The Ellesmere Embarrassments

The Ellesmere Embarrassments

Ellesmere Island is a large island in the Canadian Artic Archipelago that has long been associated with Artic exploration.

Fort Conger, located at Discovery Harbour in Lady Franklin Bay on northern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, played an intrinsic role in several High Arctic expeditions between 1875 and 1935, particularly around 1900–10 during the height of the Race to the North Pole.

Here are found the remains of historic voyages of exploration and discovery related to the 19th century expeditions of G.S. Nares and A.W. Greely, early 20th century expeditions of R.E. Peary, and forays by explorers, travelers, and government and military personnel.

In the Peary era, Fort Conger’s connection with indigenous people was amplified, as most of the expedition personnel who were based there were Inughuit from Greenland, and the survival strategies of the explorers were largely derived from Inughuit material cultural and environmental expertise.

The complex of shelters at Fort Conger symbolizes an evolution from the rigid application of Western knowledge, as represented in the unsuitable prefabricated Greely expedition house designed in the United States, towards the pragmatic adaptation of Aboriginal knowledge represented in the Inughuit-influenced shelters that still stand today.

Fort Conger Map

Fort Conger: A Site of Arctic History in the 21st Century
Margaret M. Bertulli, Lyle Dick, Peter C. Dawson, Panik Lynn Cousins

Fort Conger

However, the rot set-in for the mainstream in 2008 when they discovered the 127 year old wood used to construct Fort Conger was being attacked by fungi.

As a scientific station, Fort Conger has been the site of many research projects from the early “Pendulum Observations”, to “Research on the microbes attacking the historic woods at Fort Conger and the Peary huts on Ellesmere Island” conducted by the University of Minnesota.

Recent comparisons to the extant recording of the Peary huts (Broodhagen et al., 1979), done in 1979, show incremental degradation.

Further, gradual thinning of the historic woods of the Peary huts has occurred through wind ablation, salt or chemical damage, defibration, and Cadophora fungi, whose active presence in moist conditions and above-freezing temperatures produces soft rot (Blanchette et al., 2008).

Fort Conger: A Site of Arctic History in the 21st Century
Margaret M. Bertulli, Lyle Dick, Peter C. Dawson, Panik Lynn Cousins

Samples obtained from wood introduced into the Arctic environment at Beechey Island and at Fort Conger in northern Ellesmere Island were found to be decayed only by soft rot.

No decay by wood destroying basidiomycetes was found in any wood samples examined.

Soft rot decay was identified microscopically by identification of cavities within the secondary wall of wood cells (data not presented).

Isolations made from the wood revealed several species of Cadophora including C. malorum, C. fastigiata and C. luteo-olivacea (Table 1).

No previous reports of Cadophora have been made from the Canadian High Arctic.

These Cadophora species were found associated with the soft rot attack in historic woods and are assumed to be a major decay organism at these sites.

These preliminary investigations suggest that Cadophora species may be as prevalent and important in decomposition processes and nutrient cycling in the Arctic as they are in Antarctica.

Decay of historic and archaeological wooden structures: degradation processes and molecular characterization of wood destroying fungi
Robert A. Blanchette, Joel A. Jurgens, Benjamin W. Held, Brett E. Arenz and
Jason A. Smith

The discovery of soft rot was a very embarrassing surprise for the mainstream because Ellesmere Island is a “paleobiological hotspot” for wood.

Dr Tatsuo Sweda

Dr. Tatsuo Sweda, then of Nagoya University, Japan, poses with a fossilized stump found near Strathcona Fiord on Nunavut’s Ellesmere Island in 1990.
The region has been hailed as ‘a paleobiological hotspot.’
(Courtesy Jim Basinger) CBC News – 24 Dec 2013

Fossilized tree stumps

Today, all that’s left of Ellesmere Island’s vast swamp forests are fossilized tree stumps like those pictured here. Scientists are concerned that some of the best areas for studying fossils on Ellesmere Island face potential destruction by coal mining companies.
Photo: Jaelyn Eberle
Polar Field Services

Surprisingly, some of this Ellesmere Island wood has apparently resisted soft rot for somewhere between 2 million and 8 million years.

Researchers on a camping vacation in the Canadian Arctic have discovered a whole mummified forest previously unknown to science.

The ancient stumps were found on frigid Ellesmere Island, a place devoid of living trees.

Research scientist Joel Barker of Ohio State University was understandably surprised when he stumbled upon remnants of the forest.

“At one point I crested a small ridge and the cliff face below me was just riddled with wood,” he recalled.

Barker and fellow researchers hope to study the archaic wood for clues about how climate change has affected the arctic ecosystem in the past, and to glean knowledge about how global warming might impact the Arctic today.

They have already discovered that the forest was buried by an avalanche 2 million to 8 million years ago, and that it was made up primarily of birch, larch, spruce and pine trees.

Although about a dozen other such frozen forests exist in the Canadian Arctic, this new site is the farthest north.

Ancient stump - Ellesmere Island

Mother Nature Network

Even more surprising is that this “mummified” wood [that we are told is millions of years old] burns “just like wood you would find anywhere today”

“I was talking to a park ranger and he mentioned that they had found these logs,” said Barker, who detailed his find today at a geology conference in San Francisco.

After snagging a few samples, Barker tracked down researchers at the University of Minnesota who also had spotted the wood deposit.

Determined to find the source of the wood, Barker secured a grant from the National Science Foundation and returned over the summer to explore the area.

And what he found were perfectly preserved wood samples, covered by an avalanche 2 million to 8 million years ago.

These aren’t just fossils,” Barker said.
“You can burn this stuff. It’s just like wood you would find anywhere today

OSU researcher finds mummified forest – Wesley Lowery – 16 Dec 2010
The Columbus Dispatch

And just like trees you would find anywhere today the trees in this “mummified forest” have leaves which [by association] are millions of years old.

Birch leaf discovered on Ellesmere Island

A mummified birch leaf discovered on Ellesmere Island.
Photo by Joel Barker
Ohio State University

Incredibly, wood can also be pulled out of coal layers that are said to be about 54 million years old.

For more than 55 million years, Ellesmere Island remained in one place while the world around it changed. Fifty-five million years ago, verdant forests grew at 75º North latitude.

These wetland forests, [comprised] of species now primarily found in China, grew on an alluvial plain where channels meandered back and forth and periodic floods buried stumps, logs, and leaves intact.

Today the forests are preserved as coal seams that outcrop on the edges …[of] modern Ellesmere Island, [where] there are no forests, and the tallest vegetation grows less than 15 cm high.

Large parts of the area are polar desert, subject to intensely cold and dark winters and minimal precipitation.

Ellesmere Coal

Coal and the fossil record of climate change in the Canadian High Arctic – 2010
Anne Jefferson – News & Commentary from the World of Geology & Earth Science

Bill Hagopian

Bill Hagopian holds a 54 million year old tree trunk excavated from Ellesmere Island.
Photo: Brian Schubert
Polar Field Services

Even more remarkable is the ability of this rot resistant wood [found in the frangible coal beds and debris layers of Ellesmere Island] to resist the numerous glacial advances [during the last few million years] which “bulldozer” their way across the terrain.

The current ice age, the Pliocene-Quaternary glaciation, started about 2.58 million years ago during the late Pliocene, when the spread of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere began.

Since then, the world has seen cycles of glaciation with ice sheets advancing and retreating on 40,000- and 100,000-year time scales called glacial periods, glacials or glacial advances, and interglacial periods, interglacials or glacial retreats.

To elaborate: Growing ice sheets are like bulldozers, pushing rocks, boulders and other detritus into heaps of rubble called moraines.

In an action similar to a bulldozer, the glacier plowed over the land.

The advancing ice thrust sheets of drift upward and forward to form a large ridge beyond the ice front. Thus, the formation of the moraine more closely resembles the work of a bulldozer rather than a conveyor belt

Ice sheets bulldoze material forwards, heaping it up. Rocks, gravels, boulders, clams, fossils, and anything else in their path builds up into long moraines on the edge of the ice sheet.

Bulldozing: Unlike water or wind, glacial ice can push very large clasts along.

During ice ages, huge masses of slowly moving glacial ice – up to two kilometres (one mile) thick – scoured the land like cosmic bulldozers.

Imagine a bulldozer going over mountains, trees, and flowers. The bulldozer would definitely leave a mark and probably tear out the trees. Think of a glacier as a natural bulldozer.

The bulldozing action of the glaciers also obliterated much of the previous geography of southern Ontario though some traces do remain.

As they creep along, glaciers reshape the land beneath them. Like giant bulldozers, they flatten hills and fill in valleys. They can also sculpt valleys, changing them from a “V” shape to a “U” shape;jsessionid=1AD36061FCDEE8554605AEDBD85162C4?showSingleAnswer=true&abnQuestionId=0050

The trees of Ellesmere Island clearly provide evidence that:

a) Wood is rot resistance for millions of years in the Arctic
b) The Settled Science is rotten.

The embarrassing evidence from Fort Conger [where 127 year old wood is rotting] clearly falsifies the first hypothesis.

Therefore, this leads to the embarrassing conclusion that the Settled Science is rotten.

Quelle surprise!

Firstly, the mainstream mantra regarding ice sheets is more bull than bulldozer.

We may take it, therefore, as clearly proved, that glacier ice is not a rigid body, but a plastic one; and that its movements may be compared with those of pitch or other plastic substances, whose several parts can roll over one another.

When ice moves under the influence of gravity, except on very rapid slopes, it acts like other plastic substances act.

Its lower surface, in contact with the ground, is dragged by friction, and moves very little, while its upper part flows faster.

If we pour pitch on a table, we find that it spreads out, not by the bottom of the mass spreading, but by the edges rolling over; the upper stratum curling round to form the lower one, which is dragged by the surface of the table.

Just as a drop of water rolls down a plain, leaving in its track the successive bottom layers of itself.

The Glacial Nightmare and the Flood; A Second Appeal To Common Sense From The Extravagance Of Some Recent Geology – Volume II – 1893
Sir Henry Hoyle Howorth

Crusoe Glacier - Axel Heiberg Island - Canada

Crusoe Glacier, Axel Heiberg Island, N Canada.

Brian John’s blog on matters relating to Stonehenge and the mystery of the bluestones

6. Results
a. None of the data has been analysed and indeed some laboratory tests must still be made. These are but a very few of the interesting facts which became evident in the field work:

(l) The ice is approximately 190 feet deep within 1/8 mile back from the ice cliff.

(2) The ice at the bottom of a shaft 100 feet back of the cliff face has not disturbed the rocky ground beneath nor even lichen communities, but instead it has flowed “plastically” over it.

AFTER OPERATION REPORT – 1st Engineer Arctic Task Force
Research and Development Program
Greenland 1955

Click to access 123338.pdf

1. The textbook concept of a “bulldozing” edge of an ice sheet does not correspond to conditions found in TUTO.

Glacial geologists present numerous examples of terminal moraine buried by glacial till of subsequent glaciations without being destroyed.

With the exception of some cases of outlet glaciers, the propagation of large ice sheets occurs apparently without any bulldozing.

2. It appears that the main action of an ice sheet on the ground surface is glacial plucking, abrasion, and incorporation of debris along shear planes.

Terminal moraines appear to form on places where the ice sheet is temporarily at a standstill, independent of previous advance or retreat.

Ample field evidence indicates that glacial plucking is temporary; an ice sheet flowing across a positive relief feature will tend to remove it.

Debris removed by the flowing ice in the TU TO area constitutes material formerly subjected to subaerial erosion.

Debris bands in the lower tunnel contain oxidized material characteristic of the upper layers of soils, while less oxidized subsoil material appears in the upper tunnel.

The difference in appearance, which is readily perceptible and is also demonstrated by microscopic investigation, indicates that the material removal occurred over a short time span.

Investigation of Shear Zones in the Ice Sheet Margin, Thule Area, Greenland – 1961
George K. Swinzow
U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, N.R.

Click to access igs_journal_vol04_issue032_pg215-229.pdf

Crusoe Glacier - Axel Heiberg Island - Canada - Cliff

Crusoe Glacier, Axel Heiberg Island, N Canada.

Brian John’s blog on matters relating to Stonehenge and the mystery of the bluestones

Secondly, evidence from the John Evans Glacier [79°49′ N, 74°30′ W] on Ellesmere Island suggests Ice Ages are more Saga than Science.

This result is consistent with the John Evans Glacier forming no more than a few thousand years ago in a high Arctic environment (18), characterized by low plant diversity and sparse vegetation cover similar to that currently surrounding the glacier which consists mainly of Arctic willow (family Salicaceae), purple saxifrage (genus Saxifraga), Dryas (order Rosales), and Arctic poppy (19).

18. Blake W., Jr. Radiocarbon. 1989;31:570.

Ancient Biomolecules from Deep Ice Cores Reveal a Forested Southern Greenland
Eske Willerslev, Enrico Cappellini, Wouter Boomsma, Rasmus Nielsen, Martin B. Hebsgaard, Tina B. Brand, Michael Hofreiter, Michael Bunce, Hendrik N. Poinar, Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Sigfus Johnsen, Jørgen Peder Steffensen, Ole Bennike, Jean-Luc Schwenninger, Roger Nathan, Simon Armitage, Cees-Jan de Hoog, Vasily Alfimov, Marcus Christl, Juerg Beer, Raimund Muscheler, Joel Barker, Martin Sharp, Kirsty E.H. Penkman, James Haile, Pierre Taberlet, M. Thomas P. Gilbert, Antonella Casoli, Elisa Campani, and Matthew J. Collins
Science 2007

John Evans Glacier

A series of radiocarbon age determinations obtained by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) shows that the front of Leffert Glacier, a major outlet glacier from the Prince of Wales Icefield, Ellesmere Island, was 18+ km behind (west of) its present position for a period of at least 1500 radiocarbon years.

A subsequent readvance occurred close to 2000 radiocarbon years ago, as a consequence of the climatic cooling that followed the warm Hypsithermal Interval.

A number of other glaciers in the region appear to have behaved in similar fashion.

Application of 14C AMS Dating to The Chronology of Holocene Glacier Fluctuations in the High Arctic with special reference to Leffert Glacier, Ellesmere Island, Canada
Weston Blake, Jr – Geological Survey of Canada
Radiocarbon, Vol 31, No. 3, 1989

Leffert Glacier, Nunavut Map:
This page presents the Google satellite map (zoomable and browsable) of Leffert Glacier in Nunavut province in Canada.
Geographical coordinates are 78°41’05” North and 75°01’30” West

Related Posts
Axel Heiberg Island

Cliff and the Piedmonts

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12 Responses to The Ellesmere Embarrassments

  1. Pingback: The Axel Heiberg Absurdities | MalagaBay

  2. Jim Coyle says:

    Tim; I was wondering if you or anyone on the Malaga Bay site would know of someone doing ice reasearch on Antarctic ice cores. I’m particularly interested in the 30-35 mya stratas. I would be looking for impact ejecta, brecias, and or melts from the proposed Drake Passage are impacts. Thanks, Jim

  3. Jim Coyle says:

    Tim; I’ve done a little digging on ice cores and found that no one appears to be any where near getting to that age. I also fear that if they do get near there they will be out of ice. My time line indicates that glaciation started after 34 mya. Had I been thinking I would have figured that out before asking, Oh well. Does anyone if there are any ice free areas other than mountain tops on Antarctica where ejecta and tectites have or could be found? Thanks for the assist Tim

    • malagabay says:

      Jim: I’ve got nothing more I can bring to the party at this time… the chances are that any new tektite field will be discovered at the bottom of the ocean… my other guess is that the “geologic timescale” needs a “calibration curve” so it can be translated into real time… so best keep a very open mind about “dates”… this is especially true when a multitude of individually [and incorrectly] “dated” secondary impact structures were triggered by a single massive primary impact.
      Good luck… Tim

      • Jim Coyle says:

        Tim; I’ve generally figured that any dates thrown out there should have a +- of at least 1-2 million yrs for cushion. I’m willing to bet you’re right about the tektites being at the bottom of the sea, but I’m still willing to bet that there are some plus ejecta on nthe continent. I doubt that South America will have anything on land but the ocean to the north and east should be a prime location.

  4. Stephen Kovaka says:

    I’ll see your 54 million year old wood, and raise you the 68 million year old dinosaur blood cells, soft tissue, protein and even DNA investigated by Mary Schweitzer!

    from Wikipedia:
    In 2000, Bob Harmon the chief preparator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies discovered a Tyrannosaurus skeleton in Hell Creek, Montana. After a two year retrieval process, Horner gave the femur leg bone to Schweitzer. After discovering that the bones came from a pregnant female, Schweitzer was able to retrieve proteins in 2007.[7]

    Schweitzer was the first researcher to identify and isolate soft tissues from a 68 million year old fossil bone. The soft tissues are collagen, a connective protein. Amino acid sequencing of several samples have shown matches with the known collagens of chickens, frogs, newts and other animals. Prior to Schweitzer’s discovery, the oldest soft tissue recovered from a fossil was less than one million years old.[8] Schweitzer has also isolated organic compounds and antigenic structures in sauropod egg shells.[9] With respect to the significance of her work, Kevin Padian, Curator of Paleontology, University of California Museum of Paleontology, has stated “Chemicals that might degrade in a laboratory over a short period need not do so in a protected natural chemical environment…it’s time to readjust our thinking.”[8]

    Schweitzer first publicly announced her discovery in 1993.[10][11] Since then, the claim of discovering soft tissues in a 68 million year old fossil has been disputed by some molecular biologists. Later research by Kaye et al.[12] published in PLoS ONE (30 July 2008) challenged the claims that the material found is the soft tissue of Tyrannosaurus. The successful extraction of ancient DNA from dinosaur fossils has been reported on two separate occasions, but, upon further inspection and peer review, neither of these reports could be confirmed. The extraction of protein from dinosaur fossils has been confirmed.[13] A more recent study (October 2010) published in PLoS ONE contradicts the conclusion of Kaye and supports Schweitzer’s original conclusion.[14]

    See also:
    for photos.

    Well, well – so organic remains of dinosaurs can survive 68 million years without disintegrating! Who knew? Ain’t Science wonderful!

  5. Bill says:

    Hmmm. You scientists begin with the assumption of 54 to 68 million years of age (!) and then fit all the “amazing” (a.k.a. contrary-to-common-sense) discoveries into your Procrustean bed. Why not let the organic evidence give you some indication of the actual age of your specimens?

    • It’s hard to believe thaty in all those 68 millions of years, the Ice Cap was always there to preserve the wood and did not retreat until this present time. There is no doubt that there would have been exposure during all that time and exposure to Oxygen would have rapidly degraded the wood to dust as it does now without some preservation. The giant intact redwood mummified redwood stumps found in Lignite brown coal mining operations in Hungary testify to the damage exposure will do to mummified wood. They now have the giant tree stumps behind a vaccum glass enclosure to prevent further degradation.

      More interesting to me were the Oxygen Isiotope studies done by Hope Jahren on Axel Heiberg where Oxygen 16 was present , but not Oxygen 18. They do not understand why the ancient climate did not have storms forming off oceans and falling as precipitation over landmasses. The O-16 originates with springs, streams, rivers and lakes. It’s a puzzle as to how these massive forests were hydrated. Gen 2:5&6

  6. Mark says:

    Good luck Bill, if It doesn’t fit with their theories they ignore it or make up another, supposedly well educated and speculative theory. I don’t see any reply to your suggestion of over 1 year ago…surprised?

  7. Bill says:

    Not surprised at all, my friend.

  8. Pingback: Alaskan Muck: Body of Evidence | MalagaBay

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