Underwater cave sediment shows Mayans suffered massive droughts

Nate Swanner - Dec 29, 2014, 12:11pm CST
Underwater cave sediment shows Mayans suffered massive droughts

Long ago, the Mayan civilization collapsed, unceremoniously leaving behind a lot of mysteries as to what happened. One of those mysteries has to do with the reason they suddenly “disappeared” from the Earth. We know they migrated north around A.D. 800, and one prevailing theory has been that their migration was due to drought. New findings bolster that theory, with scientists taking minerals from an underwater cave to better discover what really happened to the Mayans. The drought may have actually been worse than imagined.


Minerals pinched from an underwater cave in Belize known as the Blue Hole show a significant drought occurred between A.D. 800 and A.D. 900. That’s roughly the same time we know the Mayan civilization to have collapsed.

As previously noted, the drought theory isn’t new. Studies prior to this one suggested the drought would have placed a heavy burden on Mayans as farmers, essentially killing off their crop fields. At the time, sediments from lakes and caves inland suggested a 40% drop in rainfall for the area Mayans were indigenous to.

The Blue Hole was studied for titanium and aluminum. As rainfall occurs, runoff from rivers and streams fills the lagoon, and the sediment settles, creating a timeline of activity.

With rainfall, volcanic rock is wetter and bleeds titanium. The runoff wold deposit titanium into the Blue Hole, where scientists compared it to aluminum deposits to find information on historical droughts in the area.

The studies showed the normal cyclonic cycle slowed between A.D. 800 and A.D. 1000, which in turn encouraged the Mayans to migrate north into what is now Mexico. The rest, as they say, is history.

Via: Live Science


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