Comet/Asteroid Impacts and Human Society

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1 Peter T. Bobrowsky Hans Rickman (Editors) Comet/Asteroid Impacts and Human Society An Interdisciplinary Approach With 85 Figures, 46 in Color fyj Springer

2 Contents Part I Anthropology, Archaeology, Geology 1 1 The Geologic Record of Destructive Impact Events on Earth Introduction General Character of the Record Spatial Distribution Age Distribution Size Distribution Terrestrial Cratering Rate Periodic Impacts Recognition of Terrestrial Impact Structures Morphology Geology of Impact Structures Geophysics of Impact Structures Impacts in the Stratigraphic Record Impacts and the Biosphere Early Life Coupling through the Atmosphere and Hydrosphere Local and Mass Extinctions Threat to Humanity ; v Concluding Remarks 18 Acknowledgments 20 References 20 2 The Archaeology and Anthropology of Quaternary Period Cosmic Impact Introduction The Quaternary Period Cosmic Impact Record Documented Impact Structures Validated Holocene Crater-Forming Impact Events Airbursts, Tektites, and Impact Glass Melts A Sample of Current Studies of Potential Late Quaternary-Holocene Period Terrestrial Impact Sites Oceanic Impacts 38

3 -. Contents 2.3 Oral Tradition, Myth, and Cosmic Impact The Nature and Principles of Myth and Oral Tradition Using Myth to Identify and Model South American Cosmic Impacts Modeling the Flood Comet Event - a Hypothesized Globally Catastrophic Mid-Holocene Abyssal Oceanic Comet Impact Epilog and Conclusions Candidate Abyssal Impact Structure Post-Workshop Final Thoughts 63 Acknowledgments 64 References 65 3 The Sky on the Ground: Celestial Objects and Events in Archaeology and Popular Culture Introduction The Archaeological Record Architecture Artifacts and Rock Art Oral Tradition Celestial Objects in Popular Culture Astrology in Popular Culture Art and Literature Other Examples Garnering Public Support Public Awareness and Support through Cinematic Film Public Education Conclusions 85 Acknowledgments 85 References 86 4 Umm Al Binni Structure, Southern Iraq, As a Postulated Late Holocene Meteorite Impact Crater Introduction Geological Setting Origin of the Umm Al Binni Structure New Satellite Imagery 95 References Tree-Rings Indicate Global Environmental Downturns That Could Have Been Caused by Comet Debris Introduction The Historical Record Mythology What Actually Happened - the Global Consequences? The Dust and Corrupted Air 112

4 Contents XI 5.6 The Scientific Prior Hypothesis The AD540 Symptoms Linkages to Other Events Conclusion 119 Acknowledgments 120 References The GGE Threat: Facing and Coping with Global Geophysical Events Introduction.-> Volcanic Super-Eruptions.J The Toba Super-Eruption Reassessment of the Super-Eruption Threat Collapsing Ocean-Island Volcanoes and Mega-Tsunami Formation Volcano Instability and Structural Failure Environmental Triggers of Ocean-Island Volcano Collapse Tsunami Generation from Ocean-Island Volcano Collapses Contemporary North Atlantic Mega-Tsunami Risk High-Frequency GGEs Addressing the GGE Threat 136 References 138 Part II Astronomy and Physical Implications The Asteroid Impact Hazard and Interdisciplinary Issues Introduction, Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) Consequences of NEA Impact Mitigation: Deflection and/or Disaster Management and Response Perceptions of the Impact Hazard Societal Impacts The News Media \ Religion The Military Science Hazards Research/Disaster Management 161 References The Impact Hazard: Advanced NEO Surveys and Societal Responses Background The Spaceguard Survey Sub-Kilometer Impacts ' Communication and Miscommunication Public Policy Issues 169 Acknowledgments 171 References 172

5 XII Contents 9 Understanding the Near-Earth Object Population: the 2004 Perspective Introduction Dynamical Origin of NEOs Near-Earth Asteroids Near-Earth Comets Evolution in NEO Space Quantitative Modeling of the NEO Population The Debiased NEO Population Nearly Isotropic Comets NEA Size-Frequency Distribution Conclusion 185 References Physical Properties of NEOs and Risks of an Impact: Current Knowledge and Future Challenges Introduction Key Questions before Impact The True Nature of NEOs Densities: from Feather to Lead? Determining Mass and Density Typical Results on Densities Open Questions Structure: from Monoliths to Rubble Piles? Determining the Structure Outer Shape and Structure Porosity and Structure Comets Disruption and Fragmentation Open Questions Surface Properties: from Sand Dunes to Concrete? Estimating the Surface Properties Typical Results on Surface Properties Open Questions Knowledge Expected from Future Science Remote Observations and Simulations under Development Future Space Missions Conclusion 199 References Evaluating the Risk of Impacts and the Efficiency of Risk Reduction Introduction Near-Earth Objects Surveys The Problem of Orbit Determination Checking for Impact Possibilities Eliminating Virtual Impactors Decrease of the Risk Estimate 208

6 Contents XIII 11.5 Deflection Kinetic Energy Deflection Conclusions 209 References Physical Effects of Comet and Asteroid Impacts: beyond the Crater Rim Introduction: the Impact Hazard ^ Local and Regional Devastation by Impacts y/ Thermal Radiation Seismic Shaking Ejecta Deposition ' Airblast Tsunamis from Oceanic Impacts Global Devastation? The Thermal Pulse from Ejecta Rain Back Dust Loading of the Atmosphere Injection of Climatically Active Gases Indirect Effects of Biological Extinctions Conclusion 221 References Frequent Ozone Depletion Resulting from Impacts of Asteroids and Comets Introduction Physical Interactions with the Atmosphere Chemical Perturbations of the Upper Atmosphere Nitric Oxide Production Lofting of Water Fate of Salt Particles Activation of Halogens from Sea Salt Particles Catalytic Cycles for Ozone Depletion Estimates of Asteroid Impact and Ozone Depletion Frequency Model of Coupled Chemistry and Dynamics of the Upper Atmosphere Model Results for Injections of Nitric Oxide and Water Vapor Possible Test of the Impact-Induced Ozone Depletion Hypothesis 243 Acknowledgments 244 References Tsunami Asa Destructive Aftermath of Oceanic Impacts Introduction Geographical and Temporal Distribution of Tsunamis : Basic Types of Tsunami Sources Tsunamigenic Potential of Oceanic Impacts 254

7 XIV - Contents 14.5 Operational Tsunami Warning Detection of Impact Tsunamis by Tide Gauge Network Geological Traces of Tsunamis Conclusions 260 Acknowledgments 261 References The Physical and Social Effects of the Kaali Meteorite Impact - a Review Introduction The Meteorite Age of the Impact Effects of the Meteorite Impact 271 Acknowledgments 273 References The Climatic Effects of Asteroid and Comet Impacts: Consequences for an Increasingly Interconnected Society Introduction The Global Climatic Effects of Large Asteroid or Comet Impacts Injection of Asteroidal and Cometary Material Injection of Dust Injections from Fires Injection of Water Injection of Sulfur Dioxide Injection of Nitrogen Oxides Potential Weather and Climate-Related Impacts of Small to Modest-Sized Asteroids and Comets Asteroid and Comet Impacts That Do Not Involve a Surface Impact Modest-Sized Asteroid and Comet Impacts That Do Involve a Surface Impact Discussion 287 References Nature of the Tunguska Impactor Based on Peat Material from the Explosion Area Introduction Search-for the TCB Remnants in the Epicenter Area Platinum Group Elements (PGE) Investigation Isotopic Investigations of Light Elements in the Peat Discussion Conclusions 298 Acknowledgments 299 References 299

8 Contents XV 18 The Tunguska Event Introduction The Hypotheses Comet or Asteroid? "Non-Traditional" Hypotheses Alternative Approaches Known Data Objective Data ^ Eyewitnesses Testimonies.A Parameters Deduced Explosion Time Coordinates of the Epicenter Trajectory Parameters, Height of the Explosion and Energy Emitted Tunguska-Like Impacts Recent Models and Impact Frequency Global and Local Damages Concluding Remark 324 Acknowledgments 325 References Tunguska (1908) and Its Relevance for Comet/Asteroid Impact Statistics What Happened North of the Stony Tunguska River in the Early Morning of 30 June 1908? The Tectonic Interpretation of the Tunguska Catastrophe (Other) Recorded Impact Events (Likely) Tectonic Outbursts How to Discriminate between Impacts and Outbursts? Conclusions 338 Acknowledgments 338 References \ Atmospheric Megacryometeor Events Versus Small Meteorite Impacts: Scientific and Human Perspective of a Potential Natural Hazard Introduction Megacryometeors Textural, Hydrochemical and Isotopic Characteristics Theoretical Modeling Megacryometeors Versus Small Meteorite Impacts Comparison of the Rate of Falls during Human Times (Historical Record) Final Remarks 349 Acknowledgments 350 References 350

9 XVI Contents Part III Socio-Economic and Policy Implications Social Science and Near-Earth Objects: an Inventory of Issues Introduction Globally Relevant Disasters Preparation and Response: General Issues Preparation and Recovery: Planning Preparation and Response: the Problem of Trust Preparation and Response: the Problem of Panic Conclusions 365 Acknowledgments 366 References Perception of Risk from Asteroid Impact Early Work: Decision Processes, Rationality, and Adjustment to Natural Hazards Stage 2: Psychometric Studies of Risk Perception Perceptions Have Impacts: the Social Amplification of Risk Stage 3: Risk As Feelings Public Perceptions of the Impact Hazard Will the Public Be Concerned about the Impact Hazard? Exploratory Research on Public Attitudes and Perceptions Where Next? 380 Acknowledgment 381 References Hazard Risk Assessment of a Near Earth Object Background ; Defining Risk Ontology of NEO Hazards Level 1 NEOs Level2 NEOs Level3 NEOs Level 4 NEOs Dynamic Hazard Risk Assessment and Possible Mitigation and Preparedness Strategies Potential Mitigation, Data Needs, Response, and Prognosis 395 References Social Perspectives on Comet/Asteroid Impact (CAI) Hazards: Technocratic Authority and the Geography of Social Vulnerability Introduction The Perspective of Social Vulnerability Regional and Comparative Aspects of CAI Hazards Regional CAI Risks and the Role of Secondary Hazards Comparative Threat Evaluations Uncertain Uncertainties 408

10 Contents XVII 24.4 Conceptual Issues Limitations of the Agent-Specific Approach Organizational Risk Concluding Remarks 414 References May Land Impacts Induce a Catastrophic Collapse of Civil Societies? ^ Introduction.^J Medium-Small Scale Impacts on a European Country: a Case Study Probability of Impact and Objects Properties Level of Damage The Civil Society As a Complex System Recent Developments in the Science of Complexity What Is a Complex System? The Phase of Catastrophe Main Structures of the Country Social System Results Consequences of the 13 MT Impact on the Three Points Point 1: Consequences of the 1000 MT Impact Point 2: Consequences of the 1000 MT Impact Point 3: Consequences of the 1000 MT Impact Discussion 433 Acknowledgments 435 References The Societal Implications of a Comet/Asteroid Impact on Earth: a Perspective from International Development Studies A Mighty Heuristic: Scale, Space and Time Assumptions Do CAI-Scale Events Have Any Precedents? Adaptation and Resilience The Perspective of International Development Studies Would "Sustainable Development" Be Enough? A Remaining Big Worry Some Tentative Conclusions 443 Notes 445 References Disaster Planning for Cosmic Impacts: Progress and Weaknesses Introduction Probabilities Goal Setting Risk Mapping Safety by Improved Design Disaster Simulation and Prediction 456

11 XVIII Contents 27.7 Warning Systems Disaster Planning Reconstruction Summary and Conclusions 465 References Insurance Coverage of Meteorite, Asteroid and Comet Impacts - Issues and Options Introduction A Brief History of Insurance Insurance and Natural Hazards Do Asteroid Impacts Fit within the Principles of Insurance? Scenario 1: Asteroid Impact Scenario 2: Meteoroid Impact (Meteorite) Insurance Coverage of Asteroid and Meteorite Damage Assessing the Potential for Damage Insurers Need to Prepare The Cost of an Impact Insurers' Capacity to Pay Conclusions 477 References The Economic Consequences of Disasters Due to Asteroid and Comet Impacts, Small and Large Introduction Necessary Conditions Scenario Construction Scenario Scenario Scenario Scenario Scenario Scenario Summary and Conclusions 492 Acknowledgments 493 References Communicating Impact Risk to the Public Introduction Our Present World: Brief Considerations Principal Characteristics of NEO Impact Risks Previous Experiences in Disaster Prevention To Communicate or to Educate? A Scheme for Transmission of Information Conclusions 502 References 503

12 Contents XIX 31 Impact Risk Communication Management ( ): Has It Improved? Introduction XF AN SG MN NT AS1."7^ MN4 ^ QQ Purgatorio Ratio 517 References Towards Rational International Policies on the NEO Hazard Introduction "The 1997 XF11 Affair" Putting the Astronomers' House in Order ; The Minor Planet Center From Pure Science into the Real World Epilog: the True Mess 526 References A Road Map for Creating a NEO Research Program in Developing Countries Introduction The Crisis The Opportunity Conclusion 531 Acknowledgments 532 References 532 Index : 533

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