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A Geological Look at the Japanese 'Underwater Pyramids'

[This is from a discussion on Usenet and is posted here by permission of the author].

[NOTE: The original links to the Team Atlantis site no longer work. I'm not sure Team Atlantis has done, but the Image Gallery is no longer accessible from their site. Archae has kindly found some new links where possible. Doug Weller, Sept 12 1999] Re: Jap. underwater pyramids
Author: Archae Solenhofen
Date: 1998/10/29
Forum: sci.archaeology

Archae Solenhofen (
On Tue, 27 Oct 1998 09:43:14 +0000, "host" wrote:
>In article <>, (Archae Solenhofen) wrote:

>>Boy, your are just chalked full of irrelevant speculation now aren't you.

>Well you haven't given me anything to alter my perception of the site.

>>I thought the meaning in my above statment was rather clear nd straight forward, but yet you
>>seem to be rather confused about it. Do you care to address the statement or just conjecture
>>about my interests or how objectively I can look at a photograph.

>But it seems thats exactly what you want me to do.

Yes, that is right. I want you to tell us what is so unnatural about the structures in the photographs at the site.

>As i said i am not a geologist nor do i pretend to be one, I openly admit my naivety on the subject
>therefore i do not want to get into a 'heated' discussion on subject matter that i am not familiar with.

Well that hasn't stopped you from replying in a geologic context to my posts and to others in the past, so why would it bother you now?

> On the other hand you are a distinguished expert in your field, so you say,

Never said that.

>that is why i am asking you to explain the 'geological abnormalities', or at least help explaining the
>natural causes of such a site.

So let me get this straight... I originally ask one person to give examples of photos that exhibit unnatural formations at the Yonaguni Jima site . You then jump in and say all those at website are examples of this. I then ask _you_ to tell us what is unnatural about them. Now you are telling me it is my responsibility to explain all 'geological abnormalities'.... is that right? Ya, talk about "throwing it back". Look you are the one who introduced the photos as examples of unnatural formations; it is your responsibly to tell us what is unnatural about these photos... so far you have failed to do that but instead fall back on the "I am not a geologist" excuse (which is irrelevant since you don't think they are natural).

>I think all you have said on the subject is that its called jointing. Not alot in that for me really.

Well the discussion on columnar jointing was in response to your claim that the Giant's Causeway had "no similarities whatsoever" in common with the Yonaguni Jima outcrops. Your argument was essentially based on your explanation of the processes involved in the formation of the Giant's Causeway morphology, which was overly simplistic and very lacking reflecting your poor knowledge of geology. As for jointing, this should be of great interest to you since the blocky angular morphology of the Yonaguni Jima site is the main argument for artificiality.

>>> anyway,
>>> states the composition of the rock formations as
>>>two kinds of sandstone and basalt.

>>Where does it say that on their site? Do they tell us if they are interbedded sandstone
>>and basaltic flows or a sandstone unit intruded by a diabase sill?

>Look, for the last time i am not a geologist,

I cannot find the information that you claim is at the
site regarding the "composition" of the rocks. So can you give me a source for this claim of "two kinds of sandstone and basalt"? The point was that the site supplies little to no geologic information about the outcrops. This is rather surprising for a scientific exploration of an underwater site since it is actually quite easy to do (all it involves is taking down a hammer and chipping and bagging a few samples). In fact out of all the photos at the website only one has a rock lithology in its caption (and in most no scale or location is given although many have a diver in the photo and this helps). This is an example of the extremely poor science exhibited at the website.

>all you are doing is confusing the original question by firing upon every comment
>i add to the discussion..

The original question was "what is so unnatural about these photos?". So far you have failed to address this.

>>>There is an image at

>>So by jumping to another website and a photograph location apparently 300 miles from
>>Yonaguni Jima ar you agreeing that the rock outcrops at the are
>>natural in origin?

>I think from what i have seen so far that the forms that have been shown are not all natural.

Which ones? Since you are unwilling to actually discuss what is unnatural about the rock outcrops. I will start you off. photos from webpages:
Cliff face showing blocky erosion morphology with joint bounded blocks, straight structure is a dike (probably diabase). Blocky upper surface produced by decouplment of horizontal joint or bedding plane (decollement fault) and eroded during gravity slide.

Joint bounded erosion block.

Same as #1

Top of cliff showing blocky erosion morphology with joint bounded blocks. Blocky upper surface produced by decouplment of horizontal joint or bedding plane and eroded during gravity slide (notice the gravity slide would be towards the cliff face i.e. in the dip direction of the joint or bedding surface.).

Top of cliff showing blocky erosion morphology with joint bounded blocks.

Joint bounded cliff face. Note what appears to be a talus slope at bottom of the outcrop

Top of cliff showing blocky erosion morphology with joint bounded blocks. Blocky upper surface produced by decouplement of horizontal joint or bedding plane and eroded during gravity slide (notice the difference in weathering between the cliff face and the upper joint surfaces, decouplment and gravity slide is probably a result of weathering of ancient cliff face and tectonic activity (i.e. earthquake)).

Top of cliff showing blocky erosion morphology with joint bounded blocks. Blocky upper surface produced by decouplement of horizontal joint or bedding plane and eroded during gravity slide.

Rhomdehedral jointed blocks. Note the apparent decoupment of the block beside the diver. Note the brittle fracturing of the surrounding blocks. These erosional features are typical of a gravity slide.

Clearly congregate joint sets. Typical of what one would expect if the rock was stressed by compression either by tectonic activity or volcanic intrusion.

Same as #9. Note the conchoidal brittle fractures observed in the top right corner.

12 )
Note how vertical and deep the base of the cliff is (very similar to that of the cliffs on the shoreline of the island) as well the stepped cliff surface and the brittle fracturing of some of the upper surfaces. All consistent with a gravity slide of a jointed rock outcrop.

Top of cliff showing blocky erosion morphology with joint bounded blocks. Blocky upper surface produced by decouplment of horizontal joint or bedding plane and eroded during gravity slide. Note the conchoidal brittle fractures.

Weathered upper rock surface. Grove is most likely a weathered dike partially removed through decoupment and gravity slide mass erosion at a much older date than the other examples. Note the weathered diagonal joint on the right side of the photo.

Weathered upper rock surface which looks volcanic, although it could be sedimentary (no information about the photo is given for some reason) Could be tree casts if rock is volcanic in origin. That is structures that form when lava flows, pyroclastic flows or ash surrounds or buries upright trees, later the trees rots or burns away. If the rock is sedimentary it could also be tree casts, if the sediments were deposited rapidly, or it could be potholes (i.e. holes drilled by rock fragments rotated by current induced localized vortices over long periods of time.

Don't know what they are trying to show here. Upper surface looks like a volcanic flow of some kind..

Pyramid? Very hard to tell from this photo. Looks like a joint bounded block as part of a gravity slide talus slope.

Looks volcanic and highly weathered... possibly a collapsed lava tube. Note the degree of weathering from the joint bounded blocky erosion features in the above photos. I hope they are not suggesting that these were both carved at the same time.

Flat? No Idea what this photo is support to represent. Looks like a volcanic flow with a surface of brittle fractures a result of mechanical erosion of the face.

Burial mound?
Extremely poor quality photo. Looks like the leading front of a solidified lava flow (i.e. pillows).

Congregate join set bounded erosional morphology.

Looks like a lava flow with a lava tube opening. Highly weathered.


My god... Finally some photos with captions, unfortunately they are not that detailed.

Joint bounded erosion surface

Photo caption states "Such rectilinear features rarely, if ever, occur naturally".

Completely untrue... erosion of jointed rocks often form rectilinear features. This fellow should take a walk along the shore of Yonaguni Jima.

Strong current is claimed in the caption, but it is not strong enough to significantly deflect their respirator bubbles.

"perfectly right angles"? Not exactly perfect, but that is not uncommon for joint geometry. They never seem to mention the angles that are not 90 degrees in any of these captions.

Photo caption "Could strong currents have simply sheared off layers of Yonaguni's sandstone..."

Wow the first snippet of geological information I have seen so far.

Strong currents?

More likely an earthquake induced gravity side, which is obviously common in the area or else there would not be those cliff on the island's shoreline. Note the non-right angles and conchoidal fractures. Suction during submarine slide is most likely explanation for removal of small debris and the clean look of the outcrop.

The photo caption says "Did ancient humans once walk upon these giant platforms..."

Considering how little weathering and coral growth it must have been very recently.

Same as #7.

Same as #9-11.

Photo caption reads: "Two vertical monoliths (see up-date 6/1/98). Are these two verticals stones what remains of an ancient calendrical device..."

More likely this is another example of a joint decoupment due to earthquake induced mass erosion. Kind of gives one an idea as to how unstable the cliff face actually is.

Photo caption states "This stone archway... is symmetrically composed of five blocks...".

Looks like part of a talus slope (the debris from a gravity slide) or a small translation decollement fault (i.e. an earthquake has caused movement along a horizontal joint or bedding plane separating two joint bounded blocks.

One also need to look more closely at the degree of weathering of joint surfaces which is very different from the other outcrops suggesting that this is a lot older surface

Same as #31.

Photo caption states "A curious diver peers off an underwater cliff...".

But fails to go down a take a look at the talus slop that most likely in at the base of the cliff

Here is a little extra:

I love this glaciation animation. I wonder why they give no source.... however it is not surprising considering how incorrect the glacial distribution and paleoshorelines is on the global map. I especially love the huge landmass in the middle of the Pacific ocean. Another example of the very poor science that is being presented at this website.

>There seems to be a wide diversity in a very small area.

How wide is this diversity? How small is the area?

The diversity consists of mainly jointing, blocky joint bounded erosional morphology; dikes, a lava flow, a possible collapsed lava tube, and a couple of tree casts or potholes. That is not that diverse... We also have no information given about the size of the area in which all of the photos were taken. I guess your assertion that asking about details like location is not important, does not hinder your ability to estimate the study area. Please, can you give us an estimate as to how large a study area all of these photographs were take in. Remember, you are the one who is making the claim that it is a small area so it is your responsibility to back up that claim, not mine to prove it for you.

>Maybe this is common in geology, but it doesn't seem so with all the
>'speculation'.I tend to lean on the theory that it is possibly terraformed..

>>How convenient that there is no scale and exact location (BTW, 31 miles south
>>of Okinawa is not exact) given in the text. Can you give me this information, please?
>>That is, what is the length of the object and what is its latitude and longitude.

>It's only a photograph,

That's right... What is it a photograph of? A rock formation... junk on the seafloor... part of a shipwreck... a model in someone's bathtub. Without the scale you cannot even start to make conclusion as to what it is?

> I just thought it might have been of interest.

Well at the moment we are discussing the Yonaguni Jima outcrop so maybe we can stay there for the time being.

>but no, you have to insist on detail, I'm sure there is a geologist out there >who would like to comment.

Without the "details" (which are actually quite simple to give in a website photo caption) the photograph is useless. You should know better than to give it as an example of evidence for a possible artificial structure.

>If it is such an "open and shut case" why all the
>speculation and interest? and by respected people in their fields.

What people... What fields?

>>>Here is a excert from another *recent* posting:

>>Where does it say that on their site? Please present the
>>original source upon which this statement of "most"
>>archeologists in Japan concur with Dr. Kimura's
>>dates". And I am expecting to see in this source a list
>>of those who concur with Kimura?

>If you look at the thread you might find the information YOU are seeking. I
>wish you would stop throwing it all back as if you have nothing to add yourself.

Again, I cannot find this information at the site so I am quite justified in "throwing it all back" to you. It is your responsibility to verify any information that you present; it is not mine, which is what you are suggesting by telling me to find it in the thread (talk about a classic case of "throwing it all back"). If you cannot verify the information in your quotes than it is you who has added nothing to this discussion.

>>The question originally was" Maybe you can tell us what you
>>think is so unnatural about these (Yonaguni) rock outcrops?".
>>I will ask it again since you have seemed to missed it for same reason.

>Whats unnatural is the amount of abnormalities in such a small area.

What anomalies? You have not yet specified what these anomalies are.

>If this is common place then maybe you can give some links to sites which show the
>same diversity and abundancy in one location. Yes, how about itself, mainly in the photograph of the "team members" where they get a distant shot of the shoreline. Take away the vegetation and you can clearly see the same type of jointed morphology as the so called underwater monument.


Note the "rectilinear" rock outcrops in the cliff faces

>They don't even have to be the same, but if you are looking to prove your point,

What point is that... all I have said is that I see nothing at the site that does not have a natural explanation. You on the other hand have continually asserted that the outcrop is artificial and your only defense is that there is an apparent diversity in so called "anomalies" that you seem very reluctant to specify.

Archae Solenhofen (

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