Summer 2010
Members: Kiara Jones (SAC), Ryan Lawrence (ECSU)
Mentor: Dr. Malcolm LeCompte (ECSU)
Keywords: last glacial maximum, pleistocene-end, Carolina Bays, slurry, stratigraphy, microtektite, scanning electron micrscope


Throughout North America’s eastern coastal plain are found a variety of features attributed to ice age climate. These include many elliptical, shallow depressions collectively called Carolina Bays, hypothesized to have been formed by the strong, sustained winds and arid, cold climate characteristic of glacial epochs (Raisz, 1934, Johnson, 1942 and Kaczorowski, 1977). This view eclipsed the 1933 proposition by Melton and Schriever, and expanded by Prouty (1934, 1953), that extraterrestrial debris produced by an aerial meteorite or comet explosion in the vicinity of the Great Lakes during the late Pleistocene formed the bays. Recent discovery that a number of the bays were found to contain material associated with extraterrestrial impacts including carbon and magnetic spherules, glass-like carbon, charcoal and nanodiamonds reinvigorated the debate over the bay’s origins (Firestone, et. al. 2007). ž

To confirm the bays were receptacles for impact material, soil samples were previously taken from Rocky Hock Bay in Edenton, NC. Sequential soil samples were excavated near the bay’s center and core samples extracted near the bay’s rim. The samples were examined to determine the presence of carbon-associated markers and to measure the density of magnetic grains and grain-size distribution. Magnetic spherules were found among the smaller size portions of the magnetic grains and spherule density estimated. The geochemistry of a magnetic spherule was determined using scanning electron microscopic energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDS).