In the year 2000 my book GATEWAY TO ATLANTIS was published for the first time. It proposed that Plato's concept of Atlantis was based on stories reaching the Mediterranean in Plato's age, c. 350 BC, of an immense cataclysm that had rocked the Bahamas and Caribbean at the end of the Pleistocene epoch, causing fire to rain from the sky, unimaginable tsunamis and the drowning of an antire island empire.

Cuba was singled out as matching very well the description of Atlantis's central island, while the Bahamas was almost certainly the sunken lands where according to Plato following the cataclysm no ocean going vessel could any longer pass since it was now too shallow (which the Bahamas unquestionably is, following the rise of the oceans at the end of the last Ice Age).

The cataclysm I predicted was responsible for the destruction of Atlantis is identical to that being cited by the 25 strong scientific team at the American Geophysical Union last week. Using available evidence on the structure and dating of the Carolina Bays, a knowledge of the firestorms recorded in settlements across the United States, as well as details of the flow of ice melt waters and the mass extinction of Pleistocene animals, I concluded that a comet had come out of the north-western skies and disintegrated into countless pieces, causing tens of thousands of aerial detonations across North America.

This resulted in wide scale firestorms, massive explosions, tens of thousands of elliptical craters from the Yukon down to Florida, as well as the onset of the Younger Dryas, or mini ice age. This in turn led eventually to the end of the last Ice Age, with the drowning eventually of large areas of the Bahamas and Caribbean.

This much is now being proved correct, but if this is the case then scientists should also look at what I said happened as a result of this comet impact. German rocket scientist Otto Muck in his book THE SECRET OF ATLANTIS (1978, 1st UK edition) was the first to point out the existence of massive elliptical craters in the West Atlantic Basin, off the coast of Florida.

He proposed that these were the result of an asteroid strike, which caused tremendous underwater earthquakes, ripping apart the tectonic plates that join to form the Great Atlantic Rift, and sinking a whole island continent that sat astride the ridge in the vicinity of the Azores group. This, of course, Muck concluded was the lost continent of Atlantis.

No evidence of this former island continent has ever come to light, even though the Mid Atlantic has been the chosen site of Atlantis ever since the theory was first proposed by granddaddy of Atlantology Ignatius Donnelly back in 1882. Curiously, Donnelly was one of the first to take seriously the theory of a major cataclysm hitting the North American continent and causing mass devastation towards the end of the Pleistocene epoch. It was the main thrust of his invaluable book RAGNORAK: THE AGE OF FIRE AND GRAVEL (1883).

Using Muck's lead, I proposed in GATEWAY TO ATLANTIS that the apparent gigantic craters in the West Atlantic Basin were perhaps evidence of the largest parts of the aforementioned comet overshooting North America and crashing into the ocean. If so, then this would have produced massive underwater earthquakes and unimaginable tsunamis that would have devastated the Bahamas and Caribbean to the south.

In addition to this, I found evidence of the presence on Cuba of the giant sloth, a Pleistocene animal supposed wiped out at the end of the last Ice Age, most obviously be over hunting. Yet according to orthodox thinking, no human set foot in the Caribbean until around 5000 BC.

So how was the giant sloth wiped out in Cuba? I also found evidence for the existence of species of snake on different Caribbean islands that can only have thrived when the islands were linked together, and yet their differences were such as to suggest a recent parting of the waves.

Beyond this were myths and legends preserved among the former indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, as well as by their descendents in South and Central America, that spoke of a time when all the islands were as one. Then came a fire out of the sky, which was followed by massive flooding that twice split the islands apart.

Afro-Caribbean islanders on Tobago even spoke of a time when the islands divided after the 'old moon broke' and came crashing into the sea, presumably having learnt such stories from the native peoples they encountered on their arrival in the Caribbean.

All of the myths and legends, which derive from Bahamas in the north to the Lesser Antilles in the south, could be accounted for if it was shown that the larger fragments of the comet which had fragmented over North America at the end of the Pleistocene epoch ended up in the Western Atlantic Basin.

If so, then there was every chance that almost all of the indigenous populations of the islands would have been wiped out, with only a few survivors left to tell the tale.

Such stories were then retold across millennia, both in the islands and also by their descendents on the mainland, until finally they were conveyed to incoming Mediterranean traders either prior to or during the life of Plato, in the same way that similar stories were retold to the first explorers to reach these same isles in the wake of Columbus.

These 'voyagers', the term used by Plato in his dialogue entitled the 'Timaeus', and later in the 'Critias', were most probably either Phoenicians out of Southern Spain or Carthaginians out of North Africa. Their crews would have docked at Mediterranean ports such as those on Sicily, which in Plato's time was in Carthaginian hands.

Having spent time there himself, he might easily have come across these rumours and stories of a once great island empire across the 'Atlantic Sea', devastated by earthquakes and floods, and so decided to include them in his dialogues. One clue is the repeated use of Semitic names in his Atlantis account, showing that his primary maritime sources came not from Egypt, as has always been assumed (due to the dialogues' use of Solon as the collector of these tales from the old priest of Sais in Egypt), but from either Phoenician or Carthaginian sources, who spoke forms of the Semitic language.

Plato's suggestion that the cataclysm which devastated Atlantis either took place in 8500 BC (found in the 'Timaeus') or 9500 BC (found in the 'Critias'), is very close to the proposed dates for the end of the Pleistocene epoch. However, I suspect that these were the only real clues he got from Egypt, for they are very close to the time-frames given in temple chronologies for the age of the gods and demi-gods in ancient Egyptian tradition. Thus their connection with the destruction of Atlantis is merely a happy coincidence, although one that is now proving to be bizarrely accurate.

In my opinion, there is compelling evidence that the Bahamas and Caribbean once supported a high culture with maritime capabilities prior to the cataclysm which devastated their island civilization. More and more examples of vast underwater features of human construction are coming to light off key Bahaman islands such as Bimini and Andros through the scientific work of Greg and Lora Little, and if it can be established that these predate what I call the Carolina Bays event, then this forms an important missing piece of the puzzle in our understanding of this cataclysm and its effects on the development of the Atlantic myth.