids can be temporarily captured by a
planet and remain in stable coorbital motion for thousands of years
before wandering away: Another asteroid they investigated orbited
Earth for 35,000 years before leaving, according to their

Namouni explains that all of the inner planets are protected from
collisions with asteroids locked in coorbital motion because the
orbits are stable, rather than chaotic. He expects that more
asteroids will soon be discovered inhabiting some of these orbital
modes, perhaps even orbiting the Earth in a region where no one has
yet looked.

The theory "may prove to be important in understanding how planets
were formed," says Scott Tremaine of Princeton University, and it may
also allow space mission planners to come up with new gravitational
tricks for their space probes. But he says the main significance of
the work is that it provides a complete classification of coorbital
motions, which should allow a good understanding of other asteroids,
including their likelihood of hitting Earth.


From Luigi Foschini <>

The first public showing of colour slides of the Tunguska99 scientific
expedition will be held in Bologna on September 28, 1999, at the Comando
Provinciale dei Vigili del Fuoco of Bologna (Via Ferrarese 166/2). The
showing will begin at 16:30 (local time).

The measurements made on the Cheko lake during Tunguska99 suggest that
the lake is older than the 1908 event. 28 cores, up to 2 m long, have
been extracted from the lake bottom (at depths up to 50 m). They show a
clear stratigraphy and the analyses at the Institute of Marine Geology
of CNR in Bologna will hopefully throw light on the nature of the
exploded body.

Other data recorded during the expedition are still under analysis.
Specifically, the aerial multispectral photosurvey, performed from
visual to thermal infrared wave lenghts, together with our GPS
coordinate measurements on the ground of some reference points, will be
used to re-examine some details of the explosion.

The petrology and geochemistry of the Mesozoic igneous rocks utcropping
in the Tunguska region is being studied and the collected wood, peat and
rock samples will be analyzed in different laboratories to find traces
of the cosmic body.

The data on gamma rays are being processed in the Bologna University to
find their dependence on altitude, longitude, latitude and atmospheric

For other informations see:

Bologna, 26 September 1999

For the Tunguska99 Press Office
Luigi Foschini

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