Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mountains arise (!)

(Through a Head of Cloud)

Mountain.  The word defies definition, for the very good reason that it means different things to different people.  Professor Cloud's need to describe 'the crumpling that happens' ("when plates collide") places it well and truly in the domain of biblical belief.

Fig.1. India collides with Asia.  [Preston Cloud, 1988.  Oasis in Space, Fig.16.5, p.420 (adapted from Zhang, Liou and Coleman, 1984, Geol.Soc. Amer.Bull., v. 95, p.296, Fig.1).

This image from Preston Cloud's book illustrates the consensus view of mountain building in the type area of continental collision: "When continents collide, they pile up into mountains with deep roots, as in the complex multicollisional Himalaya." - p.207.

* (Fly-leaf) - Preston Cloud, professor emeritus of geology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, holds a doctorate from Yale University. He is the editor and co-author of Resources and Man and of Adventures in Earth History as well as the author of Cosmos., Earth and Man. Dr. Cloud is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1976 he was awarded the Penrose Medal of the Geological Society of America. For many years associated with the United States Geological Survey. (died 1991)

 .. Or compare with these :-

"When plates and the continents riding on them collide, the accumulated layers of rock crumple and fold like a tablecloth that is pushed across a table." (link)
"The pressure of the colliding plates could only be relieved by thrusting skyward. The folding, bending, and twisting of the collision zone formed the jagged Himalayan peaks. This string of towering peaks is still being thrust up as India, embedded in the Indo-Australian Plate, continues to crunch relentlessly into Tibet, on the southern edge of the Eurasian Plate.  (link). 
[Or this one, .. I really like this one.]

The quotes cited are typical of the current consensus as regards so-called 'Fold Mountains", .. mountains that are formed by the "buckling, crumpling, and upward thrusting of continental crust as plates collide" (or otherwise variably "move"), and are so named to distinguish them from volcanoes and 'erosional mountains'. The Himalayas are generally regarded as the type area. [20171109 or at least used to be (at the time of writing this page.  The wikipedia has changed it to the Zagros mountains to accommodate the change from "mountain building" to "mountain formation" (link)

What Professor Cloud's figure does (by showing the limits of Indian crumpling restricted to simply the Himalayan sector), is give voice to the consensus view how mountains are formed at the date of publication of his book (1988), by which time Plate Tectonics had become well entrenched.  Of course he knows full well that the mountain belt continues sideways out of the figure, ..extending eastwards to encircle the Pacific and westwards to the Carpathians and the Alps (and with the Atlantic closed the Appalachians as well).   And so does everyone else.  So what we are witnessing in this 'figurative voice' is a kind of struggling for words around a silent question, "How is this uniformity of circumglobal elevation to be explained by "independent plate movement?" -  India crumpling Asia, Africa crumpling Europe (but what is crumpling the Americas?) ..  and a certain tacit agreement not to try to answer it.

"So arose at different times the Atlas Mountains of northwestern Africa, the Pyrenees, the Alps, and their eastern European extensions and, with them, the distinctive flysch deposits of Alpine deformation. The orogenies responsible for that picture-book scenery then gave way to the vigorous erosion whose distinctive post-tectonic sedimentary product is the Alpine molasse."

"And so arose"... There reads to me a certain lyrical, almost creationist tone here, and Professor Cloud is deftly displacing the reader's attention by introducing erosion.  But notice he attributes to it, not to the formation of the jagged peaks everybody calls mountains, but the rubbish down the slope we all call 'dirt'.  With which I would agree (about dirt), .. but not the bit about arising.  It is an expert sleight-of-word from a professorial purveyor of meaning that does two things, 1. it avoids addressing the question how, exactly, this "arising" happened, and 2. with it, Professor Cloud gets to state his own probable view (as a geographer) about the 'arising' of mountains without actually having to state exactly how they do that, .. because (as a pre-Plate Tectonic, old-school geographer) it is almost certainly different from the view he is having to state and is tip-toeing around.

Really, what he should be doing is not promoting Plate Tectonics at all, but from the vantage of his geographical experience, questioning it.  And since he doesn't question it, I'll do it for him : "How in the face of all this convergence, collisional crumpling and the thrusting skyward of so-called "fold-mountains", does the surface from which the mountains are carved (Fig.2) manage to stay flat as a tack?" - (or perhaps I should say, it being a scale thing and all,
"smooth") - and as well, how does that flatness, in the face of all the professed collision and crumpling, manage to stay as flat as the flatness that was deposited on the sea-floor. How do we get all this flatness from way down there (beneath the sea) to way up there on the Roof of the World, .. mmmh?   

And no doubt Mr Cloud could answer it to my satisfaction very well (being, as he is, a pre-Plate Tectonic geographer - as could all geographers before the advent of Plate Tectonics).  But somehow, with the need to be part of the plate-colliding club, the significance of plateaus has come to be unlearned.  Of necessity too, if one is to conform to consensus.  Obeisance to consensus is no small thing in the academic world and has its metaphorical equivalent of nose-rings and belly studs in the crafting of language to signify being part of the herd, .. which, in his use of "docking" and "arising" (instead of 'crushing' and 'crumpling'), professor Cloud (him being old-school and all), is decidedly not.  

Fig.2  Mount Kailash, the Holy Mountain of Tibet.   The remnant flatness of the Mesozoic sea floor preserved in Mount Kailash is mirrored in the flatness (/smoothness) (it's a scale thing) of the Tibetan Plateau.  Flatness extends even to Mount Everest.  The white line is the Himalayan front.  India to the south. (Right click / new window for bigger figures.)

 So to properly understand Professor Clouds subterranean dichotomy (how to present his view without actually presenting it), we should have another read of his description of fold mountains (Fig.1) in conjunction with those just below his, but this time compare the careful wording chosen by Mr Cloud with the gung-ho flamboyance of the others.. Does he mention folding?  No.  Crumpling?  No.  Why?  Because the architectural relationship of the folding that does occur, to that of the erosional surface of the plateau, contradicts outright what Plate Tectonics is saying - as it does everywhere along the circumglobal belt of elevation where folding is exposed. =>

And Professor Cloud knows this very well because he is old-school, a palaeontologist /geographer, and also knows very well the erosional signifance of the plateau surfaces from which mountains are carved.  He's just not telling anybody since the rise and rise of Plate Tectonics, and the need (then) to fit in with it if he wanted to sell his book.  ("Preston Ercelle Cloud, Jr. (September 26, 1912 – January 16, 1991) was an American paleontologist, geographer, and professor - wikipedia.). 

And first-year geologists know this too.  But Plate Tectonics is a new song to be sung (and there are exams to pass).

It couldn't have been easy, trying to find words that would convey to the reader what the reader wanted to read, and the same time satisfy what Mr Cloud wanted to write.

"Wherever the current cycle of continental motion has caused plates to converge and collide, mountains have arisen."  Preston Cloud Oasis in Space, (p.417).

 Does Mr Cloud use the word crumpling?  No.  Folding?  No.  Contorting, crushing, crashing etc etc etc.?  No, .. just (obligingly) (if a word must be used) "arisen" - like Jesus on the third day.  No need for the histrionics of 'plates'.  No need for anything other than citing the litany according to Saint Tectonics or to clarify anything for the reader who is being given the message that he should put his trust in experts.

So mountains do not crumple by collision, they just "arise" and "pile up" (?)  What he does say is that India first "docked" then (according to seismic evidence) proceeded to "tuck its leading edge" beneath the Asian Plate, thickening the crust and uplifting the Himalayas.

"When the leading (oceanic) edge of India itself first docked along the present northern margin of the Himalaya, it generated a 2,400-kilometre-long suture, or zone of joining (refs fig. above) tracked now by the sacred Indus and Brahmaputra rivers.  Seismic reflections from the crust-mantle boundary in this region indicate that India thereafter tucked its leading edge beneath that boundary and was over-ridden from the north in the main Himalayan mountain-building event terminating perhaps 10myBP"

"Docked"?  "Tucked"?  What sort of language is that to describe the spectacular consequences plate collision,  crustal crumpling, buckling, and the 'mountain-building' upheaval to form the roof of the world that so pervades the literature so?  No sort of language at all, really. By his use of the much more moderate language of "arising" we might expect some qualification along lines that emphasise the retention of essential flatness.  We don't get it, but at least we don't get the popular litany of "tossing high of mountains by crumpling and folding, twisting and collision".  Instead we merely get sedate "docking", and  "tucking under".

Publication may have been jeopardised had he cast doubt on Plate Tectonics from the vantage of his lifetime credits. Yet this is in fact what a close reading of his book suggests, cloaked as it appears to be in academic diplomacy and written more as an impartial onlooker, than as participant, ... which is interesting given that he (Cloud) lived the transition from continental drift to Plate Tectonics and knew full well the arguments for Earth Expansion, as well as its global expression in geomorphology.  He was also critical enough of the arguments for subduction, referring to Panthalassa (one of the lynchpins of Plate Tectonics) as  "The phantom global sea"  (p.166).  (Still, .. he was old-time, and knew the significance of plateaus.)  Geologists and geophysicists today apparently don't.  He impartially puts the two emerging hypotheses of the day in the same "outrageous" and "preposterous" bag (an interesting word-choice, given the nearly 20-year (supposed) acceptance of Plate Tectonics by the time of publication of his book in 1988): -

 "Two seemingly outrageous hypotheses have been proposed.  One calls on plate tectonics and subduction since the Archean to recycle the ocean floor so completely that no trace of it is left outside the residual greenstone minioceans.  The other hypothesis is even more outlandish.  It proposes that an Earth of a once much smaller volume has literally expanded like baking bread, extending its diameter to the present size.  Preposterous as these ideas may seem they meet the essential criteria of scientific hypotheses.  They explain what we know and they have verifiable consequences.  They are testable."

Testable?  They certainly are, and the test is the simple one of flatness and smoothness in Figure 2 that Professor Cloud fails to draw attention to, yet as a geographer he is equally certainly cognisant of it!

The writing seems to be of one who is personally bemused by the conundrums of  both hypotheses yet who, possibly on account of keeping a certain 'professorial distance', is at pains to represent the status quo impartially and let the voice of others speak. "Will crustal compression continue?" he asks.   "Assuming it does, will the Himalaya grow still higher, or will they at some point flow to lower levels under their own weight?"   (p.421.) 

The question is an interesting one (considering it already has; eastwards to Indonesia) (and Mr Cloud probably knew that too), .. and carries a barb that goes right to the core of Plate Tectonics and supports the argument for Earth Expansion - that the Himalyas are intrinsically gravitationally unstable and are, as professor Cloud says (but the Plate Tectonics' consensus of his time didn't), collapsing over India.  That is, .. India is not pushing from the south, Tibet is pushing from the north under its own gravitational weight due to the collapse of the now unstable, remnant curvature of the Pangaean Earth =>.  India never was anywhere else relative to the collapsing Himalayas, .. but was attached to Africa (according to a smaller Earth) =>

One thing we can admire about Professor Cloud's carefully chosen wording is an angelic hesitation to tread where others have no qualms rushing.  Plate collision by "docking" and "tucking" is excellent circumspection.  Others have been far more extravagant in their advertisement of an event that in fact never happened.  So we should thank Professor Cloud for his choice of language, if perhaps not for the disingenuousness that underpins it, .. and also give some consideration to the benefits of 'going-with-the-flow' when the price is merely one of lip-service and suspension of belief  - and maybe excuse him some dog-whistling (
"outrageous"), by way of retaining some self-respect. 

 [See also blog for Earth expansion at :- ]

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Euler poles and plate movement : Plate Tectonics' supporting pillars

( Blog for website at )
(from the archives)

Fig.1. Manual construction.  Carey's caption reads, "Hemispherical table with the same radius as the globe behind, and spherically molded tracing foil for accurate comparison of continental shapes. The foil sheet on the upper left of the globe fits so accurately that it does not need sticking down, and North America shows through. On the table, two foil sheets have been joined to cover the whole arctic region." (Carey, 1989, Theories of the Earth and Universe, p.103).

The development of Plate Tectonics from sea-floor spreading was (and still is) all about the time (post-war funding generated by the politics of fear), place (the very few institutions who received it - and the correspondingly few 'key players' who had access to the data), - and spreading in the Atlantic (the cradle of it all :-: continental drift, sea-floor spreading, Plate Tectonics, and Earth expansion).

And so we begin this note with Sam Carey, the real father of Plate Tectonics, and his comment on Atlantic opening - though one could be pretty sure that is an attribution he would rather let pass to another. But history has it, (click the link and scroll down to comments by Moores, .. and Armstrong just below), so he doesn't have a choice.) Carey writes :-
" ..In 1929 appeared Sir Harold Jeffrey's prestigious book, The Earth - quite the most authoritative treatise ever on the physics of the earth, following the tradition of Osmund Fisher and Lord Kelvin. However, Jeffreys (1906 --) was completely opposed to Wegener's hypothesis, and in regard to the alleged fit of South America into the angle of Africa, he wrote: "On a moment's examination of the globe, this is seen to be really a misfit by almost 15 degrees. The coasts along the arms could not be brought within hundreds of kilometres of each other without distortion. The widths of the shallow margins of the oceans lend no support to the idea that the forms have been greatly altered by denudation and deposition.
From my many "moments" of accurate examination of this question that I had done, I knew this statement to be incorrect. I considered that the matter was rather trivial, that the true position would be generally realised, and that this criticism would fade away. But Jeffrey's prestige was so great that most workers accepted his pronouncement as final. Jeffreys repeated the statement in the second edition of his book in 1952, and to rub salt on the wound, Dr George Martin Lees (my former chief in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company), in his 1953 presidential address to the Geological Society of London, listed this as one of his three crucial reasons for rejecting the Wegener hypothesis. So I sent Lees my stereographic projections of two decades earlier [1933 - thirty years before 'Plate Tectonics' in 1960-1967 - d.f.] (Fig.11), proving that Jeffrey's statement was false. I added that "whether the continental drift hypothesis be true or false, this argument should never be used against it again." I asked Lees to arrange publication of this rebuttal, which he did.
When I went to England in the summer of 1960 as Tasmanian delegate to the third centenary of the Royal Society, Sir Edward Bullard invited me to lunch to discuss the Atlantic fit, which he then repeated with the aid of a computer. The Atlantic match has since been known as the "Bullard fit" and adopted generally. " (Carey, 1989, Theories, P.103.)

The "Bullard fit" of the Atlantic, usually figured so,

Fig.2. The Bullard fit. (Courtesy of On-line Encyclopedia Britannica.)

Many would say that anything better (finessing the dark blue /overlap parts) might be overkill, but Carey was prepared to address the point since many protested his derivative assertions.  Why I don'[t know. The figure is constructed of flat map cut-outs joined together, as you can tell from the skewed ("least squares") squares mirroring the projection. It's not a snap-shot of a globe.
[Addendum.  Scouring the web for an image from the original publication encounters a barage of paywalls.  Carey's first book (1976) shows the 'Bullard fit' to be the same as above but in black and white, from which it may be presumed that this is indeed the original. But to me this raises severe doubts about the efficacy of Bullard's 'least-squares' method of fit on a same-sized Earth, compared to Carey's on a half-sized Earth, which worked too (probably better - d.f. 2011-09-13)]  

Well, .. if geology was a romance, to be seen as either "philosophically satisfying or unsatisfying" when compared to the quantitative grit of the 'American Way' according to Oreskes, then the Atlantic was the elusively beguiling Queen, no matter from which perspective she was viewed.

Following Carey in 1933, and Bullard in 1965, the next to have a go now that the computer had demonstrated its formidable intellectual power was Jason Morgan, .. but just while we're talking about the Atlantic, the following figure, also of the "Bullard fit "from Dan McKenzie's account of his own role in the evolution of Plate Tectonics in relation to that of Jason Morgan, deserves a mention in view of the Bullard "fit" above.  Accent on theoretical (inductive /armwaving) coastline-fitting was shifting to take into account the Great Cross-Faults of the ocean floors which were becoming available, and which looked for all the world like tramlines of continental displacement.)  Crikey! This was something! Obviously what was needed was some theory to show that they were indeed 'tramlines' of movement ('rails' of convectional flow). So, think of one, measure them up, stick it in the box and see what comes out. The one that Jason Morgan came up with - rotation on Euler poles - is figured in Dan McKenzie's account : -

Fig.3 The Bullard fit again. This time three-dimensional, showing the latitudinal lines of displacement about a pole of rotation (an Euler pole), which is not the same thing as the North Pole - although in the case of the Atlantic and within the latitude of the 'fair go', it is close. McKenzie's caption reads : -
"..The fit between Africa and South America obtained by Teddy Bullard and his colleagues using Euler's Theorem (Bullard et al., 1965). The theorem states that any motion of a rigid plate on the surface of a rigid sphere corresponds to a rotation of the plate about some axis that passes through the center of the sphere. The problem on the Earth is that every point on its surface is on a moving plate, and no rigid sphere exists. So one plate must be chosen and taken to be fixed. Then the motion of any other plate with respect to this fixed plate corresponds to a rotation about an axis. In this figure Africa has been taken to be fixed, so South America moves. (a) shows the location of this axis, marked with an arrow, that Teddy and his colleagues found for the motion between Africa and South America. The circles are lines of latitude about this axis, just like the usual lines of latitude about the Earth's rotational axis. (b) shows the original position of the two continents before the South Atlantic opened., obtained by fitting the edges of the continents together. These edges are under the sea and are not the present coast lines. As the continents move, every point on the South American plate moves in a direction that is parallel to the latitude lines. This behavior is easily seen by comparing the positions of the latitude lines in the two pictures before and after opening. Their position on South America does not change. [Note that by 'plate', McKenzie means not just the continent of South America, but the ocean floor west of the spreading ridge as well, which is half way between the two continents."  [in Oreskes (2001), Plate Tectonics, an Insider's history of the Modern Theory of the Earth, P.174)

Considering the anathema that Earth expansion presents to Plate Tectonics it should not go unnoticed that North America and Europe are missing in the figure, and therefore that the sphere is effectively half the size it should be. The fit therefore is shown on a half-sized Earth, which is a construction supporting Earth expansion, not Plate Tectonics!  Just a nicety that should not go unremarked, .. particularly in view of McKenzie's comment that, "I remembered I had disliked the method he (Bullard) used to fit the continents together." (Oreskes, p.180.)

Well, .. they were all young then, . didn't have the mantle of gravitas that age and career usually bestows, so the figure could be excused for being a bit 'iffy' as regards support for Plate Tectonics (but very good for Earth expansion!), but it does show the point of small circle rotations. Whether or not those are real is another matter we might look at later - particularly in the case of equatorial dilations (rather than longitudinal ones like the Atlantic.)

After seeing a two-page note by Bill Menard (published in Science in January 1967), on the linear configuration of the Great Cross-Faults in the Central Pacific, Jason Morgan wrote a computer program that showed their configuration as small circles too.

Menard writes : -
Jason had already submitted his abstract for the April 1967 meeting, of the American Geophysical Union when he saw my paper. He was due to talk on "Convection in a Viscous Mantle and Trenches," but he immediately stopped his project and spent two months generating a computer program. I had learned about the properties of great circle charts as a naval officer, and so had he. What struck him about my illustrations, however, was not that the fracture zones were almost straight, but that they were not completely straight. It appeared that they followed the arcs of enormous small circles and that the radii of the arc increased from north to south. Like Teddy Bullard, he recalled Euler's theorem, and what he was programming was a means of determining an Euler pole from the geography of fracture zones. ( ...  )  So, as the geological world tried to accommodate to the shock of Vine's paper in December, Jason Morgan was already developing the quantitive theory of plate tectonics that would subsume the qualitative miracle of sea-floor spreading.   ( .... )  Jason Morgan's paper provided the foundation for all subsequent work on ancient plate tectonics and may have been the most important paper ever written in geology, and certainly in tectonics." (Menard, 1986, The Ocean of Truth, P.284.)
Fig.4 Menard's caption reads : "Morgan 's evidence that the old fracture zones that I had plotted (heavy lines) followed small circles (dashed lines) around a single Euler pole. (Menard, 1986, The Ocean of Truth', Fig.24c)
"Ultimtely it was not geology or physics, but a theorem proposed by the Swiss mathematician, Leonard Euler two centuries earlier, that provided the linchpin of plate tectonics." (Menard, Ibid., p.2)
"The most important paper ever written in geology"? Well, .. high praise indeed, to be sure! But it doesn't sound to me that a paper talking about a computer program and 'small circle fault traces' is saying very much at all about geology, other than that there is a sea floor with lines on it. Global geology involves rather more than a computer program to describe small circles, -- particularly when possibly they may 1. not be very small at all, and 2. separation by rotation is not the same thing as separation by convection.   Black boxes = "Garbage in, garbage out," if you don't consider the facts, particularly geological ones. And the main geological fact that was not being considered was that (according to Earth expansion here)  those 'small circles' were formed very close to the Pangaean equatorial zone (Synoptic simplicity, Fig.1) where small circles do very closely approximate great circles, and half of their extent is concealed in American override of the Pacific anyway. In such a situation it would be almost impossible to tell the difference, and a smaller Earth getting bigger would exacerbate the problem.

But it did at the time serve to describe plate *movement*. That is, .. if you ignored the along-ridge spreading, manifested in the difference in lengths between the spreading ridges and their original breakout from continental margins, which implied it was not movement at all in the rightful meaning of the word, but *growth* in the opposite direction, which in turn (when both sides of the ridge were considered simultaneously) implied UP, .. and Earth expansion.

Next was Dan McKenzie, who showed from earthquake first motions around the Aleutian Trench that this Pacific plate with the Great Cross-Faults (transform faults) could also move bodily in a direction other than that indicated by those faults (/cross-faults /transform faults). (Fig.5).

Fig.5. Pacific plate motion according to Dan McKenzie's analysis of earthquake first motions. The caption reads : -
".. This figure shows the motion of the Pacific plate, obtained from the motion on faults during earthquakes,. when the North American plate is fixed. The solid dots show the locations of a number of large earthquakes produced by the motion between these two plates. The arrows show the direction of motion between the two sides of the faults on which these earthquakes occur when the side of the fault that is part of the North American plate is taken to be fixed and the Pacific side is moving. The map is in a special projection, chosen so that the motion of the Pacific plate is everywhere parallel to the big arrow if the plate moved rigidly. (b) Contours of the depth of the ocean around Hawaii, using the same projection as (a). If the volcano that forms the Hawaiian Ridge is fixed to North America, the ridge should be parallel to the large arrow, which is approximately true. (Courtesy of Oreskes, 2001, P.179)
So, .. Morgan says the Pacific plate moves west according to the tramrails of transform faults, and McKenzie says the same plate moves north according to the first motions of earthquakes. Different spatial moves for both of them, but both in the same time frame. This difference is rationalised in Plate Tectonics, not by trying to understand the information in terms of a single data-set and finding a single solution (the scale problem again), but by considering the data sets as independent and trying to find a solution that will suit each independently. Puzzling at first, this apparent contradiction is rationalised by hypothesising that the reference frames for the two movements are different : the Pacific plate (moving west in respect of original continental separation) is also moving north with respect to the fixed American plate. So relatively speaking, one movement is a subset of the other (a solution reminiscent of the olden days of astronomy when inventing epicycles to the planets was what the demonstration of intellectual endeavour was all about, and which earned the pleasure of the Pope as a demo. of God's work.)

But NASA's time series satellite data shows America is not fixed but is moving in accord with overriding (as Earth expansion maintains). So if we reverse the movement frame and consider the Pacific plate to be fixed and the American plate that's moving, then it also reverses the hotspot story : a fixed Pacific plate means the hot-spot must move.  But this would disturb the convection story necessary for the whole concept of plates - so we can't go there.

Fig.6 Synopsis of the data. (You need to right-click this one to see a bigger figure.) Red arrow (visible on the larger figure) shows plate movement according to Morgan, pink arrow shows movement according to McKenzie, big white arrow shows direction of *growth* (projected on to the present-sized Earth) according to Earth expansion, small white arrows (pointing south) shows overriding according to NASA's time-series data and also according to expansion, and the smallest arrows with the red flag (pointing north) shows movement according to the USGS plate movement (presumably after McKenzie).

So, .. complications. ... Jason Morgan writes the paper that "provided the foundation for all subsequent work on ancient plate tectonics and may have been the most important paper ever written in geology, and certainly in tectonics", .. and Dan McKenzie's paper is the one generally cited as "the first paper on Plate Tectonics", yet both are citing exactly opposite conclusions regarding plate movements - for the very same plate, .. for the very same time. For the hypothesised reconcilliation of this, Jason gets a gong from my fishing buddy, .. and Dan gets the credit for laying the foundation of plate movement over hotspots. This is the doublethink Orwell warns us about, otherwise known as the PMWS syndrome - the Principle of Multiple Working Stories - much beloved of 4-year-old children as a way of rationalising 'the terror' - of the adult occupation of their world.

Earth expansion dispenses with all of these stories, beginning by recognising that ocean floors cannot move the way Plate Tectonics says, in a direction of either Morgan or McKenzie, but must grow towards the ridges.  And therefore move up, Menard was reaching for with his "moving ridge" as a way of rationalising the difference in length between the magnetic anomalies at the ridges and those further away.  Expansion explains overriding as gravitational correction attributed to the brittle outer crustal shell, not gravitational correction due to a sinking slab, and overriding (not subduction) is supported by the satellite time series data (which is more recent than the USGS arrows. (I can't paste a quick-fig convenient copy of that since it is 'interactive', but if you go to the site you'll see what I mean..)

So which is to be believed? .. and on what grounds? The PMWS-supporting-pillars of Plate Tectonics? ... Or the ("neither of us believed for a moment ")  unbelievable, .. the unthinkable, .. the un-IMAGINABLE  Earth expansion, that solves all of these multiple (and contradictory) movements at a stroke?


Plate Tectonics is slowly having to admit the support for expansion in the OVERRIDING shown in NASA's own time-series data (Fig.6) (and in the Flat Subduction of the circum-Pacific. But it's taking its TIME. You know why? Because it's not a geological issue, .. and never was.  The issue is the corner Plate Tectonics has painted itself into.

"Least noticed, but most important of all, a generation of conservative geologists had passed on.  As Max Planck wrote in his autobiography, "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." (Carey, op.cit., p.121)

Now that Carey himself has passed on we are left with the tribal 'volunteers' from the compost of the mentis, convinced by the fatherly gravitas of those who firstly couldn't get their minds properly around what Earth expansion was saying, secondly were afraid of the implications for funding if they did understand it aright, .. and thirdly were denied the powerful three dimensional manipulation of the data that is now casually available to schoolchildren, thanks to Google Earth.

Well, we began this post with Carey, .. meandered through the young-lad supporting pillars of Jason Morgan and Dan McKenzie (and my fishing buddy George). In view of where all this is heading we might let Menard have the last word in regard to attempts to rationalise the along-ridge spreading, in a meeting discussion : -
"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.)
"Along ridge spreading", ..not from the continental side of any initial split, but from the oceanic side of differences in length of magnetic anomalies between those at the ridges (bigger) and those away from the ridge (smaller). Menards' remark that "It certainly helps to think about these things (ridge-length difference) at leisure.." has now had its leisure lengthened to half a century with still no takers on the Plate Tectonics side. Nobody has done it, because to do so challenges both the fundament and the firmament of Plate Tectonics. Menard did suggest that it might be explained by the ridges themselves moving (sideways), but moving sideways only works for one side of the ridge at a time (and provided the implications for the other side are ignored). If it is considered for both sides at once, .. well, .. that means (again) .. the only way it can do that is if the ridge moves UP (which means expansion).

You can see the problem that would have posed for Menard, given the hatchet job they already did on Bruce Heezen, which was also (I think) why as he says, "There is no record in the published account of any discussion after this talk." No wonder. Lurking under the surface here is probably the reason why Carey never took up the offers either, of a position in the States despite being quite pally with Hess, ..
"Harry Hess, chairman of the Princeton geology school, and I cemented a warm friendship that deepened until his premature death." (Carey, 1988, Theories of the Earth and Universe, 1988, P.119.
..and why he thought Tasmania on the other side of the world was just fine to pursue the geo-*logical* questions, instead of those arising from geophysical PMWS syndrome. Those guys and the institutions that housed them would not have thought twice about doing a hatchet job on him too, given half a chance, had he threatened the Big Story. They would have found a way, as Armstrong did in time in response to Carey's book, Theories of the Earth and Universe; (Hollywood Cowboys post and scroll down to 'Armstrong' again). And as many others have done too, labelling Carey (politely) as 'misguided'). But it would have had to have been more forceful than just removing handles from office doors (Ewing on Heezen), or forbidding him to use certain data at conferences (Ewing on Heezen again ).

Between the lines (of "Truth"), .. the story is actually quite murky.

("From the ashes, ..a phoenix rises.")

[See also blog for Earth expansion at :- ]

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Plate Tectonics turns up for the Nobel Prize

 But is turned away at the door
( .. no frock .. )

" ..  Me frock, .. Anyone seen m'rock? .. "

You know the old adage: "If it looks like a duck, flies like a duck, walks like a duck (and f-@#$  like a duck, etc. etc", .. then we must seriously consider that what we are looking at is, for all intents and purposes, . a duck, .. particularly when the offspring exhibit the same appearance and behavioural proclivities.  Otherwise we must seriously reconsider the type - or deny the logic of reason.

...As Plate Tectonics does with its determined invention of a Panthalassa to deny the 1/3rd - 2/3rds proportional logic of continents to ocean floors that we see, and that the oldest part of the Pacific (northwestern margin) is the same age as that of the continental ruptures that allowed its emplacement.  That is, regardless of whatever was the *configuration* of continental rupture that allowed Pacific emplacement, the *ages* of the two (continental rupture and mantle emplacement) are the same (or the oceans are younger).

Which means the dilation of the crust and the emplacement of the Pacific are coincident in time.

Which means that there is no spatial or temporal room for the emplacement or destruction of *any* Panthalassa (Or Tethys) let alone one equivalent in size to the sum of the current oceans to meet Plate Tectonics' needs of a historical same-sized Earth.

Which means from the standpoint of simple geological principles of structural superposition, Plate Tectonics is false.

Even children in their bath know what a duck looks like.  Which is more than can be said for Plate Tectonicists who consider instead that  mountains form by crumplecrust "plate collision".

Such is the nonsense geo-logic is up against when rationality and logic are negated by obtuse ignore-ance.  Can geologists *really* deny that these three lynchpins of Earth dynamics do not exist? : -

  • Length difference of spreading ridges between the present and the past, which shows ocean-floor spreading is *towards* the ridge (not away, as Plate Tectonics would have it) .. and therefore the ridges keep moving up.
  •  Folding and mountains do *not* have causal equivalence across the punctuation of peneplanation, i.e., the folds of mountains are not formed by crumplecrust tectonics (as advocated by Plate Tectonics), but are gravitational collapse structures due to the reduction of Earth's curvature (as it gets bigger), .. and that mountains are simply the remnants of erosion [not "tossed high by the collision of plates].
  • The temporal equivalence of the Pacific ocean and its continental marginal ruptures, which tells us that a Panthalasssa and Tethys never existed.
... all three quite apart from many other considerations.

"...There probably  has been an ocean in the present-day position of the Pacific Ocean for nearly a billion years..." (Link
[I don't think so.  Not in my book at any rate.]

What's going on?  Why does Plate Tectonics ignore these lynchpins of global geo-logic?  The answer seems to be (Google it up) that : -

"Plate tectonics is a theory" (about 16,800 results at posting; 56,600 at 20171029)

..And as a theory it is touted as flexible, dynamic, etc etc.;  "The mark of a good theory is that it is flexible enough to incorporate new facts as they come to light".  And "being a theory" (centred in the oceans) Plate Tectonics is allowed to excuse itself from considering the facts of the continental crust, and have its 'theory' evolve as parallel, mutually contradictory threads, to be tested (by ever more research) against each other more than the geological facts, leading to the claim that it deserves a Nobel prize.

Ouch!   A good theory is tested against the *facts*, not its own hypothesised moving parts.  It is predictive and needs no goalpost shifts.

The main proponents of this Nobel-claim are of course, geophysicists.  I find it hard to believe that geologists are the same, for this much is noticeable: geologists of field orientation are much more open to considering the possibility that Plate Tectonics is false compared to their desk-driving academic cousins.  I put this down to two things, 1.  They got where they did in academia because they excelled at telling the required story, and 2.  if you *don't* tell the story in academic circles then you're in dangerous territory.  No tell the story? - no job.  Geologists in industry don't have that damoclean sword hanging over them, but by another token are mostly too busy to worry about the niceties of global geology, so most don't much bother with it; it is not of a scale relevant to day-to-day requirements of mining.   (However, with the world being dependent economically and politically on ore deposits and the reasons for their location, perhaps they should be more involved in this question than they are).

We have to take all this Plate Tectonics stuff with a big pinch of salt, for how can a theory of the Earth be claimed without taking the continents into account? .. Which is what Plate Tectonics essentially does.  In two of the most authoritative histories of Plate Tectonics I've come across (Menard* and Oreskes** - see footnote) there is not even an index entry for "mountains", which by the failure of Plate Tectonics to recognise peneplanation as the precursor to so-called "building", are still the most perplexing feature of the continental crust.  Consideration of global geology stopped at the continental margins, where, as Tanya Atwater succinctly puts it: -

"Subduction was a necessary adjunct concept" (Oreskes**, p.247)

Well, indeed it surely was ("if you believed Plate Tectonics was going on"). And indeed they did. And so they invented subduction of oceanic 'plates', and backed it with some highly questionable  seismological interpretations [1] [2]

 Fig.2.  The Asian - Pacific region  showing that earthquake distribution is far more an expression of the continental lithosphere, than it is the oceanic lithosphere.

The ocean floors that are riddled with more fractures than a truckload of slack... ..  How is that supposed to make it, "jostling" and "grinding", from one side of the planet to the other, without making a noise? 

The most perplexing features of the ocean floors (i.m.o.) are transform faults, .. about which Plate Tectonics has *nothing* to say other than that they are "the third boundary of plates, and the means whereby Plates "move /grind/ slide /glide etc." past each other". [1] (see also 32,100 /20171029).  If that is the case then there are as many plates as there are transform faults (+ duplicated across the ridge), not just the "seven or twelve ("depending").

...Plate Tectonicsw receives first prize (the Big Wooden Spoon).
But doesn't seem to notice.
("Hello Everybody!  How you doin'?" )
("Believe in me..Kiddo.")

Menard, H.W., 1986, An Ocean of Truth, a Personal History of Global Tectonics,  353pps, Princeton University Press. 
Oreskes, N., 2001, Plate Tectonics, an Insider's History of the Modern Theory of the Earth, 424pps, Westview Press

[ See also blog for Earth expansion at :-] 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Origin of Plate Tectonic Theory

 The party's over, Rover.  
  ( ... Lifting the wool from the eyes .. )

If you search the web for the origins or history of Plate Tectonic theory you get the wool pulled over your eyes.  Contrary to the proferred geological story, the development of Plate Tectonic theory was virtually wholly sociological in its origins, little to do with geological evidence.  Had it to do with *geo-logic*, it would unequivocally have gone in the direction of Earth expansion.  But it was the social and political contexts back in the days of the Cold War, that pulled it in the wrong direction.  The much vaunted "no mechanism" aimed first at continental drift and later against Earth expansion was just a cop out, .. an excuse to avoid what was obvious even then - that the Earth's crust (in respect of continental drift) had been displaced in relation to the ocean floors, and that (in respect of Earth expansion) it had been dilated, the support for the latter being primarily the continental retrofits on the smaller Earth as proposed by Carey and others.  It was a cop-out because if the path of geo-logic had been followed, research would have included considerations of continental geology instead of just mapping guyots (which Hess was good at) and the topography of the ocean floors generally.  This would have meant putting a big question mark over the funding, which was available, not for abstruse geological research, but for getting on with mapping the ocean floors and dodging guyots, which had military reasons (sailing submarines), not geological ones.

In Europe, the concept of mantle convection with continents riding on top, colliding in some places and pulling apart in others was well known and well accepted well before the Plate Tectonics 'revolution'.  Arthur Holmes textbook 'Principles of Physical Geology', had been a standard student textbook in Britatin at least for fifteen years by the time Plate Tectonics was developing in America. The last chapter of the book was devoted entirely to convection as a hypothesis for mobile crust developing the ocean basins and mountain belts.

However, if we are to read the preface to Naomi Oreskes' book  (1999), 'The rejection of continental drift, theory and method in American science', we would get the impression that American geologists who were wholly responsible for Plate Tectonic theory, might have been oblivious to this.
"..  (By 1978) I had completed two years as a geology major at a leading US university and counted myself lucky to have chosen a field of science heady  in the wake of revolutionary upheaval: geologists around the globe were reinterpreting old data and long-standing problems in the new light of plate tectonics.  It seemed a good time to be an aspiring young Earth scientist.  Imagine my surprise - and dismay -  to discover in England that the radically new idea of plate tectonics had been proposed more than half a century before by a German geophysicist, Alfred Wegener, and widely promoted in the United Kingdom by the leading British geologist of his era, Arthur Holmes.  The revolution that had been described by my professors in the United States as the radical revelation of a dramatically new vision of the Earth was viewed by many of my professors in England as the pleasing confirmation of a long-suspected notion."

How did it happen that Naomi's professors gave her such an impression?  From today's perspective it seems hardly credible that  Wegener's 'continental drift' was not common knowledge in America by the time of 'The Great Plate Tectonics Revolution' in the 60s.   And of course, it isn't (credible).  Nor was it then.  Even in the antipodes, the last stop before the polar wastelands of Antarctica, Sam Carey had been teaching mantle recycling as a model for crustal tectonics for almost two decades before that revolution, before giving it up as unworkable and moving on to the next contextual framework for geological advance - Earth expansion.  It is simply inconceivable that Harry Hess, as one of those "senior geologists", though much earlier than Naomi's day and who would later claim the mantle of Plate Tectonics for himself, or his contemporaries, or those following, would have been unaware of the works of either Arthur Holmes or of Sam Carey; the latter in fact spending some sabbatical time in America at the invitation of Hess.
(Sam Carey [on continental mobility]) : "Through the 30s and 40s and 50s if you dared to propose this sort of thing in America you'd be laughed at, you're a ratbag flat-earther. And there was no chance of getting a job if you had that kind of idea. But by about 1956 I could see the glimmerings of the recognition that something was wrong, and then of course I was invited several times to Princeton. Harry Hess was the Chairman there and he and I became warmest of friends. I always stayed in his home, and in the many lectures I gave in Princeton, Harry realised it had to be, and later he became the leader in selling plate tectonics."   and click 'show transcript'
[ Interestingly, H.W. Menard, 1986, writing from personal recollection on the development of  Plate Tectonics and commenting on how Tuzo Wilson arrived at the idea of transform faults says, "Writing textbooks is not doing what counts, which is one reason why the older scientists in the United States never thought to read Holmes's text of 1944. Revising textbooks is an even drearier patching of new data on old ideas." (The Ocean of Truth', p.243.) ]

A strange observation surely, considering that the structuring of significant data and events is what one does from the perspective of more advanced years, and which by his book is precisely what Menard is himself doing. I guess he means that everybody was creaming themselves over the interpretations of new data to such an extent that everything previous was just indiscriminately swept away.  Maybe too that after coming back to Earth from the stratospheric heights of speculation and realising that the conceptual framework was already common knowledge in sophomoric textbooks, life *was* a bit "dreary".   Best to steer clear of textbooks if you're in America?  (But what about the young guys that were developing this?  )

Oreskes attributes this apparent oblivion of American scientists to the different ways that American and British /European geologists actually do science, telescoping those ways into the words 'inductive'  and 'deductive'.
"My English training and Australian experience had inculcated in me an inductive methodology, in which scientific problems originated in the observation of geological phenomena in the field, but many of my American professors disdained inductive science and what they pejoratively dismissed as "outcrop" geology.  They encouraged me to pursue a deductive strategy, and to rely primarily on the tools of laboraytory analysis.  This was particularly true of younger professors and those who had achieved a high level of professional recognition."
... but I don't think she has it quite right. I think the reasons are far more personal /political than can be explained by dedication to 'method'.  It would appear from historical considerations that those "younger professors" she mentions would have been those riding on the back of the triumphal deductive methodological American way of doing science , .. so to address the question "why the difference?" it would seem that we have to return to the sociology of an earlier day.  But first some clarification of the methodological difference might be in order.

In the inductive method you gather the data and make a judgement how they fit together. It's like doing a jigsaw, but in a kind of 'top-down' way, where previous experience, knowledge and understanding is brought to bear on how the pieces are likely to fit. In other words you build on what you already know.  This cognitive faculty is analogous in a way to being armed with the picture on the front of the box.  You've seen it before (or something like it), you know what it is (or something like it), ..  so where's the problem?   Well, one problem is  that it is seen as highly subjective; one's experience is unique and non-repeatable, and non-repeatability is eschewed in science.  Or to put it another way, science (of the mainstream sort) denies the individual.  'Big Science' is a Team effort, underpinned by institutional kudos.  Repeatability is an aspect of the deductive method consequent on the tools and apparatus of the laboratory.  But in the field of geology, and observation and the intellect of the individual, .. if you *do* know what it is, and you *have* seen it before (or some aspect of the picture on the front of the box), the inductive method works very well.  (Ask Louis Pasteur.) (Or Albert Einstein.) Or indeed the main players devising Plate Tectonics (!) [Note to develop Jack Oliver, Peter Molnar, John Dewey + ?others.]

One order of magnitude down from this is where, absent of Experience Understanding and Knowledge, an explanation of the data is simply formulated, .. fished from the air as a best guess as it were,  and tested against the data. The potential for circularity and junk (formulating conclusions around original assumptions) is obvious, but neverthless this method enjoys respectable currency as 'the scientific method'.  The obvious problem lies again in the guesswork, in the quality of hypothesis used to explain the facts.  Anybody can have an idea, after all, .. indeed usually more than one, .. and more than one typically does fit the facts.  So which idea is better than another? .. the one that might appear to fit the facts better?  .. or the one proferred by greater experience, authority and knowledge?  And who amonst those lacking such cognitive 'preparation' as advocated by Mr Pasteur, will be the arbiter?  And if all ideas /hypotheses are partly right (according to the method of multiple working hypotheses) what is the underlying synthesis, the explanation, ..the paradigm, incorporating all?  And how is this to be distinguished from 'just another idea'?

And then there is the 'deductive' approach where any allusion to the 'picture on the front of the box' is purposely eschewed.  Attention is given wholly to fitting the 'contours and matching patterns'  of the pieces themselves: the jigsaw is built from the bottom up as it were. The key thing here, is that it is not the *perceived* matching that is important, but the *actual* matching - in other words the degree of certainty involved, not one's perception of it.

This approach is admirably suited to the technological aspect of laboratory science - we stand back and let the tools do the job of unequivocally matching the contours and patterns of the pieces, e.g., the use of computers to do large calculations on large amounts of data.  The 'hands-off' objective approach thus offered is lauded.  However this deductive method suffers similarly from two things, firstly the 'being driven by the machinery' syndrome, i.e., the indiscriminate use of, and inappropriate reliance on, tools.  In geophysics this is the 'black box' syndrome; ..  because a tool was used, the interpreted result must, because it was objectively derived, be valid.  Secondly (which is really much a restatement of the same problem) the hubris of their drivers, exemplified in the garbage-in garbage-out factor and wacky interpretations that purport to be significant by those explaining their data.

Technology that can infallibly match contours and patterns of 'jigsaw pieces' is of course a boon to science  By all means we should stand back and let the algorithms of search-and-match do their stuff.  But we have to know that the designers are competent, and in particular that they are not failing to take account of alternative patterns of matching.  There is more than a little irony in Plate Tectonics claiming validity on account of the technologies that defined "sea-floor spreading when that 'spreading', inclusive of what is happening along the ridge as well as across it, also axiomatically defines the growth of an expanding Earth.  It is also disturbing that Plate Tectonics hides behind the gratuitous shibboleth of "no mechanism" and retreats from discovery, when evidential reality points in the direction that a mechanism should be sought.  As an explanation of natural phenomena "no mechanism" has no place in science, but going where no man has gone before is a (highly) risky business in science.  The mantra offers security by closing off no-go areas of research.

No greatly sophisticated aparatus or deductive methodology is needed to confirm the upwards growth of the ocean floors.  It is as obvious at a glance as continental fits support separation in the Atlantic.  Are we to believe that this simple observation of along-ridge spreading there and elsewhere was overlooked by those developing Plate Tectonic theory? I think not. I think this is the unspoken lie (of omission) of Plate Tectonics that will torpedo the Big Ship, because it goes to the heart of the difference between sea-floor *spreading* and sea-floor *growth*, and chooses growth as the logical option, thus negating convection as the driver for Plate Tectonics .

We wait to see therefore what geophysicists will invent to deny this (for they haven't done thus far; they seem oblivoious to this implication) just as they denied Wegener his continental drift, and Carey his expanding Earth.  Having twice before snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by self-serving denial, what aspect of deductive 'rationalism' will it take for geophysicists to overcome their denial this time, to once again claim (eventually) as theirs Earth expansion as the forward position of deductive Earth science?

What will it take?  Again we get some idea from Naomi Oreskes' assessment of the sociology of the day:-
"The choices these scientists made, moreover, were self-ratifying.  American earth scientists chose not to pursue the field-based observational evidence relevant to the question of continental drift; instead they solicited the partronage of private institutions and miliary bureaucracies in support of instrument-driven science. Not surprisingly, then, little new observational evidence in support of the theory was gathered, while reams of instrumental data were.  And when these instrumental data were made public and their support of moving continents became evident, earth scientists were satisfied that they had made the right choice.  Yet had the Navy not been interested in supporting marine geophysics - had submarine warfare not existed - earth scientists would necessarily have taken a different route, and perhaps been well satisfied with that too."

[ H.W.Menard, 1986   " ..Moreover, success had become a trap.  An astonishing fleet of research ships had been created, and it had hungry crews.  Research laboratories were proliferating, and into them flocked eager graduate students who needed support.  In Washington agencies were created to grant funding.  The accepted way to finance a few kilobucks of thought by a senior scientist was to spend a megabuck at sea, and that took lots of time.   ('The Ocean of Truth', p.297) ]   (.. and money : me)

... from which it would seem to take some fortuitous coupling of technological apparatus and the security of funding to support its development to tell us what, from a much simpler and inductive commonsense coupling, is clearly apparent - that the Earth's crust has indeed been distended by the extents of the ocean floors.  Hopefully the background of war will not be an additional sociological ingredient, as previously was the case.  For it was *exactly* in this wartime coupling (and funding) that lay the evolution of Plate Tectonics; and whence better for that security of funding (in the days of the cold war) than from military sources through the tools that had proved their wartime use?

Moving on from this particular circumspection to questions of more geological import the question then arises, what difference would it have made had Hess (as captain /admiral of the Big Ship) accepted Carey's inductive *geo-logical* conclusion of Earth expansion, instead of as he did, reverting to the well known convective model of Holmes?  Hess did after all recognise the value of inductive empirical geology of Earth expansion in solving his three most pressing problems regarding the evolution of the ocean floors.  .. So why did he not go with it? 

Personally I think again the answer comes back to the security of funding.  Hess as a senior naval man knew full well that who pays the piper calls the tune, and that in the political milieu of the day the military were solely interested in securing and maintaining dominance, not answers to questions whether the Earth was expanding or not, nor even if ocean floors were spreading. The new tools that had been developed during the war for detecting ocean depths and the presence of submarines were obviously ones to develop in a new era of Cold War tension, where submarines were now armed with nuclear warheads and the threat of massive annihilation at the press of a psychopathic military button, was very real.  

Menard (Ibid. p.38) writes : -
"Before the war there were three oceanographic laboratories in the Unites States: Scripps, Woods Hole, and the University of Washington.  They had a total budget of less than $250,000. and with it supported three ships.  In 1948 the Navy poured about $600,000 into oceanographic laboratories, which was a sizeable expansion even after allowing for inflation.  Up to 1958 it spent a total of $46 million on academic research in oceanography.  The number of laboratories multiplied, and the Navy spent about $300 million for ships, facilities and equipment.  The Navy disbursements for three laboratories of the most interest here are shown in Table 1.

Lab          1948      1950     1952     1954      1956     1958        Total

WHOI       300       550     1,100    1,020     1,420    1,300      10,600
LGO           35       410        420       360     1,040       520        4,600
SIO           200       305     1,010       450     2,040    1,040        9,900

"By the end of the decade, NSF money was becoming abundant, and Scripps also received significant funding from the State of California.  The first decade of postwar expansion, to 1958, was only the beginning.  In the next seven years the Federal support for SIO and WHOI would triple to more than $10 million per year.  The total for all academic oceanography from ONR and NSF would reach $25 million per year = just 100 times what it ad been in 1941.   In 1948 no one knew that this would happen.  Even then, when funding had only doubled, Columbus Iselin, Director of Woods Hole, wrote, "The effects of this great outpouring of money on oceanography are by no means all healthy.  In the first place nobody knows how long it will last."  (SIO= Scripps Institute of Oceanography; WHOI=Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; LGO=Lamont Geological Observatory. NSF=National Science foundation?) "

How long it would last would depend on the reason for it.  The degree of funding, both directly by the Navy and by specially created Federal grants committees, suggests that it would last as long as Cold War exigencies deemed it necessary.  Military imperatives one way and another would have been central to funding.  Any geological understanding that may emerge was entirely spin-off, and had to be regarded as such by those dependent on it (if not the public paying for it).  There was a need to keep the focus on the ocean floors, and the methodologies that defined them.  Reds were under beds everywhere, and the navy was equipped to  nuke 'em, provided they didn't bump into seamounts, the ocean floor, or other submarines of opposing sort.  In terms of providing the funding for exploration of the ocean floors, Harry Hess, captain of the the Big ship, was (to the community of geophysicists) unquestionably an *admirable* hero.  No question.  If Hess's wartime experience had not happened, and Hess's military rank (as captain and later admiral) not been considerable, it is highly probable that Plate Tectonics would never, .. *could* never, have arisen in the face of the emerging geological paradigm of Earth expansion.  As Oreskes (above) rightly observes,  "Earth scientists would necessarily have taken a different route, and perhaps been well satisfied with that too."

"Different route"?  There was only one alternative - the one that Plate Tectonics has resolutely refused to countenance (Earth expansion), because to do so would be to admit that the Big Ship of physics didn't have a clue about mechanism, .. and *that* (in terms of funding) was a no-go area back then.  The same is still true today.

It is easy to make a case for Plate Tectonics being a classic example of "being used by your machinery", and Earth science being turned from its 'natural philosophy' inductive roots towards a tool-driven methodology of enquiry.  But as much as anything the course of Earth science exploration was determined by the political / sociological climate of those earlier days when bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and when later Russia would threaten America in the space race. Military spending from the Cold War to Star Wars has ensconced physics in the driving seat of Earth science, and ensured the survival of deductive methods that have given us the rag-bag apology of Plate Tectonics as a geological model for crustal tectonics and even, as a sop to a barking public seeking 'value for money', the hyped imperative to look for it on other planets. But even though it has provided for many "the gift that keeps on giving", the geological return from it has been poor despite claims to the contrary.  Worse than poor in fact, since it has spawned a false consensus that will require unlearning.

Plate Tectonics has given us starkly contradictory multiple working hypotheses that have served the Earth sciences very poorly, .. that have simply led us up the garden path.  Most of all it has been derelict in its scientific duty of falsification, in failing to give any billing whatsoever to alternative views, especially (amongst other things) the incontrovertible fact (apparent to anyone) that the spreading ridges through geological time have got longer along their length as well as across them, ..  and that transform faults are the brittle expression of this adjustment to growth,  and are *NOT* the so-called "new class of faults" expressing tramrails of convectional mantle flow as continents have separated, as advocated by Mr Wilson.  (Googlesearch : -  Tuzo Wilson, "a new class of faults").  If ever there was a case of the expedient scientific finagle, a magic rabbit from the geophysical hat to maintain a false assumption, this is one - second only to the choice of subduction over its natural alternative, overriding.

It is time to recognise that Plate Tectonics is long past its use-by, that its roots in military funding imposed a myopia that much hampered exploration of important geological questions by keeping the focus on the ocean floors rather than on their relationship to the continents, and that there is a need therefore for Earth science to return to its traditional (inductive) geo-*logical* roots.  In many ways the larger-scale geological questions *can* only be approached by guesswork, and until such time as computers can truly simulate the higher functions of the human brain, logic steered by rational assessment remains the best tool for the job - a tool that from the many contradictions of Plate Tectonics has been woefully absent in the development of that model.  Despite the obvious advantages that technology offers to science, the limitations of deductive methods of tool-driven exploration in Earth science should be recognised, not in regard to the tools themselves which are exemplary, but for the expediencies underlying their use that for decades have maintained a demonstrably false consensus, whose 'success' is unremarkable for anything other than it pays mortgages along the road that leads up the garden path.

Which is laudable enough as regards those who live in the garden, .. but the barking public dog might have something to growl about.

(And piss on the lamp post!)

See also blog for Earth expansion at :-]