Planet Earth Expanding and the Eocene Tectonic Event--Paradigm Shift toward Expansion Tectonics, Part 2-- Karl W. Luckert-- Chapters 6-10, and Bibliography with expansion-related web links
For Footnotes scroll to the bottom of this page
Return to Hood Two of the Triplehood Institute
After the Atlantic rift had found and established its path of rupture southward there remained, to the east, still a huge land-mass that needed to break open and adjust to the expanding and flattening surface of the sphere. So, another few tens of millions of years after the Atlantic had begun rifting, toward the end of the Jurassic, the upstart Indian Ocean tore into the remaining African/Eurasian/Austral-Asian super-continent along a line that on the present globe points due north. The initial rift followed more or less a straight line.
Our planets culmination in regard to basic expansion geometry is the Ninety-east Ridge, the straightest natural line on our planet. First formed was the Pacific circle. Then followed a curve in the North Atlantic that, going southward, has added a near right angle at the knee of South America. All together it seems as though the veering and twisting Atlantic rift has more or less tried to remain linearreacting to the circum-Pacific stretching that was happening the width of a continent farther west. And finally there came the straight line itself that cut the Indian Ocean. It could only happen while north-south tension pulled initial synclines and while east-west tension was in step with Earth expansion to spread the rift. The Great African Rift, and the line of tension illustrated in Figure 11, both run parallel to the rift that has created the Indian Ocean.
The age of the straight ocean-rift along the eastern coast of Africa was left in doubt for some time. The makers of the UNESCO Indian Ocean map forgot to indicate the Jurassic portion in the Mozambique Channel. However, the missing information could easily be retrieved near the edge of their Atlantic map. Meanwhile this gap of information has been filled by the 1996 NOAA-map titled "Age of the Ocean Floor." The Jurassic rift that ran along East Africa is indicated there clearlyalmost as if with a vengeance.
During the Lower Cretaceous the island of Madagascar was still close to Africa. Then during the Upper Cretaceous this large island and its plateau have slid southward. For many years this solution has been disputed by established Earth scientists as well as by some that argued for Earth expansion. But today there remains no longer a need for doubt. The scar along which Madagascar has slid southward is now clearly visible on the new "World Satellite Map" that shows the topography of the ocean floors in remarkable detail.
Chronological reconstruction of the eastern Indian Ocean still is a subject of considerable controversy. My own interpretation differs from solutions offered by other proponents of Earth Expansion theory. During the Lower Cretaceous the Ninety-east Ridge still was combined with the Chagos Laccadive Plateau. And together these scars in the ocean floor still indicate the original rift that severed Africa from Austral-Asia. The rift has divided in the north to outline the triangular shape of India. One branch opened up what nowadays is known as the Bay of Bengal, and the other branch veered northwest to separate India from Arabia and the Horn of Africa. The northwestern branch now has become the primary rift in the northern portion of the Indian Ocean. It is presently engaged in opening up the Red Sea.
The subcontinent of India never could have drifted across the ocean that now bears its name. This much becomes clear upon contemplating the Jurassic rift that has become the Indian Ocean. The fact that such a possibility is still taken seriously by the avant-garde of popular Plate Tectonics may forebode a whirlwind of controversy for this booklet. I happen to be convinced that India never was farther away from the continent of Asia than it is nowthough, at one time it surely was much closer to Africa, Arabia, and Indochina than it is now. Moreover, I believe that Indias crust only "appears" to be diving down under the Himalayas because that crust has suffered structural collapse under the weight of the rising and spreading diapir.
The global tensile forces that have torn the outline of India are the same that gave similar triangular shapes to Greenland in the North Atlantic and to the Sinai peninsula at the northern end of the Red Sea. If one considers land-masses in terms of their general cohesionand not by the arbitrary criterion of sea levels where a few meters difference can classify land as seathen Greenland is a peninsula of approximately the shape and size of India. While a small cut near Spitzbergen indicates that the Atlantic is making inroads on the Arctic Ocean, continental crust still surrounds the young Arctic Ocean everywhere else. In any case, all these triangular peninsulas were torn from the original Earth crust by the same force of above-average Earth expansion in the southern hemisphere. But there is, of course, some significant difference between India and Greenland in their relation to neighboring continental crust. Along Greenlands northern edge there is no large continent that could flange a mountain range comparable to the Himalayas. Nevertheless, it seems noteworthy that the two most linear-tending oceans, the Atlantic and Indian Ocean, both are aligned south and north and both have rifted aV figure at their northern end. Why did one or the other of these rifts not split its V upside down as a L , down south? The answer is clear from observations already given. What the Atlantic rift did to Greenland, what the Indian Ocean rift did to India, and what the Red Sea presently is doing to the Sinai peninsula, has been happening down south in reverse. "Down under" there was no huge continent left into which triangles could be cut. The preponderance of Earth expansion happened in the Southern Hemisphere, and the continental portions that remained there were wedges that pointed southalbeit pointing in the same direction as Greenland and India. They all were slicing their own wedges in the direction of the Australian Great Bight.
When the three great oceansthe9-shaped Pacific, the S-shaped Atlantic with a V up north, and the I-shaped Indian Ocean with a V up north¾ had been spread open, the narrow remainder of the original Earth crust, that encircled the globe, still held together until the Eocene. The continents that comprised the remaining belt are the ones that now line the Ring of Fire. They include the Americas and Asia all the way down to Australia which, until the Eocene, was still holding on to the tip of South America.
Many a creative vision appears to be rooted in childhood. And to that effect, four geographical features have impressed themselves foremost upon the mind of this writer when he was still a boy, back in a one-room village school, in Germany. These were the Dog of Scandinavia, the Boot of Italy, the swerving Tail of Antarctica that suggested motion at first sight, and the severely twisted shape of all of Austral-Asia. While the first two served the playful imagination about Platonic prototypes in geography, the other two awakened a primitive curiosity about our planet that appeared to be alive and in motion. I will now attempt to satisfy this youthful curiosity concerning the fourth of these geographical wonders.
The broad sequence of geological events, during the Eocene, has been outlined repeatedly in this treatise, in relation to the formation of the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans. The same events needed to be repeated to place specifics within the larger flow of things. Now we have arrived at the point where the shape of the Austral-Asian continental configuration itself is at issue. How did Austral-Asia get its twisted appearance?
The Paleocene epoch saw the beginning of some rifting along the Great Bight of Australia. This advance stress during the Paleocene prepared the way for the breakaway that decisively changed the face of the Earthnamely, the severance of Australia from South America, a little later during the Eocene. During the Paleocene serious rifting occurred also between Australia and New Zealand.
The tensile pattern of Austral-Asia can be traced all the way from the stressed continental patches south of Tasmania and New Zealand northward into China, to the mountain ranges that run northerly along the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The same tension that has stretched Austral-Asia southward, to the tip of South America, also has begun to buckle the eastern Himalayas, and to some extent the Kunlun Mountains, southward and in alignment with the mountain ranges of Indochina.
Two sets of ridges, overlaying each other on the ocean floor west of Sumatra, are visible on the NASA World Satellite Map. One of these sets runs north and south, parallel to the Ninety-east Ridge, and the other set crosses the former in a northeasterly direction. The lines that run parallel to the Ninety-east Ridge I interpret as representing deeper cracks, or magma surge channels, that got established after the pattern of the first Jurassic rift. They were dominant throughout the Paleocene. The Ninety-east Ridge is by far the most obvious of these scars and marks the pre-Eocene western coastline of Austral-Asia.
The overlying ridges that run northeasterly indicate the direction in which ocean floors, that used to lie south of an east/west Paleocene rift, were moved by the Eocene tectonic event. This means that at the end of the Cretaceous the increasingly rounder Indian Ocean no longer could accommodate all-around Earth expansion stress parallel to its Jurassic linear rift. All the while, tension along the entire Austral-Asian and South American connection was increasing.
A latitudinal transform fault to the Jurassic-Cretaceous ridge, so it now appears in reconstruction, was pulled apart wide enough to become the dominant Paleocene spreading riftand it, generally, ran east and west. It was this east-west rift which later, for the occasion of the great Eocene tectonic event, provided a soft edge along which the southern half of Paleocene crust could slide east and north. It happened while Australia broke loose from the tip of South America and while all of Austral-Asia was being pulled north and eastward. At that moment the new diagonal South Indian Riftin fact, the entire diagonal spreading rift in the present Indian Oceanreplaced the Paleocene rift that had run east and west. H. W. Menard would have loved to hear that these Jurassic and Paleocene spreading-rifts had indeed been ephemeral.
All of Austral-Asia pulled north and veered east after it had snapped loose from the tip of South America. The Paleocene and Upper Cretaceous ocean-floors from south of the Paleocene rift were pulled east and northward. They wedged themselves along the eastern flank of the northern portion that had remained aligned with India. The southern portion slid east and northward quite naturallyfollowing first the soft Paleocene spreading-rift eastward. Then it moved northward into the triangular space that had been torn open by the northeastward veering of Austral-Asias continental crust. Fortunately, the mobile Paleocene floor from down south did not fill in and obliterate the entire crotch that had opened between the Ninety-east Ridge and the coastline of Sumatra. A triangle of raw asthenosphere and lithosphere was left there to harden as dateable Eocene ocean-floor. Before I can say more about this telltale Eocene triangle, I must tarry a while to support my interpretation with evidence from the larger picture.
Verification of this tectonic event can also be found along the eastern edge of the Austral-Asian unit. The fate of the spreading rift in the Philippine Sea verifies my interpretation of the event. The Paleocene rift there ran north and south and paralleled the general direction of Austral-Asias stretchingthat is, along the eastern flank of Austral-Asia it ran parallel to the Ninety-east Ridge in the Indian Ocean. This shows, on both sides, that during the Paleocene the connection between Australia and the tip of South America was still intact. When the Eocene tectonic event let all of Austral-Asia pull north and veer eastward, the direction of this spreading rift in the Philippine Sea was changed to match the diagonal direction that overall the spreading rift of the Indian Ocean had assumed. See the chronological maps on figures 9 and 10. The Sea opened, and the Mariana ridge got its double bent as a result of being squeezed form the south¾ "squeezed from the south" relatively speaking, while all of East Asia experienced circumferential slippage, westward.
The Paleocene and Upper Cretaceous portions in the Indian Ocean, that slid northeastward along with Australia, are bounded in the south by the Broken Ridge, which appears to have been pulled along by the movement of the entire area. This Broken Ridge represents the rear edge of an Upper Cretaceous piece of crust that got pulled northeastward by Australia when the latter departed from the tip of South America. The Cretaceous portions of ocean floor, west of Australia, were originally joined with similar portions in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean. The Broken Ridge appears to have been a southward continuation of the Ninety-east Ridge, and Australia is the continent that had been stretching and thinning the entire assembly of Indonesian islands southward. Stretched and elongated by global expansion, tension has initiated all the straight lines in the Indian Ocean that now still run longitudinally and have left traces as linear faults in the lithosphere.
The triangle of Eocene ocean-floor that lies between Sumatra and the upper one-third of the Ninety-east Ridge is crucial for interpreting the chronology of the Indian Ocean. The presence of this crotch of Eocene ocean floorin relation to nearby Paleocene and Cretaceous floors, and in relation to the present contours of Austral-Asiais evidence that the whole of Austral-Asia has indeed pulled northward and bent east during the Eocene.
Of course, such a massive displacement eastward required a prior vacuum toward which that continental crust could lean. In 1994 I wrote, "Australia was twisted north-eastward." At that time, before global seismic tomography showed us cross-sectional views, I was postulating dense stems of magma underneath all of the Earths continents, that is, stems that are in process of being thinned and extended upward. I visualized them as being separated from each other by hotter magma that expands and fills the growing spaces between them. In light of the tomographic data, which is still incomplete, Australia and Antarctica now seem to have "twisted off" their stems at approximately 2000km depth.
The Eocene tectonic event in the Indian Ocean is dateable. "Leg 121" of the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP), which refers to a research voyage to the Indian Ocean by the drilling ship JOIDES Resolution, had as its objective to drill into the Ninety-east and Broken ridges. It set out to investigate "the evolution of the Kerguelen/Ninety-east hot spot and problems related to the rapid northward movement of the Indian Plate during the late Cretaceous and Tertiary." The scientific reckoning, after having drilled into Broken Ridge, was as follows: the "results indicate >1,000m uplift in response to a Middle Eocene rifting event. The short duration of the rifting event (3-7.5 million years) and low present-day heat flow suggest a mechanical rather than a thermal mechanism for uplift." A specified span of time, of 3 to 7,5 million years, during the middle of the Eocene, does get our attention. It matches our theory quite nicely.
Jonathan Dehn, a tephrochronologist who participated on that voyage, echoes the same conclusion to the effect that in the mid-Eocene "the Ninety-east Ridge and the Broken Ridge were separated from the Kerguelen Plateau and Hotspot for the formation of the South East Indian Rift."
In my own mind I put brackets of doubt around most explanations that link the aforementioned ridges to the Kerguelen Plateauit is enough if for the time being these explanations are kept bundled together under "Leg 121." Nevertheless, the Eocene tectonic event in the northeastern Indian Ocean is corroborated by the ocean floor chronology of the aforementioned Eocene "crotch" between the Ninety-east Ridge and the coast of Sumatra. With Australia/New Zealand pulling north and veering east, the Eocene indeed was the time when something like the South East Indian Rift would have begun cutting into the Indian Ocean diagonally. The diagonal South East Indian Rift that has resulted, down south, was a necessary consequence of Australias separation from the tip of South America. Jonathan Dehn was able to date this mid-Eocene tectonic event, tephrochronologically, at 42.7 million years ago.
Eureka! We can now see the finger of Chronos point directly at the moment in tectonic evolution when Sumatra was bent away eastward from the line of the Ninety-east Ridge. This event could only have happened after the viscous asthenospheric "rubber-band," that held the tip of South America to the Bight of Australia, had snapped. The rest is Austral-Asian and Pacific-Antarctic geological history.
In global perspective, it appears that a single process of Earth expansion has torn open our planets crust and spread its oceans, with accelerated spreading happening in the south. This spreading has severed the Americas, Africa, and Austral-Asia like three petals of a flower that opens to the sun. This southern expansion has united the three regional oceans¾ the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian¾ into a single world ocean. Then from the open flower has come forth the round continent of Antarctica, to occupy the opening as if it were a visiting bumblebee.
Of course, I make no pretense of knowing where our planet received direct sun-rays during that time. Geologists and paleontologists (Prothero and others), noticing the onset of glaciation on Antarctica during the Oligocene, have concluded that the whole planet became colder then. Their generalization for the entire Earth assumes that Antarctica has remained stationary and can therefore be used as a reliable thermometer for the whole planet. In light of my theory, however, the change in Antarcticas climate could have been the result of the continents movement away from sunshine. But I hesitate to render a final opinion. Antarctica has been moving earlier than the alleged epoch of its cooling. I do not know whether the tilt of the planets axis has, as a result of this shifting of continental mass, been changing as well.
The Arctic Ocean is a relatively young basin that is developing at a far away and very inhospitable place of the planet. From the larger global perspective, which I have chosen for this treatise, this young ocean basin need not be introduced in great detail. So far the Arctic Ocean has not affected the total tectonic picture of the globe very much. However, the mid-Atlantic Rift has been cutting northward into this region recently, and this cut could possibly have slowed rifting in the western Mediterranean Sea.
During the Lower Cretaceous the Atlantic rift had opened all the way south. Then, for some time during the Upper Cretaceous, it resumed cutting northward between Greenland and North America, in the direction of Baffin Bay. This zone of weakness was anticipated by the first rift in the Arctic Ocean, up north, already during the Lower Cretaceous. However, a deep connection with the Baffin Bay rift never was made. The dominant direction of global tension must have changed over time. As a result, a rift east of Greenland expanded the Atlantic northward during the Paleocene and, presently, it is in the process of cutting through into the polar basin. But even after this break is completed¾ and in part because some day it will be completed¾ Asia and North America still remain well connected along the shallow Bering Strait. In any case, for the time being the Arctic Ocean basin represents an example of stretching between circum-Pacific continents, between North America and Eurasia.
The Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea together are in the process of becoming another "ocean" like the Arctic Ocean, produced by intercontinental stretching. This inter-American ocean has only some narrow continental slivers available to keep it properly framed. The Gulf of Mexico opened up first, during the Jurassic, and then followed the Caribbean Sea during the Upper Cretaceous. More recently a rift has developed along the West Indies Ridge and another one is opening south of Cuba running east and west.
The eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea are intercontinental "marginal" seas that, together with the Gulf of Mexico, were torn open during the Jurassic. The creation of all three happened quite normally, in a proper context of worldwide circum-global tension. The eastern Mediterranean and Black seas, together, could be torn open because Africa at the time still had a foothold at the circum-Pacific and circum-global belt, down at the toe of South America. When that toehold broke, during the Lower Cretaceous, spreading in these northern small oceans practically ceased (see Figure 11).
By contrast, the western Mediterranean Sea was pulled open northward, with Greenland pulling Europe away from Africa. This process may have slowed when the Atlantic Rift was able to cut into the Arctic Ocean. So, in accordance with all the chronological indicators, Europe and Africa never were farther apart from each other than they are now; though, formerly they were much closer. Prior to the Jurassic they both formed a continuous "continental" crust together with Asia, the Americas, and Austral-Asia. There never was a chance for Africa to collide with Europe, only a chance to rift and to break away.
Among the reasons for a JOIDES expedition, for doing deep-sea drilling in the western Mediterranean, was given the existing "paradox" of having "extensional basin formation and crustal stretching during the collision of the Eurasian and Africa plates." (ODP, Leg 161, Introduction to the Preliminary Report). I agree with the Preliminary Report, verbatim, that indeed this has "been a long-standing problem in Mediterranean tectonics." And I might add that it is bound to remain a problem so long as we keep doing Plate Tectonics with Wegeners vagabond paradigm.
What has happened when the Himalayas rose in southern Asia, when they weighed down upon Indias crust, is what also happened with the Alps in southern Europe. The basement rock under southern Europe is the continents own by virtue of its severance from Africa. It slants downward not because there has been a process of collision and underthrustment, but because structural collapse occurred under the rising mass and weight of the Alpine diapir. The mountains of southern Europe were not pushed up by a collision. Uplift along this continental periphery happened, as it happens elsewhere on the planet, by the continents own flanging. Continental crusts adjust to the flattening mantle of an expanding sphere by tensile folding, flanging, and relative expansion flow. These phenomena will be explained in the next chapter.
A treatise on Expansion Tectonics, based on ocean floor chronology, cannot be published without an explanation of mountain formation¾ that is, of mountain formation in the oceans as well as on land. Because much of ocean floor topography is still a heavily disputed subject matter, it would almost be suicidal of me to include a chapter on that topic without first defining my theoretical baseline along the better known topography on land. The same forces that uplift mountains on continental crusts also uplift mountains on oceanic crusts. The essential difference between the ocean-floor and continental crusts is their thickness and age-related compositionand, of course, there is the difference between the air and the water that define their respective upper environments.
From the spreading ridges, outward in either direction, the chronology and topography of the ocean floors are closely interrelated. Chronological epochs frequently have left some topographical boundary markers. Moreover, the evolutionary pattern that ocean floor chronology has revealed has overhauled our understanding of mountain formation on land as welland for the better. When the time is ripe, and when the patchwork of old paradigms no longer can hold back the flood of questions and doubts, it is time to pause and to rethink. I have no illusions that my radical revision of basic assumptions in Earth science will find instant recognition, and neither do I fancy that the first time around I have gotten everything right. Decades, and more life spans than mine, will be required to make all of Earth science hang reasonably well together. So, for what it may be worth, I am adding heregratis¾ an extra chapter on the formation of mountains on continents, so that afterward I can more easily explain topographical features in the oceans.
When in 1915 Alfred Wegener published his "continental drift" theory inDie Entstehung der Kontinente und Ozeane, and still in 1933 when Ott Christoph Hilgenberg published Vom wachsenden Erdball backed up by terrella models, our knowledge about the topography of our planet was still slanted in favor of land. Geological processes on land were perceived reasonably accurate. We had evidence of uplift and sinking, of over- and under-thrusting strata, of faulting, vaulting, volcanic eruptions, and more. Nevertheless, the basic phenomenon that begs to be explained most, in the new context of improved oceanography, pertains to the great mountain ranges in the oceans as well as on land. How are they uplifted, and how are they sustained? How can widespread uplift happen at a slow and even pace? Somehow I have a hypothetical apprehensionin the case that convection currents and ocean floor subduction were to be accepted as realthat our planet would have to be a much more chaotic place than it actually is.
From seismic data we know that there are bulges of magma under the high mountain ranges, and this fact suggests that magma may, somehow, also be involved in their uplift. While to me the assumption that mountain ranges are raised by plate collision and underthrustment appears to be completely mistaken, a major problem of communication nevertheless remains. How can anyone hope to modify a basic instinct, such as the human partiality and daily need for lateral push? Perhaps a return to the playful logic of the theater might help break that ancient habit. The lead actor in the musical "Fiddler on the Roof," a milk peddler, at one point suddenly realizes that he does not necessarily have to pull his cart like a draft animal¾ he can just as easily push it.
Mountains do not necessarily have to be bulldozed up by horizontal collision, or heaved and floated up by angular underthrustment. The branch of science known as Plate Tectonics, today, is in need of discovering the opposite lesson of the milk peddler. The process of uplift can just as easily begin with being "pulled" into folds. Viscous semi-melt in the asthenosphere does cushion and augment the physical properties of a brittle lithosphere overhead and of an expanding mantle of magma underneath. It transforms lithosphere into more or less pliant "skin" that can take a measure of hot hydraulic pressure from underneath. All the while, gravity continually balances the topographic anomalies created by mantle expansion.
The problem of mechanism versus dynamism does haunt most of contemporary science. A typical critic demands that I identify my "mechanism" for Earth expansion. What he or she usually has in mind is "dynamism." So, let us reason together for a while. None of us understands the planets physics well enough to know all the ingredients and transitional states that are possible in the continuum between potential energy and visible matter. Nor does anyone of us understand sufficiently the energy that causes variations in the apparently simple phenomenon of gravity. What precisely is the relationship between weight, mass, energy and gravity in the case of a "gravity anomaly"? Mathematical formulas provide shortcuts that help us, psychologically, to "get over" inconsistencies in the real physical world. Earth gravity varies across the globe. It appears to be higher in seismically active areas and it is much lower on our cold Moon. Variations in energy manifestation must have something to do with this. An increase in energy also can cause a decrease in density, as well as an increase in volume. Every cook knows that. But under how many different conditions such increases are possible in this universe, this we do not know.
Objections concerning the "mechanism" or "dynamism" for expansion do cut both ways. As many unknowns as do underlie expansion theory certainly also do underlie the popularly accepted tectonics theories. For instance, postulates about circular mantle convection¾ about processes that spin off, exude, and lift up mountain ranges along their upper boundaries¾ may be more inexplicable than are postulates about all-around mantle expansion. I am willing to consider any real empirical data, if I am shown such, because any scientific theory, no matter how popular or revered, must at a moments notice be collapsible down to its supporting data.
As far as we can surmise from seismic and volcanic events, our cooler brittle continental crust and lithosphere (together ca. 140 km thick) float on hotter mantle materials. Between them and the mantle lies a zone of transition, the asthenosphere or upper mantle, that extends downward ca. 300 km from under the lithosphere, thus to a depth of about 440 kilometers. Its consistency varies from near liquid to tough viscosity. How does a brittle continental crust and lithosphere respond while floating on 300 kilometers of upper mantle semi-melt? At least a transitional zone in the upper mantle might be compared to a tough and viscous sheet of "taffy" that approaches the cohesion of a rubber tire. A whole range of fabrics and plastics can therefore provide us with suitable analogies.
An adequate vocabulary for discussing mountain formation does not yet exist. Language cannot simply be invented; it must grow by popular consensus. I therefore limit myself to adding only three descriptive markers to our vocabulary: (1) tensile folding, (2) flanging, and (3) relative expansion flow. On hand of these labels I will begin to explain three interrelated aspects of the process of mountain formation.
Tensile Folding is the first of three interrelated mechanisms of mountain formation that I would like to explain. Take a sheet of any fabric or plastic and stretch it evenly in the first dimension (lengthwise). A pattern of parallel folds will appear. This is the starter model for obtaining mountain ranges that run, by and large, parallel to each other along continental peripheries. Tensile Folding does not by itself lift up the mountain ranges. It merely determines where along the weakened underside of synclines faulting and future intrusions of magma may occur.
Similar to how it happens at the surface of the crust, where anticlines break along their crests to facilitate erosion by rain, so the vulnerability along the bottom of synclines is tectonically alike, only inverted in space. Faults and rifts do form along the underside of synclines, and these do invite intrusions of magma. To continue with this analogythey invite a type of upside-down "erosion," of the kind that is normal in the dense environment of magma underneath.
As far as the process of tensile folding is concerned, circum-Pacific tension has initiated the high mountain ranges that run along the western flank of the Americas. Similar north-south tension has begun folding those that extend between Ethiopia and the Cape of Good Hope, in Africa. Tension has started the mountain ranges of Eurasia which, by and large, stretch east and west between the Himalayas and the Pyrenees, also those which run north-easterly from Indo-China to eastern Siberia.
Where there is enough tension to accomplish tensile folding there are bound to be places where continental crust is being stretched thin, even to the point of submersion or breaking. The same circum-Pacific tension, that has initiated the parallel folds of the Rocky Mountains and Andes, has pulled apart the continental crust along Middle America. At the northern edge of the Pacific, between North America and Asia, the polar region is being stretched likewise. Austral-Asia has been elongated in similar fashion, until it finally snapped away from the tip of South America. Much of the elongation in the crust and lithosphere appears to be irreversible.
Let me also point to the east-west tension between Indochina and Gibraltar. Along this stretch the Earth shell was not sheared quite as clean as it happened along the Pacific Rim, nor to this day has it been completed. Africa remains attached to Eurasia along the halfhearted Mediterranean spread. Ever since Africa has lost its foothold at the toe of South America, some time during the Lower Cretaceous, no anchorage has remained for that southern continent to pull away still farther from Eurasia.
The southern coastline of Asia is made complicated on account of three peninsulas or sub-continental flaps. These were torn apart as a result of east-west tension (here as elsewhere in this book, directions pertain to the present globe). The tension that tore these continental flaps has sent South Asias "tensile folding" further inland (Figure 13). Of course tensile folding, by itself, does not accomplish all there is to mountain formation. It accounts only for relatively low folds and initial cracks along the undersides of synclines. Massive magma intrusions, and general uplift, require another process or mechanism, which I will discuss next.
Flanging is the second interrelated mechanism in mountain formation that I like to explain. The intrusion of magma into faults and rifts from underneath, and the uplift of mountain ranges, must utilize a force that can interplay with the gravity of the planet. That utilization mechanism is best understood as another concomitance of Earth expansion, and I call it "flanging." The actual uplift of mountain ranges does happen hydraulically, and it is a rather simple process.
A continent is a fragment of the original and smaller Earth shell, and flanging happens whenever a segment of continental crust finds itself situated on an expanding sphere, thus upon a flattening substratum. While the sphere expands, the original curvature of the continent fits less and less on the decreasing curvature of the substratum. Magma support underneath the domed middle of a continental crust continually decreases and, in response, the original curvature is destined to crack and to sag.
The still more convex continental crust, overhead, slowly sinks at its center and disposes of excess surface crust in essentially two ways. First, in the middle of a continent the results of crustal compression may range from simple buckling to severe over- and under-thrusting of the strata. This means that within a contained and flattening area, sections and layers of the brittle crust are being pushed over, under, or into each other. And second, the slouching vertical weight of the collapsing continental dome causes horizontal slippage and bulging, outward from the center toward the continents perimeter. Riding upon magma bulges that accumulate underneath, some of the surface crust is compressed here and stretched there by the undulations of these bulgesor flanges¾ as they travel toward the continents periphery.
As the acute dome of a continent settles in the middle and flanges itself outward, it adjusts somewhat unevenly to the flattening substratum produced by the expanding sphere. Surplus magma and lower strata of the lithosphere are being weighed down into the asthenosphere where magma slowly is being squeezed outward. As magma oozes toward the continental periphery under constant "hydraulic pressure," from the sagging middle of the continent, it uplifts and swells the lithosphere as it moves. Magma is being squeezed into every crack and crevice of the lithosphere and crust from underneath. As a continental unit ages, more and more magma will have traveled toward its periphery and the greater the swells and bulges overhead will tend to be. Bulges (anticlines) and depressions (synclines) will alternate. Such is the process that has been uplifting our planets high plains, plateaus, and mountain ranges.
A dome-shaped continental fragment (a), preserving a measure of cohesion, settles upon the expanding and flattening mantle (c). To the extent that the periphery holds, the dome-shaped crust will weigh it into the mantle in the form of a flange (b). Along younger continental edges, such as the western coast of North America, the flange may still be visible at the surface in form of a wide syncline or valley. The combined San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys, in California, are an example. The Willamette valley continues the same syncline somewhat less obviously into Oregon. However, in Alaska, where the continent is narrower, a coherent wide syncline is absent along the southern coast. The consequences of this will be explained a little later in relation to the Alaskan 1964 earthquake. Wherever the process of flanging does tear the periphery of a continental crust, as has happened along the subcontinent of India, there the major synclines and magma bulges are constrained to accumulate farther inland. This has happened in the case of the Himalayas (Figure 13).
As a result of slow Earth expansion, and mantle flattening, magmas under North America are slowly being squeezed westward while the Great Plains and the Canadian Shield are continually sinking. This does not mean that uplift in the North American Rocky Mountains has always been a gradual and peaceful process. There are places where pressure has been building up for a time, and there were periods of seismic release. Numerous volcanic fields and lava flows in these mountains attest to the fact that the cooling of magma, the fortification of the crust and lithosphere, has not always kept pace with the amount of fresh magma pressure that arrived from the continents interior.
Figure 13. Balloon models of Africa and Southern Asia, illustrating the
availability of magma for
mountain uplift upon an expanding substratum. The triangular flap, resembling India, naturally
sends the major continental flange and magma bulges inland.
The largest of North Americas western lava flows was perhaps the one that happened 17 million years ago and covered much of Idaho, Oregon, and the state of Washington. I am keenly aware of this substratum because I am writing these words while sitting upon it. A row of volcanoes has erupted atop the Cascades bulge that has since accumulated under the crusted lava flows. Uplift of this bulge could begin as soon as the lava flows had cooled enough to constrain the increasing hydraulic pressure from underneath. The Cascade volcanoes act as tiny safety valves for this western bulge of North Americas western mountains. Of course, they are no permanent solutions for the immense bladders of magma that keep accumulating as far east as the high plains of eastern New Mexico and Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. The process is ongoing. The Black Hills in South Dakota and the Ozarks in Missouri and Arkansas represent geological domes¾ bubbles of magma that rose and hardened. The lithosphere and crust together were unable to weigh them down into the asthenosphere and to squeeze them westward under the Rocky Mountains. But these remnant domes are exceptions; and exceptions help delineate the existence of a rule.
To the extent that a continental perimeter holds, slippage from the settling continental dome does add undulations and bulges along the way. Where the cohesive strength of the continents perimeter is less than the increase in flanging pressure, there the shorelines will stretch, or tear and slip. The outlines of Arabia and India are products of such tearing. But please observe on a topographical map how the land areas of Arabia and India were large enough to flange their own coastal mountain ranges¾ as a result of Earth-flattening that happened under the interiors of these peninsulas.
The counterparts to our planets peripheral mountain ranges are central saucer-shaped depressions. Some call them "cratons." Prime examples of continental depressions with flanged mountainous edges are the Canadian Shield, the Amazon Basin, the Congo Basin, the Northern European Plain, the Siberian Plateau, and the adjoining Takla Makan and Gobi deserts. Accordingly, the Ural Mountains constitute a line where the flanging efforts of two sagging continental saucers have run up against one another, and both have compromised their preferred curved flanges in a standoff. They have agreed to flange the Ural Mountains as a straight and rigid boundary line. Dish-shaped depressions of this sort, surrounded by mountainous rims, characterize all continents on our planet. They are, in fact, collapsing continental domes in the process of flanging and adjusting to the flattening Earth curvature.
The two largest earthquakes in North American history throw light on the process of continental flanging.
Great earthquakes have occurred over several months in 1811 and 1812, along the New Madrid Fault, in Missouri. They have raised and tilted the land, enough to cause the Mississippi flow backward to the city of Saint Louis for a time, a distance of about 150 kilometers. Such effects permit us to infer that some serious over- and under-thrusting of strata has been happening beneath the surface. The fact that this fault system is situated in the middle of the otherwise tranquil Great Plains is in full agreement with the presuppositions of Expansion Tectonics. The crust of every large continent suffers periodic collapse at the middle, and this happens because the curvature of the crust adjusts to the flattening mantle of an expanding Earth. And because this particular seismic event happened at the middle of a continental saucer, the over- and under-thrusting of strata was constrained and contained in an inland region. No continental edge needed to tear or slip outward onto adjacent ocean floor.
The 1964 earthquake in Alaska was different, as it has modified that states entire southern coast. George Plafker has studied this event. He carefully surveyed the surface dimensions that resulted from the earthquake. He found that the continental crust was uplifted several meters along the oceanfront. Had he been a blind believer in ocean-floor subduction, he could have stopped his investigation right there. But fortunately he turned in the right direction and began to re-survey some benchmarks on the continent itself. He found that the crust of Alaska had collapsed and spread outward and that, therefore, its edge had slipped up over the adjacent ocean floor. From previous sea-level platforms, along the shore, he could infer that such quakes had been repeating themselves on average about every 800 years.
While this discovery is immensely interesting, Plafkers theory appears to be even more so, especially for the epistemology of science. Based on some type of a steady-Earth paradigm he theorized that during intervals between earthquakes the continental crust, endowed with an elastic capacity, somehow springs back up to its former state. So, eight centuries later it can collapse again to raise the coastline another few meters.
Of elasticity there may be some. But most probably there was no elastic arching back of the land after past Alaskan earthquakes¾ other than normal movement caused by Earth expansion and flanging. The primary mechanism for the regularity of these quakes is gradual Earth expansionis the slow flattening of the mantle curvature that underlies the continental crust. The Alaskan crust behaved very much like the crust did along the Mississippi Riverwith one important difference. In Missouri the continental "dome" sagged to cause over- and under-thrusting within a compressed inland region. The continental "dome" was constrained from spreading by the surrounding rim of a saucer.
In the preceding explanation of the process of continental flanging I have repeatedly used the qualifier "to the extent that the perimeter holds." In the case of the periodic southern Alaskan earthquakes the continental edge obviously had slipped. And as has happened everywhere along the Ring of Fire, magma underneath Alaska has been quickened while the Pacific Ocean has been widening. Continental rims there have repeatedly been cracked and jarred by tectonic adjustments.
Relative Expansion Flow is the third mechanism of mountain formation that I like to explain. Thus, our third perspective on the unified process of mountain building concerns mostly what happens in the asthenosphere of semi-melt magma, beneath the lithosphere. Let us suppose, for the sake of visualizing this mechanism, that a continental lithosphere and crust had zero cohesion. To the extent that they disintegrate and flow wherever the expanding mantle carries them, no Relative Expansion Flow would be present underneath.
As a result of Earth expansion and surface flattening, and as a result of continental cohesion, some excess mantle magma slowly must ooze outward from underneath the continental crust and lithosphere that sag overhead. The flow that concerns us here exists only relative to the undersides of continental saucers or, as in the next chapter, relative to the undersides of tectonic plates which grow ocean floor outward along their peripheries. So, one might say that at the exact middle of a flattening continental saucer¾ or a tectonic plate¾ there is no relative expansion flow. Magma at the middle merely is weighed down into the asthenosphere. However, horizontal pressure and flow begin at this midpoint and increase outward in all directions. Down in the asthenosphere, the further one moves outward under the continent, the quicker will be the movement of relative expansion flow. While magma creeps outward it agitates, intrudes, and bulges the lithosphere that rests overhead.
All movement upon and within an expanding sphere is relative. Movement which from the perspective of the asthenosphere, looking up at a continental crust, would be expansion flow can be seen as "slippage" from the perspective of the crust overhead. In my earlier discussion of the East Asian "marginal seas" I have, for a while, switched perspective from the asthenosphere to the Asian continental crust, and have explained relative expansion flow superficially as "circumferential slippage." In either case, new ocean floor is being created by magma that previously has been located¾ however deep¾ underneath the periphery of a continent or under its growing tectonic plate.
But please note that "relative expansion flow" and continental "slippage" are the antithesis to the theory of ocean floor subduction and circular convection currents in the mantle. While some magma from the mantle inevitably will bulge up into the lithosphere and crust, by hydraulic balancing, and will cause uplift as a result of crustal adjustments overhead, no convection currents in the mantle are hereby implied. In general¾ though there are occasional and small exceptions¾ the slippage of a continental crust, or of a growing plate, involves relative movement away from the spreading ridges along which new ocean floor is being created.
What happens at the surface of continental peripheries is interrelated with what happens beneath them. Earlier I have identified "tensile folding" as the process that initiates the directionality of peripheral synclines. After that I have added "flanging" and "relative expansion flow." By taking all of these concepts together it is possible to explain how coastal synclines behave geologically.
Synclines are down-folds of the "flanges" that are being created by the process I call "flanging." The crust of a syncline tends to crack open along its underside, parallel to the fold. As these cracks widen they are being filled continually by intruding magma. To the extent that magma intrusions have time to cool and to harden, cracks along the underside are being mended. Moreover, to the extent that the coastline remains strong and coherent, and as long as it withstands the magma pressures that come from the continents interior, the syncline with all its igneous intrusions will eventually be upliftedhydraulically. During and after uplift, surface erosion will wear away the mold and unveil the cores of jagged ridges and peaks. Everyone who has driven west to California, across the Great Basin, has traveled across a number of these youthful Alpine ridges¾ long uphill and downhill slopes, from one to another. Having driven across this geology several times, and having kept boredom at bay by wondering about its formation, the process could easily be visualized by having recourse to the paradigm of an expanding Earth. The Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges, that rise between the Great Basin and the outer syncline¾ the San Joaquin, Sacramento and Willamette valleys¾ represent the outermost of the large magma bulges that are being squeezed westward by the flattening interior of the North American continent.
Farther inland, along the southern boundary of Utah, another related phenomenon delights the traveler. Segments of continental crust have been grabbed along fault lines, at their bottom edges, by the slow magma current of relative expansion flow. Their bottoms have been carried ocean-ward while mesa tops, overhead, were being slanted inland.
So the bottoms of synclines are being massaged by relative expansion flowto some extent even re-melted. Magmas are being squeezed into every fold and fissure, from underneath, regardless of whether these folds and fissures are conceptualized as results of tensile folding or flanging. All weaknesses and alterations along the underside of a syncline are thereby the result of a single combined process of global expansion. Some fissures are large enough to create severe slippage and earthquakes. Others are jarred open still more to invite volcanic eruptions. Cracks that widen still more invite major surges of magma, that mold Alpine peaks for uplift and for the spreading of immense diapirs.
The aforementioned lava flow in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, west of the Rocky Mountains in North America, has its counterpart in the considerably older Deccan Traps of India. In each case I suspect that a major bulge of continental magma has broken during earlier stages of hydraulic uplift. Whether these have been the last such leaks, or whether more can be expected in the future, depends on the cooling and holding capacity of the great mountain ranges which, in effect, are poised to contain bladders of magma underneath them. It is the very structure and weight of the mountain ranges that keeps these bladders of magma contained.
As the Himalayas are being uplifted by magma pressure originating in Siberia, by gravitational balancing and hydraulics, they gain height as well as weight. A mountain range therefore tends to spread outward over the original crust, sideways, and its spreading is driven by increase in height and weight at the center of the diapir. The overlap along the edge of the primary crust weighs and tilts the entire crust and lithosphere downward. This structural collapse is what gave some Earth scientists the idea that India must be diving underneath the Himalayas in order to uplift that still rising mountain range. Exactly the opposite is happening. It is the mountain range itself that tilts down the northern edge of India. An obvious implication of such structural collapse is the fact that the inclined crust and lithosphere is being weighed down to protrude deeper into the upper mantle and there to form a kind of barrier to relative expansion flow. This barrier, in turn, diverts more of the magma flow upward to convey more hydraulic pressure, for uplift. All the while, the flattening Siberian Plateau continues to squeeze more magma in the direction of Asias southern and eastern mountain ranges.
If continents had been created to float upon magma completely independent of each other, then the excessive magma would have been creeping outward from their interiors in even concentric rings of bulgesthat is, in bulges that would flange and uplift mountain ranges evenly along the continental perimeter. But, of course, this is not how things have come about among most of our continents. Continents have broken away from each other gradually and in irregular increments. The quickening of magma flow underneath some continental peripheries, during certain geological episodes, accounts for differential speeds in the process of mountain building. With the exception of Antarctica, none of the continents has so far achieved complete freedom from continental neighborhood stresses.
Most continents have had time to stabilize some of their older edges, together with their affiliated mountain ranges. For example, the Atlantic rift had been quickening the eastern edge of North America some 100 million years before the Eocene upheaval in the Pacific agitated the western boundary. The breaking away of the Antarctic plate from along the west of the Americas, during the Eocene, has stretched the western coastline. Concerning the rim of Asia I have already accounted for the Eocene event in terms of "circumferential slippage." In any case, underneath the entire western one-third, of both North and South America, the Eocene tectonic event has agitated the lithosphere and asthenosphere. For this reason, magmas from the collapsing North American continental dome still flow and bulge predominantly westward. This fact accounts for the differential rising of the Appalachian and the Rocky Mountains now.
Likewise, the asthenospheric substratum under the Himalayas has been agitated when India was torn away from Indo-China in the east and from the Arabic Peninsula in the west. Moreover, quickening of the substratum along the entire eastern flank of Asia has happened during the "Eocene tectonic event" when all of Austral-Asia leaned northeastward and when all the marginal seas of eastern Asia were being spread open. The immense continental dome of Asia, as it settles and adjusts to the flattening substratum, squeezes therefore most of its excess magma south- and eastward¾ southward to uplift the Himalayas and eastward to respond to the agitation caused by Pacific circumferential slippage.
Similar quickening of magma is happening under southern Europe, initiated by the continents severance from Africa. It accounts for the rising of the Alps. The northern European Plain and its adjacent shallow seas are settling and adjusting to the expanding and flattening mantle, they are squeezing magma toward the Alps and Carpathians in the south as well as northward to the Scandinavian rim. A portion undoubtedly also is being sent eastward into the Ural Mountains for boundary maintenance with the Siberian Plateau.
The size of a continental mountain range is determined by the amount of magma that is available for flanging. Materially speaking, the massive uplift of mountain ranges has been accomplished by massive infusion of magma from steadily collapsing continental domes. To accomplish general uplift, the magma, under pressure from sagging continental crust and lithosphere, works underneath mountain ranges like a thick hydraulic fluid. The larger a continent, the greater has been the supply of magma for causing uplift. This is why the highest mountain range on Earth is found on the largest continent.
Some meteorite hypothesis of the Eocene event is surely going to be proposed¾ according to contemporary fashionif not to eliminate a species, then perhaps to introduce a trigger to release the tension that gradually had been building up by the process of Earth expansion. Such speculation is still premature. Some day, when all the dates of the great Eocene tectonic event have been reexamined and when they are securely established, worldwide, then the time will have come to consider extra-terrestrial candidates that might have functioned as triggers. Though, there is no real reason why expansion pressure from within could not have accomplished the final break by itself. An answer to this question lies perhaps decades in the future and I, personally, do not expect to see it.
The Chicxulub meteorite impact has been dated at the Cretaceous/Paleocene boundary at 65 million years ago, plus-or-minus 0.5 million. So far it has only very loosely, and probably wrongly, been associated with the demise of the dinosaurs. This over-celebrated meteorite impact must eventually be harmonized with Paleocene events that are indicated by the new ocean floor chronology. Most of the excessive Paleocene rifting, so far, appears to have happened in the mid-Pacific and along some ocean floors surrounding Austral-Asia. Apparently it reflects the strains that had been building up for the great Eocene slippage to occur.
Tensile folding, flanging, and relative expansion flow happen in oceans as much as they happen on landexcept that the oceanic crust is thinner and more vulnerable. H. W. Menard appears to have been correct when he concluded early on that the spreading ridges that he surveyed in the eastern Pacific were ephemeral. They do obtain their elevation and bulges relative to the strength and thickness of the crustfactors that are primarily a function of age and cooling. Segments of ocean floor crust, like segments of continental crust, collapse at their middles as a direct result of Earth expansion and curvature flattening. They weigh and squeeze magma down into the asthenosphere and concurrently sideways in the direction of their weakest and most agitated edges. In the case of the ocean crusts these agitated edges happen to be mostly along the spreading ridges and their still young and vulnerable flanks.
The typical Pacific mid-ocean ridge constitutes a slow rise from either side over hundreds of kilometers, culminating here and there in a mountain-studded crest. This is so because relative expansion flow is arriving from under the adjoining ocean "plates" at either side. A number of transform faults, along a spreading ridge, demonstrate that segments of the ridge can shift to one side or another to find a state of equilibrium for the entire length. Not only are the spreading ridges of Menard ephemeral, it follows that the shapes of the tectonic plates, defined by ridges and rifts, must be temporary as well. To the extent that ocean floors are spreading along ridges and rifts¾ however unevenly¾ the tectonic plates are growing.
Mid-ocean spreading ridges and rifts are the most conspicuous features in the deep oceans. The process of ocean floor spreading is concealed under the spreading ridges but it gapes open along some kind of a "linear volcano," the so-called "spreading rift." As regular smaller volcanoes do develop circular craters, so the spreading ridges represent hot rifts beneath their centerlines. Together the active spreading rifts, and the less obvious spreading ridges, comprise a continuous earth-encircling system along which ocean floor spreading happens worldwide. Their discovery during the mid-1950s, as an active boundary that outlines the planets great tectonic plates, has brought together the different oceans to be perceived henceforth as a single world ocean.
The Atlantic Ocean provides the best example of a mid-ocean spreading rift. It is a linear rift that has been widened while Africa and Europe were severed from the Americas. The width of the Atlantic Ocean represents the scar of a single wound, a crack that during a process of its own slicing has continually mended itself with magma that welled up from the mantle. The width of the scar has grown to the magnitude of the ocean. The Atlantic mid-ocean rift has been able to accomplish this feat of spreading without interruption, and all by itself, because in contrast to the more circular Pacific and Indian oceans, the Atlantic Ocean has remained essentially linear and true to its original somewhat linear rift.
Transform faults are breaks that occur at regular intervals, and generally at regular angles, along a mid-ocean spreading ridge or rift. They are strike-slip faults with offset ridges. Some science writers have exaggerated the shearing activity of transform faults into an immense process by which the large tectonic plates, themselves, are shearing and grinding past each other. Transform faulting, for the most part, need not be understood as such a globally extensive and chaotic process at all. The strike-slip faults, which at certain intervals intersect with spreading ridges or rifts, do offset the latter for a rather obvious reason. This reason becomes apparent in the context of solving the larger Earth expansion puzzle.
Let us consider the Atlantic rift, inasmuch as it is the most simple to observe. For 150 million years it has been opening a more-or-less linear gap between two Old World and two New World continents. Transform faults necessarily are forming along both flanks of the rift because the planet happens to be a sphere and is expanding all around. For every meter that the mid-ocean rift is being widened, relative to a given ocean width, the tension for a one-meter transform fault is added for the same distance in length. Nevertheless, that tension is being distributed over this length, and it is being increased until the next slip can occur at the point of greatest vulnerability and tension. It becomes clear that not all transform faults can break and slip at the same moment. The mid-ocean rift or ridge is the line along which tectonic "plates" are joined, cushioned by magma that oozes upward along the length of the crack. Therefore, both edges of the adjacent plates cannot be expected to crack as one unit. One side breaks first, and at the T-juncture of the break the stress on the opposite plate-edge is increased. A break in that vicinity is likely to follow. Moreover, the flank along the rift that cracks and slips first will from then on be a step ahead of its counterpart at the other side.
Not only do faults that face each other across the ridge tend to slip at different times, transform faults tend to break and slip also at intervals along the length of the ridge. One slip follows another after enough stress for a next one has accumulated along the rift. The sequence of the breaks is determined by the total budget of tension created by Earth expansion, and the offset pattern along the length of the spreading rift develops as a result of sequential slippage.
In places where the direction of a mid-ocean rift adjusts to curves that are pre-ordained by continental contours, such as around the Mid-Atlantic, a spreading rift may conveniently follow a transform fault sideways for a shorter or longer distance. By such sidesteps a ridge or rift can adjust its direction or meet up with another spreading rift in another ocean. Transform sidesteps of this kind are numerous where the mid-ocean ridge/rift of an ocean connects with the spreading rift that encircles Antarctica.
The Pacific Ocean, being the oldest and most round, features the greatest variety of spreading solutions. This heterogeneity is necessary because a single linear spreading rift cannot resolve all the stresses that are being created in a widening round basin. First, there must be acknowledged some amount of general crustal stretching that happens everywhere on the globe as a result of simple all-around Earth expansion. Second, as already mentioned, the most visible spreading in the Pacific happens, as in the other oceans, along a spreading ridge or rift. The relatively young ridge in the Pacific Ocean runs through the eastern half. From the South Pacific it extends north into the Gulf of California, continues for a distance under land, and then exits into the Northwest Pacific along the so-called Juan de Fuca Plate.
Third, the spreading of marginal seas, along eastern Asia, has spared the Northwest Pacific the task of having to do large-scale spreading itself. Asia has compensated for circum-Pacific tensions by way of opening up marginal seas behind its old coastlines. Of course, such an observation is bound to be relativistic. From the perspective of ocean dwellers one could as well classify the Asian marginal seas as westward extensions of the Pacific Ocean. Marginal seas are marginal to both land and sea. The process of their formation remains the same for either perspective. Because those East Asian marginal seas have indeed been spread, no active spreading rift was needed in the older Pacific since the Eocene. Beyond these three means of spreading, the Northwest Pacific exhibits a fourth and a fifth type.
Fourth, increments of spreading occur in the Pacific plate along a number of major cracks. These cracksI shall call them "spread faults"appear in the Pacific well encrusted and cut in a northwest-southeasterly direction. A long spread fault can look and function like a transform fault in all aspects except one. It does not meet up with a spreading ridge, and therefore it does not "transform." Rather than trying to find a satisfactory name, it might be simpler to describe what spread faults do. They are responsible for having created a number of well-known volcanic island chains, such as the Line Islands, the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, as well as the Emperor Sea Mounts and the Hawaiian Islands. The knee that developed between these latter two conspicuous chains of sea-mountains suggests a still undated shift in the oceans field of stresses. The directionality of the well-encrusted cracks in the older (northwestern) Pacific is being continued and mimicked by fracture zones in the younger South Pacificand all this suggests an interrelated field of global expansion stresses. Somewhat differently in the northeastern Pacific, a younger generation of fracture zones runs northeasterly and at near right angles to those of the Northwest Pacific. As they tear forward and widen, some of the spread faults are opening up to facilitate volcanic eruptions. Volcanic islands are being piled up overhead, and under their ballast, back along the spread fault, the cracks are being mended by magma infusions from below. They are at the same time being cooled by water that lies overhead.
And fifth, deep ocean trenches facilitate a very limited amount of ocean-floor spreading. I consider all the deep ocean trenches to be jarred and tensile features. The mid-ocean spreading ridges and rifts with their transform faults, and spread faults elsewhere, could not accommodate all the Earths expansion stresses along the curved rims of roundly spreading oceans. This problem has become especially apparent during a period of globe-wide shifting. Most deep ocean trenches are found along coastlines that mark the Ring of Fire. Moreover, between Japan and the Tonga Ridge this "ring" of seismic activity has been severely distorted. The event that caused this distortion, and created the Pacific trenches, has also created a set of trenches along the eastern Indian Ocean and a few smaller ones in the Atlantic¾ along the Sandwich Islands Ridge in the south, and farther north along the West Indies Ridge. All these trenches are associated with surrounding geology that has been created by the Eocene tectonic event. Unlike the mid-ocean spreading ridges or rifts, trenches receive their "relative expansion flow" only from one direction¾ from underneath an adjacent continental segment.
The Indian Ocean has means of spreading that are similar to those in the Pacific. Even while broad global events have determined most of the geometry of that ocean, the inadequacy of having a linear spreading rift relieve all the tensions of general Earth expansion, in what has become a round-like basin, is demonstrated clearly enough. The Jurassic Indian Ocean began with a linear longitudinal spreading rift. Then during the Paleocene a spreading rift began to run east and west¾ possibly beginning with a transform fault of the Upper Cretaceous. The southern edge of South Asia during that time has retreated northward, relative to the Southern Hemisphere. Since the Eocene the major spreading rift of the Indian Ocean has been cutting diagonally all the way from the southeast to the northwest.
Compared to continental crusts, ocean floors are quite thin and recent formations. However, older ocean crusts that are found nearer to some of the continental shores tend to be thicker. Relative expansion flow that accumulates under wide expanses of ocean crust naturally is being squeezed out toward the mid-ocean spreading ridges, where magma underneath is being quickened, and where younger and more vulnerable crusts lie overhead. In the case of established rifts, most of the relative expansion flow that the collapsing ocean plates are sending outward ends up under mountain ranges that flank these rifts. It contributes to their uplift.
Present Plate Tectonics theory places much emphasis on the structure and number of the "tectonic plates" that make up the lithosphere of our planet. Their number is arguable, and probably changing, and their shapes are as transient as Menards mid-ocean ridges. This much is implied by the fact of "ocean floor spreading" that has now been established. However, plate outlines were mapped before ocean floor spreading could be chronologically determined. So, psychologically speaking, plates appeared tangible while the "process of spreading" had to be conceptualized in the dimension of time. The inert plates continued to lie around on our planet, and in our textbooks, to obstruct fresh thinking about processes. "Rift Tectonics" or "Expansion Tectonics" would be far better designations than "Plate Tectonics," because these names do place the emphasis where the action is. And the activity that can be observed demonstrates spreading and growth. There never was general drifting among all the continents on this planet, the way Alfred Wegener suspected. This means that there also never was a process by which these plates could habitually have been shearing past each other. There is visible among them even less of the juvenile habit of wanting to collide or to dive.
Upon an expanding globe the continental plates were "rising" upward in space, from the core. As these fragments of the original crust separate from each other they grow by way of accumulating oceanic lithosphere and crust along their edges. While some superficial sliding of continental crusts is quite conceivable, most of their movement appears to have been prepared deeper in the mantle. Uneven horizontal separation, or "apparent drift" at the surface, presupposes an uneven increase of magma volume in the mantle.
There are a few instances of conspicuous surface movement for which it appears that the "magma-roots" of certain continental crusts have been torn or severely weakened. Madagascar "slid" or "leaned" southward during the Cretaceous, relative to Africa. And during the Eocene the three continents of Antarctica, Australia, and South Americaall three carrying with them some extension of ocean crustadjusted their positions relative to each other and to the other continents. And yes, there was a small collision when the Antarctic plate bumped against the tip of South America. The remaining continental movements since the Jurassic, as far as I can tell, have all been nicely balanced continental separations, caused by mantle expansion, by ocean-floor spreading and "plate growing." Moreover, the process of plate growing has been going on in all the oceans without leaving any evidence of ocean floor subduction.
Occasional "accretionary prisms" along shorelines have been proposed to stand proxy for the missing evidence of crustal buckling in the trenches. To the extent that such prisms are present, they could easily have been brought up by relative expansion flow from underneath the continental edges. However, none of the so far alleged "prisms" do measure up to the scale required by the logic of having circular convection currents and ocean floor subduction happening upon a steady-size Earth. Please consider. With ocean floor subduction, the equivalent of all the brittle deep-ocean crusts on this planetwhich on average are seven kilometers thickwould have to lie piled up in heaps along our continental shelves. These ocean floors would all have been replaced during the past 180 million years. As an absolute minimum they would have filled the trenches several times over. Not even the gentler concept of "slab-pull," which some theorists have substituted for kinetically driven convection, could have kept these heaps of crust from accumulating. Yes, even at the unlikely circumstance that the one-hundred-kilometer thick lithosphere upon which the crust rests was being subducted, the brittle crust itself would have buckled against the continental edges. But such heaps are nowhere to be found.
A theory of ocean floor subduction also ignores other aspects of ocean floor topography. There is on our ocean floors no directional flow pattern along which the equivalent of all our present oceanic crust and lithosphere could have careened into subduction zones, for recycling in the fiery abyss. And most significant of all, the theory of ocean floor subduction violates the very ocean floor chronology that the Plate Tectonics revolution has produced. By the same token, global seismic tomography so far has failed to come up with images that look like subducted plates.
Of course, there are some slight topographical bulges noticeable along the edges of some of the deep-sea trenches, at the ocean side. The fact that none of these has buckled and cracked, suggests that we are looking at a normal process of bulging caused by a small differential of magma pressure from beneath. Inasmuch as these bulges do show up where relative expansion flow and pressure from under the continental edge is obliged to change its direction, such features are quite normal and intelligible. They must be understood in relation to another controversial phenomenon that I will explain next.
Benioff earthquake zones are seismically active inclines, slanting down under coasts adjacent to deep ocean trenches. Seismic studies have revealed heavy earthquake activity underneath certain continental rims, or under the rims of continental coastlines severed by marginal seas. The foci of the quakes are scattered along an inclined plane that slants downward under the continental edge several hundreds of kilometers deep. These planes of seismic activity have been named after Hugo Benioff, a seismologist who discovered them in the 1950s. While some Benioff zones are active along a more or less uniform inclined plane, others suggest an incline along which seismic activity happens in clusters or stepped planes.
I will explain Benioff zones from two perspectivesfirst from the larger perspective of the continental coastal syncline and its structural collapse, and second, on a smaller scale in relation to the "erosion" of lithosphere and the creation of the deep ocean trenches. Here is where land and oceans meet. I therefore must derive my first perspective from processes on land. My second perspective can be shown in relation to marginal features in the oceans.
First, Benioff zones are created by the structural collapse of continental crust, by a process brought about by coastal syncline and mountain formation. A coastal syncline, produced by continental flanging, tends to break open along the bottom of its lowest bend. As soon as a wide enough crack or system of cracks is present, and as soon as the first intrusion of magma has been cooled to seal the wound, the stage is set for uplift. Assuming that the coastal portion of the syncline manages to remain coherent, the diapir that surges and is being uplifted spreads over the edge of continental crust. It begins to weigh down that edge to cause structural collapse.
But "structural collapse" is a surface-oriented concept. From the point of view of magma, down below, the collapsed crust and lithosphere represents an obstacle, a kind of natural dam that obstructs the relative expansion flow arriving from under the interior of continents. A typical scenario would be that a bulging uplift slowly forms a small diapir. The latter builds up, spreads, and weighs down the edges of the continental syncline. Sedimentary deposits from land erosion may add their share of weight. The more the ocean-ward half of the syncline collapses, the greater becomes its obstruction to magma flow down below; and then, the more this dam is weighed downward, the more it obstructs. More relative expansion flow is being deflected upward and converted into uplift. It is a self-perpetuating process, determined by the amount of relative expansion flow, by the tensile strength of the outer portion of the syncline, and by the gravity factor that arbitrates how high a mountain range with a given amount of coherence, density, and available "hydraulic magma-fluid" might rise. For example, among spreading diapirs in the marginal seas of East Asia, where coastlines have been torn from the continent and lateral coherence has gotten lost, uplift may not attain a height of sea level.
Second, the incline resulting from structural collapse translates, underneath, into a Benioff earthquake zone. The basic concept is simple. A down-weighed and collapsed continental crust creates the incline. Then, whatever relative expansion flow of magma the edge of the collapsed plate can scoop up goes into uplift. However, the amount of flow that pushes past, under the edge of the obstruction, slowly erodes and rolls boulders along the bottom of the lithosphere upward and ocean-ward along the slant. To visualize the slope of a Benioff zone, the metaphor of "inverted erosion" might be helpful.
Along with the aforementioned factor of structural collapse, one must also consider the difference in thickness that exists between continental and oceanic crust (an average thickness of about 40 to 7km). When as a result of the ongoing breakup of the original global crust some continental fragment is being severed, the lower edge of the thicker continental crust protrudes¾ even without the occurrence of structural collapse¾ down into the lithosphere of the adjacent developing ocean. At the same time, the lower edge of the continental lithosphere (on average 100km thick) protrudes quite prominently down into the asthenosphere under the adjacent ocean (which on average is 300km thick). Relative expansion flow is happening along these edges. The erosive force of the slow flow, that squeezes magma upward into the lithosphere and crust, and outward from under the continent, is intensified by the combined weight of the lithosphere and crust overhead. The result is friction and inverted "erosion" along the lower edges of the continental lithosphere and crust.
An analogy from the planets surface may be helpful. When low-pressure erosion, as by rain, happens at the surface of the planet, the edges of cliffs are gradually worn away. In similar manner, when high-pressure "erosion" grinds away at the underside of continental lithosphere, it carries along lumps of material and crushes away the edges as well. Relative expansion flow need not be fast in order to erode edges. The immense weight overhead will more than compensate for its slow speed.
In other words, outward moving relative expansion flow, between lithosphere and asthenosphere, labors to arrange a smoother inverted "bed" for itself. It wears away the lower edge of the continent, to align that edge with the higher situated bottom of adjacent ocean floor. The continental lithosphere, loosened and mobilized by this treatment, passes some of the manhandling that it experiences upward¾ to abrade the lower edge of the continental crust. Eventually that crust, too, will align its bottom edge with the bottom of the oceanic crust. The commotion along a slanted Benioff zone will not stop until the smoothest possible transitional slope between the continental and the oceanic lithospheres, and their respective crusts, has been achieved.
Our analogy of erosion, taken from the planets surface, may be extended to include waterfalls and rapids. For instance, younger Benioff zones produce their earthquakes at the distinct levels of inverted "falls" or "rapids" along the upward slope. Then, waterfalls in the surface world strike the ground beneath them with force and erode deep pools at their places of impact. "Magma-falls" that drop upward, or eddies of magma that whirl upward, would by their impact push up bulges along the surface of the crust. Some such bulges can be seen along the ocean-ward rim of deep ocean trenches. However, as the "falls and rapids" underneath are worn smooth, the bulges, and yes, even the entire ocean-ward edge of the ocean trench can subside. All the while the slopes of continental shelves, leading down into the deep ocean basins, may remain.
Benioff zones do not need ocean floor subduction in order to rumple. They can comfortably do so in accordance with natures own flow. From the cliffs that support waterfalls, to the continental edges that invite erosion from below, man always has experienced difficulties visualizing the vast time frame and easy schemes of nature.
Visualized from underneath, the deep ocean trenches are spaces that are being bypassedlike dry zones behind waterfallsby relative expansion flow as it extrudes lithosphere outward from under some quickened continental edges. As these extrusion gaps originate, they immediately become effective systems for water-cooling overhead, for thickening and strengthening the crust that forms upon extrusion. While the trench cools and hardens it becomes an obstacle, a kind of inverted dam, which down below may act for a time as a last continental brake to the outward movement of relative expansion flow.
Along the bottoms of some deep-ocean trenches research submarines have discovered still deeper cracks. These fresh crevices reach deep into the otherwise tranquil floors, and they generally run parallel to the alignment of the trenches. This happens to be the case in the Japan Trench. Earth expansion makes these cracks necessary. Thus, relative expansion flow stretches and widens the trenches a little, ocean-ward, while deeper cracks are forming in the trench floors. In turn these cracks will continue to cool deeper and will harden the de facto inverted dams. In the event that such a cracked "dam" suddenly breaks, the trench will disappear and some of its hardened walls may somersault unto the edge of the continent. I suspect that something like this has happened along the coast of California when the Antarctic plate broke away. Moreover, by contemplating ocean floor chronology, one notices that the deep ocean trenches in the Pacific and Indian oceans, and even the small ones along the West Indies Ridge and the Sandwich Islands, are all associated with geology of the Eocene tectonic event.
The Eocene tectonic event that has jarred the deep ocean trenches was global. It opened the East Pacific when the Antarctic plate leaned and twisted southward. The Bering Sea and all the marginal seas of East Asia were spread open. All of Austral-Asia was pulled north and bent eastward while the diagonal Southeast Indian Rift began to dominate the Indian Ocean. The rear of the Antarctic plate bumped against the tip of South America and pulled back from the Sandwich Islands. Later the Australian plate left the Tonga Ridge, dragging itself along a path westward, in coordination with Antarcticas counter-clockwise swing.
The deep ocean trenches on our planet are all age-mates. They were jarred along continents that still were trying to heal the primeval wound of the planets first continental partitionthe birth of round Antarctica. At the moment when Australia and Antarctica finally broke free from South America, that first circular wound, which generally is recognized as Ring of Fire, was reopened. Deep ocean trenches are the most recent scars of this primeval wound.
In April of 1997, inGSA Today, Stephen P. Grand, Rob D. van der Hilst, and Sri Widiyantoro published a treatise on "Global Seismic Tomography: A Snapshot of Convection in the Earth." A parallel essay by van der Hilst, Widiyantoro, and E. R. Engdahl, "Evidence for deep mantle circulation from global tomography," appeared in Nature (vol. 386, 10 April 1997). Both articles add up to an epoch-making breakthrough that has been in the making for some time, regarding our knowledge about tectonics in our planets interior. Then in a summary, in Science News, vol. 152 (19 July 1997), Richard Monastersky popularized this scientific breakthrough by way of metaphorically renaming the Earths mantle as a "Global Graveyard."
A major feature of this scientific breakthrough is the fact that two different methodsone calculating on the basis of seismic P-waves, and the other on the basis of S-waveshave produced encouraging similar results. Regardless of what from here on I might write or say on that subject, I heartily congratulate these scientistsalong with all others who have been working in this directionfor their accomplishment. I welcome their "global seismic tomography" even while I have serious doubts about whether they actually have given us the "snapshot of convection in the Earth" which they claimed, or whether they really have demonstrated "deep mantle circulation." In any case, the tricky business of obtaining a lithosphere and crust light enough to float and to raise mountain ranges, which at the same time is heavy enough to dive all the way down to the core, was left to the care of hypothetical convection currents.
"Global Graveyard" is the name given to the Earths mantle by Richard Monastersky. It refers to plates of ocean floor that are said to subduct in the deep ocean trenches and thence sink into the mantle, down as far as the core. So, with the stroke of a pen, this science writer has implicitly categorized the proponents of present-day Plate Tectonics as "undertakers." Proponents of Earth expansion, by contrast, will henceforth have to be regarded as "tectonic plate growers."
The new tomographic cross-sections of the mantle reveal chunks of dense materials that seem to slant downward, indeed, and some of these reach as deep as the core-mantle boundary. The fact that configurations of dense materials do exist somewhere in the mantle does seem, from the point of view of the prevailing "graveyard" theory, to be sufficient evidence for convection, subduction, and everything else that goes with these notions. But, are these chunks of dense materials slanting downward or upward?
The "principle of falsification" has been mentioned by philosophers of science as a standard method for checking scientific propositions. This test should have been applied all along, as a matter of course.
First, where in the mantle should "downward moving ocean floor slabs" be expected to appear in the tomographic cross-sections, relative to the continental coastlines? Occurring at which places can they legitimately be suspected of having been subducted?
Second, can we actually perceive some signs of past or present motion at these places, in the topography?
And third, if for some reason our data should not fulfill expectations (in science we should remain open to opposite possibilities to the very end), where and how would the slabs have to be located to indicate an absence of subduction? If all possible data are eligible to prove subduction, then what might the word "subduction" mean in the end?
Let me illustrate what I mean, on hand of the now famous "Farallon Slab" cross-section (Figure 15a). We are shown how it "descends" under the middle of North America. Are ocean floor subduction slabs supposed to be going down under the middle of huge continents? The crosscut through North America shows a hot upper mantle area that underlies the Rocky Mountains, and a cooler stretch extending eastward from approximately El Paso, Texas. The cool column (the so-called "Farallon Slab") is shown slanting down still farther east. Is a descent this far inland possible with an ocean floor subduction theory? Considering the horizontal dimension, this image could as well be a cross-section of the "root system" that runs longitudinally under both Americas (Figure 15c). In my view, all this together adds credence to the thought that Central America represents a zone of stretching. A major vertical discontinuity in that root system can be inferred for the depth of 1800km which, possibly, corresponds to a dislocation caused by the Eocene tectonic event.
In addition, the "Farallon Slab" cross-section (Figure 15a) does show a small dark "tail" (my term) under the Northwest Atlantic. Is it a slab that is going down? How would it look different if it were only a "tail" or a piece of "root" that has been dragged upward? Could it be a remnant of the 200 million year-old mantle that was torn loose from its moorings when continental crusts were being lifted outward by expanding magma?
I am aware that the Central American cross-section (Figure 15b) is supposed to clinch the argument in favor of subduction. But in that cross-section, at the ocean trench¾ indicated by a notch¾ where underthrusting is supposed to be happening, no harder materials can be seen descending. There is a gap of 400km of soft materials that separates the Pacific Ocean floor crust, which is supposed to be subducting, from the cooler materials that supposedly have already gone down. This alleged "descending slab" is far more likely associated with the Central American continental crust, overhead. A horizontal map of the "root" (Figure 15c) shows a narrowing at the place where the continental crust overhead is also narrowing.
It appears therefore that the harder "roots" or "tails," comprised of cooler materials, belong to the larger root system of the American continents. By contrast, the hotter areas appear to be the places where expansion volume is being added. The fact that hot blotches still do appear at the near-core level (2750km) suggests that the dynamics of the expansion process began indeed where I first suspected them"by the core, and for the mantle."
A cross-section of East Asia presents another example of acclaimed "subduction slabs" in the mantle (see Figure 15d¾ an exaggerated outline of Mount Fuji is indicated along the horizon). A cooler and harder configuration reaches downward from Central Japan, which is
the area of a well-known deep ocean trench. The problem is that this "slab" appears forked at 600km depth. Its eastern branch connects with the base of Japan, and its western branch connects with the dense substratum of Asian lithosphere. The "root of Asia," that is, the stem of the two "branches," connects to a broad base of harder materials along the core. Inasmuch as the Sea of Japan is a tensile feature in our planets lithosphere (as are the other East Asian marginal seas), the bifurcation of the stem underneath that spreading zone does rule out a process of subduction.
Just think of it! Two "subducting plates," coming together in marriage as tectonic Romeo and Juliet, positioned to descend into the Global Graveyard, this scenario surely would add interesting drama to tomographic plate tectonics! Most of the dense "slabs" that have been shown tomographically as evidence for subduction, are situated under continents. The upper mantle regions, where subduction is supposed to happen right now, are relatively free of them. At the present state of the art, the overall mantle view, provided by the new tomography, supports a model of Expansion Tectonics much better than it supports the notion of convection currents, subduction, and underthrustment. It endorses what the new ocean floor chronology had revealed to us earlier.
From the perspective of Expansion Tectonics it looks as though some 200 million years ago denser materials made up a smaller mantle around the core, of an Earth that roughly was 55 percent its present diameter. Then gradually along the planets core, and in the mantle, nuclear and chemical reactions began heating and fluffing up the material. This expanded material is still dense enough to prevent the harder columns of mantle materials, as well as the harder slabs of continental crust overhead, from sinking back down toward the core. All dense features in the tomographic cross-sections, including the continental crusts, might therefore be older materials that have been lifted upward, more or less efficiently, by mantle expansion. Near the core we find the "roots" of continents, whereas overhead, from under the continental crusts, dangle some truncated appendages.
I am convinced that tomography, as it proceeds to refine itself, will eventually support Expansion Tectonics. When pertinent tomographic crosscuts are obtained from around the globe, I am confident that they will contribute to a three-dimensional Expansion Tectonics model. Continental roots near the core, and trailing tails beneath continental crusts, will suggest the direction of expansion movement in the case of some continentstheir rising, their twisting, their twisting off, as well as their paths of relative horizontal slant. There has been far less horizontal movement or "drift" than most Earth scientists presently anticipate. The published tomographic materials of the Antarctic plate are still rather limited; nevertheless, the information at various levels of depth is amazingly suggestive regarding the path of Australias movement (Figure 16). With more tomographic global cross-sections of this sort, I believe that the Eocene changes at the surface of the planet, caused by Earth expansion, can someday be shown in the three dimensions of space as well as in the fourth dimension of time.
Basic science can ill afford to be swayed by utilitarian goals and aspirations. But someone who comfortably is settled in the camp of established Plate Tectonics theory will, sooner or later, wonder about the usefulness of Expansion Tectonics theory. Indeed, life upon this planet at a primitive level, and to some extent even the pursuit of earth science, can continue happily without such a theory. But there are a few highly interesting dimensions that we all would be missing.
The greatest practical implications of Expansion Tectonics, by far, will result for continental seismology. If convection currents, subduction, and underthrustment no longer need to be taken into account, and if tensile folding, flanging, and relative expansion flow do take their place, then any small changes in the geometry of continental features, horizontal as well as vertical, will become extremely significant. Changes that occur farther inland upon continents will be helpful for anticipating earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. These are the concerns that motivated me, after the 1994 California earthquake, again to pay attention to the subject matter of Earth expansion.
Paleontology will be an obvious beneficiary. Now that a better pattern of original continental associations has emerged, and now that the evolutionary sequence of continental separations can be deduced directly from ocean floor chronology, many species and their lines of descent will come into clearer focus.
If I were interested in Earth science for the purpose of prospecting and mining, I reckon, I would very much be interested in early continental alignments and movements. Old global life zones, and belts, can someday be made visible when ancient poles and equators have been mapped. Even present-day debates about global warming, and the human responsibility for such, can be conducted a little more rationally when the mechanisms of the expansion process, the hot spots along our ocean floors and the El Niño causes, are better understood. Of course, I do not know of any measures that humankind could take against some of these natural phenomena. But if nothing else, then at least a quantum of Stoic pleasure will be won by creatures whose ultimate destiny is to explore and to understand. Expansion Tectonics must be, and sooner or later will be, researched to the outer limit¾ to the point where every weakness in the theory will have been found and exposed. Such are the destinies and toils of Homines sapientes who, for reasons still mostly unbeknown to themselves, have either been "elected" by inscrutable Divine Will, or "selected" by boundless Nature, to inherit upon this planet the shadow of a tree, perhaps, in which to wonder and to ponder, for a while.
Return to Hood Two of the Triplehood Institute
Alvarez, Luis W. T. Rex and the Crater of Doom, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997.
Bevis, Michael and Barton Payne. "A New Palaeozoic Reconstruction of Antarctica, Australia, and South America," in Carey, S. W. Expanding Earth Symposium, Sydney, 1981, pages 207-213.
Carey, S. Warren. Theories of the Earth and the Universe: A History of Dogma in the Earth Sciences. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988.
_____. ed. The Expanding Earth, a Symposium. Sydney: Earth Resources Foundation, 1981.
Choubert, G. and Faure-Muret, Geological World Atlas. Paris: UNESCO, 1976-1988.
Grand, Stephen P. and Rob C. Van der Hilst, and Sri Widiyantoro, "Global Seismic Tomography, a Snapshot of Convection in the Earth," in GSA Today, April 1997.
Hoshino, Michihei. The Expanding Earth: Evidence, Causes, and Effects. Tokyo: Tokai University Press, 1998.
Hsü , Kenneth J. Challenger at Sea: a Ship that Revolutionized Earth Science. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992.
Lamb, Simon and David Sington. Earth Story, the Shaping of Our World. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998.
Luckert, Karl W. Mother Earth Once Was a Girl: a Scientific Theory on the Expansion of Planet Earth. Flagstaff: The Museum of Northern Arizona Press, 1979.
_____. "A Unified Theory of Earth Expansion, Pacific Evacuation and Orogenesis," in Theophrastus Contributions to Advanced Studies in Geology, pages 61-73. Athens, Greece: Theophrastus Publications, S.A., 1996.
_____. Expansion Tectonics, a video program. Part One: the Formation of Oceans; Part Two: the Formation of Mountains; Part Three: Story of Discovery. VHS and PAL, 84 minutes. Springfield, MO (update at <www.triplehood.com>), 1996.
Maxlow, James. Global Expansion Tectonics: Small Earth Modelling of an Exponentially Expanding Earth. Glen Forrest, Australia: Terrella Consultants, 1996.
Menard. H. W. The Ocean of Truth: a Personal History of Global Tectonics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986.
Meyerhoff, Arthur A. "Surge Tectonics evolution of southeastern Asia: a geohydrodynamics approach," in Journal of Southeast Asian Earth Sciences. Vol. 12, No 3-4, pp. 145-247, 1995.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and National Geographic Society. The World Satellite Map, 1998.
NOAA, GEMCO Paris, Geol. Survey Commission of Canada, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Univ. of Sydney, Univ. of Texas. Age of the Ocean Floor. US Dept. of Commerce, National Geophysical Data Center, 1996.
Parker, Sybil P. ed. Dictionary of Earth Science. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997.
Pflafker, George. Henry C. Berg, ed. The Geology of Alaska (The Geology of North America, Vol. G-1). Boulder: Geological Society of America, 1994.
Prothero, Donald R. and William A. Berggren. Eocene-Oligocene Climatic and Biotic Evolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992.
Schatzman, Evry. Our Expanding Universe. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1992.
Suzuki, Yasumoto and Takashi Mitsunashi, Kisaburo Kodama, Yoshijiro Shinada, Seiki Yamauchi, Atsushi Urabe, Boso Peninsula: Guidebook of the Boso Peninsula¾ International Symposium on New Concepts in Global Tectonics. Tsukuba, Japan, 1998.
Van der Hilst, Rob C., Sri Widiyantoro, and E. R. Engdahl, "Evidence for Deep Mantle Circulation from Global Tomography," in Nature, vol. 386, 10 April 1997.
Vogel, Klaus. "The Expansion of the Earth, an Alternative Model to the Plate Tectonics Theory," in Critical Aspects of the Plate Tectonics Theory, II, 19-34. Athens, Greece: Theophrastus Publications, S.A., 1990.
Wegener, Alfred. John Biram transl. The Origin of Continents and Oceans. New York: Dover Publications, 1966. Original publication in German, 1915.
Wertenbaker, William, The Floor of the Sea, Maurice Ewing and the Search to Understand the Earth. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1974.
Yano, Takao, ed. Proceedings of International Symposium on New Concepts in Global Tectonics, Tsukuba 1998.
Internet Sites on Earth Expansion:
David Ford¾ a webmaster who exhibits
materials by S. Warren Carey. Looking at the addresses, I suspect he also had something to
do with the existence of the new Maxlow and the Tassos sites,
James Maxlow¾ Global Expansion
Stavros Tassos¾ Cognitive Tools of Earth
Karl W. Luckert¾ Expansion Tectonics, www.triplehood.com
Lawrence Meyers¾ Geophysics and the Expanding Earth,
John Harms¾ In the field of the Planetary Sciences, http://www.jps.net/physics/planetary.htm
Additional Internet Sites of Interest to this Treatise:
Ocean Drilling Project¾ www.odp.tamu.edu/sciops/LegSummaries
Jonathan Dehn¾ www.aist.go.jp/GSJ/~jdehn/research/diss.htm
FootnotesPart 2--Chapters 6 through 10
33] "The World Satellite Map," NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory and National Geography Society, 1998.
34] "The World Satellite Map," NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, produced for the National Geographic Society, 1998.
35] There is a point of good news contained in this message. At least this particular science writer, and the scientists who participated in that expedition, saw problems with the Wegenerian theory of India’s association with the fictitious Gondwanaland and its subsequent collision with South Asia. If sea-floor drilling is required to disprove this impossible notion, then by all means, let us drill!
37] web site: <http://www.aist.go.jp/GSJ/~jdehn/research/diss.htm>
38] Four essays on Eocene and Oligocene climatic events are published in Donald R. Prothero and William A. Berggren,Eocene-Oligocene Climatic and Biotic Evolution, pages 131-217. Princeton University Press, 1992.
39] Chaos is a marketable product among people whose brains are wired like ours. Somebody other than I will probably take my "Eocene Tectonic Event," will speed it up and write an apocalyptic thriller. Itis a pity that Tyrannicus Rex has already been disposed of by Alvarez’s Paleocene meteorite. But someone will think of something that is terrible enough to sell books, and to make some people wonder about what it was that I wrote in 1999.
40] George Plafker. Henry C. Berg, editor.The Geology of Alaska (The Geology of North America, Vol. G-1). Geological Society of America, 1994.
41] The idea was first published by Luis W. Alvarez in 1980 (inScience). See also Walter Alvarez, T. Rex and the Crater of Doom. Princeton, N.J., 1997.
42] The "knee-event" has not been seriously investigated, because the prevalent answer so far has been that some oceanic plate is sliding over a hot spot. In that case the sliding plate would have to be subducting somewhere in the Kuril-Aleutian crotch. But where are the other boundaries of this plate that has been moving to its doom in that direction? It is not logical to postulate such plates without being able to show their boundaries. The implied movement cannot be reconciled with the presently available ocean floor chronology or topography. I do not rule out the possibility of having plates sliding somewhere, but I refuse to postulate one here without corroborating surface data.
43] Together with a busload of Earth scientists, who attended the NCGT98 conference at Tsukuba, Japan, I toured Boso Peninsula, where some of these "accretionary prisms" were once believed to be present. The evidence relevant for this question pointed instead to bulges of relative expansion flow moving eastward in the direction of the Trench, bulging, bending and tilting the crust of the peninsula as it went. This much was obvious from exposed sedimentary strata, all the way to the coast.
44] Redrawn after Stephen P. Grand, Rob C. van der Hilst, and Sri Widiyantoro, "Global Seismic Tomography: A Snapshot of Convection in the Earth, " inGSA Today, April 1997.
45] Redrawn after Rob C. van der Hilst, Sri Widiyantoro and E.R. Engdahl, "Evidenece for Deep Mantle Circulation from Global Tomography," inNature, vol. 386, 10 April 1997.
46] See my video script,Expansion Tectonics, Lufa Studio, 1996. For an indication of these hot blotches at the 2750km depth see especially "Figure F" in Grand, Van der Hilst, and Widiyantoro, "Global Seismic Tomography..." in GSA Today, April 1997. Frequently I have been asked, "Where did the water for these new oceans come from?" I do not have a quick answer. However, I suspect that the same nuclear/chemical process that gave us a fluffier mantle also gave us ocean water.
47] For more precise illustrations see the full color originals of Rob van der Hilst, S. Widiyantoro and E. R. Engdahl, inNature, vol. 386, Fig. 6a.
Two of the