On the Possibility of Instantaneous Shifts of the Poles
By Flavio Barbiero
In 1974 a young Italian naval engineer, Flavio Barbiero, published a ground-breaking book, Una Civilta sotto Ghiaccio (A Civilisation Under the Ice) which proposed for the first time that the remains of a lost civilisation may lie under the ice of Antarctica. He suggested that there had been a cataclysmic and almost instantaneous pole shift which had moved Antarctica from temperate into frozen latitudes - a suggestion that has never been accepted by science. In this paper, specially written for www.grahamhancock.com in 2006, Dr Barbiero explains why he continues to be convinced that instantaneous pole shifts can and do occur - with devastating consequences for all life on earth.
It is well known that the poles have often changed their position on the Earth's surface during past geological eras. The marks left by thick ice sheets in Africa and India, the residual magnetism in ancient rocks, the old coral reefs' and coal deposits' distribution and so on, all together are compelling evidence that the poles have wandered from what is today's equator to the actual poles.
Scientists attribute this "wandering" to the drift of continents and to the displacement of large quantities of materials, due to erosion and sedimentation processes, which in theory can provoke a very slow shift of the poles: a few centimetres per year at the most, but in hundreds of millions of years it can result in shifts of thousands of kilometres.
There is strong evidence, however, that this phenomenon could be much faster.
In his book The Path of the Pole (Chilton Books, Philadelphia, 1970) Charles Hapgood expresses the hypothesis that the poles have changed their position three times during the past 100,000 years. Between 50,000 and 12,000 years ago, at the end of Pleistocene, the North Pole was located somewhere around Hudson Bay, in Eastern Canada and it moved to its current position in the 12th millennium B.P.
To support his thesis, Hapgood presents an impressive quantity of evidence which can be summarised as follows:
a) between 50,000 and 12,000 years ago an impressive ice cap, more than two miles thick, spread from the Hudson's Bay area southward, down to the latitude of New York, and westward to join, at its maximum extent, glaciers flowing down from the Rocky Mountains, in Alaska. During the same period Northern Europe was covered by ice caps, which at their maximum extent reached the latitude of London and Berlin. The quantity of water trapped in these ice sheets and in the glaciers scattered around the world was so large, that the sea level was about 130 meters lower than today.
b) The current "scientific" explanation for the existence of these ice caps is that they were due to a cooler climate all over the world. But this theory is contradicted by the absence, during the "Ice Age", of ice sheets in Siberia, which was actually populated, up to its northernmost regions, by one of the most impressive zoological communities of all times. Millions (more than 40 millions, according to F.C. Hibben) of mammoths roamed Siberia and Alaska. Animals as large as this can be found today only in tropical regions, or in other areas where the supply of fodder is guaranteed all the year round.
It is counter-intuitive that during the Ice Age one of the largest zoological communities since the dinosaurs existed in those very areas which are today regarded, due to their extreme climatic conditions, as amongst the most hostile on Earth. With the mammoths there were dozens of other animal species, the majority of which are extinct today. Of these species we have a great number of skeletons, complete animals that have been preserved in the permafrost, and many wonderful paintings in Palaeolithic caves. The oldest amongst the latter is Chauvet cave, in France, parts of which were painted as early as 33,000 years ago. It contains paintings of breathtaking beauty. The unknown artists, with a few strokes, have represented to perfection animals which at the time were living in the plains of central Europe (and at the same time in Siberia and Alaska) . But the beauty of the paintings makes the zoologist wonder in more ways than one. How could such a varied assembly of animals coexist? To what bizarre ecological environment could such a motley fauna belong? We find the reindeer next to rhinoceros, the mammoth, with its woolly mantle, near the hippopotamus, lions side by side with bears, leopards and Przewalski horses. There are also giant beavers and sloths, big-horned deer, camels, sabre-tooth tigers, buffaloes, aurochs, and many other species.
It's an incredible mixture which leaves us puzzled and astonished. Arctic and tropical fauna together, on the same plain, in perfect balance with the environment! Such an extraordinarily varied and numerous animal community - the like of which can be found nowhere on Earth today - seems to challenge current opinion on climatic conditions during the Ice Age. Moreover, this community suddenly disappeared when the Ice Age ended - exactly at the moment when, according to modern theories, climatic conditions were supposed to have become milder and more supportive of life. This mysterious, now-vanished fauna populated the Siberian islands well inside the Arctic Sea; their remnants can be found on islands located at only 1000 km from the north pole, and in the same islands rock engravings have been found. This suggests strongly that in the late Pleistocene (a period during which global climate was supposedly much colder than it is today, especially at the high latitudes) the Arctic Sea was in fact much warmer than it is today.
c) On the other side of the world, climate was cooler in Australia and New Zealand, then partially covered by large glaciers. But there is solid evidence that Antarctica, now completely covered by a thick layer of ice, must then have been partially free of it. Sediment cores collected in the Weddell area, show that in the late Pleistocene large rivers must have flowed in this part of Antarctica. Again, is this not a strong suggestion that the climate of part of Antarctica must have been much milder during the "Ice Age" than it is even today -- despite the intense global warming experienced in the last century?
A shift of the poles, occurring around 11,500 years ago, could explain completely and coherently the climatic situation before that date, and the situation that came into being after that date.