Sunday, January 12, 2014

The debris line revisited

There's been a good healthy conversation going at George Barwood's facebook group!/groups/ScottPetersonOpen/ about debris lines.  If you have not signed up for that group, I suggest you do.

One member saw the photo of People's 100, with all the water on the mudflat (Conner Recovery Site) and wondered if Conner could have come in from the North and then floated to where he was found, explaining why he was above (or North) of the debris line.  This question had been asked before by one of Scott's supporters who had been told by a friend that the mudflat floods at high tide.   

I addressed this issue on my December 5, 2004 Field Trip to the Conner Site.  The plain and simple truth is a 5.88 tide just does not produce the water on the mudflat that a 6.39 tide does.  You can go to my Field Trip for that day and see that there just is no channel of water, from any direction, that could have brought Conner to his resting place.  None.  If you do not wish to go through the entire page, these 2 pictures should settle it.  The balloons represent the approximate place where Conner was found.  Click each of the photos to enlarge.

12-5-04, 5.85 feet
12-5-04, 5.95 feet
Moreover, a 6.39 high tide is a rarity on the mudflat.  Here are the statistics for the period from December 24, 2002 to April 14, 2003:

217 high tides recorded

46 high tides (21%) at or above 6.05 feet

33 high tides (15%) at or above 6.39 feet

The high tide on April 13, 2003 was only 5.88 feet.  How could anyone possibly look at these statistics and not call Distaso a blatant liar. 

Now to deal with the question of whether Conner could have floated to where he was found from the North.  No he could not have.  The water level simply wasn't high enough on April 13, 2003.  But for those who insist on believe People's 100 depicts the Conner Site as it looked on April 13, 2003, in spite of the abundance of evidence that it does not, this information should disabuse you of the notion that Conner could have washed or floated from the North to his resting place.  Yes, that's right.  Even in tides as high as 6.39, he would not have washed or floated from the North. It just could not happen.

I made a Field Trip to the Conner Site in August 2009 with a couple of friends.  We wanted to see what happens to debris lines as the tide gets higher and higher during a spring tide -- if heavier/larger objects would stay with the lighter/smaller objects.  And we also wanted to see if objects could wash or float from the North to the South. 

We scheduled the trip at the beginning of a Spring tide.  The tides follow a pattern of increasing daily in height, then decreasing daily in height.  Spring tides are when the gravitational pull is the highest and thus the tides reach their highest levels.  Our plan was to visit the Site, lay down some debris among and in front of the rocks in the breakwater, stay until the debris line had formed, and then return the next day to photograph the debris line, as we had other sites to visit and it would be quite late before the water receded enough for us to photograph the debris line.  The high tide on the 15th peaked at 6.47 feet, above the 6.39 high tide depicted in People's 100.

Here are the debris lines we observed on those days. 
12th -- we found this debris line already in place.  Tide peaked at 6.033. 
13th -- debris line formed from all of the seaweed from the 12th plus the objects we laid down.  Tide peaked at 6.132.  It formed a continuous line, with large/heavy objects right in with the small/light objects.  
We placed a big stick to mark approximate location Conner rested, and measured the distance to the debris line to be 28".

14th -- tide peaked at 6.26.  Debris line reached the Conner marker.  Large/heavy and small/light debris form one continuous line.   

15th -- tide peaked at 6.47, and debris line was North of the path, along the ridge that separates the North from the South. 
It seems obvious to me that none of this debris washed or floated in from the North.