(Image: ArtTower, Pixabay)

Paleoclimatic Reconstructions and Scandinavian and Scottish Ice Sheets

When the Sky Fell is remarkable for a book allegedly discussing the complicated history of the last “Ice Age” in the paucity of paleonvironmental and geologic evidence cited in this book.

A couple of striking exceptions are paleoclimatic reconstructions and comments about the glaciation of Scandinavia made at the When the Sky Fell web site and in the book and comments about Scottish geology made in the book. Both are commented on below.

Author: Heinrich
Re: Atlantis: Is it in Antarctica?
Date: 1999/03/27
Message-ID: NNTP-Posting-Date: Sat, 27 Mar 1999 18:05:09 CST
Newsgroups: sci.archaeology
Subject: Re: Atlantis: Is it in Antarctica?

In article <36FC0552.1978@spammers.of.the.world.unite.etc>, on Fri, 26 Mar 1999 14:08:18 -0800, nospam@spammers.of.the.world.unite.etc said…

[>> [>>Just wondering what this group thinks of this theory. I discovered it while browsing through the internet at: https://web.archive.org/web/20080724173059/http://www.flem-ath.com/del11.htm

[pablo123@my-dejanews.com wrote:

(I have commented about this web site.)

It is wholly fictional. The notion that Antarctica has moved appreciably within the last few million years is not supported by the age of the ice that has been deposited on it.

I have to agree with this statement. There is precious little evidence to support the claims made by Mr. Flem-Ath and an abundance of evidence refuting them which the web site and When the Sky Fell simply overlook. An example of how Mr. Flem-Ath overlooks important research that contradicts his claims can be found on the web page related to this book. If a person goes to: https://web.archive.org/web/20080724173059/http://www.flem-ath.com/del11.htm,

a person would find a figure showing what it claims was the position of North America relative to his postulated polar zone before and after the polar shift at 9,600 BC (11,600 BP). The figure illustrates a “top circle” that it claims “shows” the modern Arctic Circle. It also illustrates a “bottom circle” which it claims “shows” the Arctic Circle before the earth’s crust shifted. The map highlight areas that it claims that:

mark lands which were once temperate.

This map shows that the northwest coast of Siberia and the north edge of Scandinavia was temperate before the polar shift at 11,600 BP. In constructing this figure, the Flem-Aths ignore an enormous amount of data which that completely refutes this conclusion. First, the figure ignores an incredible amount of data that shows that all of Scandinavia was actually covered at this time by a large ice-cap which at one time extended into western Siberia. Second, as shown by Figure 4 of Peltier (1994), the area shown by the Flem-Ath as “temperate” lands in eastern Siberia was also partially covered by a large western Siberia ice cap. The remainder of this part of Siberia was certainly not “temperate” as web page figure shows because it was covered in the north by both steppe-tundra and polar desert. All of northern Eurasia was dry and treeless being dominated by polar desert or semi-desert steppe-tundra at this time. Later, around 11,000 – 12,000 BP, this area consisted of open conifer woodland and tundra (Frenzel et al. 1992). Thus, even at this late date it would grossly incorrect to characterize it as “temperate.” A person cannot help but conclude that this figure on the When the Sky Fell web page shows a paleoenvironmental reconstruction that is largely, if not entirely, fictional being unsupported by well documented palynological and faunal data.

This is all illustrated and documented on-line in the “Eurasia During the Last 150,000 Years” web page.

A comparison of this web page with the claims made by the “When the Sky Fell” web page shows how much data has been ignored in order to make Earth Crustal Displacement work. This page overlooks two huge ice sheets and data showing that Siberia was occupied by both steppe-tundra and polar desert.

Ice Sheets in Scandinavia and Scotland?

At https://web.archive.org/web/20010414032818/http://flem-ath.com/europe.htm, Mr. Flem-Ath states:

Thank you for your comments. We cite evidence from Norway and Scotland that show that these areas were ice-free prior to 12,000 years ago. We agree that they were once under ice but at a much older date than the ice cap that covered most of North America. The Scandinavian and Scottish glaciation in our view came about between 91,600 and 50,600 years ago when the North Pole was centered in the Greenland Sea. (see Chapter Six of When the Sky Fell).

In making the claim that the “Scandinavian and Scottish glaciation” occurred about between 91,600 and 50,600 BP, the Flem-Aths ignore an immense amount of geological research that has been done in Scotland and Scandinavia over the last 100 years. This research includes hundreds of radiocarbon dates from glacial moraines and outwash that show that Denmark was subject to four ice advances between 13,000 and 25,000 BP (Berthelsen 1979; Lundqvist 1986). There exist an abundance of irrefutable evidence, including dating by radiocarbon dating and a well established clay-varve chronology, overlooked completely in the web page and the book When the Sky Fell. This evidence demonstrates that the last glaciation of Scandinavia reached it maximum extent 18,000 to 20,000 BP. After 18,000 BP, there was a continuous shrinkage of this ice sheet until by 8,500 BP only a small remnant existed in central Sweden. By 7,500 BP, even this remnant had vanished (Lundqvist 1986; Peltier 1994). The claim that the last “Scandinavian glaciation” occurred between 50,600 and 91,600 BP lacks any factual basis and ignores an immense amount of research, as summarized in Berthelsen (1979), Lundqvist (1986), and other papers, which directly refutes it.

Similarly, there exists an equally voluminous accumulation of research about Scottish glacial geology which equally refutes the claim by the Flem-Aths that “Scottish glaciation” occurred between 50,600 and 91,600 BP. In Scotland, it is well documented by the study of glacial tills and outwash that the last major glaciation occurred between 10,000 to 26,000 BP. As shown in table 3 of Bowen et al. (1986), other major glaciations occurred between 250,000 to 300,000 BP and 430,000 and 480,000 BP. However as that table shows, evidence for any sort of glacial deposits within Scotland between 50,600 and 91,600 BP is currently lacking. As in case of Scandinavia, the claim that a “Scottish glaciation” even occurred between 50,600 and 91,600 BP also lacks any evidence (Bowen et al. 1986; Shotton 1986).

The main alleged evidence that is presented by both When the Sky Fell and its web page is stated by the Flem-Aths in When the Sky Fell on pages 77 to 78. In the first case, this book mentions a Associated Press news report about how in the summer of 1993, two Norwegian scientists, Dr. Rolv Lie and Stein-Erik Lauritzen, found polar bear bones at a site 250 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. About this, When the Sky Fell stated:

Carbon-14 and uranium dating confirmed that the bones must be at least forty-two thousand years old, dating to the last Ice Age. The finding was startling because geologists assume that Arctic Norway was under a vast ice cap from eighty to ten thousand years ago, making it impossible for any life to survive.

In addition to the bones, When the Sky Fell claims that wolf bones, field mice, ants, and tree pollen were also found. Because this information is from a popular Associated Press article, presumably from an unnamed newspaper, it is difficult to verify the specifics of this claim and determine whether, as often happens, the facts concerning this discovery were garbled by the reporter.

However, it is revealing that the phrase “at least forty-two thousand years old” is used. This usage suggest to me that the radiocarbon date is not a finite date, but rather a “greater than” date. Because of the limitations of both the radiocarbon dating technique and the instruments used, it sounds like that they were unable to establish a definite date for the bone. Instead, they could only determine that the bone was older than 42,000 years old. Thus, all that is likely known is that the bone is more than 42,000 years old. If that is the case, then it and associated deposits could date to around 48,000 to 55,000 years ago when the Scandinavian ice sheet was much smaller than at its maximum and northern Norway would have been ice free. This was an interstadial period during which the climate would have been mush warmer and the existence of polar bears and wolves could be expected.

Another problem is that the 40,000 to 50,000 year range is at the very limit of radiocarbon dating. Even a date of 42,000 BP might often represent bones that are older than 50,000 years contaminated by younger carbon. Uranium-series dating might not help clarify the age of these bones as it is extremely unreliable for dating bone.

A final problem is that how a bone dated as being over 42,000 years old can refute the existence of the well document the maximum extent of glaciation that occurred in Scandinavia 8,000 to 26,000 BP, is not explained.

The second piece of evidence that When the Sky Fell uses to refute what conventional geologists have documented about the glacial history of Scotland and Scandinavia is Sutherland and Walker (1984). About this paper, it states:

But the Norwegian discovery was not the only evidence that would challenge our assumption about the Arctic before 9600 B.C. Off the northwest coast of Scotland lies the remote Isle of Lewis. In 1984, two scientists made the amazing discovery that it was unglaciated between thirty-seven and twenty-three thousand years ago. They wrote:

“Models of the last ice sheet showing Scottish ice extending to the continental shelf edge depict the north of Lewis as being covered by 1,000-1500 meters of ice, but our evidence demonstrates that part of this area was actually ice-free.”

Above, When the Sky Fell grossly misrepresents the conclusions of Sutherland and Walker (1984). Anybody who reads this article, will find that figure 1 of Sutherland and Walker (1984) clearly illustrates a terminal moraine marking the northwestern edge of undisputed glacial deposits of the last glaciation that crosses the northern tip of the Isle of Man. The lack of glacial deposits observed by Sutherland and Walker (1984) and a number of radiocarbon dates that they present demonstrate that only the northernmost few kilometers of the northern tip of Isle of Man and the continental shelf offshore of it remained unglaciated. As discussed and illustrated by Sutherland and Walker (1984), the Isle of Man was indeed glaciated, except for its northern tip, by an ice sheet that extended about a 100 km from a northern major Scottish ice shed to the southeast. This is illustrated by figure 5 of Bowen (1986).

It should be noted that When the Sky Fell has also the age of the glaciation badly garbled. The book implies that the age of the glaciation was 23,000 to 37,000 BP. However, the age of the last glaciation within Scotland, as recognized by geologists, is approximately 10,000 to 26,000 BP, not the figure implied above by Mr. Flem-Ath. The 23,000 to 37,000 BP dates are just the range of radiocarbon dates found by Sutherland and Walker (1984). In fact, Sutherland and Walker (1984) state that they infer that deposits dated are actually younger than these dates because the samples dated likely consist of younger shells mixed with older shells. In fact, they mention amino acid data that supports this supposition.

When the so-called evidence is examined, a person finds that this evidence fails to substantiate the claim that Norway and Scotland were ice-free prior to 12,000 years ago. In fact, a review of the literature would easy show that an abundance of research published in peer-reviewed journals and books that soundly refutes such claims. A case can be made for the claims of Mr. Flem-Ath only if a person overlooks an overwhelming quantity of contrary research and evidence refuting them.

Beech Trees of Antarctica

… “Beech Trees” arguments covered in another article omitted.


Unfortunately, all too many of the so-called “facts” given by When the Sky Fell and the web page are badly garbled and greatly misinterpreted. Examples of other gross factual errors and misinterpretations include:

1. that Greenland was completely without ice prior to 91,600 BC;

2. that Lesser Antarctica enjoyed a milder climate before 9,600 BC;

3. that the Tiahuanaco (Tiwanaku) Site, Bolivia is over ten thousand years old;

4. that the primary glacial – interglacial cycles were not synchronous on a global scale;

5. that the ice-free corridor cannot be explained;

6. That the Alaskan faunas depict temperate, not polar conditions;

7. That the Piri Reis map shows an ice-free Antarctica;

8. That there existed a “Zone of Death”;

9. That Earth-Crustal Displacements are even possible;

10. and many more. The readers of this book need to verify independently just about anything cited or claimed in When the Sky Fell and its web site.

The main conclusion is that both this book and its web site are badly flawed by extremely poor research and misstatements of fact to the point that they both fail to prove any claims about Atlantis being in Antarctica. I know of no Quaternary geologist or geomorphologist who takes any of what “When the Sky Fell” proposes seriously. This is not at all surprising given the rather laughable quality of scholarship that it characterizes if.

References Cited:

Bowen, D. Q., Rose, J., McCabe, A. M., and Sutherland, D. G., 1986, Correlation of Quaternary glaciations in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. in V. Sibrava, D. Q. Bowen, and G. M. Richmond, ed., pp. 299-341, Quaternary Glaciations in the Northern Hemisphere. Pergammon Press, New York. 514 pp.

Francis, J, E., and Hill, R. S., 1996, Fossil plants from the Pliocene Sirius Group, Transantarctic Mountains: evidence for climate from growth rings and fossil leaves. Palios. v. 11, no. 4, 389-396.

Frenzel B., Pecsi B., and Velichko, A .A., eds., 1992, Atlas of Palaeoclimates & Palaeoenvironments of the Northern Hemisphere. INQUA/Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Budapest.

Lundqvist, Jan, 1986a, Late Weichselian glaciation and deglaciation in Scandinavia. In V. Sibrava, D. Q. Bowen, and G. M. Richmond, ed., pp. 269-292, Quaternary Glaciations in the Northern Hemisphere. Pergammon Press, New York. 514 pp.

Peltier, W. R., 1994, Ice Age Paleotopography. Science. vol. 256, pp. 195-201.

Shotton, F. W., 1986, in V. Sibrava, D. Q. Bowen, and G. M. Richmond, ed., pp. 293-298, Quaternary Glaciations in the Northern Hemisphere. Pergammon Press, New York. 514 pp.

Sutherland, D. G., and Michael, J. C. W., 1984, A late Devensian ice-free area and possible interglacial site on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland. Nature. vol. 309, pp. 701-703.

Paul V. Heinrich
graywacke@att.net and Baton Rouge, LA

All comments are the personal opinion of the writer and do not constitute policy and/or opinion of government or corporate entities. This includes my employer.

Early Observation About Geologists 🙂

And some rin up hill and down dale, knapping the chucky stanes to pieces with hammers, like sae many road makers run daft. They say it is to see how the world was made. — (Sir Walter Scott, St. Ronan’s Well, 1824.)

Version 4.0
Dec 14, 2001

Copyright © 1996-2001 Paul V. Heinrich All rights reserved.