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Atlantis - How We Got Here


This letter, I suppose, begins the "heavy lifting". If I don't say it, it is meant with a feeling of sympathy and appreciation for all scientists - even when I disagree. I believe they search after truth just as we on this list search after truth. Though as you note in one of your letters - other motives unfortunately get mixed in.

To understand how geology got here it is necessary to go back to the days when geologists were called naturalists.

Most of us have heard of the hairy mammoth (an extinct animal) found fully frozen in Siberia. What we may not know is that there have been many more and starting in the 1700's. (Why haven't we known this?)

The first woolly rhinocerous was found fully frozen in Siberia in 1772. Part of a hairy mammoth was found frozen in Siberia in 1787. These finds naturally excited the curiosity of the naturalistsand cried out for explanation. But other serious problems and oddities began demanding explanation as well.

The most obvious problem were the erratics - large stones that were out of place. They were found standing isolated in fields, balanced on mountain tops, stretched out along mountain ridges andclogging valley exits. They were found hundreds and even a thousand miles from their source! They sometimes were literally miles long. In one case a town in England is built on one. To make matters alittle worse they often had rough edges suggesting that whatever awful force had moved them had done it quickly.

Another problem was that there were striations (serious scratch; marks) found on stones all around the world. What had caused the striations? The usual direction for the striations were from North or North West to South or South East. Why should there be a common direction of the striations around the world?

Then there were polished surfaces of rocks. The polished surfaces and the striations were often found closely connecting suggesting they had a common source.

The obvious solution to the naturalists was that moving water caused all of these features. But how could water be moving in the necessary way?

There was yet another geological feature called Till. But to explain this, I would rather quote, at the risk of some repetition, from the book "Cataclysm!" found at Seekerbooks (available in the late fall.) This is the book I recommend number one to resolve the larger geological issues relevant to this discussion of Atlantis. It is filled with science. Perhaps I will say more on it later. But I place it number one.

Here I give a long quote from scientific finds in Cataclysm:

"The Siberian finds increased naturalists' interest in thenumerous mammoth and woolly rhinoceros bones which had long been known from, and were indeed still being met with in, more southern European latitudes. These, it was quickly realised, generally occurred either in caves or rock fissures or in superficial surface deposits like sands, gravel, clays or marls. Usually unconsoldated (loosely held together), these deposits were also largely unstratified (unlayered)and often of very irregular linear extent and thickness, exhibiting every sign of having accumulated under agitated conditions which had apparently affected huge areas of the globe more or less simultaneously. Due to the exceptional nature of these surface deposits special names were coined to distinquish them, e.g. 'Boulder Clay', 'Hard Pan' and 'Till'. Researches showed that the lowest of these deposits, the 'Till', usually lay directly upon solid bedrock, the upper surfaceof which , irrespective of the kind of rock involved, had frequently been smashed, fissured, striated (marked with linear ridges, furrows, or scores), polished or pulverised into countless fragments. This phenomenon not only extended susrprising lateral and vertical distances, but had affected a great variety of extremely hard rocks.

To most naturalists at the time it was perfectly obvious that some tremendous even had occurred which, among other effects, had fractured hard rocks over immense distances, and had deposited the resultant debris equally extensively as gravels, sands, clays and muds. The bony remains of hordes of animals which had been destroyed by the event now lay within these deposits, which, in northern Siberia, had become permanently frozen. These interrelated remains thus represented the debris of a former but now-broken world.

Clearly any agency capable of venting so much devastation must have been not only awesomely powerful but must, from the evidence, have affected the entire world. ... On the other hand they were being confronted with mounting evidence that something traumatic, something catastrophic, had affected the whole Earth, geologically extremely recently.

Men were not long in concluding that this event had been the Deluge of Genesis and widespread tradition, and that perhaps the scriptural record and the accumulating geological record could, after all, be reconciled. Many books appeared on this theme during the first thirty years of the nineteenth century. ... Had a long-lost Golden Age been suddenly and disastrously terminated by a frightful global Flood? The growing evidence suggested to many that this may indeed have been the case, and efforts were redoubled to investigate these possibilities. ...

The first quarter of the nineteenth century, when geological science grew apace, saw much attention given to rock striations and polished rock surfaces, and to the vast number of boulders which, because they were usually foreign to the districts in which they reposed, were accordingly called 'erratics'.

The rock striations were generally found to be aligned north-west to south-east, both north and south of the equator. At many places either side of the Atlantic the striations occur only on the summits of high hills or only on the northern or north-western slopes of mountains. Locally, however, other striations cross the predominating examples at all sorts of angles or even at right-angles to their long axes. Such evidence suggest that whatever produced them proceeded from a general northern or north-western direction and totally ignored pre-existing topography.

At many localities these rock striations furrow extraordinarily smooth rock surfaces, in some instances exhibiting a glass-like polish. Such surfaces are of irregular extent, but occur with ornear striated rocks so frequently that little doubt exists that the striating and polishing of these surfaces had a common origin, both in cause and time.

Many of the 'erratic' boulders are of immense size and weight, the very largest being literally miles long. In some districts they abound in almost unbelievable numbers , perched precariously in long lines along mountain crests, or lie singly upon the very summits of lofty eminences. At other places they choke valleys and gorges or repose in splendid isolation on the surfaces of plains and deserts. Sometimes the boulders are visible in their entirety - elsewhere they are buried almost out of sight by surrounding surface deposits. 'Erratics' are often reported as sharply angular and "fresh-looking, rounded and polished, or as sometimes scored by "well-marked parallel striae", and in every case as having travelled considerable distances to their present locations - their points of origin often remaining obscure. Their angular and "fresh-looking" condition, however, suggest that their transportation was rapid and of sort; duration, a startling conclusion respecting the largest 'erratics'.

Like the rock striations mentioned above, these boulders were evidently dispersed by an agency operating oblivious to older geographical barriers and sometimes obliquely to the long axes of pre-existing ground features. Repeating associations of polished rock surfaces, striations, and erratics are known from many widely-sundered localities, such as Montana, Brazil, and Finland. Clearly these phenomena are different expressions of a singular event which occurred on a hemispheric scale.

The superficial sands and gravels which contain the bony remains of woolly rhinoceroses, mammoths and other large contemporary mammals, also lie unusually to adjacent local topographical features. They are often banked up against northern or north-western mountain or valley slopes only. At other places they mantle only the summits of high mountains, sometimes to depths of several thousand feet or meters. Elsewhere they bury the lower flanks of whole mountain ranges or even fill up entire valleys. They also frequently contain large quantities of geologically recent plant remains, at some places so profusely that, in company with coeval (same age) animal bones, they completely fill caves and rock fissures. Yet, even is such apparently chaotic evidence a curiously consistent theme emerges, for at many sites - around Muggendort in Germany for instance - only the caves and fissures facing northwards or north-westwards have been so filled.

Almost all early geologist attributed these clearly linked phenomena to the action of powerful water currents flowing in a general north-to south direction. The first scientific explanations purporting to account for these phenomena included vast river floods, 'waves of translation' generated by hypothetical giant submarine earthquakes, and the equator-wards drift of huge numbers of silt and stone-laden icebergs of northern origin, which deposited their stoney cargoes in warmer latitudes. These explanations invoked essentially catastrophic causes, and the irregular character of the relevant deposits, due to their supposed transportation by water or ice from one place to another -were soon widely referred to as "drift'. In turn the advocates of such explanations were grouped with those who, like Whiston, had long postulated, recurrent violent episodes in Earth history, and were regarded as 'Catastrophists'. pp 8-11

I might add here that the Till containing debris of earth, animal, and plant was yet more chaotically mixed than appears from this description from Cataclysm. The animals were found disarticulated (bones torn apart), prey mixed with predator, humans mixed in, bones splintered, tree trunks splintered, and creatures found together that are not found together in their natural habitat. Sometimes whales and sea creatures mixed in what should have stayed in the sea. Wild chaos in short and sudden rampaging disaster.

Now I have a question for the list. Suppose you were trying to contribute to a new emerging field called geology around 1830. Suppose you understood that the matters above demanded an explanation. How would you feel about the solution "God did it"?

It happens that in 1930 Charles Lyell published "Principles of Uniformity". It took a view opposed to the Catastrophists. It strongly asserted that all of geology was to be explained by constant principles of nature working relatively smoothly. It was very persuasive and won the day. It became the view of "uniformitarianism". By a handful of years later the idea was beginning that, in keeping with Lyell's principles, there had been enormous glaciers and they were the explanation for the erratics, striations, polished surfaces and till.

In 1840 Agassiz made this view formal. And it stuck.

Still today the orthodox view of science is gradualism. Uniformitarianism - with glaciers added - has held sway for some 170 years. It no longer necessary to say "God did it". Geologists no longer make comparisons to the Noachian Flood. Normalcy and sensibility rule the day in geology.

However, today we have much more geological data available to study. All this raises a question. Exactly how is the glacier "theory" doing today to explain these odd features of geology? Maybe we should revisit the issue.

Reed Carson

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