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Origin of the Worzel Deep-Sea Ash


IN a recent paper1, Worzel announced the discovery of an extensive ash deposit at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Ewing, Heezen and Ericson2 have suggested in a companion paper that the deposit may well be of world-wide extent. If this should prove to be the case, the origin of the Worzel ash layer becomes a matter of extraordinary interest. The mass of a world-wide layer would be of the order of 1 × 1020 gm., which exceeds by a factor of 300 the yield of the largest volcanic eruption recorded during historic times (Tambora, 1815). Moreover, the areal distribution of volcanic ash is usually quite limited2. Worzel and Ewing et al. have therefore proposed the following events as possible sources of the ash: a single very large volcanic explosion, the simultaneous explosion of many volcanoes, a cometary collision, or some other catastrophic event involving bodies of cosmic origin.

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  2. Ewing, M., Heezen, B. C., and Ericson, D. B., Proc. U.S. Nat. Acad. Sci., 45, 355 (1959).

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ANDERS, E., LIMBER, D. Origin of the Worzel Deep-Sea Ash. Nature 184, 44–45 (1959).

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