Were Carolina bays created by the Saginaw Impact Manifold?

If you spent much time in the Google Earth Community, you have have come across a post by Michael Davias about the Saginaw Impact Manifold.
The basic idea behind this theory is that a cosmic impact struck the eastern part of what is now known as Michigan, which spread debris across the country and created many of the Carolina bays that are out there. The impact itself carved out Saginaw Bay, creating the mitten shape that the state currently resembles.
Because this idea is still just a theory, Michael is using Google Earth to try to determine the validity of it. Most of his data can be found in this KMZ file or via the Google Earth plugin, the results of which are seen here:


Here are his words regarding the data above:

The kml file has placemarks with annotations that function as an index to the ~180 “fields” of bays being researched. This was done to minimize the memory hit from the collection of LiDAR images being used. Each placemark’s pop-up presents a small jpg of the LiDAR image, and has a link to the actual LiDAR data as a network-linked kmz file. The LiDAR imagery was created in Global Mapper, using their KML generation output feature, and typically contains several levels of increasingly-higher resolution imagery, revealed as the user zooms in. They are big, seveal as large as 10 MB.

For more on all of this, I highly recommend you view the full thread in the GEC. He’s taken a lot of data into account, and done a great job of using Google Earth to present it.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. This is really fascinating, but I do have a bit of criticism.
    In science, an explanation that is proffered to connect a series of related facts is a “hypothesis”. Once a hypothesis gathers evidence and becomes more firmly established, it becomes a “theory”, which is the MOST sure that such an explanation becomes in science. Many people use the term “theory” in a less technical sense to mean more like “wild-ass guess”, and in this sense “just a theory” can be proper usage. When referring to scientific ideas, a “theory” is as sound as you can get, and “just a theory” makes no sense at all. (See Theory of Gravity, Germ Theory of Disease, Theory of Evolution, etc.)
    I know this sounds like a niggling distinction, but many anti-science groups try to muddy these waters in such a way as to conflate very strongly supported scientific explanations with Uncle Jed’s idea that we don’t see so many bigfoots any more ‘cus the aliens done beamed ’em up.
    Were it me, sentence one of paragraph three would read, “This idea is still a hypothesis and Michael is using Google Earth to research data to support it.”
    Thanks for the great blog!

  2. jason has tackled an interesting challenge for us. I had, at one point, used the phrase “conjecture”, until I was informed that that term carried more weight than deserved; hence we are indeed back to “Hypothesis”…. At the same time, three unrelated PhD’d folks (one with a Nobel) have criticized me for being too cautious and apologetic in my wording, based on the evidence they have seen in our work.
    My submission to the GRL was rejected this week after a reviewer compared my science to that of alien abductions and firmly stated that “.. claims of impact origins [of the bays] has been mostly banished from the refereed literature…”. Thankfully, the “referred literature gods” do not censure the GEC or my web presentation.
    We do hope the conversation can move ahead to more serious issues, such as “is the hypothesis testable”. For that we have offered a web-based java “calculator” (cintos.org/SaginawManifold/BearingCalc), so that individuals can find a “bay” on their own, create a GE placemark in its center, and copy/paste that placemark kml into the calculator. The generated kml can be pasted back into GE to visualize our predictions for the orientation of “ejecta” spreading over the landscape at that particular location. Major chunks of the java code is available in the GEC thread mentioned above, and I would be happy to provide the full source to any interested party.
    – Michael

  3. Tim McElvain says

    Whether we like it or not science is changing. The scientific method is still valid, but the Internet has bypassed the gatekeepers, who chose winners and losers. What is developing is a truly Darwinian method of picking winners and losers. The Darwin paradigm is the greatest problem solver I am aware of. I don’t know of any other problem-solving scenario that could create a person from a cell. Now we can self publish on a plethora of searchable forums any solution to a problem we want to put forward. Just as in the evolution of the species, some ideas, hypothesizes, or theories will gain currency while others will fail. Good solutions may attract others to help bring the line or reasoning forward, but eventually just as in any evolutionary advancement, the line may reach a dead end. However, as in evolution there is always an opening for a mutation that will develop another line of inquiry that may take us closer to answering the question. This is a very exciting development I that I believe will continue to help us understand our world.

  4. Ivy CAmire says

    looking at the photos of carolina bays, it puts me in mind of throwing a large slush ball onto melting ice… Impact onto melting ice, no proof the next day.(glacier is long gone!) but if the splash zone were to hit mud the holes would be frozen in time. so we have a lot of splash up ,lots of holes and the ice age is gone, so is the ice,but not the mud holes.
    just my thoughts….I get to throw a lot of slush balls every spring…so thats what it looks like to me.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.