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Granite multi-ringed structure, Sahara Desert, Libya. Original image credit: NASA/Landsat 7


Jebel Arkenu
Apr 13, 2009

Some of the world's most unusual geography can be found across North Africa. Could it have been created by massive electric discharges in the recent past?

The Libyan Desert is an empty wasteland and can support no human habitation. The central portion is exceptionally arid, where it rains less than once in thirty years. It is so dry and barren that NASA chose it as an experimental base of operations for the Viking lander project, since they considered it to most closely resemble the conditions on Mars. There are no roads or tracks, just the great open void.

Previous Thunderbolts Picture of the Day articles have described the strange landscapes across the African continent, as well as their anomalous attributes. Giant craters, deep cracks in the Earth, and lightning-like Lichtenberg figures etched into the terrain all point to events that do not lend themselves to uniformitarian explanations.

In 1932, British surveyor Patrick Clayton was the first European to explore the area where the borders of Egypt, Libya, and Sudan meet. As he crossed the Great Sand Sea, he ran over something that made crunching noises under his wheels. It turned out to be silica glass.

The Geological Society of Egypt invited L.J. Spencer, a mineral expert from the British Museum, to visit the site in 1934. His expedition spent nine days collecting glass. During that time, he found that it existed in a limited area: 130 kilometers north-to-south and 53 kilometers east-to-west. However, it has since been determined that the glass can be found in two areas, one of which is oval-shaped, and the other a circular ring 21 kilometers in diameter. Strangely, the center of the ring contains no glass.

Kebira Crater, a giant stone circle in the Great Sand Sea over thirty kilometers in diameter, has been theorized to be the source for the "desert glass" that has baffled scientists for many years. In fact, the glass caused much confusion among archaeologists when Tutankhamon's tomb was discovered.

The pectoral jewel adorning his sarcophagus contained a large piece of the greenish-yellow desert glass. The fused silica bauble was of such purity that modern glassmakers are not capable of creating it. What secret arts did the ancient Egyptians possess that enabled them to exceed the abilities of modern technicians?

When Kebira Crater was discovered, a hypothetical source for the glass came to light. As a Picture of the Day article from that time speculated, the crater might have been formed by an electric arc that impacted the desert with such power that the sands were fused into glass.

Other ring-shaped and dome-like structures rise out of flat, wind-swept plains in areas that can be reached only with extreme difficulty. As has been pointed-out in the past, most of these formations exhibit upraised, sharply delineated rims, knife-edged ridges, flat bottoms, and wildly brachiated channels running through them or covering the surrounding countryside like thousands of large rivers that have turned to dust.

One of the more surprising aspects of the Jebel Uweinat uplift region, in which Jebel Arkenu can be found, is how closely it resembles the Western Desert in the United States. One example of that similarity is Shiprock, New Mexico. Shiprock is reputed to be a pluton of basalt that hardened deep down below the surface where it solidified. Eons of time passed while the surrounding sedimentary rock was blown away by the wind, revealing the pointed monolith. Lava dikes extend outward at 120 degree angles from the peak for several kilometers.

The same jagged tops, the same "lava dikes" with extremely narrow cross-sections, and the same flat-topped mesas with solid forty-five degree "shoulders" are found in the Sahara.

Of course, explanations that describe both features are limited to vulcanism, weathering, meteors striking the surface, or subsurface plutons of basaltic lava that hardened beneath the ground and were subsequently revealed when the softer sedimentary layers were eroded from around them. There are some observations that do not seem to fit with the millions of years that geological gradualism requires.

Erosion is a blurring and rounding process. Conical mountain peaks are said to slowly reduce into flattened mounds and finally wear down to the level of the plains out of which they rose. Steep, vertical walls are supposed to gradually become shallow slopes, and v-shaped river valleys must give way to meandering flood plains. If the mesas, gullies, pillars, spikes, and ridges have all been exposed to wind and rain for millions of years, why are they still so sharp, steep and well-defined?

Jebel Arkenu itself is notable for its spiral-shaped interior. There are no known natural forces other than spinning electric vortices that can excavate spiral forms with uplifted central peaks. Many of those are found on the Moon and others have been observed on Mars. Since the primary thesis put forward by Electric Universe adherents is that a cataclysmic encounter with some other electrically charged body took place less than 10,000 years ago, or perhaps sooner, then the "fresh" appearance and lack of erosion is explainable.

It is time for another perspective on geology. There are some geologists who are beginning to question the slow-motion theories that dominate the sciences today. Since planetary scientists have witnessed comet fragments colliding with Jupiter, vast ionized plumes erupting from Io, and volcanoes spitting lightning, it seems reasonable to insist that theories involving fast acting forces of change be considered along with those that require millions of years.

Written by Stephen Smith from an idea submitted by Klaas Geertsma



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