Saturday, October 13, 2012

The myth of plate movement

'Plates' don't move - they *grow*
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Fig.1  A collection of continents, about to grow into the plates of the present day.  (Image courtesy of .)

 As noted before, the problem with snapshots such as Fig.1 is that the motion is lost.  In transmogrifying the snapshot of a collection of assembled continents into a hypothesised story of moving plates the reality of *growth* of the ocean floors is effectively lost.  Movement is not growth and growth is not movement. The two are different.  One does not imply the other.

  You wouldn't say:- "Oh, look, ..he's only five years old, and moving out of his clothes at such a rate," .. or, ..  "Look how the grass has moved since the rain."   Yet Plate Tectonics seems to think that when it comes to ocean floors it's quite ok to substitute movement for growth.

The ocean floors are not moving.  They're growing, and we should pay attention to the difference.

Consider the situation in Figure 1, .. a collection of plates as they were assembled on the Pangaean crust according to both Plate Tectonics and Earth expansion. According to both points of view the continents have to move apart to accommodate the symmetrical increase of mantle at the spreading ridges, which are the boundaries of crustal fragments. The ridges effectively stay where they are while this increase (to make the plates we see today) takes place.  So the **plates** can't be said to move if their boundaries are fixed.  Sure, the *continents* could be said to move, but that's not the same as saying the plates move.  Seems to me that in regard to configuration and architecture,  Plate Tectonics' position is more accurately represented by saying that the continents shrink!

Fig.2.  Shrinking continents.   For the continents in Fig.1 to get to where they are today, clearly they have to shrink!   (From Carey, 1976; the Expanding Earth).

"Plates move"?  How?  Like this? :-

Fig.3  A continent (grey), rivetted to a plate (coloured) is scrunched against a resisting continental buttress while the oceanic plate gets shunted down a subduction zone.  And anyway, .. where's the continental lithosphere underneath the continental bit?  Is the slab of oceanic lithosphere supposed to have continental lithosphere sitting on top of it?  Check with teacher..  ( Ah, .. the knots Plate Tectonics has to tie itself in, to make it work...  What a giggle.)

Crustal crumpling happens because there is resistance across the zone, .. while the subducting oceanic slab is "forced down" by the buttress on the left, which doesn't move.  If it did, crumpling would be less or none.  And if there wasn't a continent on top of the slab, the slab would sink anyway eventually, because it got cold.

But how cold does the slab have to be before it sinks?  And what do you have to assume if you were doing some 'science' to work it out?   And if it's a question of cooling (from above, .. because it can't cool from below), why doesn't it sink faster in high latitudes? And does it?  And why, if it's a question of cooling, does it sink just when it meets a continent?  Why doesn't it sink before that, .. some long way back?  And how is all that slab accommodated down there anyway, .. where space is much less? )  And why doesn't the whole contraption just get all get all gummed up?  Why has the 'plate tectonic machinery' been working so smoothly since the year dot?

And so on.

Eventually the rivets will pop as the buoyancy of the buckled crust resists the pull of the subducting slab and stays floating on top ( because it is buoyant and can't subduct - but unconsolidated sediments full of water - which are much less dense - apparently can)

(Ptero double-think.)

Movement can only be said to happen if the boundaries move.  But plate margins stay where they are and the area contained by them, if it moves at all, *cycles*, effected by growth at the spreading ridges and destruction at the subduction zone.  The **plate** moves nowhere. It grows (.. and in a direction *towards* the ridge, not away from it).

Moreover, plates are made of lithosphere - deeply rooted continental lithosphere under continents, and much thinner (going by the regular depth of earthquakes) oceanic lithosphere under the oceans. Shallow oceanic lithosphere can't ferry chunks of deeply rooted continental lithosphere around, .. so by virtue of that depth difference alone it is virtually a contradiction in terms anyway to say that "plates move".  Ones with continents on them at any rate.

Plate Tectonics tries to circumvent this problem by abandoning the continental drift, conveyor-belt model of circulating mantle as a driver for this 'movement-scenario', and substituting for it a circulating mantle *crust*, which pulls the ocean floors down subduction zones ("slab-pull") at the 'going-down' end, and pushes it along at the other 'coming-up' end ("ridge-push") - with sub-crustal traction added for good measure. But by invoking traction this model is actually reverting to the conveyor belt of mantle flow as a driver.

(More Ptero double-think.)

So, just to repeat the point:- while a slow-flowing ductile mantle (conveyor belt model) could conceivably be imagined as carrying a continent along on top of it , that doesn't apply in the plate model, because continents are deeply fixed "islands in the stream", so to speak.   Indeed, moving plates with continents on top are a contradiction in Plate Tectonics' own terms.  But continents on top of oceanic lithosphere (/"slabs") (= plates) are needed if mountains are to "arise"  Crustal crumpling can only happen (in the plate model) if there *is* traction transmitted from the so-called moving plate.  And if the continent is deeply rooted when the plate is not, then clearly the question is, "How?".  Continents are 'rivetted' (/fixed) much more deeply into the body of the Earth, so Plate Tectonics' concept of 'Plate-Buckling' (or more exactly continent-buckling) is untenable.  Traction is attributable in the final analysis to the chilly night air (cooling), which is hardly going to overcome the resistive forces of the full thickness of continental lithosphere to buckle it to Kingdom Come, any more than a film of toothpaste flowing across a solid surface would rumple and tear holes in it.

Now would it?

In any case, that's a return to the old view that mountains are built because the Earth's crust buckles because it is "cooling".  (Goes with the shrinking continents for nuttiness.)

It's a question of scale of approach.  The village gets buried by an avalanche.  It does not up-stilts and rush under the mountain. And you can easily tell when you stand back and get the context right.

No 'science' needed.  Context is what understanding tries to arrive at, and in geology it's there for the looking.  The principles of stratigraphic and structural superposition are the tools used to put all the 'stills' (as in Fig.1) in sensible order, which when done right shows plate movement and mountain building by plate collision to be myths, both of them being fundamental too, to the further essential myth /assumption that the ocean floors 'subduct'.

(Bullshit from Go to Woh.)

[ See also Expanding Earth blog at ]

Plate Tectonics gets the two fingers

.. And why not?  It's just so much bullshit.
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Fig.1  This is the Atlantic floor, viewed in an unusual (sideways) orientation, .. 'cos I'm an unusual (laid back /prostrate /sideways, roll-me-over) kind of a guy  ('cos I'm an  Aussie).

It's meant to show two things (and you'll need two fingers to follow this bit of mind-blowing esotery - because it's about my own limitation with numbers), which is that the spreading ridge (No1) of which there is only one, is cut by the transform faults (No 2) of which there are heaps.  And I'm putting it out there, up on the web, along with my own numberological limitation, to draw attention to a simple point, .. which is that a worldful of PlateZillas, wantonly inflexible and destructively indifferent towards the hopeful enterpise of science, and zealous in their support for the consensus machine, are turning their blindest eye to the simple and obvious point that the structure depicted by Number 1, (the spreading ridge) ( of which there is only one) is cut by, and therefore earlier than, the structure depicted by Number 2 (the transform faults) ( of which there are heaps).

Got it?  No1 predates No2, .. the distinction being particularly obvious to the right in the figure.

For readers prepared to go one step further, we should also emphasise in a 'how-come' sort of way, that there *is* only one (ridge) but lots of cross-faults, and also make the still further observation that some of these cross-faults (transform faults) are more prominent than others and reasonably straight, where other ones are not, .. almost verging on the wonky and knobbly.  We'll deal with the whyfors of that later, but in the meantime we just want to focus on those  two simple numbers and what they mean because they are the foundation for the parting of the ways of Plate Tectonics and Earth expansion.


The parting of the ways:-
(Because except for the bit about the ridges getting longer as well as wider, and the ridges moving away from the continents instead of vice versa, both Plate Tectonics and Earth expansion agree on the broad aspect of sea-floor spreading: the ocean floors have indeed made the Earth bigger; it's the subduction zone that makes it smaller (!) (in Plate Tectonics).

The Nub:-
(.. is the factual bit we are faced with in the picture; all the rest is theory about how to explain what it means.)
In Plate Tectonics  all the Number 2s  existed before Number 1, i.e., "before the ocean floors began to open."  (Yes, that's what they say.. )
In Earth expansion Number 1 existed before Number 2 (most of them at any rate).

... And the difference (when we think about it) is whether there is convection or not, because that's what the first (Plate Tectonics) option was designed to do - justify sea-floor spreading in a convection sort of way, whereas the second shows how sea-floor spreading works in an Earth expansion sort of way.

Teasing it out a bit - or as new ('going forward') vernacular says - "unpacking it" (a bit).  (The full box is a complicated can-of-worms when we lift the lid.

All No 2s present "before the ocean floors began to open" (then scroll down to the animation that says "Transform Fault Motion and Formation of Fracture Zones")  means that once the ocean floors *did* begin to open, the spreading ridge, which is comprised almost all of straight segments, was already cracked up into more dog-legs than you could poke a stick at to give the configuration we see at the present day in Fig.1.  More than that, .. all the dyke intrusions that Plate Tectonics says go towards making up the ocean floors had to dogleg their way round this rubix cube of pre-existing faults without breaking through any of them.  And even more than that, only had to intrude the dogs, .. the legs remain unannointed (in the plate model). (Which is not true anyway, because in their way (in their way) the transform faults get spread too.)

Fig.2  Ridge offsets and along-ridge growth.  Correct-weight,  Earth-expansion arrows depict the sense of principal offets; also the ridge really *is* longer than its original breakthrough 'continental' extents (on the African side).  It's not a theory.   (The American side got a mention here.)

In Earth expansion what we see is what we get; the order of structural superposition being as is shown in the figure, ie.., opposite to that required for Plate Tectonics to work.  The offsets (2 in Fig.1) postdate the spreading ridge, and are related to the growth of the ocean floors that make the spreading ridges longer as well as wider, i.e., the dynamics of the ocean floor are a reflection of ridge lengthening, as much as ridge widening (=expansion).

However by reversing this order of structural superposition and claiming "a new class of faults" (see last link) Plate Tectonics was also able to claim 'proof' for convection, where convection was needed so that growth at the ridges could be compensated by its destruction elsewhere, so that the spectre of expansion that this ridge-lengthening raised needn't be addressed.  Though not everyone involved in developing Plate Tectonics was happy about that (Menard quoting Vine in this post).

And *that* is the significance of the numbers in the figure - whether or not there was justification for mantle flow in the structure of the ocean floors to vindicate spreading.  That's the bit where there was the parting of the ways, and all because the *real Earth science* got swamped by the massive budgets and institutional kudos consequent on the politics of fear generated mainly in America by the Cold War and later 'Star Wars' that saw factual geo -('PSSS't)- logic subsumed by geophysical theorising that has led the Earth sciences up the garden path with this Plate Tectonic bullshit. 

Seems factually (not conceptually) obvious to me, just by looking, that the spreading ridges are *indeed* longer than their original breakthrough continental extents, which reflects a first-order crustal dynamic the reason for which is not addressed in Plate Tectonics.  It is precisely the point that Plate Tectonicists are resolutely turning their blindest eye to in order to maintain the myth of convection.  And subduction.  And everything else of Plate Tectonics that hinges on those two numbers.

 (/ Two fingers).. Because Plate Tectonics deserves it.


[ See also Expanding Earth blog at ]

Friday, August 3, 2012

What's happening at the spreading ridges?

(.. Besides the "New Class of Faults"..)
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Fig.1 The theory: cross-sectional conceptual view of what's happening at spreading ridges according to Plate Tectonics.  For a bigger figure and an animation of what's happening, see here.

A magma chamber underlying the ridge is fed from below and tapped by the ridge fracture.  Basalt leaks up the fracture, spilling into the ridge valley and building up a series of extrusive pillow basalts.  Once a certain build-up  is reached, the fault walls forming the ridge collapse sideways, diverging from the top down to the level of mush.  Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes a new fracture develops from the root of the old one, .. splitting from the top down to the level of mush and diverging equally (to maintain the symmetry of the ridge). The faulted slices of ocean floor are migrated away from the ridge by ..  ..  ..  (??)   What, exactly?

Well, .. this is where we indulge ourselves in some real science by invoking 'hypotheses', by thinking rather than looking, ..making up a story according to the Principle of Multiple Working Hypotheses to explain what we think we see.  It could be gravitational collapse down an unstable slope ("ridge-push"). Or it could be the pull of the subducting slab (half a world away) (= "slab-pull").  Or it could be the frictional drag of the underlying mantle current pulling it along.  Or it could be (hey!!) all three!  Now (being scientific) we need to measure something, to prove our hypothesis.  What'll we measure?  Something at the ridge? The subduction zone?  In between maybe?  Maybe the thermal condition of the Earth itself, .. or the material properties of all the bits we can find.   (Wonder who would put up the money for some real research here, based on that real good idea .. )

But .. what *has* been measured is the topography of the ocean floors, and its magnetism, and a certain pattern established which says that there is a ridge (a 'rise') going right the whole way round the world, .. with a split in it along its entire length (a strange thing in itself, really) - that is riddled with earthquakes down to a depth of about 10km, ..and there are (reportedly) quite glassy basalts making up some of it.  And nothing whatsoever of that lot was funded on a 'good idea'.  It was funded on the acronymic fear of RUBs (Reds under Beds) (but that's another story) and was a whole lot of observation in need of no explanation or theory, based on nothing more than trying to find out what the ocean floor looked like.  ('Fact' - though it could probably do with a bit of fine tuning.)  What's more, .. Nasa's 'sideshow' satellite measurements of receiving stations showing crustal movements are also (so far as they go) a fact.  But to connect the two (with a good idea) and say that this proves, or even supports Plate Tectonics (and the crumpling of crust) (and the building of mountains) (and the extrusion of dykes to make up the ocean floors), is asinine beyond belief.  Making an observation is one thing, but hypothesising a connection between satellite measurements and a fissure eruption extruding daily basalt of fractional millimetre width (as required by 'the measurements') right the whole way round the world, dog-legging it (fractionally) round all the cross-cutting faults of the spreading ridges to form the ocean floors is just silly.  It offends that sense common to the other five - the one of proportion, .. rationality, .. logic, .. to an unacceptable degree.

It also offends the facts as we see them.   Sure, .. there are volcanoes sitting on the ocean floor - heaps of them, and to the extent that they are fed by dykes or pipes, contribute to their making, but these are not what constitute the rodded structure of the abyssal hills - "the most widespread landform on the planet". There are no volcanic or fissure eruptions on the spreading ridges of a scale that could be said to be commensurate with the hypothesis (let's not call it 'theory') of millimetre-scale dyke intrusion.  A casual glance shows that volcanoes and fissure eruptions have a provenance more associated with transform faults, than any association with ridges (Fig.2).  What's more, the lines of volcanoes parallel to transform faults die out as they approach the ridge.

Fig.2.  Seamount chains and the spreading ridge of the Pacific.  Note they don't actually cut the ridge here (and mostly don't anywhere else either), and the absence of any volcanoes on the spreading ridge (The Anakena Seamount Chain (top) and the Cloud Seamount Chain (bottom) are marked in red. The ridge is just right of centre. Click image for a larger figure.)

Typically too they are not even on transform faults, but off-line and parallel, and may not even displace ridges, .. but even so overwhelmingly help to define the pattern and spacing that describe transform faults in general, when viewed at the large scale.  Known as 'aseismic' ridges these lines of volcanoes and fissure eruptions are (as their name suggests),defined by a relative *absence* of seismicity (at the present day).  The ridges (and the transform faults that offset them) on the other hand are riddled with earthquakes. The scale of aseismic ridges, and their considerably greater height in relation to ridges, suggests that their depth association is substantially greater than the uniform ten kilometres indicated by earthquakes for spreading ridges - and are *a*-seismic *because* their dilation taps right down into the mantle.  All the seismic noise at the ridges is because the ridge fracture is in the brittle crust and doesn't reach down into the mantle (to nearly the same extent).

Fig.3.  Perspective view of the Anakena Seamount Chain in Fig.2, showing the height differential between the chain and the spreading ridge. Note also the rolling rises of the spreading ridge into the figure, and the depression in the ridge marked by the red arrow. The volcanoes (which are magmatic extrusions) sit *on* the ocean floors (crust) and have nothing to do with the rodded structure making them up.  The theory of millimetres of dyke thickness coming up the fractures every day (or on any day) making the abyssal hills is simply wrong.

Spreading ridges on the other hand are devoid of volcanoes or fissure eruptions because they don't actually tap the mantle at all.  The ridge is a fracture in crust that already *is* crust (so to speak), formed by *underplating*.  The ridge fracture is sealed before it can tap the mantle *because* the ridge is rising up, retaining its tight curvature (Fig.3 here)

So, .. we say here (and contrary to popular opinion) that the ocean floors are not formed by wafer-thin dykes intruding the spreading ridges and extruding basalts, but by underplating.  The existing crust is added to *underneath*, not up a chimney. It's the only logical way that abyssal hills ("the most prolific landform on the planet") and the combined attendant structures can be explained.

How else?  By keep painting the walls of a big fracture (but not the dog-legs) with little more thickness than a coat of emulsion?  Even if the arithmetic for spreading works out over zillions of years, it is much more logical to say the paint's being added underneath, than (symmetrically) on both sides of the ridge fracture.  And that *that* is the reason that the ocean floors have all those volcanoes and aseismic ridges poking through on the transform fault direction - which reflects much deeper lines of dilation than the abyssal hills.  And *that* is why the fractured crust of abyssal hills is being covered up by such massive amounts of magmatic extrusion.

Of course, we can't paint the dog-legs (= transform faults = cross-faults) anyway, because that would mean the ridges would be getting longer as well as wider.  And that would mean the Earth was getting bigger.  And that wouldn't do. 

(Ask your mother). 

(See Fig.3 here for the ridges getting a thick undercoat of emulsion, and Fig. "Famous" (with Yipes and Stripes) here for the dog-legs getting one as well. ...)  (Making the Earth bigger).

[ See also Expanding Earth blog at ]

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Wilson Cycle, lithosphere, and plate evolution.

[Right click >new window for a larger figure.]

Fig.1. The Wilson Cycle.  First, spreading is both ways (A to D), then one way (E to G).  But what's happening 'round the back' (H)?   (Adapted from Bird and Dewey, 1970, Lithosphere plate continental margin tectonics,' in  Seyfert, (1987) ed. the Encyclopedia of Structural Geology and Plate Tectonics, 876pp.). The figure is a nonsense, as described below.

Following his "escape" ( =  concept of moving ridges ) in reply to Carey's observation about Antarctica being ringed with spreading ridges (thereby implying that continent to be shrinking),  Wilson (1966) extrapolated this model to account for dissimilar fauna on either side of the Atlantic.  After all, if a single half-turn (rise) of a convecting cell could replace an earlier Panthalassa with today's ocean floors in about 200-300my (so that the Earth could remain a constant size), then the Earth, being 4.5 by old since "The Great Catastrophe" (..and scroll down to 3.  'The Big Pancake') clearly provided scope for many convectional cycles. Why not make use of this 'fact' to further explain the model of convective mantle overturn that Holmes (1944) and later Hess (1962) had proposed, thereby validating and extending that convection model?

Why not, indeed.  Those reputations provided an exemplary foundation to build on.  John Bird's entry in Seyfert's 1987 Encyclopedia of Structural Geology and Plate Tectonics tells it so:-
     "In 1966, Professor J. Tuzo Wilson of the University of Toronto published a now classic paper in which he argued that not only had Wegenerian continental drift occurred since the early Mesozoic breakup of Pangaea, but also that continental drift had occurred in pre-Pangaea times.  Wilson pointed out that for the Appalachian / Caledonian Orogenic System, some regions having similar Lower Palaeozoic faunas are separated by the present Atlantic Ocean whereas other regions within the separated segments have dissimilar faunas that are adjacent to one another.  He argued that Wegenerian continental drift could account fot the separation, between North America and Europe, of tracts having the similar faunas.  These fauna-bearing tracts can be refitted to a logical distribution by a simple reconstruction of the pre-Atlantic ocean continent assemblage (Bullard et al., 1965).  However, such a reconstruction does not account for the dissimilar fauna-bearing adjacent tracts that remain in the assembly.  Wilson argued from a geological relationship that this anomaly could be accounted for by invoking Palaeozoic drift.  He proposed that the Appalachian /Caledonian Orogenic Belt was the result of the opening-closing evolution of a Proto-Atlantic Ocean, during Paleozoic time.  Following several lines of evidence, he proposed that such a model of geologic history provided a unified explanation for the following. -
"Changes in rock types, fossils, mountain building episodes and paleoclimates represented by the rocks of the Atlantic region; ... wherever the junction between contiguous parts of different realms is exposed, it is marked by extensive faulting, thrusting and crushing; ... there is evidence that the junction is everywhere along the eastern side of a series of ancient island arcs; ... the fit appears to meet the geometric requirement that during a single cycle of closing and reopening of an ocean, and in any latitudinal belt of the ocean, only one of the pair of opposing coasts can change sides."
"This perceptive model has been verified by more recent studies of the Appalachian /Caledonian System, and the rapidly developing theories of lithosphere plate tectonics (Dewey, 1969).  The cycle of ocean opening and closing with respect to adjacent continental margins is now known as the Wilson cycle." (J. Bird, 1987,  Encyclopedia of Structural Geology and Plate Tectonics, p.837)

The pure speculation of the model however is emphasised by Wilson's framing of his own thesis as a question [Wilson, J.T., 1966,  Did the Atlantic close and then re-open? Nature, 211, 676-681.]

Faulting, with crushing and parts of the sequence missing due to crustal shortening is characteristic of thrust deformation everywhere and does not imply closure of an ocean - particularly one so immaculate as to excise all pre-existing mantle.   The "island arcs" that Wilson mentions are no doubt his interpretation of the arcuate curvature in the structural trends of the Appalachians, which he is interpreting (wrongly) as analogous to the lobate shapes described by the curvatures in strike of the circumglobal.mountain belt from the French Alps to the Himalayas [ 1 ], [ 2 ] .. and in the half-submerged shapes that consensus describes as "island arcs" in the Western Pacific.  By asking the question Wilson appears to be again simply testing the mentis of his geophysical peers (and finding it wanting).

Anyway, .. Back to Fig.1 which illustrates how the cycle is supposed to work.   Notice this is a sequential squeezebox-accordion model moving the ridge (first opening one way, then closing the other) .. rather than layered convection < previous blog > where ridges move simultaneously, with a lower layer of convectional flow dragging an upper one along for the ride which does its own independent spreading as it goes.  The ocean floor is conceived as spreading to a certain (or rather uncertain) width (A to D)  before one end gets cold enough to sink (E) - and does so somehow always on a continental margin (never in the ocean), and descends into the mantle dragging the whole mantle crust as far back as the ridge with it including whatever continent might be sitting on top of it, to engage in later 'collision'.  This is notwithstanding Plate Tectonics' own dictate that continents are built on continental, not oceanic, lithosphere (F to H).

So, two models in Plate Tectonics about how ridges are supposed to move, each contradictory of the other, 1. subduction, 2. multilayered convection.

And why should only one end of the ocean floor get cold?  They are symmetrical after all. And what would happen if both ends did?  And why don't they (one or both) sink *before* they get to a continental margin?

These are not questions Plate Tectonics cares to address, although it is clear to ordinary logic that if there was symmetry in cooling then both sides of the ridge would be consumed equally down subduction zones, and yet the norm is either asymmetry (Pacific) or no subduction (Atlantic).  Plate Tectonics has no explanation why ocean floors ringed by a subduction zone should behave asymmetrically, while those that aren't, don't.

(It *is* only a theory after all. )

(And a pretty lousy one at that, no matter how it's dressed up.)

= = = = = = = =

Both sides (now).
"Bows and flows of angel hair - and ice cream castles in the air.."
Somewhere it says Joni Mitchell wrote the song in 1967 after reading 'Henderson the Rain King' (Saul Bellow, 1959).  But I'll bet she was probably reading the nonsense about Plate Tectonics at the same time - or already had.

[ See also Expanding Earth blog at ]

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Origin of the Wilson Cycle

The weak link in the chain

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 With the number of bit-players doing Plate Tectonics these days, and making it into such a can of worms, it is refreshing to be able to get hold of the end of one worm at least and trace it to its root, thereby disentangling the knot of others around it.  The worm in question being the Heath Robinson contraption known as the Wilson cycle, and the tangled knot of others being the entries on the web for "layered mantle convection", .. 26,000 of them if you google them up with quotation marks.  For the Wilson Cycle was devised, not, as is mostly represented, to explain the cyclicity with which oceans appear and disappear and how continents become rearranged in the smoke-and-mirrors convecting mill of the "subduction factory", but from a perceived need to refute what was - and still is - simply apparent to all from the relationship of continental margins to spreading ridges - which was that the continents don't move away from the spreading ridges, but rather that the spreading ridges move away from the continents.

Plate tectonics, with its refuge-rationale in *relative* movement, very much ignores this distinction.  However, just as the difference between the avalanche covering the village, or the village rushing under the mountain has behavioural and logical distinction, so too the distinction between the continents moving away from the ridge and the ridge moving away from the continents also has very real directional and logical consequence, for if a spreading ridge moves away from the continents then the making of ocean floors is *towards* the ridge, not away from it, .. and there can *be* no subduction - and therefore no convection - and no Plate Tectonics.  And 'towards-the-ridge' has first-order support in the glaringly obvious, present-day length of the spreading ridges compared to their original breakthrough extents - which means the ridges move up, .. and which Plate Tectonics ignores - and couldn't account for if it tried. 

Now, of course, ..we're not saying that the 'subduction' zone doesn't exist, just that consequent on that aforesaid behavioural difference 'subduction' must be interpreted differently from the consensus story, and since there are only two alternatives, the correct one (depending on ridges) must be continental correction (= overriding), not oceanic correction (=subduction).

Those of the inner circle of sea-floor spreading, and particularly Tuzo Wilson, were well aware of this implication of ridge development for Earth expansion, for, as well as following obviously from the configuration of young ocean floors in relation to the continents, by 1958 the principle supports for it had already been rounded out by Carey as the most viable explanation of global deformation, and whose ideas Wilson, in earlier years, supported.  Why did Wilson flip?  Seems to me the short answer is expediency, and going with the flow. Careers were in the making, and the exclusion of Bruce Heezen and the perception of Carey as committing "professional suicide" in their support for Earth expansion was almost palpable. So you don't go that way.  Wilson, much lauded for his ingenuity in getting the unworkable to work by others more puzzled by the exigent realities of 'plates' and convection, was acknowledged as a powerhouse of convenient explanations that would overcome problems, and a great asset therefore to the developing story and the careers of others developing it.

However, the likely veracity of any explanation lies, not in any hotch-potch ad-hockery of multiple working stories such as Wilson could apparently offer at the drop of a hat, but in simplicity, and the "obvious that was apparent to all" could be gauged from the simplest of all facts of sea-floor spreading - that the spreading ridges are longer than their original break-through extents.  And a ridge therefore that grows in *two* directions at once (along as well as across the ridge) obviously means an increase in surface area of the ocean floors greater than if it just grows (/'moves') in one (across the ridge as mandated by plate tectonics and the small-circle movements on Euler poles).  Or to put it another way, by the time the subduction zone begins to swallow any particular time-slice marker of the ocean floor at one end of the convecting conveyor belt, the ridge at the other end has increased by its further along-ridge extent.  Which means in turn that however efficaciously subduction is regarded as a mechanism for 'swallowing', the Earth gets bigger anyway - unless subduction zones match along-ridge lengthening with a commensurate along-zone shortening, which would be a bizarre state of affairs by any stretch of imagination, particularly when the whole contraption is considered to be driven by the convenient assumption of subduction..

So, .. got it?  Longer ridges means Earth expansion.

This simple ridge-length factoid is central to the simplicity of Earth expansion, and its ignore-ance (and the implications that follow from it) is central to the wall-eyed,  one-eyed, smokey Plate Tectonic factory that rests its validity in the contradictory multiple stories of  (non-) 'working hypotheses'.  For a continent girdled by ridges (as Carey had pointed out and anyone can observe) clearly meant - if Plate Tectonics was correct -  that continents were not simply moving away from ridges, but that they had to be shrinking as well (if areas must be conserved), and nowhere more noticeably than in the case of Africa and Antarctica.  A truly non-sensical situation.  How did Antarctica manage to move away from the spreading ridge on all sides without shrinking?  How did Africa likewise?

Well, Wilson had an inventive idea here too.  Menard:-
 "Wilson then addressed the fact that the median ridge nearly circles Antarctica and Africa.  It was this fact that caused Carey and Heezen to call for an expanding Earth.  Not at all, wrote Wilson; concerning Antarctica:
"To escape the dilemma one must suppose that, instead of a current flowing south from the ridge, the ridge itself is migrating northwards and that the ring which it forms around most of Antarctica is expanding in radius.  If so the current flowing northwards on the other side of the ridge is moving at twice the normal rate,... "
"Thus the migrating ridge would sweep the continents before it and thereby produce the northerly drift recorded by palaeomagnetism. The ridge around Africa was also migrating, and in the Pacific two ridges were migrating without an intervening trench.  This caused the very rapid movement on the San Andreas fault.  Thus Tuzo first explained in terms of convection many of the phenomena that would enter into plate tectonics.  He also concluded from the arguments that Hess and I had advanced  that convection patterns could change."  (1986) Ocean of Truth,   (P.179)
 [ ..And apparently change to order ! ]

 Oh?  Would it ("sweep")?  Anything based on a "suppose - if" in order to "escape" a logical conclusion from a clear observation is a far cry from "factually-is", for of course *IF* the supposed convecting current north of the ridge is flowing north at twice the normal rate in order to accommodate Antaractica as a non-shrinking landmass, then it has to be also flowing at half this rate (whatever it might be) [on the proximal side - d.f. 2012-10-07; edit correction] in order to accommodate the similar widths of ocean floors on each side of the ridge - unless (of course) somebody can conjure a way whereby twice the rate of convecting flow on the 'far side' can mean half the rate of mantle growth there.  What's more, in advocating ridge-lengthening, Wilson is validating transform development on *great* circles where Plate Tectonics according to Jason Morgan and Dan McKenzie in that Euler pole link above, needs them on *small* circles.

[ Addendum, 2012-10-07.  Seems that in advocating a northwards migrating ridge around Antarctica, Wilson is fully aware of the implications for an accompanying ridge-lenthening, but nowhere have I found anything in Plate Tectonic theory that explains this.  It's certainly not included in his origami solution.]

Such is the contradictory cock-eyed junk ( = "multiple stories") that Plate Tectonics finds itself necessary to invent in the name fo so-called 'science'.  But it is one thing to be inventive in an attempt to get at the truth, quite another to be inventive to avoid it, .. to invite people to hang their common sense up at the door and suspend belief while the ringmaster does the spreading ridges /subduction zones /relative movement trick with mesmeric dexterity, following which the master of ceremonies invites a standing ovation (for the sake of keeping everybody's careers - and budgets) intact.

And thus was born the idea, ancilliary but essential to the Wilson Cycle, of migrating ridges, .. not out of any thing intrinsic to their geo-logical nature but simply out of a need to deny the obvious implication of along-ridge growth that the architecture of spreading ridges demands.  And, further, in order for it to work, *layered* convection needed to be invoked, i.e., another convecting cell underneath the one at surface in order to migrate a 'normally-growing' ridge..  Wheels within wheels - epicycles within epicycles, .. turtles under turtles.  Some trick indeed, and one that for some was not without some disquiet as mentioned in the above link to euler poles and plate movement.

(quoting Menard again) :-
"The discussion was brief, but it offered Vine the occasion to refer to convection cells as "presumed" and "mythical." Certainly , the many problems related to convection that had been troubling the conference members would have been solved by eliminating convection entirely. " (Menard, The Ocean of Truth, p.276.)  

This is not only Fred Vine of the Vine and Matthews Hypothesis, but the very same Fred Vine expressing the sentiment that from the outset subduction has always been an assumption ( "convenient assumption" link above)

But that's all about ocean-floor spreading, which is Earth expansion, so we can understand his "presumed-and-mythical" disquiet when it came to the problems posed by convection in dealing with the lengthening of ridges and layered convection.

But regardless of the ad hoc postulate of layered convection, if Wilson was saying that spreading ridges could move *away* from continents then in postulating such migration (even on just one side of the ridge), and whether he means to or not, he was leaving the door open for convection *not* to be the driver for continental separation at all. And *that* is at least one consequence of the "suppose-if escape" offered by Wilson, which was no more than a convenient and expedient manoeuvre ("escape") on which much has come to be built, but which is essentially flawed :-
 "There is a current debate within the geophysics community as to whether convection is likely to be 'layered' or 'whole'.  (...) "Seismologists are also divided, with some arguing that there is no evidence for whole-mantle convection, and others arguing that there is."   | Scroll down to "Types of convection"
 It's a meaningless tower of babel over an issue that has no foundation.  And all built, and continuing to be built, in the name of so-called 'science'.

So, enough damage.  On yer bike, Mephisto, and 'cycle' that instead.  Let's deal with the lengthening of ridges as they move away from the continents, leaving in their wake the derelict graveyard of seismically silent fractures that define the ocean floors - and the continuing adjustment of continental margins to the original breakthrough of the Pacific.

[ See also Expanding Earth blog at ]

Friday, May 11, 2012

Reality check

( Blog for website at )

Just by way of setting the background to some Pangaean and Wilson Cycle posts (whenever), ... the bit in the previous post about Scientists, and the public watching Reality Television, highlights a point that we've mentioned before (several times) but going by the responses elsewhere on the web it seems to be a point worth repeating. 

.. Which is that there is this view that both Plate Tectonics and Earth expansion are both theories, versed against each other in some sort of contest, except that some would say,  "There *is* no contest.  Plate Tectonics has long ago been shown to be correct. Consequently Earth expansion is wrong."  However there is a fundamental difference in the way that both aproach the question of understanding the Earth's geological history which belies this.  They're not really on the same page at all, and therefore cannot be considered to be contestants - at least not for the reason just mentioned.

Plate Tectonics is derived principally from hypothesising on the meaning of the global distribution of Earthquakes (spreading ridges and the circumpacific "Ring of Fire"), and the assumption that is made at the outset, that there must be a balance between the lithosphere created at the spreading ridges and that destroyed at subduction zones.  Subsequently the geology is 'plugged in' according to the 'Principle of Multiple Working Hypotheses', in the expectation that some sort of overall truth will be revealed.  The problem here however is that there is a tendency to be guided by indiscriminate 'plug-ins' according to ad hoc hypotheses, when these can (and do) result in serious contradictions. However contradiction is not necessarily regarded as signifying error.  By citing  the Principle of Multiple Stories as a legitimate part of the scientitic method, Plate Tectonics argues that apparent contradictions are merely alternatives that are not properly understood, and that further examination, hypothesising and testing will clarify the perceived discrepancy. Traced to its root, this approach is heavily homocentric with the theoriser being both scriptwriter and ringmaster, directing and telling the story according to how the facts may be conveniently arranged.

Geology on the other hand is much less homocentric.  Guided by rigorous attention to scale and the principles of stratigraphic and structural superposition, investigation is far more structured, and virtually ensures that the local, regional and  global geology tells its own story.  Contradiction is strictly disallowed, and what 'hypothesising' there might be is mercilessly highlighted and subject to revision, not admitted as yet-to-be-explained legitimacy under the aegis "multiple stories".    In this approach, which eschews theorising, geology is a passive affair of 'letting the story be told' by the rocks themselves, not a hyperactive (and often schizophrenic) consequence of the 'scientific' method, executed by scientists concerned to show how clever they can be.  Geologists by and large are (like me) a pretty dumb lot who couldn't think of an idea to save themselves, but have a pretty good grip of the caution that must be exercised when it comes to putting two and two together in the geological milieu, .. which is why they mostly leave it to geophysicists who think they do, and are happy to go along for the ride.

And that's why Plate Tectonics remains as a THEORY -  because geologists are happy to play second fiddle to the ringmasters of geophysics who necessarily must begin with assumptions about the constant state of the Earth before their genius can shine - and geologists don't caution them on the disconcertingly ad hoc way in which they do it.  And why would they, when to do so encroaches so fundamentally on the territory of physics? .., and, .. well, what does it matter after all when the name of the game is publication, and publication is maximised by going with the flow?  Doesn't take a big idea to work that one out.

Earth expansion on the other hand is a FACT.  It begins with no assumptions, but observes and structures the picture scrupulously according to the abovementioned principles of stratigraphic and structural superposition, bound by the logical implications of scale that Plate Tectonics so transparently ignores (link above).

And incidentally, that is why support for Earth expansion will not come from any construct derived to support Plate Tectonics, probably not even from what is purported to be 'raw data' (given the end this is intended to serve).  Plate Tectonics is flawed in its heart, and any supposed 'credibility' using its derivations or foundations will only serve to undermine expansion (not support it).

Like the festering core of an abcess the assumption on which Plate Tectonics is based needs to be excised.  In the face of the facts it corrupts the very heart of enquiry.

[ See also Expanding Earth blog at ]

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pangaea and Plate Tectonics

Or, In the beginning was the word, and the word was *Pancake*( Blog for website at )

(click images for bigger figures)

Fig.1.  The theory of Plate Tectonics (going as Plate Tectonics does from the theory to the facts). (a) Toroidal convection generates a crustal  'pancake' (the coloured bit on top), H. Hess, 1962, on the recipe for which Mr Wilson bases his kookery book (b)(c) The 'facts' as represented at the time of breakup of Pangaea - modified and highlighted to suit (a) and (b).

1.  In the beginning.

Now I have to admit I don't know too much about 'the beginning', the bit anyway that begins with the geochemical partitioning of iron and silicates that led to differentiation of a core, mantle and crust and concepts of how the Earth as we know it came into being - just that the rocks reckoned to be the oldests on Earth are from my old stamping ground - Western Australia :-

Fig.2.  Looking NE along Jack Hills - the oldest rocks on Earth.  See also :- :
(Just about the oldest landscape too.)  (Click for a bigger figure or Paste to Fly-To window in Google Earth:-  [-26.050519, 117.261310 ] )

... where, when we take into account the sequence of rocks that represent that old look of the planet, implies that the rocks making it up then were not so much difference from rocks that accummulate today - except for the banded iron formations, which *are* a lot different from rocks we see today, and which I think could well be related to impact structures (rather than the biogenic accummulations they are advertised as today, .. but that is another story).  The banded iron formations (mnemonically known as 'bifs') are water-lain rocks that only existed during the deep time of the Archaean and Proterozoic.  Commonly associated with basalts (which are themselves commonly 'pillowed'  [meaning that they were extruded under water] these bifs occur world-wide, showing that water was an essential part of the crust back then - and might have been fairly deep.  That is, the crust back then had passed from whatever state it was in before, maybe a whirling ball of molten accreted stardust (magma) - or maybe not - to a state much like it is today as far as sedimentary accumulation is concerned.  What's more, the finely laminated rythmic layering making up these bifs suggests conditions of sedimentary quiescence that belie their near-synchronous deformation in conditions of shallow burial in a crust that was highly mobile. The crust was thin (compared to the forty or so kilometres of today), and as the strata that sit on it show, continually subject to basalt extrusions and granitic (and basaltic) intrusions - in intriguingly close association considering the spacing of their respective geochemical provenances.

Anyway, .. Jack Hills.  Given that the age of the Earth is reckoned to be about 4.5billion years, and the zircons from this area with the old rocks are about 4.4by, well, .. there isn't a great 'window of opportunity' for molten and differentiated behaviour to happen, is there?  100million years is not a lot of time, one might think, for the Earth to organise itself from being an incandescent ball ( if ever it was), to one with a lot of water on its surface accumulating sedimentary debris - especially when we consider the much longer period of time during which life has evolved.  

2.  Plate Tectonics and The Big Pancake.

The reason Plate Tectonics must begin with a pancake of continental crust on one side (or top /bottom) of the Earth follows from the hypothesised  *NEED*  for one, which in turn follows from a hypothesised *need* for the Earth to remain a constant size, which in turn a refusal to acknowledge the implication that follows from that greatest achievement of the Earth sciences to date - recognising sea-floor spreading and that the ocean floors are everywhere young, .. and the consequent observation therefore that the continental landmasses must once have fitted together to cover the entire surface of the Earth. [ For some background to the reason for beginning with a pancake please read this blog regarding Carey - and scroll down to "Eldridge Moores casts an interesting light". ]  Plate Tectonics does not question this fitting for the Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans, in fact in rather needs it.  The failure lies in not recognising that the Pacific too was once closed.  The problem for Plate Tectonics is that with all the oceans closed it logically follows that the continental crust must have once have covered an Earth that was about half the size of the present one.  [But we can't make that logical step without acknowledging first that the Pacific indeed closes.  See intro. here :- ]

This "failure to recognise /acknowledge need" is then coupled with ignorance in a highly questionable and revealing exhibition of what science is (*not*) supposed to be about.  It goes like this:- "We do not know how this enlargement could possibly have happened.  Nor can we, within the scope of consensus physics, advance any hypothesis that might explain *how* it has happened.  Therefore we feel justified in refusing to accept the facts that tell us it has.  However, we can with a little imagination, cobble together a perfectly good (we think) explanation how it could *not* have happened, provided we only use *some* of the facts and ignore others, and ignore the contradictions inherent in how our various explanations might relate to those facts, and provided everybody ignores us being downright illogical too.  That way we've got a pretty good story for everybody."

The 'everybody' of course, believing that scientists have the high ground when it comes to facts, truth and logic, and that they are enthusiastically pursuing all three (instead of next year's research grant), are prepared to let them get on with it because they are mostly watching TV reality shows, and consider themselves therefore fairly expert in the business of reality, and know it when they see it. At least, that's what the scientists, who are aware of this predilection of 'everybody', are hoping for.  So we begin some posts about this "perfectly good explanation" of Plate Tectonics, just to illustrate how factual, truthful and logical it is. This one being the first of a few - so watch this space, as_they_say.

And so we begin with Mr Hess's Big Pancake, followed by Mr Wilson's recipe for massaging it into Plate Tectonics as it stands today.

But first a more serious and somewhat harder word.  In choosing to deny the logic that follows from the observed facts of sea-floor spreading in order to shore up ignorance, and further choosing a false alternative that defies logic in order to support this denial, Plate Tectonics is placing itself squarely in the realm of Junk Science. And that so many go along with it, is reprehensible.

So let's see exactly what it is they go along with.

3.  The Big Pancake (as seen on reality TV.

Fig.1a.  A cross section through the toroidal convection of the Earth again,  as Fig.1 above) (north not necessarily at the top.)  The pancake is the 1/3rd circumference at the top (coloured). From H. Hess, 1962.

Note that the figure does not actually puport to illustrate the intrinsic, true nature of convection in the Earth as it is commonly understood  but is a device to explain how, using a hypothetical convectional model [that people can easily understand from analogies of soup cooking while watching TV], an accumulation of crust might occur as a 'pancake' on one side of the Earth.  That is, the convection model follows from the *need for a pancake*, not vice versa.  There are clearly problems with a toroidal configuration in relation to the spherical symmetry of the Earth's core, mantle and crust that are not explained - unless two toroids, mirrored one above the other are used, for surely convection would more logically be a symmetrically radial affair, based as it is on gravitational return of a cooled fraction to a hotter environment . But that would mean we'd have two pancakes - which wouldn't do, not with us (rather than the Earth) being in charge of the stack.  Anyway, even if we allow that the configuration of overturn may be correct to form the pancake, why should its configuration subsequently change to cause its disintegration, re-formation, and further repeated cycles of the same?  Any causal explanation here is purely speculation and cannot be supported by reference to the pancake itself, which is a hypothesised *result* of the overturn.  Speculation is no basis for any confident assertion of anything, but this is indeed the starting point of Plate Tectonics.

So, ..Summary.
  1. It is assumed that the Earth cannot get bigger [See Hess's "philosophically unsatisfying" comment in Carey link referenced above - ]
  2. Therefore it is necessary to hypothesise an earlier ocean (Panthalassa) equal in size to the sum of the present ones (and consequently a primeordial crust essentially equal in size to the sum of the present continents.
  3. Therefore it is necessary to conceive some sort of convectional engine that would reflect this bilateral asymmetry (2/3rds ocean, 1/3 continent.)  An event termed "The Great Catastrophe " is proposed to form the Earth's core, consequent on toroidal mantle overturn, but Hess's acknowledgement of its hypothetical nature is unquestioned :-

Hess, 1962, p.601:-  "Dozens of assumptions and hypotheses have been introduced in the paragraphs above to establish a framework for consideration of the problem. [The problem being how to justify the assumption that there must always have been an ocean equal in size to the present ones. d.f.] I have attempted to choose reasonably among a myriad of possible alternatives, but no competetent reader with an ounce of imagination is likely to be willing to accept all of the choices made. Unless some such set of confining assumptions is made, however, speculation spreads out into limitless variations, and the resulting geopoetry has neither rhyme nor reason."  
Hess's disclaimer is in answer to his hesitation re. Carey's expanding Earth being philosophically unsatisfying (a bit further up the page of the abovementioned Carey link), and highlights the lack of factual basis prefacing the next lynchpin Plate Tectonics - subduction  [because the old ocean needs to be got rid of; so first hypothesise an ocean that needs to be got rid of, then hypothesise a way to do it.  And find 'proof'.  Neat Huh? (according to the scientific method)]

... And that's where the pancake and "Great Catastrophe" derive their legitimacy - from the denial of the logic that follows from the facts of sea-floor spreading - if we take away the convenient assumption that enlargement can't happen.

[ See also Expanding Earth blog at ]