Tuesday, October 21, 2008

An Expanding Earth Outline

Brian R. of Clastic Detritus has demanded more expanding Earth content so I'm posting this by popular demand.

"When studying the history of the creation and formulation of plate tectonics one can come to the conclusion that it is, and was at best only a hypothesis. A hypothesis, which uses an assumption at its basis. This is the assumption that the Earth has retained a constant size during its geological evolution. This assumption however is not supported by facts." -- Stefan Cwojdzinski, geologist, 2005

"The causal understanding of Earth expansion is not yet fully understood, but the empirical processes involved are confirmed by such numerous and different sets of data that this should be considered fact." -- Stefan Cwojdzinski, geologist, 2005

"The idea of an earth which is constant and unchanging has been restated so often throughout history that it has now become established as a firm fact. It needs no proof -- which is lucky since there is none." -- Stephen Hurrell, engineer, April 2006

I. Expansion History


Roberto Mantovani, violinist and scientist, born in Parma on March 25, 1854. He was part of an orchestral team reaching the volcanic Réunion Island in 1878. During his stay on the island, Mantovani had the occasion of observing the huge volcanic fractures on the Indian ocean shore near the town of Saint Denis. He argued that, on a global scale, all the continents might have undergone the same disjunction processes as the volcanic flanks. The global fractures are today the oceans. After several years from his observations, Mantovani published his idea in 1889 in the Bulletin of the Societé des Sciences et des Arts of Saint Denis, where the Italian established his family and became Consul of Italy. After an economic crisis and an epidemic plague in the Réunion Island, Roberto Mantovani left his post as Consul to go and live in San Servan, near the port of Saint Malo, in northern France, where he continued his activity as violinist, managing a school of music. As a scientist, he gave public conferences on the idea of planetary expansion. Mantovani was not a mere precursor of the continental drift idea: instead, Mantovani’s ideas on Earth expansion were more general compared to those of Wegener who was not taking into account the possibility of variation of the Earth’s radius. His more famous paper, quoted later by Wegener, was published in 1909, in a popular magazine 'Je m’instruis'. The paper contains the first suggestive mapping of the breakup of the Pangea continent based on geological arguments. The great novelty in the 1909 paper was the mapping of the Pacific view: dotted lines were drown between pairs of geographical points which once were in contact while today are separated by the huge extension of the Pacific basin. The idea was that the corresponding points were in contact before the expansion of the Earth. The enlarging of the huge fractures formed all oceans. We had to wait the sixties to find the same kind of lines in the Indian and Atlantic oceans in plate tectonics. According to plate tectonics this is not true for the Pacific Ocean, because in this case the plate movement is inverse and the ocean tends towards closing. The 1909 Pacific map was forgotten, and only Mantovani’s Pangea representation is reproduced today in some books dealing with the history of science.
Source: Roberto Mantovani an Italian defender of the continental drift and planetary expansion (Scalera & Jacob 2003)


Alfred W. Drayson publishes The Earth We Inhabit: It's Past, Present, and Probable Future.

"Upon examining the records of former measured distances, it appeared that the later operations showed this same distance to contain more feet and inches than formerly. My first idea was, that the measuring metals had contracted, but the great care which each operator had taken to guard against such a contingency, very shortly induced me to search for another cause. After many months, it was suggested to me, that possibly the earth was expanding, instead of the metals contracting; but no sooner did this idea present itself, than it was almost instantly rejected, for I hastily concluded that such a fact could not have escaped observation had it existed. I have always been disinclined to reject any suggestion, however novel, until I had closely examined its various phases. I therefore proceeded to reason upon the possibility of the growth of the Earth." -- Alfred W. Drayson, natural philosopher, 1859

"Every well ascertained fact tended to show that the Earth was increasing in size, and at the same time was also increasing it's orbit." -- Alfred W. Drayson, natural philosopher, 1859


Eduard Suess publishes The Face of the Earth.

"Early science was egocentric, and uniformitarian, in the sense that it assumed that things have always been pretty much as we now see them .... A century ago geologists believed that the mass, volume, and diameter of the Earth were fixed inheritances, that the axial obliquity to the ecliptic was immutable, that the earth was a dying body dissipating primal heat from a still molten core, that magnetic north was north and south was south, and always had been so, that physical constants had been and would remain constants, and that continents were fixed permanent features which heaved and sagged from time to time against an ebbing and flooding sea. ... During the nineties Suess knew this had to be changed, for he recognized that 200 to 300 million years ago Africa, South America, India, and Australia had been a super-continent sharing the Glossopteris flora and a common ice age." (Carey 1976).


Alfred Wegener publishes The Origin of Continents and Oceans. In Chapter 1, titled Historical Introduction, Wegener writes and I quote, "In a short article in 1909 Mantovani expressed some ideas on continental displacement and explained them by means of maps which differ in part from mine [duh!] but at some points agree astonishingly closely."

In other words continental drift was Mantovani's original idea NOT Wegener's.

And that was all Wegener ever said about expansion because he just assumed a priori that the earth is a constant size.

Sound familiar?

"During the thirties and forties and early fifties Wegener's ideas were generally rejected as a fantasy--fascinating but false. 'Ein Marchen, a pipe dream, a beautiful fairy story' chanted the American bandwaggon. During these decades of repudiation, arguments which denied continental dispersion passed without scrutiny or test. They were correct, a priori, because everyone knew continental dispersion was wrong." (Carey 1976)


The main points of the life and scientific production of Ott Christoph Hilgenberg (1896-1976) have been reconstructed. The events took place between America and Berlin: in America from 1925 to 1928 the young Hilgenberg, with a diploma in Mechanical Engineering, worked as a Geophysicist in an oil prospecting company. It was there that he probably developed his interdisciplinary ideas, which, influenced in various ways by the European cultural climate, brought him into the field of global tectonics. He conceived a theory about the expansion of the Earth based on the nature of the gravity field. In 1933, the theory was published in his classic work 'Vom wachsenden Erdball'. Upon his return in Germany he performed various types of research at the School of Engineering, then that of Geology and Paleontology at the Technical University of Berlin. He was also briefly involved as editor of the scientific publications at the Technical University of Berlin, where he made a contribution towards saving the book collection as the war ended. During the years spent in Berlin, he continued to refine his elegant version of the theory of Earth’s expansion publishing articles and books on this subject up to the last years in his life. The importance of Hilgenberg lies in the fact that he marks the beginning of the integration of various scientific disciplines from Physics to Paleontology and Paleomagnetism, in support of a universal tectonic theory, and that he made paleogeographic reconstructions on globes with smaller radii than the present one. All those who have worked or are working with one of the versions of expansion tectonics owe him enormous gratitude for his inspiration and for the scientific and moral lesson of fifty years spent in unflagging defence of his ideas. The material gathered and kindly made available by his daughter Helge has been indispensable for this recalling.
Source: Ott Christoph Hilgenberg in twentieth-century geophysics (Scalera & Jacob 2003)

Earth Expansion In German With English Subtitles:

Hilgenberg Globes:

"The Wegener bombshell of gross continental separation promptly triggered the concept of earth expansion as opposed to drift, but books in German by Lindemann (1927), Bogolepow (1930), Hilgenberg (1933), and Keindl (1940) got little attention in English literature. A second wave by Egyed (1956), Carey (1958), Heezen (1959), Neyman (1962), Broskke (1962), Barnett (1962), Creer (1965), Dearnley (1965), Jordan (1966), Steiner (1967), and Meservey (1969) ran against the orthodox tide, which in geology, is lethal." (Carey 1976)


Samuel Warren Carey publishes The Expanding Earth.


"I have been continually amazed that the simplicity with which Earth expansion answers so much of the Earth's evolution has been so delayed in universal adoption." -- Klaus A. Vogel, engineer, 1983


New Scientist:

"The geological and geophysical implications of such Earth expansion are so profound that most geologists and geophysicists shy away from them. In order to fit with the reconstruction that seems to be required, the volume of the Earth was only 51 per cent of its present value, and the surface area 64 per cent of that of the present day, 200 million years ago. Established theory says that the Earth's interior is stable, an inner core of nickel iron surrounded by an outer layer that behaves like a fluid. Perhaps we are completely wrong and the inner core is in some state nobody has yet imagined, a state that is undergoing a transition from a high-density state to a lower density state, and pushing out the crust, the skin of the Earth, as it expands." -- Hugh Owen, geophysicist, 1984


World renowned physicist William R. Corliss said it this way:

"The Expanding Earth Hypothesis goes back to at least 1933, a time when the Continental Drift Hypothesis was accorded the same sort of ridicule. Now, Continental Drift is enthroned; and ironically many of its strongest proponents are vehemently opposed to the Expanding Earth, ignoring the lessons of history." -- William R. Corliss, physicist, 1985.


"A recently reported study of brachiopods concludes that 'the balance of evidence seems to require an expanding earth' (Ager 1986).

Source: Expanding Earth?? (Mundy 1988).


"The many geophysical and geological paradoxes that have accumulated during the past two or three decades are apparently the consequences of forcing observational data into an inadequate tectonic model."-- Karsten M. Storetvedt, geophysicist, 1992.


"The greatest disturbance of traditional geological views came from the concept of oceanic seafloor spreading. By now, this has developed into a well-balanced theory which is in agreement with the results of geological and geophysical observations." -- Yury V. Chudinov, geologist, 1998

"Now that the subduction concept has been developed for almost 30 years, it can be said that it has not been fruitful geologically." -- Yury V. Chudinov, geologist, 1998

"There is no doubt that the subduction model constitutes the weakest link in the construction of plate tectonics, as has been repeatedly pointed out." -- Yury V. Chudinov, geologist, 1998


"In 1928 Rollin Chamberlin complained that if continental drift were true, geologists would have to 'forget everything that has been learned in the last 70 years and start all over again.' [Sound familiar?] And that is what they did. Between 1928 and 1968 many things changed in American earth science." (Oreskes 1999)


"To date however, there is no direct unambiguous evidence that mantle convection and/or mantle circulation actually takes place; in fact, there is some evidence to the contrary. Moreover, there is no evidence that oceanic basalt can be repeatedly recycled through the mantle without being substantially and irreversibly changed. Yet, mantle convection/circulation and basalt recycling are fundamental necessities for the validity of plate tectonics. Furthermore, plate tectonics theory does not provide an energy source for geodynamic activity." -- J. Marvin Herndon, geophysicist, 2005


"In the oral session, except for one presentation that was clearly pro plate tectonics, and another one that did not address the issue of global and large scale geology specifically, there was general consensus that subduction, and therefore plate tectonics, is mechanically impossible." -- Stavros T. Tassos (seismologist/geoscientist) and Karsten M. Storetvedt (geophysicist), November 2007

II. Introduction To My Argument

Scientists tell us that the universe (that means everything) is expanding.

See here, here, here, here, here, and here.

But those who have faith in the plate tectonics hypothesis don't believe scientists.

According to plate tectonics, there is one very special and magical place in the universe that is not expanding and that maintains a constant size.

That magical place, big surprise, is of course the Earth, or so they claim.

Earth they say is special because it's the only astronomical body in the universe alleged to have invisible magic subduction zones.

“Earth is the only planet with plate tectonics. That means it’s special in space, and it’s probably special in time, too. There must have been a time when the Earth didn’t have plate tectonics. The Earth had a very different tectonic, geologic style. There were no mid-ocean ridges with continents moving apart. There were no subduction zones where oceanic crust would have been going down,” Stern explained.

Earth is the only planet where subduction is known to occur. Without subduction, plate tectonics could not exist.

Why does plate tectonics occur only on Earth? This is one of the major questions in earth and planetary sciences research, and raises a wide range of related questions
In response to Why does plate tectonics occur only on Earth? There is a very simple answer: "Subduction exists only in the minds of its creators." -- Samuel W. Carey, geologist, 1976

Does Ganymede have subduction? No:

Does Europa have subduction? No:

Does Mars have subduction? No:

And now to the point

Does the Earth have subduction? No.

III. The Myth of Subduction

"People don't want to see it. They believe in subduction like a religion." -- Samuel W. Carey, geologist, 1981

"I had taught subduction for more years than any of the present generation of people had been with it. And when they have been in it as long as I have they'll abandon it too." -- Samuel W. Carey, geologist, 1981


"Subduction is not only illogical, it is not supported by geological or physical evidence, and violates fundamental laws of physics." -- Lawrence S. Myers, cryptologist/geoscientist, 1999

In order to maintain Earth’s current diameter, subduction MUST remove older Pacific Ocean seafloor at a rate equal to ALL new seafloor area added anywhere on the planet—not just the small ~25-40 mm/yr (~1 to 1-1/2 in/yr) of new seafloor added annually along the Atlantic Ocean midocean ridge. The total new seafloor growth, both E-W and N-S, along the ~65,000 kilometers of midocean ridges undoubtedly exceeds ~300 mm/yr (~12 in/yr), and ALL of it must be vectored into the Pacific Ocean basin, the only area on the planet where subduction is believed to occur.

There are other reasons to doubt the validity of subduction. One is the illogical question of why the East Pacific Rise (EPR) should generate ~80 to ~160 mm/yr (~3-1/4 to ~6-1/2 in/yr) of new ocean seafloor—right in the middle of the supposed subduction area, and simultaneously subduct a greater amount elsewhere around its perimeter, leaves one puzzled. This EPR growth is four times greater than seafloor growth anywhere else on the planet and this large amount of new oceanic seafloor does not appear to be accounted for in the VLBI measurements. Where are measurements showing the Pacific Ocean basin DECREASING IN WIDTH?

Also unaccounted for are the vast amounts of new N-S seafloor being added circum-Antarctica that are causing Antarctica to INCREASE IN TOTAL SURFACE AREA AND EXPAND RADIALLY OUTWARD FROM THE PLANET’S CENTER.

This raises the pivotal questions of HOW and WHERE subduction could be occurring because there is NO PHYSICAL EVIDENCE of seamounts or soft sedimentary debris filling the deep ocean trenches or piled up on North or South American shores, semi-liquid debris that would easily have been scraped off the top of any subducting ocean floor.

The Pacific Rim of Fire, the supposed subduction area, suffers frequent earthquakes, but Benioff zones and seismic tomography that scientists point to when trying to justify subduction, only APPEAR to support subduction because they merely provide epicenter depths of earthquakes without providing the direction or extent of movement.

The only way subductionists can PROVE SUBDUCTION is to demonstrate that the Pacific Ocean basin is actually being REDUCED IN SIZE, and that offshore islands or seamounts are rapidly moving closer to shore or are descending into the deep ocean trenches. The simplest solution would be direct trans-Pacific measurements of the changing distances between fixed points on each of the five Pacific continents and Alaska. (Use of satellite measurements (VLBI, LAGEO, GPS) should be avoided because the global grid system of latitude and longitude has itself changed by increased distances between parallels and meridions.)

However, there is no need to go to all this trouble. Since it has been shown earlier that the planet is obviously expanding there is no comparable problem, either physical or mathematical (except for the expanded global grid system). Midocean ridges are the enabling mechanism of global expansion, acting like cranial sutures that permit the human skull to grow to maturity. The midocean ridges simply add new basaltic seafloor from core magma that increases Earth’s total surface area, diameter and circumference, and, like Antarctica, EXPANDS ALL SURFACE AREAS RADIALLY OUTWARD FROM THE CENTER OF THE PLANET!
Source: Subduction's Fatal Flaw (Myers 1999)

Expansion poses no geophysical problems--the planet just keeps on growing and expanding, wherever and in whatever form it occurs, but the annual increase in diameter (~5-10 cm/yr or ~2-4 in/yr) is very small and difficult to measure.

Subduction, on the other hand, is purely hypothetical because it is based on a fundamental assumption that the planet has always been the same size since it was formed 4.5-4.6 billion years ago; something almost impossible to prove. This philosophical assumption requires that any addition of surface area to one part of the planet would require an equal compensatory loss in some other region of the planet. Maintaining a constant diameter, however, raises a number of troubling questions about the mechanics of subduction:

a. Not generally realized is that subduction, at a minimum, would require the Pacific basin to decrease in width by at least the ~2-4 cm/yr increase in width of the Atlantic basin in order to maintain Earth at a constant diameter and permit the entire Pacific Ocean basin to be swallowed! But, for subduction to be valid, another ~8-16 cm/yr of East Pacific Rise (EPR) growth (the greatest rate of new seafloor growth on the planet [Fig. 2]) also must be swallowed, for a total minimum subduction rate of ~10-20 cm/yr (~4-8 in/yr).

b. And to the above totals one must add an amount equal to additional seafloor growth along thousands of kilometers of midocean ridges in the Indian Ocean and around Antarctica. The Indian Ocean, which has opened even wider than the Atlantic, also has no evidence of subduction within its confines. How can worldwide seafloor growth in oceans outside the Pacific be vectored smoothly into the Pacific basin where the EPR is generating a prodigious volume of new seafloor in the middle of the Pacific subduction area?

c. A major flaw in subduction dogma is the very young age of the oldest Pacific Ocean sediments ever found in the Pacific basin. These sediments were cored on Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 129 at Site 801B (18° 38.52´N, 156° 21.582´E, Central Pigafetta Basin, just east of the Mariana Trench) and were found to be only ~169 Ma (Middle Jurassic) in age; roughly equal to the oldest sediments found in the Atlantic Ocean.

d. Using these ODP data and extrapolations from magnetic anomaly lineations (isochrons) in the same area, Nakanishi, et al, arrived at a slightly older age of ~195 Ma, postulating “the shape of the early Pacific plate was a rough triangle” covering an area of 0.04x10[6] km² at ~190 Ma, 0.6x10[6] km² at ~180 Ma, and 3x10[6] km² at ~170 Ma. The Pacific plate is now estimated to cover an area of 108x10[6] km²—which means that the entire Pacific plate has been generated within the last ~195 Ma, thereby constraining the age of the Pacific basin to be no more than ~200-205 Ma.

e. Proponents of subduction may argue that sediment ages less than ~200 Ma supports their contention that all the older Pacific seafloor has been subducted since the Atlantic basin first opened approximately ~160-175 Ma, and therefore none of the original Panthalassan seafloor can be found today. But this is only an inferred assumption and valid only if subduction has really existed. This is now a moot point because the evidence shown in Heezen and Tharp’s map shows that Panthalassa (Wegener's eo-Pacific Ocean) never existed.

f. If subduction were actually occurring to offset worldwide seafloor growth, there should be constant and sustained seismic activity reflecting disappearance of older seafloor at the same rate new seafloor is being generated. There is indeed a great deal of earthquake activity throughout the Ring of Fire, but it is not equally distributed around the Pacific Ocean perimeter commensurate with the constancy of new seafloor growth that must be vectored in from oceanic areas outside the Pacific basin.

g. There is no empirical proof that Pacific perimeter earthquakes are caused by subduction; this is inferred and purely hypothetical. There are more logical explanations such as crustal adjustments due to relaxed curvature and flattening of the Earth's crust as a consequence of expansion in diameter. Earthquakes, though powerful, are merely secondary effects of planetary expansion, not primary geophysical actions with independent motive power.

h. Subduction fails to explain a satisfactory causative mechanism able to force thin ocean floors only 10 km thick to dive beneath thick continental shields 25-40 km thick without leaving behind some physical evidence. There is no evidence of ocean floors and seamounts diving into the deep ocean trenches (the trenches show little or no sedimentation, and no toppled seamounts). As noted by Roger Revelle in 1955, material recovered from even the deepest trenches “resemble in many ways deposits laid down in shallow water.”

i. This exposes a related problem--the missing soft sediments that should have been scraped off the ocean floor when descending beneath a rigid continental shield over a period of two hundred million years. These soft sediments are an unconsolidated top layer of ocean floor ~10 meters thick. Massive amounts of sediments should be piled up against continental shores, or in the deep ocean trenches off the eastern coasts of Asia and Australia, the western coasts of North and South America, or in the Aleutian Trench. The sediments just aren't there; the ocean trenches are relatively free of sediments and there are no mountains of soft sediments piled up against any Pacific shore.
Source: SUBDUCTION'S PROBLEMS (Myers 1999)

Also see: Eclogites In the SCLM: The Subduction Myth (Griffin & O'Reilly)

No Subduction (Neal Adams):

IV. Delta G

There is no gravitational constant because the Earth is expanding. This explains the giant size of the dinosaurs, how Pterosaurs could fly, and how Tarascosaurus could run 50 miles per hour.

Improvements in our knowledge of the absolute value of the Newtonian gravitational constant, G, have come very slowly over the years. Most other constants of nature are known (and some even predictable) to parts per billion, or parts per million at worst. However, G stands mysteriously alone, its history being that of a quantity which is extremely difficult to measure and which remains virtually isolated from the theoretical structure of the rest of physics. Several attempts aimed at changing this situation are now underway, but the most recent experimental results have once again produced conflicting values of G and, in spite of some progress and much interest, there remains to date no universally accepted way of predicting its absolute value. The review will assess the role of G in physics, examine the status of attempts to derive its value and provide an overview of the experimental efforts that are directed at increasing the accuracy of its determination. Regarding the latter, emphasis will be placed on describing the instrumentational aspects of the experimental work. Related topics that are also discussed include the search for temporal variation of G and recent investigations of possible anomalous gravitational effects that lie outside of presently accepted theories.
The Newtonian gravitational constant: recent measurements and related studies (Gillies 1997)

Measurement of Newton's Constant Using a Torsion Balance with Angular Acceleration Feedback (Gundlach & Merkowitz 2000)

"It is important to note that all the periods [Earth's orbit and year] were likely of different duration in the geological past." -- Mazumder and Arima, 2005

"This implies that slow Earth expansion might have occured if G varies (Runcorn 1964, pg. 825)." -- Mazumder and Arima, 2005

Tidal Rhythmites and their Implications (Mazumder & Arima 2004)

Atom Interferometer Measurement of the Newtonian Constant of Gravity (Fixler et al 2007)

V. Abridged Works Cited

Carey, Samuel, The Expanding Earth, 1976

Carey, Samuel, Theories of the Earth and Universe: A History of Dogma In The Sciences, 1988

Chudinov, Yury, Global Eduction Tectonics of the Expanding Earth, 1998

Drayson, Alfred, The Earth We Inhabit: It's Past, Present, and Probable Future, 1859

Hurrell, Stephen, Dinosaurs and the Expanding Earth, 2003

Maxlow, James, Terra Non Firma Earth, 2005

Oreskes, Naomi, The Rejection of Continental Drift, 1999

Suess, Eduard, The Face of the Earth, 1906

Wegener, Alfred, The Origin Of Continents and Oceans, 1915


BrianR said...

Thanks for the review ... I look forward to further debunking of subduction. I wonder which so-called subduction zone will you start with (Cascadia? Java Trench? Aluetian? Nazca Plate? etc.) ... a thorough and systematic review of the published studies claiming plate subduction for each of these areas will surely be a value to everybody. I'll check back in a couple weeks.

Quantum_Flux said...

Are these really subduction zones?

Anaconda said...




Yes, the Cascadia subduction zone is the one that jumps to mind and is closest to the continental United States.

Agreed. The first step is to research the scientific evidence supporting the existence of the Cascadia subduction zone.

Great post, OilIsMastery, I'm impressed.

OilIsMastery said...

Brian R. The Nazca plate cannot possibly be subducting as zircon data shows conclusively that it is spreading in all directions.

As far as the other alleged subduction zones, they've been demonstrated to be myths by the content of this post.

But let us assume the 4 areas you've descibed are in fact subducting (which is impossible), they cannot possibly compensate for spreading and growth globally.

Jack Dobbyn said...

Damn BP, that is one hell of a post. I have to admit, you've made a believer out of me.

Anaconda said...


Why is Expanding Earth theory important?

Truth for its own sake is always a reason for importance, but let's face it, most people have to have an "interest" in a proposition to care one way or the other.

Expanding Earth theory has a profound impact on oil exploration & development with the advent of deepwater exploration.

The linked article below on "replenishing oil fields" suggests one reason why a correct understanding of the geologic formation and progression of the world's sea floors is imporatant: April 18, 2005 (India Daily) A strange phenomenon shows abundance of possible crude oil in earth’s crust replenishing the drawn out reserves.

A quote from the above article:

"According to sources the phenomenon is especially conspicuous in offshore oil and gas fields."

Essentially, the article suggests a "blended up" lithosphere due to the generally accepted idea of Plate Tectonic, Continental Drift theory.

Whether the Earth is expanding with a crust that "once formed" is generally stable, or has oceanic crust that is constantly recycled effects deepsea oil exploration regardless of which theory ("fossil" or Abiotic) you subscribe to.

A true understanding of the geologic mechanics of oceanic crust will help predict the abundance of hydrocarbon deposits in deep oceanic basins and also help pinpoint likely areas where oil exploration will bear fruit.

Billions if not trillions of Dollars of investment capital is at stake.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone has received a lot of media attention because of the threat of earthquakes and tidal waves.

Many people have made it their life's work to understand the Cascadia zone.

One can't underestimate the impact this vested interest has on those individuals.

The Wikipedia entry linked to above states one of the unanswered questions about Cascadia or dare I say "paradoxes":

"The Cascadia subduction zone presents a challenge to current tectonic theory which generally holds that subduction occurs as a plate becomes older, denser and thicker with distance from the ridge which contributes new material to it. In the case of Cascadia, its associated ridge is just a few hundred miles (and in places less) distant from the subduction zone. This puzzle is a matter of ongoing research and discussion."

So there are unanswered questions (I echo the above "question").

Now, moving to the scientific "proof" supporting the actual existence of the Cascadia Subduction Zone: This link, Geological Survey of Canada, Geodynamics
Cascadia Subduction Zone
lays out a good discussion of "Cascadia" even though it's primarily concerned with earthquakes.

This link is a diagram of the accepted mechanics of "cascadia".

This link is an overview diagram of "Cascadia".

The above website provides the main evidence for the existence of the Cascadia Subduction Zone: Measurement of Subduction Zone Deformation.

Measurement of deformation seems to be the prime scientific evidence of "Cascadia".

This diagram shows "horizontal velocities". focussing on the area off Canada's coastline.

Questions come to mind:

What other evidence is there for subduction in this area?

Assuming the measurements are accurate, is there an explanation for the changes in deformation measurements that don't require subduction?

And what of the assertion that subduction would leave surface sediments piled up at the point the Juan De Fuca Plate scraped below the North American Plate?

Is there evidence that the Juan De Fuca Plate is really a seperate plate from the North American Plate?

Could the Mid Ocean ridge be edge of the North American Plate?

Taking Expanding Earth theory as true for sake of discussion, what then explains the range of Cascade volcanoes?

The interesting thing about the discussion on measuring deformation is that it would seem this detailed measurement could also be applied on a larger scale to either measure the Pacific Ocean, which according to "Plate Drift" theory should be contracting or even on a larger scale for the entire Earth.

One is left wondering, why isn't these larger scale measurements done to test by observation the Expanding Earth theory?

It would seem an easy way to falsify Expanding Earth theory.

Why leave this "smoking gun" theory hanging over your own theory if Expanding Earth theory can be disproved?

To me that is the biggest "unanswered question" that I haven't heard an answer for yet.

Anaconda said...


The Neal Adams Youtube videos that look at the moons of other planets and Mars are one of the most powerful pieces of evidence for explaining and demonstrating Expanding Earth theory.

The "matchups" across the spreading zones using actual NASA photographs are compelling.

An aside:

Funny to note: Geologists that are "liberal" on most issues are extremely "conservative" when it comes to their own baliwick and the adoption of new theories.

It should also be noted, other than Neal Adams with his videos, it's geologists and geophysicists who support Expanding Earth theory.

On a slightly different track:

Last night I saw the PBS series, NOVA; it focussed on a Mr. Everett, who came up with a paralel universe theory (hypothesis) based on principles of Quantum Mechanics in his youth while studying at Princton University.

At the time he postulated his theory, it wasn't accepted by the physics department for his Ph.D.

But now, his theory seems to be making a come back of sorts.

What struck me is that there is absolutely no "proof" his theory has any merit. It's all a series of mathamatical equations with some huge assumptions to boot.

Yet, not only is this theory gaining some level of acceptance (how much I'm not really sure), but it also got an hour of prime time national T.V. exposure when there's not one iota of scientific observation to back it up.

I was left scratching my head why this hypothesis is getting air time when theories like Abiotic Oil theory, Expanding Earth theory, and Plasma Universe theory can't seem to get any national T.V. air time at all.

Even though these theories are intriguing and provocative enough to generate a large audience with all that entails for television executives, public or private.

The trinity of theories (in my opinion) which could change our world technologically and socially.

(My main interest is in Abiotic Oil theory, but from a casual study of these two other theories, it would seem each has a significant impact on Abiotic Oil theory.)

Particularly, considering when all three theories have substantial physical observations to back them up.

But then I stopped scratching my head when I realized parallel universe theory is "harmless".

Nobody can prove it and so it doesn't effect any other theory or the groups that espose those theories.

Nobody's reputation or power is threatened or at stake.

Is that what modern man's science has come down to: Only theores (hypothesis) that can't be proved and have no "real world consequences" and can't effect anybody's reputation and power get a hearing in front of a wider public audience?

Is that how sterile our science has become?

It would seem so.

Because let's be clear, acceptance of any one of these three theories or all three would have profound impacts on the reputation and power of the "in" groups.

Not to mention profound impacts on society at large, not just here in America, but across the world.

Abiotic Oil: With the acceptance of this theory, energy would be known to be abundant, for all Mankind's benefit. The use of energy would be within the grasp of the Common Man, not just in the Western World, but across the globe.

Expanding Earth: With the acceptance of this theory, Mankind's understanding of the geosciences would be transformed. All kinds of new questions effecting all branches of scientific thought would be stimulated.

The answers could increase by an order of magnitude Mankind's understanding of his world and beyond, openning up all kinds of pathways for new technological inventions to benefit Mankind.

Plasma Universe: With the acceptance of this theory, it would definitely allow for more technological invention. Already, most of Mankind's "breakthrough" inventions derive from understanding electricity and electromagnetism. How many more inventions could be made knowing that the dominate power in the Universe is electricity and electromagnetism?

All these theories have consequences.

A parallel universe theory does not.

And so we have national prime time T.V. devoted to something that has no consequences to Americans, while theories with enormous potential consequences left unknown by the wider American public.

Why does it even matter if the wider public knows about these theories?

Because science has evolved to a consensus subject, as opposed to science based on compulsion, i.e., if this, this, and this, are true, then the theory must be accepted.

So, considering the current "process" of scientific adoption of theories, public awareness is vital to "put pressure" on the relevant scientific communities to actively consider "new" theories.

(None of the "trinity" theories are new, just not well-known in the public arena.)

Human Nature being what it is, people don't easily abandon firmly held beliefs.

Even scientists that are trained in the Scientific Method.

The trinity all a large body of supporting scientific evidence.

That's why it's important to "spread the word".

OilIsMastery said...

Anaconda, as you know better than anyone, I came to expanding Earth only by means of abiotic hydrocarbons. If it wasn't for abiotic oil, I never would have learned the earth's radius has increased over time. When I first saw the Neal Adams videos, I reserved judgement. It wasn't until I reread Stavros Tassos several times and came to understand the depth of his seismologic wisdom that I realized expanding earth is real.

Anaconda said...


Number one rule: Follow the evidence to wherever it leads you.

I'll admit that before I had studied Expanding Earth theory (by way of this website), my Abiotic Oil comments where made in the context of Tectonic Plate, Continental Drift theory.

Anybody who reviews the comments sections will see that.

I had previously run over the expanding earth idea. Those series of enlarging globes by the German, Hilgenberg, rings a bell, possibly I'd seen them in the course of researching Wegener and his ideas, maybe before, I'm not sure -- but I had my world-view, as we all do -- so I past it by without much thought.

I past it by, not because I had disdain for the idea, but simply because it wasn't my focus at the time and I wasn't aware of much more than those enlarging series of silver and black globes.

Your posts stopped me to take another look at the issue.

And in away I was ready to consider the idea because during my abiotic researches I had run across items that seemed to suggest a continuity between the continents and the ocean basins. Some of Keith's work suggested as much and there where other bits and pieces as well.

I think a fair reading of the body of scientific evidence supporting Expanding Earth theory can lead to a reasonable conclusion that the idea has merit.

Nothing I've seen so far categorically proves Continental Drift and its corollary subduction.

So, if that's the case, how can I rule out of hand Expanding Earth theory?

So I keep following the evidence to wherever it leads me.

Nobody is going to take away my "rock hound" trip to Patagonia if my opinion is pursuaded to believe Expanding Earth theory.

The idea is not a threat to me.

Also, through my experience with Abiotic Oil theory, I've learned to keep an open-mind, and I'm reminded of how many times in the history of science, the "in" group of the day was wrong about a given subject.

It's vitally important that science doesn't become sterile.

Without the freedom to consider new ideas science doesn't advance.

In that sense, dogma is the death-nell of advancing scientific understanding and achievement.

And even with all our current technological wonders, without an increase in basic scientific understanding of the controlling forces and processes in our world, invenion will start to dry up.

Mankind simply can't afford to have science go sterile because some people have become too attached to their ideas.

So, again, I say: "Follow the evidence to wherever it leads you."

Quantum_Flux said...

Pair production is based on the highly theoretical mathematical physics of general relativity and black hole thermodynamics, the assumption that gravitational energy is converted to particles and antiparticles or is created from the vaccuum energy of the expanding Universe. Anyhow, Expanding Earth based on pair production is ludicrous, but perhaps there is expansion due to ordinarily understood material properties. When a solid turns to a liquid or gas, it expands and pressures build up, which is what explains some CO2 geysers of icey moons. It really depends on the temperatures and pressures of the planet or moon and the material present or that arrives there by metior or asteriod impact, or by other means.

Dry Ice Bomb in Garbage Can

Anaconda said...


Thanks for the analysis -- seperating out the ideas of Tassos.

I don't buy Tassos either. In reading his work, what jumped out at me was his idea that the interior of Earth was "cold". Tassos' idea of a "cold" core goes against the physical observations.

That somehow, with all the observations that temperature increases as depth increases, there would be a cold core doesn't make sense. It defies the general idea that on Earth increasing pressure and temperature go hand-in-hand.

There simply are to many physical observations of increasing temperature with depth to sustain that proposition.

Your analysis provides additional reasons to reject the Tassos hypothesis.

Let's me discuss those reasons:

QF states: "Pair production is based on the highly theoretical mathematical physics of general relativity and black hole thermodynamics..."

Astrophysics and physics in general has become to dependent, some would say dominated by theoretical mathmaticians and their endless mathamatical equations.

They have become fatally seperated from the physical world they want to interpret and understand.

"Something out of nothing," doesn't cut it for me. Now, I know Tassos and his supporters would say that's not what he's postulating.

Tassos claims to be respecting the conservation of matter. But proposing that gavitational force is converted to matter inverts the relationship between matter and gravity. Gravity is a product of matter and no physical observations have demonstrated that gravitational force can be converted to matter.

That's a bridge too far for me to accept on the basis of mere mathamatical equations without physical observations.

I reject "black hole" anything.

Black holes have never been observed and they derive out of "big bang" cosmology that proposes "something out of nothing."

That's called a "miracle"!

Science doesn't do miracles.

It's mathamatics unhinged from physical reality.

A black hole -- infinite density.

Everything is quantifiable. You can't quantify infinite -- it has no limit.

QF states: "...the assumption that gravitational energy is converted to particles and antiparticles or is created from the vaccuum energy of the expanding Universe."

No and no.

No to "gravitational energy is converted to particles and antiparticles." And no to "[matter] is created from the vaccuum energy of the expanding Universe."

Quantum_Flux, I agree with your premise that expansion comes from addition. And also accept the idea that relieved pressure results in expansion.

Let me focus on the first idea you state and your concluding comment: "...or by other means."

What are the "other means"?

That is where the Plasma Universe theory comes into play.

Tassos' ideas are why Plasma Universe proponents scoff at Expanding Earth theory and conversely followers of Expanding Earth theory reject Plasma Universe theory.

Perhaps that is why OilIsMastery hasn't posted or commented on Plasma Earth theory.

But one can make the argument, as I will do now, that Plasma Universe theory provides the answer to where the "material" comes from to cause an expanding Earth..."by other means."

No need to create "something out of nothing" for Expanding Earth theory to have validity.

I've commented on this before. The Sun supplies the electrons and ions (protons and neutrons) in the Solar Wind which is captured in the Earth's electromagnetic field.

The combination of pressure, temperature, and electricity and resultant electromagnetic fields "builds" the atoms.

Electricity, plasma, and electromagnetic fields connect the Sun and the Earth (as well as the other bodies in the Solar system I might add).

Electricity is known to facilitate chemical reactions (seperating water into hydrogen and oxygen). I postulate electricity also facilitates subatomic reactions (fussion), this idea is furthered by scientific observations that electromagnetic fields effect the rate of radioactive decay.

The most dynamic environments in the Universe are created by the convergence of temperature, pressure, and electrical forces.

In an opposite way, Plasma Universe theory should not reject the idea of nuclear reactions in the Sun.

Even little tiny Man has created fission and fussion in his atomic bombs, so we have observed those two processes right here on Earth. Is it a great leap of imagination to think that electricity and the resultant electromagnetic fields facilitate along with pressure and temperature the nuclear reactions in the Sun?

I think not.

I meld the two theories, that's true, and some would make me out to be a bastard for that (some long ago made me out to be a bastard), but it seems to make sense based on physical observations.

Expanding Earth theory and Plasma Universe theory are not incompatable theories.

And Abiotic Oil theory, I submit relies on both to explain the huge hydrocarbon deposits found on Earth.

In turn, "squished" algae does not explain the amount of hydrocarbons on Earth.

Abiotic Oil theory does.

Quantum_Flux said...

Perhaps there are Super Atoms that exist in the Earth's core as a result of some combination of hydrostatic and electrostatic (see Bussard's Fusor) pressure driven fusion.

BrianR said...

I'm kicking myself for even engaging you in this since you'll dodge and weave your way out of actually answering, claim I'm dogmatic and dumb, etc. and so on ... but, hey, what the hell.

OIM says: "The Nazca plate cannot possibly be subducting as zircon data shows conclusively that it is spreading in all directions."

The Nazca plate is older (the yellowish color on the NGDC map) right near the 'armpit' of the South American continent. If it was "spreading in all direction" (not sure what that means), then where is the eastern divergent boundary?

If it helps, take a screenshot of that map and put arrows on it for the spreading in all directions. Be specific.

BF said...

Anaconda said: "Nothing I've seen so far categorically proves Continental Drift and its corollary subduction.

So, if that's the case, how can I rule out of hand Expanding Earth theory?"

What about a combination of theories - an expanding planet and continental drift, powered by electromagnetic mass creation at the core?

OilIsMastery said...


I have to correct you on at least 2 points.

(1) pair production is Neal Adams's mechanism, not Tassos's. Tassos's mechanism is fission/fusion.

(2) A cold mantle does not conflict with observation, rather a hot one does. No matter what the temperature of the outer core is, and most likely it is quite high, the mantle is cold, and its rigidity increases with depth, because otherwise seismic wave velocity cannot increase with depth, for example for P waves from 6-7 km/sec in the surface layers to about 14 km/sec at the mantle-core boundary.

OilIsMastery said...

"New observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicate that the crust and upper mantle of Mars are stiffer and colder than previously thought."

Mantles are cold.

OilIsMastery said...

"The primary evidence for the presence of cold upper mantle beneath the Equatorial Mid-Atlantic Ridge comes from the structural analysis of the ridge axis morphology and the petrology of both basaltic and peridotitic rocks dredged from the area (Fig. 1; Gorini, 1981; Bonatti & Honnorez, 1970; Bonatti, 1990; Bonatti et al., 1993; Schilling et al., 1995). Deep axial domains are usually associated with colder mantle temperature, generally along the length of the transform fault. For example, the Australian-Antarctic Discordance is characterized by a depth anomaly of about 800 meters (Christie et al., 1998). In the Equatorial Atlantic Ocean, the deepest point is located at southern part of the Saint Paul transform fault fracture zone (Schilling et al., 1995), with depth anomaly of about 700 m. The basalt samples from the Equatorial Mid-Atlantic Ridge have different compositions from other parts of the mid-oceanic ridge system, and show a notable enrichment of incompatible elements. This phenomenon is attributed to melt enrichment derived from low degree of partial melts from a deeper but relatively colder upper mantle. Schilling et al. (1995) estimated that the temperature of this region may be 100 to 150ºC lower than other areas of normal Mid-Atlantic Ridge."

Geophysical and geochemical evidence for cold upper mantle beneath the Equatorial Atlantic Ocean.

Anaconda said...

Partial Responses to Questions and Comments.


The "superatoms" is very intriguing. This is a verifiable observation of atom behavior. Science needs all the physical observations it can make. This is an new observation that does lead to additional questions and opens up new avenues of scientific investigation in chemistry.

That's solid scientific work.

I'll have to get back to you on the lecture presentation -- it's long, but sounds interesting -- worth watching. It sounds like it could be similar to my description of the Sun. My understanding is that Herndon also suggests some kind of "nuclear reactor" hypothesis.


BF states: "[A]n expanding planet and continental drift, powered by electromagnetic mass creation at the core?"

This sounds pretty close to the standard model of Expanding Earth theory (it seems a little early to say "standard model"), but it depends on what you mean by "continental drift".

According to Expanding Earth theory it can appear continents "drift" because the continents relationships to each other change as the Earth expands.

Do you mean there is still subduction? If the Earth expands, then there would be no need for subduction.

Subduction was a reactionary hypothesis to explain and justify the maintenance of the same diameter Earth in the face of the observed seafloor spreading. Because in order for the Earth to have seafloor spreading WITHOUT expansion, you have to have a "mechanism" to maintain a constant Earth diameter.

The scientific observations I've read report that the structure of the continents have a continuity with the adjacent ocean basins.

A metaphor that has been used, which I think is an apt description is that the continents are like trees rooted in the ground, in that sense they don't "drift".

Only the expansion and creation of new crust gives the appearance of "movement".

Another metaphor is to say continents don't "slide" around like butter on a hot skillet.


I stand corrected and apologize for misstating Tassos' mechanism of fission/fusion for expansion. I was relying on Quantum_Flux's comment. I do recall reading about a "cold core". I will review Tassos' work and the additional physical observations you've provided in your comments.

Physical observations are the master and mathamatics is the servant in science. Mathamatics is valuble for quantifying observed physical relationships among bodies and forces.

It's known that Mars has a weak electromagnetic field. In my opinion that suggests the whole planet is "cold", not just the mantle.

Perhaps I was a little quick to "take after" Tassos.

OilIsMastery said...


The eastern so-called "divergent boundary" of the Nazca Plate is the Andes Mountain Range.

Why is it impossible that the Nazsca plate be subducting into the mantle? Quite simple, granite, basalt (andesite), aren't dense enough to subduct into peridotite.

BrianR said...

OIM says: "The eastern so-called "divergent boundary" of the Nazca Plate is the Andes Mountain Range."

Just to be clear, you are saying the oceanic-continental boundary between the Nazca and South American plates is a spreading (i.e., divergent) boundary?

BF said...

Excellent response, Anaconda. I ought to have said: "how about combining the CD and expansion theories in such away as to eliminate subduction from the equation altogether - with expansion powered by EM mass creation at the core." Your metaphor that the continents are like trees rooted in the ground and in that sense they don't "drift" and your conclusion that the expansion and creation of new crust simply gives the appearance of "movement" is most helpful. Thank you.

Quantum_Flux said...

Well, it may disagree with the CARTOONIST's point of view, but I see no reason why there can't be both subduction and an expanding/contracting Earth....just to throw all of the physical processes on the table. Water acts as a lubricant of plate boundaries, and oceanic crust tends to lift up continental crust as 'cooling' iron from the mantle expands to fill the gap as per volcanism and conservation of mass.

Yeah, I said cooling and expands in the same sentence.

Anaconda said...


I reviewed Tassos' paper, Excess Mass Stress (E.M.S.) The driving force of Geodynamic Phenomena, 1998.

I was mistaken and misstated Tassos theory.

In note the observed temperatures reported in the mantle in the paper you linked.

Anaconda said...


I watched the Brussard video. This is applied nuclear physics, more specifically fussion physics applied to the goal of building electrical generating plants.

A worthy goal.

Let me give you my reactions to the presentation.

First, electrical and nuclear engineering go hand-in-hand which Plasma Universe proponents I would think should say is no surprise.

It's no surprise to me, anyway; it confirms my opinion.

So, it would seem plasma Universe theory is more relevant to Mankind's advancement than "big bang" theory.

It shows that Plasma Universe theory's principles are more accessible here on Earth than any "big bang" principles.

Which in my opinion demonstrates "Plasma" has more demonstrated validity as well.

The history of Bussard's project shows how much science and engineering is a product of trial and error.

Science should be confident to propose new ideas, but also should be ready to acknowledge when those ideas are wrong or need modification.

Yes, Neal Adams is a cartoonist, which is probably why he focussed on video presentations.

Visualization is a powerful medium to convey and persuade others to your position if the visualizations are based on solid scientific observation.

Adams' video presentations are, for the most part, based on solid science.

Also, as noted previously, Expanding Earth theory is proposed by geologists and geophysicists.

All these geologists and geophysicists assert there is no subduction.

What are the physical observations at so-called convergent boundaries (areas of subduction)?

What happens at a point where spreading seafloor and continental crust come together?

Is there an actual seam or joint in that location as the question implies?

What are the physical observations that demonstrate the subduction?

Or is there an assumption of subduction because...well, there just has be, or the Earth is expanding and the Earth can't expand.

The Earth must maintain a constant diameter.

That rational seems wanting of scientific support.

QF states: "[B]ut I see no reason why there can't be both subduction and an expanding/contracting Earth."

With expansion there is no physical requirement for subduction. The pressure and density of the Earth's crust, both oceanic and continental weigh against subduction.

QF states: "Water acts as a lubricant of plate boundaries..."

Water's lubricating properties is not enough to overcome the pressure and gavity of the continents.

The scientific evidence is substantial: Continents don't "slide" like butter on a hot skillet across the mantle. There is too much friction resistence between a rigid "cool" mantle and the crust for contintents to "slide".

QF states: "[A]nd oceanic crust tends to lift up continental crust as 'cooling' iron from the mantle expands to fill the gap as per volcanism and conservation of mass."

Oceanic crust would have to go "straight down" because continental crust reaches 15 to twenty kilometers deeper than oceanic crust. There is no way for oceanic crust to sink and then "ride underneath" continental crust.

Quantum_Flux said...

Straight down, no way. It doesn't have to go straight down, an angle besides 90 degrees is sufficient since continental crust shifts around and also rises upward ala "the mysterious receding seas" due also to glacier melt.

Anaconda said...


If oceanic crust is 3 - 6 miles thick and continental crust is 20 - 30 miles thick, as stated in Wikipedia, the only way for oceanic crust to "dive under" the continental crust would be for it to go down until it was deeper than the bottom of the continental crust.

And then be able to either melt back into the mantle or somehow "skinny" in between the mantle and the contintal crust.

But since only limited areas of the mantle undergo partial melt it would be hard for the oceanic crust to melt back into the mantle or "skinny" in between the mantle and the continental crust.

There simply isn't anyplace for the oceanic crust to "dive" to under those conditions.

An expanding Earth would mean that some areas rise as has been observed. The Mysterious Receding Seas reflects the widening of the oceanic basins due to the Earth's expansion.

QF states: "...continental crust shifts around..."

There is some "shifting", but the evidence doesn't show enough shifting to accomodate oceanic crust 3 - 6 miles thick.

I got to say, the more I think about this question the less I'm inclined to believe there is subduction.

The proposed physical mechanisms for subduction don't seem possible with what science knows about crustal (both oceanic and continental) and mantle dynamic forces and conditions.

But point to actual physical observations and I'll look and consider the specific physical observations pointed to.

This isn't my dog in the fight -- but I'll follow the scientific evidence wherever it leads to.

Frankly, I'd rather not have to stand up for another minority scientific opinion (it wears you down), so I am open to solid scientific evidence that demonstates the existence of subduction.

It would be far easier to say, "Yes, there is subduction and the Earth doesn't expand."

But I will dispute subduction until its scientifically demonstrated.

So far, Quantum_Flux, you really haven't pointed to specific physical observations that demonstrate subduction.

You've relied on assumptions and attempted to paint word pictures to justify those assumptions.

OilIsMastery said...

Brian R,

Just to be clear, this is what I'm saying.

"Over twelve years of laser ranging to the LAGEOS spacecraft have enabled the motions of the Earth's crust to be determined at approximately twenty laser tracking sites around the world. ...The relative motion of Hawaii and Arequipa is 80±3 mm/yr from our solution compared to the geologically predicted 66 mm/yr." (Smith et al, 1990).

So if Hawaii and Arequipa are moving away from eachother at 80±3 mm/yr, then the Nazca Plate cannot possibly be subducting. Therefore the Pacific is growing.

Furthermore, +65.33 mm/yr increasing width between Yaragadee Australia and Arequipa Peru (Smith et al., 1993). Therefore the Pacific is growing.

BrianR said...

OIM ... is the boundary between the Nazca and South American plates a spreading (i.e., divergent) boundary?

Geologist said...

Oil is Mastery have reason!

OilIsMastery said...

Brian R.,

Of course it is a divergent boundary since those are the only kind that exist. Convergence and subduction are myths.

BrianR said...

OIM says: "Of course it [the Nazca-South America plate boundary] is a divergent boundary"

Can you draw a sketch cross section showing that spreading center in relation to the Chile-Peru trench and the Andes? I'm interested in how fold-thrust belts form w/out compression. Thanks.

BrianR said...

OIM says: "Of course it is a divergent boundary since those are the only kind that exist."

Transform boundaries don't exist either?!

Quantum_Flux said...

Brian, isn't it the case that geologists determine the kind of boundary that exists by the type of siesmic wave that is encountered?

Quantum_Flux said...

OIM, Mars is mostly made of iron, I doubt it is expanding anymore as there are no active volcanoes anymore....but, perhaps that helps out my theory of the expanding iron core. Also, if Mars had the right TP values, it would have an atmosphere and ocean similar to that found on the Earth, erosion and the whole likes. Of course, now the erosion is mostly due to dust storms (electromagnetic as well as atmospheric in nature).

Quantum_Flux said...

However, I still don't know if the "just add water approach" works for plate tectonics. Perhaps "just add oil"? I couldn't tell you that either! There must be trenendous energies involved in plates sliding (overcoming friction) and sinking into each other.

Quantum_Flux said...

How about "just add decompressional magma, fusion, and iron expansion" to the equation?

Anaconda said...


I've already said I don't have a dog in this fight and it would be far easier to ignore all the evidence supporting Expanding Earth theory.

But this isn't a political website. Oh, sure, politics has been brought up from time to time, but the focus of this website is science -- geophysics.

The scientific method demands that anybody claiming to be a scientist or at least scientifically inclined that disagrees with a particular theory must face up to the evidence supporting it.

So far, not a lot of evidence in favor of subduction has been submitted on this website.

Assumptions seem to be all that is needed.

A list of various trenches and so-called subduction zones have been named -- and that seems to be enough for advocates of subduction to prove their case.

Is it, though?

First, one must review the history.

Some two hundred years ago, the hypothesis was stated that the Earth was a constant size.

This fell in line with the, as yet, unarticulated idea of Uniformatarianism, later fully enounciated by Lyell in England.

At the time this constant size Earth hypothsesis was first put forth, almost nothing was known about geophysical dynamics in the Earth's interior.

This belief fit well with the Bible as did the later Uniformatarianism of Lyell -- Lyell was a committed Christian.

So for the next two hundred years that was the consensus view of geology.

Then in the mid 1960's spreading rifts where discovered in the deep ocean, principly, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

If there were spreading zones, then whether the Earth had a constant diameter suddenly came into question.

This caused dissonance.

An expanding Earth is hard to believe, hard to get your mind around. It just doesn't seem possible.

Within a very short period of time from the discovery of spreading rifts, particularly when measured against the time it has taken for other geologic theories to be accepted, the subduction mechanism was postulated and accepted.

There had to be a mechanism that would explain spreading rifts and provide for the maintenance of a constant diameter Earth.

So it would seem.

While few arguments have been advanced against Expanding Earth theory on this website, for the sake of even-handedness, here are some arguments for subduction:

"Since the 1970s, a vast amount of evidence was found in structural geology, seismology, petrology and isotope geochemistry that subduction is at least to some extent taking place. It is still very hard to calculate the global rate with which material subducts. Proponents of the expanding Earth theory claim the existence of subduction does not necessarily rule out expansion of the planet, but the existence of a mechanism by which the Earth can keep its crust size constant is a significant problem for the expanding Earth theory and is one of the major reasons why it was abandoned. Observations seen as evidence for subduction include:

The existence of Wadati-Benioff zones, elongated regions of high seismic activity within the crust and mantle that are explained as huge shear zones. These zones are located beneath oceanic trenches and seem to indicate a slice of crustal material is moving downward through the mantle. They form one of the best arguments for subduction.

3D models of the mantle made with seismic tomography show cold zones of sinking material exactly in the regions where plate tectonics predicts slabs of crust are subducting into the mantle.
Petrologic research of rocks from mountain belts has yielded countless pressure-temperature-time paths. Paths for the axial zones of mountain belts (the metamorphic core) show many mountain chains went through a period of "deep burial". This is explained by plate tectonics (subduction followed by obduction). The existence of eclogite in many mountainbelts indicates material was "pushed" to depths far into the mantle (depths up to over 200 km are found). In plate tectonics this is explained by the slab pull force which occurs at mid-ocean ridges.
The existence of major geologic shearzones (sutures) in most mountain belts. Paleomagnetic and mineralogic studies show the rocks that are now lying next to each other were originally thousands of kilometers apart. In other words: a piece of the crust is missing. Structural geology has shown these missing pieces of crust are not located directly underneath the shearzones or laterally. Instead, they seem to have moved along the sutures into the mantle (this is supported by shear indicators in the shear zones). This is again strong evidence that subduction took place and mountains form by the "continental collision" of tectonic plates.

Rare earth isotope compositions of volcanic rocks that formed above subduction zones are similar to those of sediments on top of the subducting plate. If there are lateral differences in the isotope composition of sediments on subducting plates, these lateral differences are also found back in the composition of the magma that rose from the deeper part of the subduction zone."

The above passage listing evidence for subduction is from Wikipedia.

Wikipedia certainly isn't the be all and end all of for scientific discussion, but generally it can be counted as a good starting place.

I hope the above genuinely adds to the dialogue, not as a "tour de force" intended as the "coup de grace" that ends discussion, but rather as an invitation for further discussion.

While quotes from and links to source documents add to a discussion, they are not an end in themselves.

Friendly, give and take among discussion participants is also important to scientific advancement.

"May the 'Force' be with you!"

Anaconda said...


The passage quoted above was from the Wikipedia entry for Expanding Earth theory intended as a counter-argument in favor of suduction.

It would also be appropriate to include in this discussion the Wikipedia entry for subduction.

An interesting note is that the Wikipedia entry for subduction offers little scientific evidence in its favor.

Oh, there is a long description, but these descriptions are based on the presumption that subduction does exist.

It seems to be held "self evident" that subduction occurs.

So, it's interesting that the best scientific evidence for subduction is not listed under subduction, itself, but as a counter-argument to Expanding Earth theory.

Perhaps an analysis of the quoted arguments for subduction should be made.

BrianR said...

In many scientific ideas, it's difficult to point to a single, or even a handful, of papers that provide all the evidence. The evidence comes from the totality of decades of work. The very fact that there is so much work done makes it challenging to show the work.

In that spirit I've listed below enough references about subduction to give you a taste (i.e., this is not a "complete" list). These include geophysical (especially seismic tomography and seismologic), geochemical, petrological, mapping/observational, and experimental studies. Not all, but many, of the Earth's subduction zones are covered in this list. At the end I've also included a list of textbooks ... these are the best place to start. As bonus, I've included some relevant websites.

I'm not here to defend each and every one of these studies ... the style of discourse on this site is frustrating ... this comment is an FYI to anyone reading this. Take some time and familiarize yourself with the literature and the concepts. There's a wealth of data presented in these papers that need reinterpreation and re-evaluation if you disagree with their conclusions.

If you want to search for more references, utilizing scholar.google.com will return good results.


individual papers/articles related to subduction:

Stern, R.J., 2002, Subduction zones: Reviews of Geophysics, v. 40, 1012, doi: 10.1029/2001RG000108.

Tatsumi, Y. 2005. The Subduction Factory: How it operates on Earth. GSA Today, v. 15, No. 7, 4-10.

Abers, G. A., Hydrated subducted crust at 100–250 km depth, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 176, 323–330, 2000.

Allmendinger, R. W., T. E. Jordan, S. M. Kay, and B. L. Isacks, The evolution of the Altiplano-Puna Plateau of the central Andes, Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci., 25, 139–174, 1997.

Ayers, J. C., S. K. Dittmer, and G. D. Layne, Partitioning of elements between peridotite and H2O at 2.0–3.0 GPa and 900–1100 C, and application to models of subduction zone processes, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 150, 381–398, 1997.

Bevis, M., et al., Geodetic observations of very rapid convergence and back-arc extension at the Tonga arc, Nature, 374, 249–251, 1995.

Bevis, M., E. Kendrick, R. Smalley Jr., B. Brooks, R. Allmendinger and B. Isacks, On the strength of interplate coupling and the rate of back arc convergence in the central Andes: An analysis of the interseismic velocity field, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 2, 2001GC000198, 2001.

Billen, M. I., and M. Gurnis, A low viscosity wedge in subduction zones, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 193, 227–236, 2001.

Chiu, J.-M., B. L. Isaaks, and R. K. Cardwell, 3-D configuration of subducted lithosphere in the western Pacific, Geophys. J. Int., 106, 99–111, 1991.

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textbooks and other reference books for general plate tectonics:

Global Tectonics, P. Keary and F. J. Vine (2nd Ed.), Blackwell, 1996.
Plate Tectonics, Cox and Hart, Allen & Unwin, Boston, MA, 1986.
Dynamic Earth: Plates, Plumes and Mantle Convection, Davies, G. F., Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Tatsumi, Y., and S. Eggins, Subduction Zone Magmatism, Blackwell, Malden, Mass., 1995.

Taylor, S. R., and S. M. Mclennan, The Continental Crust: Its Composition and Evolution, Blackwell Sci., Malden, Mass., 1985.

Yeats, R. S., K. Sieh, and C. R. Allen, The Geology of Earthquakes, Oxford Univ. Press, New York, 1997.

Busby & Ingersoll, Tectonics of Sedimentary Basins, Blackwell, 1996.


subduction zone-related websites:

MARGINS subduction factory http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/margins/SubFac.html

MARGINS seismogenic zone http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/margins/SeismZone.html

Geochemical Earth Reference Models http://www.earthref.org/GERM/main.htm

Geochemistry of rocks of the oceans and continents http://georoc.mpch-mainz.gwdg.de/

Volcano world http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vw.html

Global Volcanism Program http://www.nmnh.si.edu/gvp/

Three-dimensional representation of subduction zones http://piru.alexandria.ucsb.edu/collections/kirkby_morin/gdyn/main.html

U.S. Geological Survey “Dynamic Earth” http://pubs.usgs.gov/publications/text/dynamic.html

Anaconda said...

A healthy list of scientific papers backing standard Tectonic Plate, Continental Drift theory and its corollary Subduction.

Well done.

BrianR, thank you for your time and effort.

Anaconda said...

ScienceDaily (Oct. 27, 2008) — "A new technique using X-rays has enabled scientists to play 'detective' and solve the debate about the origins of a three billion year old rock fragment."

The article is short and well worth reading.

The article goes on to suggest this technique can be used to unravel other mysteries of early planet formation and more important development.

The type of rocks examined are called "komatiites" which have been previously discussed on this website in the course of discussing geological characteristics of the mantle in reference to Abiotic Oil theory.

The article also says this reported observation technique has dispelled some long held theories on early planetary development.

Perhaps this technique will help add scientific weight on one side or the other on this issue.

BrianR said...

Anaconda ... interesting article, sure ... but how does it address whether or not plate convergence is a "myth", as OIM claims?

Anaconda said...


Frankly, it's hard to say how this new technique will address whether subduction is a myth.

It may not.

That's why I used the word "perhaps" as a qualifier.

I note this quote: "However, he believes this new technique will enable scientists to uncover more details about the Earth's early history. He says:

"...This research resolves the controversy about the origin of komatiites and opens the door to the possibility of new discoveries about our planet's past."


"In particular, Dr Berry believes this technique can now be used to explain Earth's internal processes such as the rate at which its interior has been cooling, how the forces affecting the Earth's crust have changed over time, and the distribution of radioactive elements which internally heat the planet."


"He believes this information could then be used to build new detailed models to explain the evolution of the planet."

Certainly, detailed models of the evolution of the planet could include questions of whether there is subduction or not.

But then again, maybe not.

Presumably, if subduction exists, it's been going on for a very long time.

I linked it because it was an example of a scientific technique that could shed new light on old questions.

I suppose time will tell as they say, but many times a new observational technique ends up providing answers to questions not even thought of when the technique was originally developed.

New techniques generally mean new applications.

BrianR said...

Maybe it could address how subduction began ... but there is plenty of data from modern or geologically recent subduction zones (in the papers and textbooks I list above) ... like I said, the study sounds interesting but is not entirely relevant to this comment thread.

OIM - how does the convergence-is-a-myth view of the Earth explain fold-thrust belts?

Anaconda said...


As I've written before this isn't my fight, but to the extent that I've entertained Expanding Earth theory, it seems encumbent that I explain why, or at least offer some points I think are relevant.

An issue has been brought forth that one must explain the presence of thrust-fold belts without subduction for Expanding Earth theory to have any merit at all.

Here is a detailed presentation on the geology of foreland thrust-fold belts.

This entry of Wikipedia for thrust-fold belt is instructive.

Why is the Wikipedia entry instructive? Because it's a long list of different thrust-fold belts associated with different mountain ranges.

And among the list are many areas that are not and never have been associated with subduction.

So the idea that without subduction zones you can't have thrust-fold belts is inaccurate.

If there are many thrust-fold belts not associated with alleged subduction zones, then surely there must be another process or mechanism that accounts for thrust-fold belts.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone doesn't have a trench, other alleged subduction zones have a trench. Some alleged subduction zones have a nearby range of volcanoes associated with them. Other alleged subduction zones aren't associated with a nearby volcanic range.

So, there seems to be, at brief glance, inconsistencies in the geology of alleged subduction zones.

I find this Wikipedia entry for foreland basins interesting.


Because the introductory passage makes no mention of subduction:

"A foreland basin is a depression that develops adjacent and parallel to a mountain belt. Foreland basins form because the immense mass created by crustal thickening associated with the evolution of a mountain belt causes the lithosphere to bend, by a process known as lithospheric flexure. The width and depth of the foreland basin is determined by the flexural rigidity of the underlying lithosphere, and the characteristics of the mountain belt. The foreland basin receives sediment that is eroded off the adjacent mountain belt, filling with thick sedimentary successions that thin away from the mountain belt. Foreland basins represent an endmember basin type, the other being rift basins. Space for sediments - accommodation space - is provided by loading and downflexure to form foreland basins, in contrast to rift basins, where accommodation space is generated by lithospheric extension."

But it's not about subduction, is the quick response, and later in the entry subduction is graphically depicted and mentioned.

Yes, that's all true, but the introductory passage actually has a description more consistent with Expanding Earth theory.

Phrases such as:

"...by a process known as lithospheric flexure."

"The width and depth of the foreland basin is determined by the flexural rigidity of the underlying lithosphere..."

Flextion and rigidity jump out.

Enough of that point.

Another point is one of historical development of subduction theory.

Prior to the 1960's sea-floor spreading ridges were largely unknown.

Subduction as a balancing mechanism to sea-floor spreading was also unknown.

Surely mountain (orogeny) formation and volcanic formation and thrust-fold belt formation had already been postulated before subduction had been hypothesized or generally known.

I keep after the history. As soon as sea-floor spreading was scientifically observed, in rapid response the concept of subduction was postulated and accepted.

Within five years from postulating the hypothesis, subduction was deemed a theory and accepted. An incredibly rapid time for a major hypothesis to be accepted as the governoring theory in the geology community.

Of course as long as subduction was not accepted, that left a crack open for Expanding Earth theory. (We can't have that intolerable situation, heaven forbid!)

The Earth must retain a constant diameter.

After that point almost all geology papers paid homage to subduction as accepted theory and each aspiring geologist wanted to contribute his piece to the reigning theory. (All hail the king.)

So while there are a mass of geology papers supporting subduction theory many are derivative in nature.

This meditation is not meant to be dispositive in any way.

Meditation: A discourse intended to express it's author's reflections or to guide others in contemplation.

BrianR said...

I apologize if this comes up twice ... something weird happened when I tried to first post the comment.

Anaconda says: "And among the list are many areas that are not and never have been associated with subduction."

Which ones?

Anaconda says: "The Cascadia Subduction Zone doesn't have a trench, other alleged subduction zones have a trench."

Cascadia trench is over-filled with sediment, does not have sea-floor expression ... also has significant accretionary complex.

Anaconda says: "Other alleged subduction zones aren't associated with a nearby volcanic range."

Which ones?

I don't understand the point you make about foreland basins and lithospheric flexure.

Anaconda says: "Surely mountain (orogeny) formation and volcanic formation and thrust-fold belt formation had already been postulated before subduction had been hypothesized"

It was ... it was called geosynclinal theory.

Anaconda ... I get the sense from your comment that you are simply dismissing all those papers and textbooks I list above. Did you go through them already? You're very quick. What about them do you disagree with? Pick a handful.

Anaconda said...


If I was dismissing the whole list of papers, that was wrong. Each paper has to be evaluated on its own merits.

Here is a list of thrust-fold belts that don't seem to be associated with subduction in no particular order.

Rocky Mountains

Western Sierra Madre Range

Wyoming-Utah Thrustbelt


Eastern Sierra Madre Range

Ogilvie Mountains

Brooks Range

This is from the list which was limited to North America.

If the Cascadia "trench" is full of sediment why aren't the others, too.

This is the first I've read of a Cascadia "trench" full of sediment.

Mariana Trench seems to be relatively isolated from volcanic activity. (Noted are a few sporadic spots of volcanic activity.)

Map of Mariana Trench.

lithospheric flexure seems more consistent with an expanding globe that causes flexture -- deformation due to the curvature of the globe relaxing.

"Pick a handful." Hmmm...

I'll admit it's very exhausting to analyze a paper to glean areas that can be re-interpreted or challenged.

You'll have to wait on that...

You understand...I know...

BrianR said...

Remember you said fold-thrust belts that aren't, or never were, related to subduction ... that is key. Google the 'Wilson Cycle'.

BrianR said...

Anaconda says: "If the Cascadia "trench" is full of sediment why aren't the others, too."

Not all trenches have major rivers (like the Columbia) delivering sufficient amounts of sediment. There are other factors at play, of course, but a source of sediment is key. See one of my own posts (which you commented on) here for an image showing the bathymetry.

If you want more general information on Cascadia subduction zone with respect to patterns of sedimentation see this sampling of papers:

BARNARD, W.D., 1978, The Washington continental slope: Quaternary tectonics and sedimentation: Marine Geology, v. 27, p. 79–114.

CARSON, B., 1973, Acoustic stratigraphy, structure and history of Quaternary deposition in Cascadia Basin: Deep-Sea Research, v. 20, p. 387–396.

DAVIS, E.E., AND HYNDMAN, R.D., 1989, Accretion and recent deformation of sediments along the northern Cascadia subduction zone: Geological Society of America, Bulletin, v. 101, p. 1465–1480.

DUNCAN, J.R., AND KULM, L.D., 1970, Mineralogy, provenance, and dispersal history of late Quaternary deep-sea sands in Cascadia Basin and Blanco Fracture Zone off Oregon: Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 40, p. 874–877.

KULM, L.D., AND FOWLER, G.A., 1974, Oregon continental margin structure and stratigraphy: a test of the imbricate thrust model, in Burk, C.A., and Drake, C.L., eds., The Geology of Continental Margins: New York, Springer-Verlag, p. 261–284.

NORMARK, W.R., AND SERRA, F., 2001, Vertical tectonics in northern Escanaba Trough as recorded by thick late Quaternary turbidites: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 106, p. 13,793–13,802.

SHIPBOARD SCIENTIFIC PARTY, 1997d, Buried basement transect (Sites 1028, 1029, 1030, 1031, and 1032), in Davis, E.E., Fisher, A.T., Firth, J.V., et al., Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program, Initial Reports, v. 168: College Station, Texas (Ocean Drilling Program), p. 161–212.

BrianR said...

Anaconda says: "Mariana Trench seems to be relatively isolated from volcanic activity. (Noted are a few sporadic spots of volcanic activity.)"

The Izu-Bonin-Mariana (IBM) volcanic arc is associated with the Marianas subduction zone. The Wikipedia page on IBM arc is actually quite comprehensive (see here).

You noted "a few sporadic spots of volcanic activity" (reference?) ... whereas Baker et al. (2008) identified 76 volcanic edifices.

Baker, E.T., Embley, R.W., Walker, S.L., Resing, J.A., Lupton, J.E., Nakamura, K.-I., de Rode, C. E. J., Massoth, G. J. 2008. Hydrothermal activity and volcano distribution along the Mariana arc. J. Geophys. Res.113, B08S09, doi:10.1029/2007JR005423, 2008.

What other modern subduction zones do not have volcanic activity?

BrianR said...

Anaconda says: "lithospheric flexure seems more consistent with an expanding globe that causes flexture -- deformation due to the curvature of the globe relaxing."

But the lithospheric flexure you discussed above was in relation to foreland fold-thrust belts and the load they emplace on the crust.

As I said it's difficult to point to a single paper for these issues, but if I had to for foreland basins it would be DeCelles & Giles, 1996, Basin Research, v. 8, p. 105-123. Jordan's chapter in the Busby & Ingersoll text I list above is good and goes over this topic.

I'm not saying there isn't lithospheric deformation associated w/ divergent boundaries and the curvature of the Earth, but I'm confused on the mechanism of flexure w/r/t foreland basins. Links to others ideas on this or clarification from you appreciated.

BrianR said...

Anaconda ... I've responded to your list of North American fold-thrust (F-T) belts from the Wikipedia page with a few comments. These are just my comments from memory ... I didn't dig up the appropriate references ... perhaps I'll do that another time. I've provided enough references today.

The most important thing about that table is the age column (the middle column). Many of these F-T belts are associated w/ ancient convergent margins.

(1) Rocky Mountains: The Rockies are actually a very interesting problem ... there is still some fascinating debate about their origin. Ideas about 'flat slab' subduction and such. Plus, they are 'thick-skinned' system, meaning they involve basement uplifts (e.g., Front Range, Uinta Mts., Bighorn Mts., etc.) and not just shortening of sedimentary cover.

(2) Western Sierra Madre Range: Honestly, I've never read any papers about these mountains. Essentially they are the southern extension of the entire North American Cordillera, but I'd have to do some digging to learn more. Fun!

(3) Wyoming-Utah Thrustbelt: This is also known as the Sevier belt and much of the structural deformation is associated with the Cretaceous convergent margin (that is also responsible for the now-exhumed Sierra Nevada continental arc). The extensive Cretaceous strata exposed in Utah and Colorado are interpreted as foreland basin deposits associated w/ this orogen.

(3) Appalachians: I love the Appalachians! Very cool geology. This orogen is more challenging to unravel because of their age (Late Paleozoic). There are a couple different orogenic phases recorded in there ... related to assembly of Pangea.

(4) Eastern Sierra Madre Range: As I said above, don't know much about these Mexican mountains.

(5) Ogilvie Mountains: Associated w/ extension of Cretaceous convergent margin system mentioned above for Sevier F-T belt.

(6) Brooks Range: Many show how this range is an amalgam of many F-T belts that have accreted over time (called 'accreted terranes'). It's a complex history with convergence (and compressional tectonism) related to multiple episodes. Like the others, I'd have to do some more digging to really find out the nitty-gritty. Or you can, I've spent too much time on this today.

Anyway ... a lot to cover.

Also, I am still interested to hear OilIsMastery's ideas on mountain building, especially those w/ evidence for reverse/thrust faulting and folding (i.e., compression) within the context of an Earth where convergence is a "myth".

Anaconda said...


Your time and attention are appreciated -- you've provided a lot of information. Rest and relax, at least regarding this discussion.

The 'Wilson Cycle' is really the "grand formulation" of Tectonic Plate, Continental Drift theory designed to incorporate the element of time, geologic time.

Also, known as the Supercontinent Cycle.

And, of course, according to this "grand" theory, just about every mountain range is due to subduction.

How convenient.

Of course, that also explains why every paper "pays homage" to Tectonic Plate, Continental Drift theory.

Geology is rooted in this theory.

As stated in the Wilson Cycle, And A Plate Tectonic Rock Cycle:

"Nothing in geology makes sense except in terms of plate tectonic theory."

It's clear, should Tectonic Plate, Continental Drift theory ever be seriously called into question, all geology would be deeply humbled.

Yes, the Columbia River has pumped out a great deal of sediment over time. But sedimentary fans have a defined extent, even the 'Mighty Mississippi'. The hypothesis you present postulates that the entire length of the "trench" has been neatly covered over.

The scientific evience is limited for that proposition.

The Peru-Chile Trench has many seperate rivers feeding into it from the Andes Mountain range, not as big as the Columbia for sure, but I haven't read of any areas that have been "filled in", perhaps there is material on that issue.

Regarding the extent of volcanic activity near the Mariana Trench, I'll stand corrected.

But let's not lose sight of the forest for the trees. In order for subduction theory to account for a constant diameter Earth, there must be an EQUAL amount of subduction compared to sea-floor spreading ridges.

There is roughly 40,000 miles of sea-floor spreading ridges. There simply hasn't been identified an EQUAL amount of subduction zones.

But let's focus on an answer you provided to one of my questions: "It was ... it was called geosynclinal theory."

Geosynclinal theory was widely held in the geology community to explain the development of mountains, prior to the subduction revolution.

Briefly it held that vertical crustal movement was primarily responsible for orogeny development.

Do I hear echoes of an expanding Earth?

Presumably, many geologic papers expanded on and defined and offered proof for this theory, whole laundry lists in fact. Most building on its antecedents.

I suppose this whole generation of geologists was wrong, or at least that's the way today's geologists think.

Was each and every paper debunked?

I don't think so.

Yet, each and every Geosynclinal theory paper was cast aside, never the less. Apparently today's geologists don't feel the need evaluate each and every paper because they are derivative of a theory today's geologists think is wrong.

Am I right?

Moving on to your response to my list of thrust-fold belts that don't have a connection to subduction:

In summary:

Subduction, here, subduction, there, subduction, everywhere...

That seems to be the answer...look hard enough and you'll find subduction lurking under that rock, somewhere.

Per, the 'Wilson Cycle'.

Frankly, I don't find that particularly persuasive.

Which gets us back to basics. Science has limited tools to see below the Earth's surface. Yes, I know seismic imaging can do wonders, still it's based on certain assumptions and has certain limitations.

There are other "imperfect" tools, as well.

I think science needs to be voluntarily humble, or else sometime down the road, a forced humiliation will occur by the course of events that even the most creative defenders of the faith won't be able to refute.

In concluding, you've made your point: Each side has evidenciary items they can point to on their side of the argument. Conversely, each side can point to paradoxes embedded in the other side's case.

Perhaps, that is a good place to leave it for now.

BrianR said...

Anaconda ... I'm not going to, again, get into these rhetorical "discussions" that you obviously enjoy. Remember, you said I was a disgrace to my field and arrogant? I don't want to go down that path.

You say: "The hypothesis you present postulates that the entire length of the "trench" has been neatly covered over. The scientific evience is limited for that proposition."

Read the papers! Let's look at the details ... what specific evidence are you talking about? Give me specifics ... which dataset? Which paper? Which authors? Which part of the region?

If you don't want to discuss specifics, fine ... if you'd rather pontificate about dogma in science and such, that's great ... you clearly enjoy those discussions. Others reading this can engage you in that if they like.

But, if you (or anyone else reading) wants to look at the data in these papers and discuss what they mean, I'm game. You are expressing extreme skepticism that subduction occurs (and OIM, who is silent on the issue, proclaims not only subduction but any kind of covergence/compression to be a "myth"). Let's stay on that specific topic. Let's look at the data. Let's pick some of those papers and study them. We can pull out the data and observations and discuss interpretations.

You say: "Each side has evidenciary items they can point to on their side of the argument. Conversely, each side can point to paradoxes embedded in the other side's case."

Show me the evidence that subduction does not occur. Specifically that ... not speculative, if not intriguing, theoretical claims ... I'm interested in data and observations from the Earth. As I've listed above there is a wealth of information that has led researchers to an interpretation of subduction. Debunk those papers. Let's address specific data.

Do you want to start w/ a specific subduction zone (maybe Cascadia as you have some interest in it)?

Anaconda said...


I thought the discussion was left off at an equanimous point.

As I ended my previous comment:

"In concluding, you've made your point: Each side has evidenciary items they can point to on their side of the argument. Conversely, each side can point to paradoxes embedded in the other side's case.

Perhaps, that is a good place to leave it for now."

It's your proposition that the Cascadia "trench" has been covered over.

Fine. Enunciate your proposition by quoting the relevant passages from the papers you cite in support of your proposition.

It's not my job to argue your papers. That's your job to give specifics on the papers you cite.

It's not that I don't want to argue specifics; provide the relevant passages and I'll respond accordingly.

BrianR says: "Show me the evidence that subduction does not occur."

I'm sure you read the post and reviewed the citations.

I'll not repeat the whole thing.

What I did point out was simple enough:

"In order for subduction theory to account for a constant diameter Earth, there must be an EQUAL amount of subduction compared to sea-floor spreading ridges.

There is roughly 40,000 miles of sea-floor spreading ridges. There simply hasn't been identified an EQUAL amount of subduction zones."

And, no, it's not speculative. The amount of sea-floor spreading ridges is a measured observation.

So, please don't lecture me on facts. I provided a salient fact. How you respond is your choice.

Yes, the Cascadia Subduction Zone is a good place to start. I discussed the Cascadia Subduction Zone in a previous comment, but didn't get any takers.

On a lighter and hopefully more conciliatory note, it's regrettable you were offended by previous comments I made. I apologize for those comments.

As I already said, "Perhaps, that is a good place to leave it for now."

I look forward to other opportunities:-)

BrianR said...

Anaconda says: "It's your proposition that the Cascadia "trench" has been covered over. Fine. Enunciate your proposition by quoting the relevant passages from the papers you cite in support of your proposition."

I will go ahead and spend some time gathering information from papers then. It may take some time ... research is work (and I have a day job).

"In order for subduction theory to account for a constant diameter Earth, there must be an EQUAL amount of subduction compared to sea-floor spreading ridges."

Amount? As in volumes? At what rates? Is this the primary argument against subduction? This could be an interesting theoretical thought exercise, but how 'bout we stick to observations and data from the "alleged" subduction zones.

While I'm researching peer-reviewed papers (that include data and observations), I would recommend you do the same ... so we can communicate about the specific parts of Cascadia, the different fracture zones, submarine fans, and so on. We will then be able to have an efficient and hopefully effective discussion that doesn't go off on tangents. Any of those papers I list above about Cascadia and sedimentation are good (first thing I do when cracking open a new paper is check out the list of references and try and find 3-5 papers that are good for background and context).

Hopefully I'll have some information for you to evaluate in a few days ... and I'll probably put it on my own blog so I can embed images/illustrations. I'll link to this thread.

Anaconda said...


Sounds good.

Anaconda said...

After Research, A response to BrianR:

It was not my intention to respond to BrianR's last comment until re-engaged in the discussion. However, I had raised the lack of a trench in the so-called Cascadia Subduction Zone in the course of discussion.

Immediately, BrianR came back with: "Cascadia trench is over-filled with sediment, does not have sea-floor expression ... also has significant accretionary complex."

To which I said: "If the Cascadia "trench" is full of sediment why aren't the others, too. This is the first I've read of a Cascadia "trench" full of sediment."

To which BrianR stated other "trenches" didn't have the Columbia River depositing sediment and he presented a laudry list of papers, preumably to suggest, scientific back up for his position.

That's where I left it.

But I decided to look at the papers cited (as per BrianR's suggestion), anticipating further discussion on the topic.

None of the seven papers were readily available on the internet (my version, anyway).

Laundry lists of papers that aren't available on the internet are not helpful. One must also be careful that laundry lists are not a substitute for actually presenting a case.

But I did find one scientific paper that did address the geologic profile and structure off the Oregon coast (where a good portion of "Cascadia" lies).

Tectonics of the Neogene Cascadia forearc basin: Investigations of a
deformed late Miocene unconformity,
McMeill, Goldfinger, Kulm, Yeats, GSA Bulletin; August 2000; v. 112; no. 8; p. 1209–1224; 10 figures.

The figures and discussion are useful and shed light on the issue of a "trench" and whether it has been covered over by sediment as alleged by BrianR.

This particular paper presents no evidence of a trench that has been "coverd over".

The seismic profiles presented clearly exclude the possibility of a trench and "trench" is not used in the paper as a descriptive of any geological feature.

And when I say "trench" I mean a significant geologic structure, at least in depth and width.

(I don't present quotes from the linked paper because nothing even came close to a "trench" discussion.)

This exercise highlights the danger of presenting laundry lists.

One scientic paper cited and linked is more informative to the reader than twenty papers on an unavailable list.

As I stated before: Lists without ready access for the reader tend to be a substitute for substantive scientific argument.

In other words, authority run amok.

Which brings up another aspect of BrianR response.

(I wanted to let sleeping dogs lie, but since I'm writng...)

BrianR responded to my citing the total length of sea-floor spreading ridges (roughly 40,000 miles) with (after first ignoring it), "Amount? As in volumes? At what rates? Is this the primary argument against subduction? This could be an interesting theoretical thought exercise, but how 'bout we stick to observations and data from the "alleged" subduction zones."

This is called "throwing dust into the air".


Because nowhere does subduction theory, that I'm aware of -- there are vast amounts of papers on the subject -- postulate or define: "Amount", "volume", or "rates".

Rather, subduction depends on qualitative descriptions.

So, if my question of equal subduction for equal sea-floor spreading is simply a "thought exercise", so is the whole concept of subduction.

My question was easy enough to understand and the import was clear. The fact that BrianR responded with "I don't understand what you mean," and attempted to invalidate the question, suggests he doesn't have a good answer.

BrianR, how about this type of response: "That's an interesting challenge and it makes sense. If the Earth has a constant diameter, then there must be an equal amount of subduction. I don't have an answer right now, let me research the issue. It may turn out to be a paradox in Tectonic Plate, Continental Drift theory."

But instead, we get "throwing dust in the air."

That's not the way to conduct a meaningful discussion.

But I understand: To admit any weakness in subduction theory is to possibly begin to see the ediface crack (surely, the ediface isn't that weak).

But that's the wrong attitude in a discussion using the scientific method as the perameter for discourse.

The proper scientific attitude is to admit the weaknesses of our position as well as state the strengths.

BrianR said...

Anaconda says: "Laundry lists of papers that aren't available on the internet are not helpful."


"Lists without ready access for the reader tend to be a substitute for substantive scientific argument."

Anaconda, give me a break, I give you a list of references and since you don't have access, it's somehow MY fault. Go to a library. This is ridiculous ... if I didn't give you a list and pontificated on my own you would've attacked me for not backing up my statements and you would've asked for peer-reviewed papers, right? If I had given you one, you would've said 'well, that's just one paper, hardly a wealth of data' ... Do you want me to photocopy all the relevant papers, read and analyze them, highlight the relevant passages, and mail them to you? Go to your local library and do the research! It's not that difficult.

Now on to the McNeil et al. paper.

Anaconda says: "The seismic profiles presented clearly exclude the possibility of a trench and "trench" is not used in the paper as a descriptive of any geological feature."

Look at Fig. 1 ... none of the seismic-reflection profiles even extend to the trench. This study is focused on the forearc region (which is stated in the title, abstract, and introduction). So, the reason the paper doesn't discuss the subduction zone proper is because it's not focused on it! I'm sorry, but you can't pull out a paper that doesn't discuss the thing you are interested in and then turn around and criticize it for not discussing the thing you are interested in. This paper is about unconformity development in the forearc basin sedimentary succession.

I started gathering information about Cascadia, but I get the impression I might be wasting my time. Whatever I present to you will be dismissed for one reason or another.

I'll do it anyway for any other readers of this thread.

Anaconda said...

Your Eminence,

We, unwashed groundlings patiently await your return from the great ivory tower. Master of the academy have forbearance, not all the little people of the internet have access to the great libraries hosted in the hollowed halls of academia.

We humbly await your discerning directions to the great trench of Cascadia.

Your most obedient internet groundling,

Anaconda of the little people

BrianR said...

Anaconda ... nice one. I suppose you are really pleased with yourself. I don't know why I thought engaging you again would be different. I guess I'm an optimist.

Did you still want to discuss the McNeill et al. paper? I responded about the details of that paper and you respond with that comment. Do you disagree with me re McNeill et al.? Like I keep saying, I'd rather discuss details and data from specific locations or studies ... looks like you don't. Fair enough.

Anaconda said...


It wasn't clear you wanted to discuss it.

But since you ask. First, you never gave a description of where the "trench" was located.

So I linked a paper that had a detailed discussion and diagrams of an area I thought where the trench would be located.

Now, if you state the "trench" is farther offshore beyond the boundary of the McNeill study area, then fine, I'll wait for documentation for where the "trench" is located.

Hey, I'm not infallible.

I will add this: If a "trench" does exist farther offshore beyond the study area, you'd think that would influence the study area enough to be mentioned at least in passing.

But as I already said, I could be wrong. so in all seriousness, I do await presentation of papers or paper (hopefully linked or an extended passage) that points to and describes this covered over trench.

BrianR said...

Okay ... so now you're serious and want to talk about it? Honestly, it's hard to keep up w/ your mood swings. Like I said, I will put together a post anyway just in case you decide again that I'm a disgrace and arrogant and want nothing to do with me. It's an area I'm interested in anyway, so it'll be fun.

Remember, I said there is no sea-floor expression of a trench ... so, it's not about "finding" a trench per se. This is about demonstrating to you that the Cascadia subduction zone has a distinctly different physiography as a result of a high degree of sedimentation and significant accretionary wedge. This may not be posted for another week or two due to other things going on in my life ... don't get impatient. In the meantime, if you don't have access to journals, look up some active researchers in this field of study, they will often put links to their papers on their personal websites.

Re McNeill et al., you say: "If a "trench" does exist farther offshore beyond the study area, you'd think that would influence the study area enough to be mentioned at least in passing."

Again, it's not about a trench "existing" on the sea floor ... read what I say in my original comment way above - trench overfilled w/ sediment and there's also a significant accretionary complex.

In terms of McNeill et al. not mentioning it in passing, they do talk about the sedimentation history with this statement:

"The central Cascadia forearc basin is currently almost entirely filled (see bathymetric base map of Fig. 3). Holocene hemipelagic sedimentation has been minimal compared to the Pleistocene glacial period. During the Pleistocene, submarine canyons transported the majority of sediments directly to the abyssal plain and submarine fans, such as the Astoria fan (Nelson, 1976)."

This is key.

Anaconda said...


You want to discuss why the paper I linked demonstrates subduction.


But I'm still patiently waiting for a paper demonstrating a "trench overfilled w/ sediment".

BrianR, there may not be a paper that demonstrates a "trench overfilled w/ sediment" proposition.

Might you be humble enough to acknowledge that fact, if, in deed, it turns out to be the case?

Why is it so hard for you to admit a harmless mistake (jumping to the conclusion that Cascadia has a "trench overfilled w/ sediment"), or that subduction theory has weaknesses for that matter?

It's not a crime to admit to making a mistake or that a theory has certain weaknesses.

Frankly, all your gyrations to avoid any admission of the kind, come off slightly ridiculous, thus my jocular rejoinder.

Relax a little.

As I've already indicated, I'm happy discuss the McNeill paper and why it demonstrates subduction.

But I'm also still waiting for a response to my question regarding the necessity of an equal amount of subduction zones for the roughly 40,000 miles of sea-floor spreading observed around the world.

BrianR said...

Anaconda says: "Why is it so hard for you to admit a harmless mistake (jumping to the conclusion that Cascadia has a "trench overfilled w/ sediment"), or that subduction theory has weaknesses for that matter?"

Holy crap ... I said it was gonna take a while and within an hour you want me to admit mistakes?

You are an odd one Anaconda.

Anaconda said...


Take your time, all the time you need.

No worries.

I look forward to see what you come up with:-)

BrianR said...

Anaconda ... sorry this is taking a bit longer than I wanted ... I'm pulling together a lot of information and having to do it in the evenings ... I should have something posted by this weekend. Thanks for your patience.

Anaconda said...


I appreciate your continued time and effort.

BrianR said...

I have a three-part series of posts dealing with the discussions in the comments above -- see Part 1 here.

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