Washington, July 4 : A new research into the creation of Kankakee Sand Islands of Northwest Indiana is lending support to evidence that the first humans to settle the Americas came from Europe, a discovery that overturns a previous theory that hypothesized that the Americans had come from Asia.
Valparaiso University's Dr. Ron Janke's research into the creation of Kankakee Sand Islands of Northwest Indiana is lending weight in support of the new theory.
Janke began studying the origins of the Kankakee Sand Islands - a series of hundreds of small, moon-shaped dunes that stretch from the southern tips of Lake and Porter counties in Northwest Indiana into northeastern Illinois - about 12 years ago.
Based upon the long-held belief that most of the upper Midwest was covered by a vast ice sheet up until about 10,000 years ago, Janke said he and other scientists surmised the Kankakee Sand Islands were created by sand in meltwater from the receding glacier.
That belief was challenged, however, when he discovered a year and a half ago that the islands were composed of sand that had come from Lake Michigan - something that should have been impossible with the Valparaiso Moraine standing between the lake and the Kankakee Sand Islands.
"That created a lot of problems with what we had previously believed about ice covering this entire area," said Janke. "How could it get over the Valparaiso Moraine and be deposited there?" he added.
Figuring out that puzzle required taking core samples from some of the remaining islands and the development of a new test by one of Janke's colleagues to determine when sunlight last shone on the sand.
The answer that came back - the Kankakee Sand Islands were born between 14,500 and 15,000 years ago from Lake Michigan sand - was startling.
"We thought the area was completely covered by ice at that time," said Janke. "That was a really earth-shattering result for us," he added.
New research has provided strong evidence that a large meteorite struck the ice sheet covering North American and melted much of the ice shortly before the formation of the Kankakee Sand Islands.
"My research supports this other recent research because it indicates there wasn't a massive ice sheet covering North America that would have allowed tribes to cross over from Asia via a Bering Strait land-ice bridge," said Janke.