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 A close-up image of the mysterious channels that dominate the surface of Jupiter's "fractured" moon, Europa.
Credit: NASA/JPL

Aug 23
, 2007
The Expanding Earth Debate - Part Two

Problems with subduction theories are causing increased interest in theories of expansion. But expansion is also problematic, and the answer may lie elsewhere, in the evidence for electrical scarring of planets and moons.

Modern solutions to the enigma of continental motion on Earth include what geologists call sea-floor spreading. A necessary counterpart to sea-floor spreading is what happens to the additional crust that is formed by the upwelling magma. Jupiter's icy moon Europa is considered to be an example of such cracking, drifting and consolidation. Hypothetical processes on our planet are projected onto the Europan geography and said to explain the furrows, dual-ridge faults, darkened swaths and innumerable looping rilles that mar its surface.

Conventional understanding of how the Earth's continents were formed and why they appear to fit together along their shelf boundaries suggests that there is a graduated flow of heat coming from the interior. It is believed that the core of our planet has remained liquid for the several billion years since its inception due to heat from radioactive decay. A rotating liquid iron core supposedly drives the electromagnetic fields and which keeps the material of Earth's mantle in a fluid state. Huge convection zones within the mantle circulate that heat upward to the bottom of the crust, where it melts weak points in the thinnest parts. The weakest seams in the crust are located along the mid-ocean ridge that circles the planet in a north to south direction.

At some point in the deep past, all the continents were joined together along the mid-ocean spreading zone into the ancient supercontinent, Pangaea. Some literal breaking point was reached in stability and it began to be forced apart, forming the continents of today. Over eons of time, the pieces of the original landmass have been sliding into each other as they make their way around the circumference and are forced together on the other side of the world. In places where the fractured blocks meet, some are continuing to be dragged under other blocks. According to the theory, these "subduction zones" are the reason that more earthquakes occur along the crustal plate boundaries and why there are more volcanoes located on or near the fractures.

Problems associated with the current theory are as follows:

1. The power required to move continental landmasses around has not been adequately explained. If the power comes from thermal convection from the core of the planet, then heat energy equivalent to molten iron in the billions of megatons has been radiating from the interior for almost 4 billion years. There has been no process developed or seriously proposed for the initial spreading.

2. No consistent models of relative plate motion have been created. Spreading zones surround some places, such as the plate boundaries of Antarctica and Africa. Where are the so-called subduction zones needed for the recycling of the old crust?

3. The density paradox. Continental rock is supposed to be lighter than the oceanic crust into which it is extruded so that it accretes on the edge of the oceanic plate and doesn’t immediately sink back into the mantle. What causes the crust to become so dense that it then sinks under its own weight into a subduction zone and then back into the mantle? And why is a theoretically lower density plate sinking under the Alps?

4. Rocks other than oceanic sediments have been found in the deep trenches of subduction zones. Older material rather than younger has been found in trench slopes off Japan. Sediment anomalies have been found in the mid-Atlantic basin.

5. The elasticity paradox. The current theory requires that the continental rock be thick and elastic under mountain ranges, yet thinner and more brittle than the oceanic crust in the spreading zones.

In order to provide a theory that resolves some of these problems S. Warren Carey's book, Theories of the Earth and Universe: A history of dogma in the Earth Sciences was published in 1988. Carey's two premises are that there is a continuous process of creation going on in the Earth's interior and that the Earth is receiving new matter from space in a normal process of accretion. As a result, this planet is approximately 50% larger than in was during the Age of Dinosaurs, for example.

Carey did not provide an explanation for how matter was formed out of nothing in the Earth, nor did he consider it a problem. In his eyes, the nature of the question was more fundamental:

"As a geologist, I insist that the Earth has expanded, and leave it as a cosmological problem of the whole universe. Hence I do not see it as a problem specifically for the Earth, or for the solar system, but for the Universe and Cosmos."

However, just as with Plate Tectonics theory, the current Expanding Earth theory has its difficulties, as well.

1. How do mountain ranges form if there is no compression of continents? No folding or uplift would be expected on a globe that has no points of contraction. The Expanding Earth theory states that the crust of the planet thins at certain points when the Earth expands, allowing the mantle material to balloon upward where it cools, forming a gravity slope. The elevated crustal blocks crack and slowly slide down, forming mountains and other structures that are said to originate due to tectonic folding and uplift. However, no mechanism to explain such phase changes in the mantle material has been forthcoming.

2. The Earth’s crust is presumed to have been continental silica-alumina (sial) with ocean bottom crust only forming later as Pangaea began to crack apart 200 million years ago. No reason is given for why there was so much time needed for the process to begin. Nor is a source identified for the required energy.

3. The rapid increase in expansion speed to 8 millimeters per year over the last 200 million years remains unexplained.

Although the number of published objections to Earth expansion is not as great, their fatal nature is by no means diminished. In order for Carey's theory to work, it was necessary for him (and the Plate Tectonics school, as well) to add new processes and invent arcane energies that remain unclear. In part three, we will examine the reasons why electric discharge machining might be the answer to these mysteries.

By Stephen Smith

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David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
Steve Smith, Mel Acheson
  CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Michael Armstrong, Dwardu Cardona,
Ev Cochrane, C.J. Ransom, Don Scott, Rens van der Sluijs, Ian Tresman
  WEBMASTER: Brian Talbott

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