Saturday, May 26, 2012

Marvelous Varves

A post on Facebook by WTCM’s Bill Froelich had a link to an article which contends that, based on archeological earthquake studies, the date of the Crucifixion was April 3, 33 A.D.

The article contains this sentence: “Varves, which are annual layers of deposition in the sediments, reveal that at least two major earthquakes affected the core: a widespread earthquake in 31 B.C. and a seismic event that happened sometime between the years 26 and 36.” The word varves caught my eye.

The Oxford English Dictionary expands on the definition: “Varve: a pair of thin layers of clay and silt of contrasting colour and texture which represent the deposit of a single year (summer and winter) in still water at some time in the past (usually in a lake formed by a retreating ice-sheet); they have been used to establish a chronology of the late glacial and post-glacial period.”

Varve comes from the Swedish word varv, a layer or turn. While the OED’s first citation dates from 1887, it seems that the word received professional endorsement and promulgation in the year 1912 in an article by G. De Geer in Compt. Rend. XI Session Congrès Géol. Internat.  There he wrote, “The Swedish word varv, (old spelling: hvarf), means as well a circle as a periodical iteration of layers. An international term for the last sense being wanted, it seems suitable to use the transcription varve, pl. -s, in English and French.”

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