Ramblings about what I encounter within the realm of the geosciences, as well as the occasional rant about nonsense.

05 December 2008

The fatal law of Gravity

I just got out of a marathon meeting with my advisor, and I am still a bit out of it (seems like some of the work I spent a couple of months on is now no longer required). On the one hand I can see this making my Thesis clearer and more concise. On the other, I just wasted a bunch of time I could have better spent graduating. So, I am in the mood to "dump" on those lovable wackaloons who have been giving Eric and Brian grief. I don't think I will re-cover the same grounds they have. Especially since they have done a far better job than I think I would be capable of.

Instead I am going to cover the problems that expanding earth has with GRAVITY. I have seen two sides that expanding earthers like to use to argue about gravity. One camp argues that the mass of the earth is constant, and the earth is just getting less dense. Another camp argues that the mass of the earth is growing, and holds the earth's density constant. Surely, we can resolve such a fundamental difference by just saying "Hey, the Earth is not expanding, look at all the data". But that would defeat the purpose of this post and my childish poking fun at the stupid.First we have the Constant Mass Advocates (CMA). They argue, wrongly, that the earth can grow and those of us living on its surface will feel a constant pull of gravity IF the earth weren't gaining mass. On the surface of it that seems a reasonable assertion (if you ignore the whole "earth is growing" thing, and the violation of conservation of energy, etc.). After all we learned in our High School Physics class that:

Where F = force
m = mass of an object
a = acceleration (in this case gravity: 9.8 m/s2)

This, however, is just a shorthand version of calculating the force on an object due to gravity. You see, this equation needs some tinkering if we are going to calculate the force due to gravity on Mars, or the Moon, or anywhere other than Earth (note: not all places on Earth have the same gravity either, it can vary due to elevation, local rock densities, etc.). This leads us to the Universal Gravity Equation:

F = GMm/D²
Where F = force
G = the Gravitational Constant (6.67300 × 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2)
M = Mass of object 1 (usually the larger object, in this case the Earth: 5.9742 × 1024 kg)
m = mass of object 2 (usually the smaller object, in this case it is us)
D = Distance between the centers of mass (in this case it can be approximated as the radius of the Earth (note: this is why elevation has an effect on gravitational pull) Earth's radius: 6378.1 km).

By setting Eq.1 equal to Eq.2, you can see how scientists can calculate what "a" is equal to:

a = GM/D2
Since we don't really care about how much force I am exerting on the planet (and it on me) we can just focus on Eq.3 for this discussion. First let's prove to ourselves that the "a" we learned in High School jives with the Universal Gravity Equation.

a = (6.67300 × 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2 × 5.9742 × 1024 kg)/(6378.1 km)2

or when I plug it into my calculator and cancel out the appropriate units (remember to convert km to meters in the denominator)

a = 9.7998.... m/s2
which can be approximated to 9.8 m/s2

Thanks Mr. Schalhammer! See Physics can work (and prove useful). Now, you may be sitting there asking yourself "Why the hell does this matter to expanding earth? You just showed that the Earth's gravity is affected by its mass, which is the point of the CMA". Why yes I did anonymous questioning voice. However, I also showed that the RADIUS of the Earth is far more significant to the gravity we feel on the planet. The Distance to the center of the Earth will affect the gravity we feel on the surface far more rapidly than just keeping mass a constant. The radius of the Earth affects gravity exponentially (mathematically speaking the square) while the mass of the Earth only affects gravity linearly.

So take home message to the CMA's, keeping the earth's mass constant and increasing the radius will actually DECREASE the gravity we feel on the planet. This is completely antithetical to what we actually observe (you know by practicing science). And furthermore, it defies claims made by other expanding earthers that gravity was less in the past allowing for giant bugs and what not (interestingly enough, an insects size seems to be limited by how efficiently oxygen can cross certain membranes, higher oxygen concentrations mean "bugs" can get bigger. Here is something on that) Through this calculation, we see that the gravity at the surface of the earth would have been GREATER if the earth was smaller.

Let's go to the graph:This is a nice visual way of saying IF the Earth was smaller (assuming constant mass), we would experience a greater pull of gravity. Once again, explaining this away isn't a problem for Plate Tectonics, because with our firm grip on reality, we don't expect the Earth to be changing size.

Now let's move on to the more confounding stupid I dub the Gaining Mass Advocates (GMA). They argue that the earth is growing AND it is becoming more and more massive. They use claims like "Gravity was less when the dinosaurs were around, how else did they get so big". The GMA also argue that the earth is actually gaining mass and therefore gravity is increasing as we move forward in time. But let's see how that works out with the math. We have already seen that holding the earth's mass constant doesn't jive with reality, maybe the trick is to increase the mass of the earth (keep in mind this is still invoking many things that plate tectonics has no need for, meaning this violates parsimony as well).

First some disclaimers. This VIOLATES the conservation of matter. We are venturing into a realm of Newtonian Physics that was never meant to be (like the Octoparrot). Second, they stubbornly refuse to mention how much mass is being added, so I am assuming it to be a given volume of mantle (density of mantle: 3.4-5.6 g/cm3, so let's just call it 4.5 g/cm3). Thirdly, I can't find where they say HOW MUCH the earth has grown (because, in point of fact, it hasn't). So I will assume that they only want the earth to increase enough to compensate for the oceans, which comprise ~75% of the Earth surface (361 km2).

So back to some equations (ugh.... math). The surface area of a sphere can be expressed as:

A = 4 \pi r^2 \,
A is surface area
r is the radius

The volume of a sphere can be expressed as:
V = \frac{4}{3}\pi r^3.
V is volume
r is the radius
and a neat little relationship about Surface Area, Volume, and Diameter emerges. Essentially, when you shrink a sphere to 1/2 it's original diameter, the new smaller sphere has 1/4 the original surface area and 1/8 the volume of the original sphere. To put this another way. By "shrinking" the earth to the point where it has no oceans (to 1/4 of its surface area), you have reduced its diameter by 1/2 and reduced it's volume by 7/8.

This would mean the GMA would see a earth with a radius of 3189.05 km.
The GMA volume would be 1.35 x 1014 km3.
Earth's GMA mass would be: 1.6948 x 1024 kg.

So now let's plug this in to Eq.3 and see what we get for the gravity (ag) of a GMA earth.

ag = 11.12029 m/s2

Which is still an increase in gravity from what we see today. Meaning even if you add mass to the planet to counteract the effect of moving away from the center of mass, gravity still is far more sensitive to changes in proximity to the center of mass than it is to total mass. The up-shot is that the "dinosaurs were big because there was less gravity" crowd are wrong.

For curiosity's sake the gravity (ac) of a CMA earth of the same size would be

ac =39.19929 m/s2

And just not to let those of us who like reality off the hook, I wonder what those crazy plate tectonic advocates (Scientists) think gravity was like during the Permian (which was when the oceanic crust we have today started to be generated):

a = 9.8 m/s2

As this clearly demonstrates, the RADIUS of the earth is far more important that the MASS of the earth in terms of what things living on the surface of the planet would feel in terms of gravity. As I have said many times throughout this post, this isn't a problem for the reality based community. Because plate tectonics does NOT invoke the earth changes its size (or ways of adding mass out of nothing, or where the energy is coming from to move particles further away from the pull of gravity, or other magics that expanding earthers like). All the arguments based upon gravity being "lesser" in the past because the "earth was smaller" show not only a misunderstanding of geology, but a FAR greater misunderstanding of gravity. Curse you rational uniformitarianism, you win this round! But they'll be back, and in greater numbers...


BrianR said...

good post ... one to put in the 'reference list' for this topic. I wonder if your issues will be addressed by the expansionists?

Bryan said...


I imagine if they address it, it will be like a creationist reconciling the distance to stars that we observe today and the speed of light. Essentially they will make a special plea that universal constants change over time.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of one of my favourite 'The Onion' articles ... Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory

Bryan said...

The Onion article raises the same good point as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti monster.

He holds us down with his noodly appendage, but since there are more of us now, He can't hold any one of us down for as long. As a result we have gotten taller. Ramen.

Henry Maier said...

That was an interesting take on the flaws of the expanding earth theory. I wish we had internet blogs to read from back in the days when scientists thought the earth was flat, or more recently, about 110-ish years ago, when scientists proved that heavier-than-air flight was impossible, a.k.a. planes. Even today, scientists are still proving that the bumble bee can't fly...

Speaking of flying, there was this terradactyl creature, some had a wing span of 7 meters. Picture a cessna with flapping wings. More oxygen? Yes please...

But any way, the biggest reason that I believe a growing earth theory should be explored further is the fact that all the tectonic plates fit together on all sides, not just in the atlantic between south america and africa, but in the pacific as well, between asia, australia, and north america. I notice plate tectonic-titians don't talk much about that.

Also, take a look at some of these photos:

Crustal Age Images

You'll notice that the scale for the age of the ocean floor (or oceanic lithosphere) tops out at 280 million years. However, that age seems to concentrate in the mediterranean. For most of the coasts the light blue colour makes their ages roughly 160 million years old. Shocking? It shocked me. If you keep looking at the picture, you'll see that most of the ocean floor is not more than 100 m.y.o. And between north and south america and hawaii, a size bigger than all of north america combinded, it barely reaches 40. That means that all that ocean floor was completely replaced between 20 million years after dinosaurs went extinct and today.

The continents are measured in billions of years, while nowhere in the ocean floor will you find land older than a quarter of one billion years. Do you all believe that all that land gets subducted and replaced every 150 million years? That's for roughly 50% of the world's surface.

With regards to the gravity argument, well, I would like to plead no contest, but alas...

Assuming that the earth is gaining mass as it is expanding, I think it's too hasty to apply newton's static equations for gravity and mass. We would need equations that account for time as well, something more dynamic, like derivatives (thanks Newton).

So the equation should be more like:


My math is rusty, but something like that. As for G, it's name has 'universal' in it, so let's not change it with time for now.

Conservation of mass. Hmm... I would say conservation of energy. If mass was universally conserved, e=mc^2 would have no meaning.

Isn't it a little too harsh to say that "expanding earth theorists stubbornly refuse to say how much mass is added?" I would think coming up with an accurate number to answer that question would be pretty hard, even if the theory is accepted. But following the logic, you would be convinced of the theory if a number was given to you? Of course not. But I see your affinity for accurate numbers when calculating a(g) and a(c) to five significant figures. There are rules when dealing with sig. fig.'s, and I think they should be followed, especially when dealing with a theory as loose as an expanding earth.

Before signing off, I would encourage further investigation of this theory. I find that throughout history, every universal theory has been shattered. Why? Because all the theories incorporated a static universe of some form at some level. Even until very recently, when it was found that the universe itself is expanding. Doesn't that apply to stars as well, albeit through different mechanisms? I can't help but think back to when people thought the earth was flat, even though the sun and moon are clearly round.

If anyone still reading this far would care to read a book by a professional geologist, there's "Terra Non Firma Earth" by James Maxlow:

Geologist's Growing Earth Book

Or, for a video series by him, I've put together a 25-video playlist here:

Growing Earth Playlist

Besides, it's not like this theory is challenging hundreds of years of unshakable evidence. It's closer to one hundred or even less, as a growing earth was first proposed before the 1950's in Germany, before the ages of the ocean floors were yet to be measured, let alone photographed from space.

Bryan said...

Anyone actually interested in learning about Geology. You know from qualified sources of information. I suggest perusing any of the blogs I have listed under Qui Teneo Silicis (which roughly translates as "those who know rocks").

I also suggest, for people a bit further along than blog posts and with a couple of bucks (Hey x-mas is round the corner, ask Santa and he might bring it to you(if you're lucky you might get a sample of anthracite too)).

Tectonics by Moores and Twiss
Earth Structure by Van Der Pluijm and Marshak

both are very good textbooks and even though they are typically used in higher geology courses, I think they are very accessible to the general public as well.

I also can't recommend highly enough Annals of a former world by McPhee. (I have met people who "don't read geology" who've read this)

There are several other good books out there that should be read by any who want to learn about science. PZ Myers had a list going here. I copied the geology list here

Bryan said...

Edit: I moved this post down so people wouldn't have to scroll through my rant to get to the book links. I also reworded small portions of the post to limit myself to attacking Mr. Maier's own flavor of stupidity, as well as editing for clarity.

Mr. Maier, thanks for posting, at great length, your own ignorance on this subject. Nice example of a Gish Gallop though. (I would demonstrate more patience if someone has a genuine question rather than just calling science garbage, which is what Mr. Maier is doing).

We do have "blogs" from back in the day when scientists were arguing about these concepts. They are called "letters" and "publications". I suggest looking at them before you go off half-cocked again. This isn't to say that the modern blog is replacing these things. It is just a way for scientists to casually converse with the greater public (i.e. you). But scientists would write large amounts of letters to colleagues and family.

Your bumblebee comment is a vicious rumor. Scientists are not constantly reasserting that bumblebees cannot fly. I doubt a scientist EVER would have made that claim. However, there was a point when scientists DIDN'T KNOW HOW the bumblebee generated sufficient lift to achieve flight. We have figured that one out. Read about it here.

What you are arguing is known as an argument of incredulity. Which is akin to saying, "I can't figure it out therefore it's all wrong". This is a particularly absurd argument to make. Sorry, I missed the memo that anything that anything an untrained specialist can't figure out is wrong. Well fooey, there went calculus. I thought that Newton guy was on to something, but as we will see it is too complicated for expanding earthers. And of course there went entire branch of science known as paleontology, "terradactyl" is spelled pterodactyl and, more importantly, it isn't a bug. This is what the higher oxygen concentration was in reference to (see original post).

As to your argument about using the derivative of the universal gravity equation (to account for changes in time) that would result in this:

1 = -2D
D = -1/2

I am as confused as you as to what this would mean. Because it is meaningless. So by your argument, since the universe is not following your definition of static, my distance to EVERYTHING has to be -1/2 units…. See what I meant about the calculus.

Now let me explain why we should not have to account for changing diameters through time. I just calculated WHAT the gravity would be IF the Earth was 1/2 its current diameter, and AGAIN IF it lost 7/8 of its mantle's mass, but still was 1/2 its current diameter. That is all I did, I was not moving through time. In fact, the variable for time does not even show up in the universal gravity equation. By your argument (well EE's argument), it would have passed through this phase at some point (except of course it didn't because EE is wrong). EE also claims that gravity would be less at this time, when in fact it would be greater (see my original post)

You are correct we can change states between matter and energy. But let's see how much energy it would take for the GMA to account for a growing Earth. Let's see to make this much mass would require…5.3688 x 10^41 J.

For those of you who think this is a LOT of energy. It is. This is approximately the same amount of energy that the sun requires to NOT BLOW UP every second that fusion is occurring (because it is generating this much energy, equal and opposing forces and all). So the sun has a lot of mass helping with this one, and this is counteracting copious amounts of nuclear fusion. What do we have to generate this much energy here on earth (AND keeping us from blowing up mind you)…. Radioactive decay of some elements. Good, we have fission which is only 1/3 to 1/4 as efficient as fusion at generating energy. And what mechanism do we have for not blowing up? Turns out it is the same mechanism as the sun, only we are not nearly massive enough to counter that much extra energy. [sarcasm] Yeah, I see no problem with this working on the planet Earth. The earth will easily generate an extra 2.1475 x 10^33 J/year without going all Alderaan on us [/sarcasm].

I think the fact that the Earth hasn't blown up (if it has, I haven't noticed) is also a good indicator that we aren't gaining mass by converting it from an excess amount of energy. This is where expanding earthers NEED to invoke an additional entity, because otherwise we'd be dust right now.

Plate tectonics does not NEED to invoke such an entity though, so we win through parsimony…again. EEers you need to demonstrate that EE will explain ALL the data, and not invoke as many phenomena as plate tectonics before we will take you seriously. Unfortunately, EE has no good response to subduction (see Eric and Brian's posts I linked to originally).

What about those pretty sea floor age maps that EE likes to throw down our throat for some reason (Hell, we GENERATED them, they aren't some secret. If they were why would we post them all over the internet). Do you notice how the crust gets older and older AWAY from spreading centers and then there is a trench? The reason there isn't any older oceanic crust, is because it was subducted AT the trench (we have even imaged the subducted slabs, which EE can't explain mind you).

Nice use of the argument of authority by the way. Of course arguments of authority are also invalid. Especially considering James Maxlow is not a professional geologist, (at least he has never been a practicing geologist [by which I mean he doesn't actively publish in scientific journals]). A quick search for "Maxlow" on geoscienceworld.org (a search engine for professional literature in the geosciences) reveals 0 hits. And his websites list of publications is limited to 1.) a series of lectures for YouTube (I hear the peer review process is impossible to get through on that site, oh wait, no it's not) and 2.) an "independently" published book. There is more, but this is getting me away from the point of Mr. Maier's comments (namely his making fun of science).

I do apologize for not following sig fig rules. I find them pointless (outside of certain circumstances, and this blog is too informal to warrant my enforcement of them, oh and I had 7 sig figs, not 5), but okay let's redo the calculations obeying sig figs.

ag = 11 m/s^2
ac = 39 m/s^2

Oh my GOD, you're right, that changed….nothing. Sorry to get you worked up, but not for insulting your incredible lack of individual thought. Gravity would still have been greater in the past. Expansion Earth is still wrong, on multiple fronts no less.

Might I suggest another post you should read. It might cure you of "the stupid".

Any future mindless inanity will be deleted. If you have genuine curiosity in the subject I will address it, if you just want to rip science a new one (because you were too lazy to put forth the effort and do actual research) I will delete the post with no crisis of conscience. It is near the end of the semester here and I don't want to waste more time with the ignorant horde.

Unknown said...

Brian, I fail to understand why you write a blog on a subject and invite comments and then try to ridicule your contributors. It is hardly a mature way to conduct a debate but here is my comment so do your worst…
The primary question raised in opposition to Earth expansion, amid guffaws, is “What could possibly drive the process?” What is wrong with simple, old-fashioned thermal expansion? It is well documented that the Earth has an extremely hot solid inner core, surrounded by a molten outer core. It is believed that the temperature at the core may even be as high as 5,800 kelvin – approximate to the temperature on the surface of the sun. Or, pretty f***ing hot, in everyday parlance. Hot enough, it is claimed, to drive the enormous convectors which supposedly propel the continents spinning and crashing around the globe. Why is it not simply hot enough to melt and expand the outer materials of its construction? What is the process which is currently melting the Earth’s mantle and pushing it to the surface?
It is most logical that the Earth is becoming less dense. Every concentric layer of Earth structure becomes progressively less dense toward s the surface. At the surface, basalt is being extruded along deep ocean rifts which completely surround the globe. This process is global and easily observable. After all, we know that the basalt extruded from the lithosphere it is less dense than the mantle and the asthenosphere below it and the ancient continental crust above it is the least dense of all. The basalt begins life as peridotite (olivine), the most abundant rock in the Earth’s upper mantle, approximately 50% of its constitution, and is also found of Mars, Venus and the moon. It is estimated that olivine is 9‰ water. As the peridotite extrudes to form basalt, it may also be releasing the water trapped within and progressively filling the oceans as it cools and coalesces on the ocean floor. Basalt is approximately 10% less dense than the mantle below. So it must be expanding.
Using your own relationships between volume, radius and surface areas, to shrink the planet to half its current radius and a quarter of its surface area over 300 million years would require a net rate of radial expansion of only 2 cm per year! Can you guarantee me that, in say the 40 years since man first walked on the moon, we have the capability to be absolutely certain that the earth’s radius has not increased by a modest 80 cm?
So, what about subduction…? It would seem logical to assume that any expanding object would have weaker and stronger areas of surface strength. Nothing ever cracks in a uniform way. If the expansion hypothesis is true, global rifting may well have started in the Pacific Ocean where the surface was initially weaker. It is there that the Earth’s most expansive rift lies and also where subduction is supposed to take place. The mid Pacific rift must be something of an uncomfortable factor for tectonics, as it might make the theory more supportable if it did not exist. I won’t go into the Antarctic plate here, as it is completely surrounded by divergent boundaries and must be almost impossible to justify under plate tectonics. The geological truth of subduction is probably nearer to an amalgam of both schools of thought. I would suggest that what is perceived to be subduction now is, in reality, little more than a piling up of differing density crustal areas. The toughest oldest rims of oceanic crust in the Pacific are being forced against continental crust in Asia and South America (Asia being the largest land mass and South America being pushed with almost equal force in the opposite direction by the mid-Atlantic rift) – causing the slightly denser oceanic crust to force a rise in the continental crusts and the oceanic crust to dip but not subduct. The resulting collisions produce the trenches, folding, the seismic activity and the heating of hot magmas around the volcanic arcs. The analogy I would use would be of a head on car crash involving two cars of slightly different densities. It is easy to visualise the outcome – the lighter car would be crumpled and pushed back away or may even resist and ride up over the denser car, crushing it beneath – however, neither car dives into the denser road below.
On the matter of parsimony, surely the Earth 3D expansion models produced by the likes of Professor Maxlow or Adams and his team, based on the sea floor maps make a far more simple view of Earth evolution than plate tectonics. The expansion movement is gaining momentum now because it takes a far shorter leap of faith to accept the information presented in this 3 dimensional format than it does to watch any animation of 400my of plate tectonic action. Some critics of Neal Adams like to nit-pick small errors that may have been made in his animations. This is nothing compared to the morphing that takes place in a typical Pangaea animation. And no, it is not just incredulity; in this case the simplest answer really is the best. There seems to be a need to berate opponents of plate tectonics as some kind of loony fringe. Yes, those that measure a planet’s dimensions by the size of the animals that walk on it probably haven’t spent much time considering the issue, but I sense that the growth is in another direction here too. The study of geophysics is still in its relative infancy and there is still a huge amount of Earth history which remains unknown. It seems to me that more and more study is going to be taking place in the field of expansion in the future.
On the matter of gravity, the sun does not “blow up” but nevertheless does continue to relentlessly expand, losing density as it grows, in spite its own gravitation. The moon’s orbit defies the Earth’s gravity as it continues to degrade. The outer limits of Universe and far flung galaxies can be observed to move away and expand at an ever increasing rate. It is obvious that there are expansive influences all around us. What makes you so certain that the gravity of the Earth would defy what the other celestial bodies do not seem capable of resisting?
To finalise, neither party really denies the fact that all the continents fitted together at some stage in Earth evolution. What geologists now need to ascertain with certainty is where the western seaboard of the Americas originally fitted with the East of Asia and Australasia and it’s job done. What started the cracking and expansion in earnest? Perhaps it was that expansion of the Sun and a consequential increase in solar radiation 300 million or so years ago that increased the Earth’s latent heat sufficiently to reach a tipping point and set the process in motion. But then what do I know? I’m only guessing. I’m one of the loonies.
And by the way, it's spelt phooey not fooey.
Best wishes, Tim Nicebutdim

Unknown said...

Sorry, i forgot to ad HTML. Oh well...

Bryan said...

Wow, that is quite a mighty block of text. Sorry if I miss questions in there, I am used to paragraphs.

I open these threads for comments for people who may want me to explain a concept further, or who just want to tell me that I misunderstood something. For example, Here is a comment that called me (then posting by the username "Einme") on my shit, but he was honest and not insulting. Countering me, not with half-assed attempts to discredit all of science, but with constructive criticism and previous research. I suppose, from your tone thus far, you are not going to provide criticism akin to Chuck. Note: Fortunately, I found you much more reasonable than Mr. Maier. Sure, your science is wrong, but this stems mostly from a lack of understanding rather than a willful ignorance.

Let me start with a quote that is applicable to the first question you ask.

"Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions."
-Thomas Jefferson

That is why I insult people who I find insulting science. If Henry was honestly curious about Why EE is the dumbest crock of shit since creationism, he wouldn't include comments along the lines of:

"Even today, scientists are still proving that the bumble bee can't fly...

Speaking of flying, there was this terradactyl creature, some had a wing span of 7 meters. Picture a cessna with flapping wings. More oxygen? Yes please..."

Seeing as how he characterizes scientists as purposely making claims contrary to observation, I infer these are the comments of someone who has an axe to grind against science, not someone who is genuinely curious.
First question:
"What is wrong with simple, old-fashioned thermal expansion?"

Fair enough. This post was entirely about gravity and how it would affect an earth of various sizes, material changing volume as a result of heating has nothing to do with it.

But since, you aren't calling science a steaming load, which I find a plus, I will attempt to answer your question:

True, material will expand upon heating, however, this involves a change in temperature. If the temperature is constant (as it is within the earth), material will not change volume. Without a change in temperature the volume remains constant.

You then raise the issue of convection currents and how the incoming "cooler" material will expand as it warms. True, but the outgoing "hotter" material also contracts as it cools (incoming material had to displace something). The net balance of these volume changes is no overall change in volume.

This is also what drives the convection of the earth. Hot material occupies a greater volume than cool material. However, the mass of the material remains constant. This makes hot material less dense and cool material more dense (density = mass/volume). Less dense material will rise above more dense material. This is a description of a convection current. Hot, less dense, material rises to the top (cooling along the way). After it reaches the top, it becomes more dense than material below it (because it is cooling), and begins its journey back to the energy source.
Let's see next question....
I believe it is about the earth and its density.
"It is only logical that the Earth is becoming less dense. Every concentric layer of Earth structure becomes progressively less dense towards the surface..."

Yes, this is what differentiation of the earth entails. However, nowhere does this imply that the Earth is continuing to become less dense.

Yes, new basaltic crust forming at ridges is less dense than the underlying material. However, it cools off (oh convection, bane of EE). When it cools off it becomes denser, and this can aide subduction. Plus, there may be chemical alteration at increased pressures (you change pressure and temperature, you can move out of a minerals stability field). Generally, increasing pressure on a mineral will create a denser mineral. Subduction zones can generate large pressures and quite sizable temperatures. It is unlikely that what forms at a divergent boundary will be stable while undergoing convergence and subduction (hence paired metamorphic belts).
On a side note, you have some terminology issues. Basalt does not "come from" the lithosphere (this is a rheology term, not a compositional term). The mantle (compositional term) does not over-ride the asthenosphere (again rheology). Compositionally there are the Crust, Mantle, Outer Core, Inner Core. Rheologically there are the Lithosphere and the Asthenosphere. The two aren't mix n match. In fact the lithosphere AND the asthenosphere both contain a portion of the mantle.
Next question I found:
"The mid Pacific rift must be something of an uncomfortable factor for tectonics, as it might make the theory more supportable if it did not exist"

Sorry, it exists. We are grounded in reality and we have to deal with it. Guess what, we've dealt with it. here is the beginning of your journey to disprove our "evil" conspiracy.
Over half a million peer reviewed articles don't have a problem with plate tectonics and the east pacific rise.
"I won't go into the Antarctic play here...[it] must be almost impossible to justify under plate tectonics"

Good, because a search on "Antarctica tecontics" (via GeoScienceWorld.org)only yielded a little over 300,000 peer reviewed papers. Since you won't go into it, I won't go into it further.
"The geologic truth of subduction is probably nearer to an amalgam of both schools of thought"

In the same way that flood geology is on equal footing with Plate Tectonics. One is bunk, the other is science.

Besides, Expanding Earth had its chance, and was soundly thumped to the side of the road. I suggest you look up Suess and Dana. Both had competing theories with Continental Drift. However, all three (yes, including continental drift) wound up discarded. Plate tectonics emerged victorious. Science doesn't give out consolation prizes to wrong ideas. The only reason we even still talk about CD is because it was VERY close to being right.
Your next comment:
"I would suggest that what is perceived to be subduction now is, in reality, little more than a piling up of differing density crustal areas"

Go forth and collect observations then. I look forward to your publications that revolutionize geology. I have my own research calling me back to its silty bosom.
Next comment, sorry I couldn't resist some snarky asides:
"Surely the Earth 3D expansion models produced by the likes of Professor Maxlow [I didn't know that one could be considered a professor if you only give lectures on YouTube]or Adams and his team [good lord, he has a team? I bet their mascot is the bee], based on the sea floor maps make a far more simple view of Earth evolution than plate tectonics".

Sure, if you ignore how it violates basic physics, geology, chemistry, astronomy, paleontology, I could go on. But if you look to the original post, you will see that EE has a long ways to go. As the song Obligatory Punk Song (by Speck) states: "There is a long way between crap and art, there's a longer way between this and crap. Guess we gotta make do with a shitty first draft". Really that could bee (pun intended) EE's theme song.
"There seems to be a need to berate opponents of plate tectonics as some kind of loony fringe"

I could say, "because you are a loony fringe". But upon further thought, I think if you [ie EE advocates] had collected the data and had a realistic idea about a concept other than PT (which fully explains ALL the features that PT can) science would be receptive. The problem is EE proponents are unwilling to do the work. Also EE is kinematically unworkable, but that is a different story. I await your EE only conference to work out its numerous issues.
"Perhaps it was that expansion of the Sun and a consequential increase in solar radiation 300 million or so years ago that increased the Earth's latent heat sufficiently to reach a tipping point and the process in motion".

So, by this statement, we have another test for EE. There should be nothing in the rock record, with the appearance of tectonism, prior to 300 Maa (Million years ago). Fair test. It fails, miserably. Here is a list of Paleozoic (pre 300Ma) tectonic events present in North America. If you look down at the bottom of the list (near the end of the Paleozoic) that is where Pangaea forms (300Maa). In fact, the Earth was around for ~4.3 Ga (Billion years) prior to Pangaea. This means that, by your argument, nothing similar to tectonics should exist for ~99.935% of the Earth's history. However, there are plenty of structural data that contradict this view. Do a Google search for Paleozoic tectonics, or Pre-Cambrian tectonics. That should generate many insightful links.

Though EE does have a tendency to only focus on the piddly 0.065% of Earth's history that they can conceptualize with inflatable balloons.
So, now that I answered all the questions I could find, and, as per your request, made some snide remarks where I felt they were warranted. Let me ask you a question:

Why do you think that there is some global cabal of science to suppress dissenters of PT?

Unknown said...

Hi Brian,

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to this thread as I appreciate it is somewhat in the background of your recent blogs.

The question you ask is a good one. (Sadly) I have to refer to Neal Adams in this respect. He has become something of an albatross for this issue, despite his best efforts. His rhetoric and some of his hypotheses can be both inflammatory and little more than supposition at best. I can understand why he would annoy the scientific establishment with his choice of words but essentially what he does do well, (Possibly better than either of us would be capable of) is illustrate ideas beutifully. It is easy to dismisss someone as merely a comic book writer but his skill is to present as many ideas as possible with the minimum of brush strokes. The fact remains tnat he has used the oceanographic data to construct models which illustrate a perceptive and stimulating argument. But I digress...

The question you asked is simple to answer. To paraphrase Adams, if EE were to be reconsidered it would entail a rewriting of just about all areas of science as we currently understand them. I accept this is a provocative statement but it is fundamentally true.

This topic interests me intesely. So much so that I have started a Geosciences degree. I am at the end of the first year foundation covering all disciplines of science and I have yet to find one piece of evidence which convincingly contradicts EE. In truth, I just find myself becoming more and more infuriated with the texts I reasd for their lack of evidence. I hope that over the coming couple of years I can find this evidence because my instict, (going back to a very young age reading my first dinosaur books!) has always been that the concept of Pangea just did not make sense. I, like many others like me, will have had their consciences well and truely pricked by seeing the models we have today and will continue to take future research in this direction.

You counter argument to my suggestion of thermal expansion only washes if it can be proven, beyond all doubt, that subduction takes places at the same rate as production. Unfortunately, (and you know it...) it cannot.

I haven't got the time to read 1.3m peer reviewed articles on the rifting around Antarctica and through the Central Pacific but I shall endeavour to read some. However, I remain intrigued to find out how they do not fly in the face of PT or how they can be argued to justify PT.

Also I believe that, deep down, you cannot claim a win for parsimony with PT. It has to be one of the most convoluted principles in science. I notice you did not contest this.

I appreciate the opportunity to debate this matter with you but I do resent any attempts to connect the issue with creationism. Creationism is an almost uniquely American problem in the Western World. It is an issue that needs to be somehow resolved domestically by the Yanks and has no bearing whatsoever with this issue.

Best wishes, Tim

Bryan said...

Neil Adams' ideas are not discredited because he is a comic book artist. His ideas have been dismissed because the tenets behind EE have be examined and have been found wanting, in all respects, over 100 years ago (have you looked into Suess and Dana yet?). Just because EE advocates are ignorant of this doesn't mean we (as scientists) have to retread old ground. Especially since the current model is functioning very efficiently, and as we predict it would if it is accurate.

Congratulations on starting a degree in the Geosciences. I assure you, this is considerably more effort than your peers have put forth. If you honestly approach the evidence, I am sure you enjoy, and greatly benefit from, your program of study.

However, I do suggest you familiarize yourself with the evidence in the peer reviewed professional literature before you make bold claims along the lines of subduction doesn't happen. If your program follows the same path that is common in the US, this should happen in the 3rd or 4th year of study. Stick with it, it is well worth it. Though if you want a sneak peek into subduction, I suggest you look into Wadati and Benioff. Their research should prove most illuminating. (note: I linked to wikipedia only so you would know who they are, so as not to confuse them with someone else of the same surname, before delving into their professional publications)

At the time I posted the response, there were only ~800,000 articles, not the 1.3M you stated. If, as you say, there are now an additional 500,000 articles (on only these two fairly specific lines of study), it only means there is that much more data that EE advocates have to overcome before geologists will take it seriously.

I did not contest the point on parsimony because I did not see it in the text. Remember my statement "Wow, that is quite a mighty block of text. Sorry if I miss questions in there, I am used to paragraphs" [emphasis added]. (Speaking of that, thanks for making this post easier to read).

However, I will refer you to earlier posts I have made regarding the details behind PT's greater degree of parsimony. To summarize, PT is parsimonious because it jives with what we observe, not only in Geology, but in Physics, Paleontology, Oceanography, Chemistry, Astronomy, etc. EE, on the other hand, violates basic observations/principles in ALL these disciplines.

Finally, this is NOT a debate. I am simply clarifying issues that you have with this topic, and providing you with more in depth material if you don't take my word for it.

Unknown said...


Thanks again for the reply. I apreciate your responses and I accept that you may not wish to enter into a debate. I shall research the volumes you refer to. My memory of your large block of text was dimmed and I overcalculated the workload by 500000.

However, a last post from me then. You overlooked my statements regarding gravity in my first posts - as you mentioned, the original thread of your blog. To say that EE defies all observations in Astronomy (among the other branches of science) is not entirely true. Nowhere else in the solar system can plate techtonics be observed whereas there is ample scope to consider the effects of planetary expansion. Maybe it's just me but the topography of Venus looks very similar to that of Earth.

I did not suggest that a form of subduction does not take place but that older sea floor in the Pacific rim may be lost in a kind of crustal crumple zone. It is well documented that the age of the oldest sea floors are roughly the same (180my) whether they are in the Pacific subduction area or not, as in the case of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

I shall continue to follow your blogs with interest while I study. Regards,


Unknown said...

PS I meant to refer to the oldest Oceanic sea floor - I know the oldest recorded sea floors are in the eastern Med but this does not have much influence on my point. Tim

Bryan said...

Okay, just got done talking with my astronomer/planetary geologist friend (how often do you get to start off with that) to confirm a couple of things.

"My memory of your large block of text..."

You mean my reply that was clearly delineated into paragraphs, and each topic was further broken up by the use of lines? Characterizing this as a "large block of text" is somewhat misleading, considering your first comment has the appearance of a single massive paragraph.
"Nowhere else in the solar system can plate techtonics [sic] be observed..."

Let's leave that claim there shall we. Near as we understand the system, plate tectonics requires at least 2 criteria to be met, that are only present on the earth.

First, you need a sufficient heat engine. This makes sense seeing as how plate tectonics is really just a way for the earth (a hot body) to cool off via convection. The fact that it gives us mountains, geology, etc. is just an added bonus.

Second, you need a sufficient supply of water. 'Why the hell do you need this?' you might be asking yourself. This is because the presence of water, within a mineral, can facilitate ion transport. This effectively lowers the melting temperature of the mineral. A graphic of this phenomenon can be found here. I know this may look a bit intimidating, but it really shows something amazingly cool. Pay attention to the position of the "wet solidus" and "dry solidus" plots. In both cases, the wet solidus plots demonstrate considerably lower melting temperatures than the dry solidus plots.

To conceptualize why water has this effect on the minerals, think of it this way. Once you free up the water from the crystals, it can act as a sort of transportation system for the ions in the rock. When you start moving around the ions, it effectively is dissolving small portions of the rock. This will further free up more water molecules, which can facilitate a greater mobility of ions, which furthers the process along. (Keep in mind, this is a fairly simplistic description of what is going on, all that is important here is that YOU NEED WATER FOR PLATE TECTONICS). This graph demonstrates this in lab conditions.

Now, as far as extra terrestrial tectonism goes. Nowhere else in the solar system meets these two criteria. That is why we observe tectonics on Earth, and nowhere else.
"Maybe it's just me but the topography of Venus looks very similar to that of Earth"

Venus is an interesting point. Venus doesn't have sufficient water for tectonics to function effectively. This leads Venus to build up its internal heat to staggering amounts. Eventually something gives, and Venus undergoes planet-wide volcanic eruptions. This will cover any past evidence of tectonism, and everything else really. I am uncertain what the rate of crustal turnover is on Venus, but it happens in the 10s of Ma if I remember a GSA talk correctly (don't quote me on that number)
"To say that EE defies all observations in Astronomy (among the other branches of science) is not entirely true".

One, you mischaracterize my quote. Where I said it violates basic observations in all the sciences I listed. I granted that EE follows such concepts as a Heliocentric Solar System.

Two, they DO violate basic observations in Astronomy. Astronomy is among the, if not THE, oldest sciences. And as such, they have a pretty good understanding of what the hell goes on out there. We have had the telescope pointed to the heavens for ~400 years now. So, the mechanics of the major bodies in the solar system are fairly well understood (for instance, Astronomers know when the next time ALL the planets will align as close as the possibly can!!! Mark your calendars for 2854).

That said, they have been taking measurements of the size of the bodies in the solar system for almost as long as geology has been a science. And taking pictures to go with it as long as there have been photographs!

It started with a device called a filar micrometer. This device allowed astronomers to calculate the angle between two points, and then calculate the actual distance to those points. Add this to knowing the apparent size of an object (how big it appears to us on Earth) you can calculate how big the object is in real life!!! This has provided stunningly accurate results, that have been consistently confirmed by newer and easier techniques. The result, the planets aren't growing.

Another technique astronomers have developed is called Occultation Timing. Essentially this measures the amount of time it takes a star to move behind another object and reemerge on the other side. Since stars are sooooooooooooo very far away, mathematically, they act as a point source. This allows us to measure very precisely the diameter of the other planets and their satellites. They have not changed in size.

Even more awesome, is the realization that if you synchronize the observations, you can effectively increase the diameter of your telescope making these observations. So, with a little bit of international cooperation, we have built a telescope with a diameter THE SIZE OF EARTH!!!!

Guess what, still no growing planets.

And the final point, that my astronomer friend wanted me to add, is that even if we did not have the precision that EE advocates think we require, we still know the planetary bodies don't grow. This has to do with the orbits of the planet's satellites.

Take Phobos and Deimos, the two satellites of Mars. We know what their orbital periods are. Also, we know that Mars is not homogeneous (in terms of its mass, different areas exhibit slightly different pulls). A change in the Martian diameter will shift the location of these mass discrepancies. This will cause a perturbation in the orbit of the Martian moons, which we have been observing for hundreds of years now. No such discrepancy has ever been recorded on Mars or any other body in our solar system.

These are three of the basic observations that Astronomy has made in its LOOOOOOOOONG history as a science. On their own, these three observations also disprove, conclusively, the concept of EE.

Unknown said...

Wow! I said I wouldn't post again but how could I resist....

Large scale volcanism can be observed on Mercury, Venus, Mars, Earth, and Io. Not bad for starters, as almost all other solar system bodies are shrouded in gas... Putting aside spreading for now, surely "planet-wide volcanism" must result in considerable accretion due to the extrusion of less dense material - especially if it is not being subducted back under the surface!! Am I just being Mr Stupid and missing something fundamental here?? To say that it covers up evidence of subduction is a huge cop out. Also, there can be no better definition of planet-wide volcanism than a series of volcanic cracks that run uninterrupted all around the globe...

Ok, let's break this down one more time for the casual reader. Earth Expansion is based on the evidence of an unbroken chain of spreading sea floor rifts which circumnavigate the globe between all the major continental landmasses. The spreading can be accurately observed and measured. The largest sea floor spreading is observed in the Pacific Ocean and the Antarctic continental plate is entirely surrounded but rifting in all directions. The spreading is reduced on certain margins where the opposition of land mass (i.e. Eurasia) or the effect of opposing rifts and land mass (i.e. South America) causes compression, thus producing volcanism and/or a thickening of the continental crust. (Let us not forget, casual reader, that continental crust is somewhat larger than just the bit that pokes above the sea - see map for details... http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/ocean_age/data/2008/ngdc-generated_images/whole_world/2008_age_of_oceans_noplates.pdf) However, the oldest oceanic sea floor along the continental margins is the same, approx 180 Ma in all the oceans. The net effect is that the rate at which material is extruded along spreading rifts exceeds that lost through piling up along continental margins. New rifts are opening and further fragmentation of the continental crust will occur in the future - i.e the Great Rift Valley in Africa or Baja California. All can be corroborated by the existing geological evidence if it is approached with Earth Expansionism in mind. (Have you ever tried? You might get that PhD!)

It's that simple. The idea that, the throw mud and see how much sticks approach to presenting the evidence for plate tectonics amounts to a win for parsimony is laughable.

Re Mars, Phobos and Deimos are relative moonlets in comparison to our own moon and must be under a stronger gravitational influence. Unlike our moon perhaps which, as I raised in an earlier post, has an orbit that is observed to be degrading. Surely this is clear enough evidence of a perturbation? (if viewed from another body...)

Unknown said...

"Now, as far as extra terrestrial tectonism goes. Nowhere else in the solar system meets these two criteria. That is why we observe tectonics on Earth, and nowhere else."

The search for water locked up in Mars goes on unabated, water has recently been detected in the magnetosphere of Mercury, and all surface water of Venus could have been (was?) evaporated by the extreme surface temperatures brought about by the runaway greenhouse effect. Not to mention water ice on the surface of Jovian moons. Comets etc. We could go on...

BrianR said...

Don't mean to but in guys ...

Tim, as Bryan said you should be commended on pursuing a degree in geosciences; that piece of paper doesn't mean much by itself, but what it represents is that you spent years of your life learning about the science. The first couple years give you some background and tools ... the next couple some more detail, and then if you truly desire to contribute data, results, and implications to current theories you need to ACTUALLY DO SOME RESEARCH OF YOUR OWN (sorry to yell, just trying to get that point across).

If I am being very nice and accommodating, your EE ideas are hypotheses (NOT theories). You need to collect data, analyze it, and test specific parts of those ideas. Since you are embarking on a degree and not content just being an 'armchair' science pundit (like the vast majority of EE advocates) it is now YOUR responsibility to do some actual research. This is not a lot to ask ... this is how it works!

And guess what? It takes years to do research properly. Take the time to think about *specific* research questions. Then think about where on the Earth to address them, what kind of data you'll need to collect, what analyses to do. AND THEN DO IT!

One of the reasons >99% of active geoscience researchers reject many of the claims of EE advocates has more to do with methodology than it does with the hypotheses themselves. They remain untested! There are all these potentially significant ideas out there ... but it's lacking rigor. If there are data attached to a claim, it is, at best, out-of-context, or, more commonly, irrelevant to the *specific* question being asked.

Again ... you should be commended for embarking on pursuing this. Stick with it, collect data, analyze it, write up a paper and submit it for review. Then do it again and again and again for other areas of the Earth (e.g., different tectonic boundary types) and/or with new and different analytical methods. Over time, if your science is sound, the ideas will gain traction.

It takes hard work and years of focus. I'm glad you are willing to do this ... I look forward to reading the papers in the future.

If I were you I would engage in discussion with other EE advocates and encourage them to do the same. Significant paradigm shifts happen, nobody is denying that, but we (geoscientists) tend to get cranky when those telling us that we are wrong are, for the most part, unwilling to put forth any REAL effort to do any work (and no, 'debating' on the internet doesn't count as work).

Robert Boessenecker said...

Since EE requires earth expansion starting in the Mesozoic (180 Ma or so), there shouldn't be any evidence of oceanic crust prior to said date.

Unfortunately for EE, there are 'chunks' of accreted oceanic crust that become metamorphically altered to Ophiolites (some of the world's best Ophiolites are of Cretaceous age in Northern California).

This is unfortunate for EE because there are ophiolites that are much much older than 180 Ma; a simple google search (http://www.google.com/search?q=paleozoic%20ophiolites&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=iw) yields many publications with Paleozoic and Proterozoic ophiolite sequences.

In addition to this, there is an excellent record of clearly marine fossil organisms, and 'Precambrian' and Paleozoic marine rocks, demonstrating the presence of a large ocean. Additionally, Pre-Mesozoic ophiolites also unequivocally demonstrate the presence of OCEANIC CRUST prior to the Mesozoic.

Bryan said...

Ah, I see BrianR has beaten me to the crux of the issue. That EE advocates need to learn about the how geology, as a science, operates. Then they can collect evidence and present it for peer review.

Science is a harsh uncaring entity. Ideas are thrown into the grind, evidence is picked apart, until a tentative idea emerges. This idea will eventually be altered, corrected, and if too much is wrong with it, it will also be discarded.

EE advocates seem to think that science is more like a forum where we all get together and vote on what phenomena get to happen.

I also see that Robert has added another point of contention that displays evidence of Continental Moseying (just the observation the continents were mobile, this is not intended to be a homespun way of saying "Continental Drift") in the Pre-Mesozoic. This observation takes a serious toll on the models related to EE. These models lack explanatory power in situations older than Pangaea. Which in a previous post I mentioned, ~99.9% of Earth's history predates Pangaea. This limits EE's utility, and forces it to make additional assertions (though these haven't been made yet, because whenever this point is brought up, EE changes the topic). It also leads to the question, how did we get these metamorphosed oceanic rocks if there was no oceanic crust?

Here is Robert's cleaned up URL

These are serious problems that lead to EE being less parsimonious than Plate Tectonics. Under the PT paradigm, there WERE oceans (and oceanic crust) predating Pangaea. That is where these metamorphosed oceanic rocks come from. EE will need to invoke some additional forming factor to explain ophiolites, thus EE is not as parsimonious.
On to Tim's comments though.
"Large scale volcanism can be observed on Mercury, Venus, Mars, Earth, and Io".

Volcanism is not equivalent with tectonism. In the case of Mars, the largest volcano in the solar system (Olympus Mons), can be used to demonstrate Mars has not had active tectonism for a long period of time. That is because O.Mons is a hotspot volcano (like Kilauea in Hawaii). Unlike Hawaii, O. Mons has stayed put and just grown bigger and bigger. Odds are Mars once had active tectonism, but it has subsequently cooled to the point where the lithosphere equivalent has locked in place.

Io also doesn't exhibit tectonics. Its volcanism is a result of tidal forces due to its proximity to Jupiter. So Io is not a good example either.

Venus I talked about previously, and I am not sufficiently informed (I am not a planetary geologist, I just think some of what they do is interesting) to make a reasonable comment about Mercury, I might look into it and get back to you.
"As almost all other solar system bodies are shrouded in gas".

This is an unclear statement. Are you just counting planets? Or are you including satellites as well? Are you going by volume, surface area, or number of bodies?

If it is just planets, there are 4 terrestrial planets, and 4 jovian planets (unless you count Pluto, then there are 5 terrestrial planets). If planets and satellites, there are many more satellites that lack a "gassy shroud", than the 4 planets that would qualify as having this. I am not interested enough to calculate surface area and volume. But there are also countless asteroids, Kuiper Belt Objects, and comets that would also not be considered analogous to a jovian planet, but are still considered bodies in the solar system.
"[S]urely 'planet-wide volcanism' must result in considerable accretion due to the extrusion of less dense material - especially if it is not being subducted back under the surface!! Am I just being Mr Stupid and missing something fundamental here??"

Actually, you are missing something fundamental. After an extrusive event, something has to fill the void left by the extruded material, this something comes from a collapse higher up the gravitational gradient. Think about stirring a bowl of soup. When you stir up the material from the bottom, the void does not just maintain itself (and it isn't filled in by a new source of soup), it is rapidly filled in by the surrounding soup.
"To say that it covers up evidence of subduction is a huge cop out".

First, let's clear the air, I said it covers evidence of past tectonism. Odds are that, like Mars, Venus experienced tectonics similar to the Earth at some point in its history. It has just subsequently been shut off due to a lack of surficial liquid water (a clarification that I should have made, but will make shortly).

I also state that it would cover "anything else". This would include the more recent (and probably still active) mechanism surrounding Venus' cooling process.
"an unbroken chain of spreading sea floor rifts which circumnavigate the globe"

Circumnavigate is a poor choice of words, as they don't. If we were only to draw the Divergent boundaries on maps of plate tectonics, they would be discontinuous, not the unbroken chain you describe.

First if you look at an image of any divergent boundary, you will see numerous offsets in the boundary. These offsets are a third type of boundary that EE usually ignores called Transform boundaries (I'm not saying EE advocates don't realize they are there, they just never mention them in an attempt to make their argument look stronger).

Second, if you follow the outline of these plate boundaries, the divergent and transform boundaries, you will inevitable run into areas where you have modern trenches (subduction zones), these trenches "complete" the plate's boundary. Without using these trenches, you will have a hard time drawing "an unbroken chain of spreading sea floor rifts". There would be numerous breaks in the South Pacific! There would also be breaks along the southern margin of Alaska, Europe, and Asia. The West coast of South America, and the East coast of Asia.

The only way you can get the "unbroken chain" of plate boundaries is to include all THREE types of boundaries. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to demonstrate this to themselves. Here is a very simplistic map of plate boundaries (arrows indicate subduction, hashes indicated compression, plain lines indicate divergence and transform boundaries). But wait, Tim has attempted to dismiss this point by saying we don't observe subduction, but rather a piling up of crust. In essence he equivocates two distinct process we observe at convergent boundaries.
"...or the effect of opposing rifts and land mass (i.e. South America) causes compression, thus producing volcanism and/or thickening of the continental crust".

It is an interesting choice of words Tim has used. Compression is an important concept to wrap your head around, as it is not synonymous with subduction. A convergent boundary will result in either compressional regimes (Orogenies aka "mountain building") or a subduction zone(volcanism).

A compressional regime (like you would observe in continent-continent collision) will not generate volcanism, unless there happens be rapid denudation of the orogenic belt or possibly during the period of time when the geothermal gradient overcompensates after being pressed down by the thickening continental crust. This is, to my understanding, because there is not sufficient melting of material (except when the geothermal gradient is anomalously higher, closer to the surface, than normal).

That is why we have mountains like the Himalayas, which are not volcanic, forming at a continent-continent convergent plate boundaries, and ranges like the Cascades and the Andes, which are volcanic (as well as island arcs like Japan and the Aleutians), forming at oceanic-continent convergent boundaries.

The important point of this section is that a pile up of material at a boundary won't necessarily result in volcanism, unless you have subduction going on. We have modern examples of non-volcanic mountain ranges that demonstrate this point quite nicely.
"Phobos and Deimos are relative moonlets in comparison to our own moon and must be under a stronger gravitational influence".

I leave the math as another exercise to the reader (the equation for determining the amount of gravitational pull two objects have on one another is in my original entry. Eq. 2)

Mass of Mars: 6.4192 x 10^23kg
Mass of Phobos:1.08 x 10^16 kg
Distance(phobos): 9378 km
Mass of Deimos:1.8 x 10^15 kg
Distance(Deimos):23,460 km
Mass of Moon: 7.36 x 10^22 kg
Mass of Earth: 5.9742 × 10^24 kg
Distance(Moon):385,000 km

Done calculating? Good, Which is showing a "stronger gravitational influence"?
F(phobos): 5.26 x 10^21 m/s/s
F(deimos): 1.40 x 10^20 m/s/s
F(moon): 1.98 x 10 ^26 m/s/s

Clearly, the moon is under the stronger gravitational influence. But all this is irrelevant. A small gravitational influence, or a strong gravitational influence, either way, changing the locations of local regions of denser crust will affect the orbit of any satellite. We can easily predict where these objects will be at any given time! We wouldn't be able to do so if the localized dense regions of crust were constantly expanding outward.
"[O]ur moon...has an orbit that is observed to be degrading".

I'm not sure what you mean by a degrading orbit. I assume you mean that the orbit of the moon is receding. The quick and dirty answer to this is that the Earth is accelerating the moon (one of the reasons why a day is longer now than it was in the Paleozoic, also why we occasionally have to add a leap second), through our tidal flexing, not an expanding earth. I could try and go into more detail, but Phil Plait does it so much better.
Really this section relates to your second post. I apologize for not being clear. To my understanding, as far as tectonics needs water, it needs sufficient amounts of liquid water at the surface of the planet.

As far as Europa, Ganymede, and other water rich satellites , they may experience something akin to tectonics (I am fairly confident that nothing like tectonics operates on a comet [too small and lack a heat engine]). However, as we have really just begun exploration of these bodies, there is insufficient data to speculate on what's going on. As Sherlock Holmes once said:

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence".
-A Study in Scarlet

Unknown said...

Gentlemen, there is an awful lot ot consider here and it would be difficult to respond to all as I have not yet had time read and digest all. I too do have a fair amount to do and, regardless of BryanR's patronising rebuke, I outlined in one of my earlier messages that I do intend to carry out my own research in the future and attempt to assimilate the information we already have available.

With respect to Robert's comment, I have not actually suggested that EE is confined soley to the last 180 My, only that the sea floor age is limited to 180 My. (The Med apart.) Also, transform faults do not disprove EE any more than they substantiate PT, so it has been overlooked by both parties in this discussion thus far.

And a final comment for now, until I have digested the information. I appreciate the time and input Brian but I have only ever hypothesised never once theorised. I feel I have tried to put the PT theory to the test in a more constructive manner than BrianR's sycophantic contribution - "good post ... one to put in the 'reference list' for this topic. I wonder if your issues will be addressed by the expansionists?"

Bryan said...


That is the point of Robert's post. The ophiolites demonstrate there WAS oceanic crust prior to 180 Maa. Another way to say this is, we have sea floor that is older than 180 Ma, it has been "scraped" onto the over-riding continent while it subducted.

I also don't think BrianR was being patronizing. Rather he was encouraging you to continue down this path, because it is quite rewarding. And insinuating that anyone posting on this blog is being a sycophant is unacceptable. As there is no punishment for telling me a post is wrong, I have amended many posts thanks to comments from individuals who disagreed with me and told me flat out that I am wrong. Getting feedback by professionals is one way to learn.

And as far as the original comment in this thread goes (which you refer to as being sycophantic). You haven't addressed any of the issues raised in the original post. You've only trotted out the usual line of "attacks" that EE advocates use to attempt to discredit Plate Tectonics. These have nothing to do with my original post.

The only point I raised in my original post is Gravity on a smaller earth would be greater (not less) than what is observed today. A common EE argument is along the lines of "Dinosaurs got big, because gravity was less. This means a smaller Earth". The sole point of my original post shows that line of reasoning to be incorrect.

I'm willing (usually) to overlook Ad Hominem attacks on myself (as I did with your "You might get that PhD" crack), but I will not allow you to use them against visitors to my blog. If you do it again, I will invoke my moderator privileges and delete your comment with no hesitation or crisis of conscience.

BrianR said...


You can call me patronizing and a sycophant, or whatever other names, all you want. I've been called much worse by other EE advocates.

Just because scientists have blogs and discuss topics on the web does NOT mean that science is actually accomplished via internet debate. If that's the future of scientific progress, we are most certainly doomed.

Sure, we all might come up with interesting ideas/hypotheses to test ... but, actual research has to be done at some point.

Sounds like you really, really want to falsify subduction. Fine. Do it! Not by broad assertions though ... formulate a specific question, collect/compile data, and present it. A very long list of specific questions towards successful falsification of the theory (not hypothesis) of subduction could be made. I will give you one to start with ... you must come up with a mechanism (consistent with all the data) for 10Be in arc volcanic rocks.

I don't expect you to answer this right now, in a blog post discussion thread ... I do expect you (or, if not you, someone else) at some point to present the mechanism in a paper.

Admittedly, getting funding for the travel, field work, and subsequent analytical work is tough. So, instead of collecting your own samples and doing your own analysis, you could compile information from existing databases (e.g., http://www.navdat.org/). While getting new data is always the best, great science has been done by compiling existing data into big datasets. The link above is just one database ... with more research (esp. since you are at an institution w/ a library) you could probably find even more data available to you to do science.

I'm sorry that you think this is partonizing ... if you are unwilling to do the work, then you (and the vast majority of the other EE advocates) will not be considered as contributing to the testing of hypotheses. You can pontificate and hypothesize for the rest of your life ... but that won't advance the science. It seems like the hurdle of doing work frustrates many internet hypothesizers such that they end up becoming a science 'pundit' that spends all their time bashing the 'mainstream' because ... well, because it's easy, the path of the least amount of effort and work.

I sincerely hope you prove us wrong by bucking that trend.

Unknown said...

BrianR, I refer to my previous comments to reevaluate the available evidence with an open mind and to carry out my own research where possible. Whereas I respect your own credentials, you have, unfortunately, slipped back into patronism. You are not contributing to the discussion, uou are merely admonishing. The kind of public dressing-down that is likely to get anyones back up.

I fully understand and embrace the . The fundamental criteria for utilising scientific method is to start off with a reasonable hypothesis. To paraphrase J. Marvin Herndon "...plate tectonics is presented as theory, but rarely, if ever, is any mention given to competitive theories or to what might be wrong with plate tectonics" ~ "Questioning and challenging prevailing, popular theories is what science is all about. Remember this: Popularity only measures popularity, not scientific correctness; science is a logical process not a democratic process. In science, concensus is nonsense."

I shall rejoin the discussion when I have had the opportunity to consider the wealth of new detail which has to wait until I have submitted my latest asignment...

Unknown said...


"The only point I raised in my original post is Gravity on a smaller earth would be greater (not less) than what is observed today. A common EE argument is along the lines of "Dinosaurs got big, because gravity was less. This means a smaller Earth". The sole point of my original post shows that line of reasoning to be incorrect."

To return to the original point of the article then, would the correct line of reasoning then be; that the largest creatures ever to have existed live now that gravity is lower? Or that, perhaps, the oceans themselves are larger than they have ever been?

The words "scientific method" seem to have been somehow lost from my previous post.

BTW the PhD comment was not an Ad Hominen attck, it was a only a suggestion.

BrianR said...

Tim ... I really don't see how I'm patronizing you. I suppose tone is difficult to get across on the internet.

I really (sincerely) hope you follow through with conducting research.

If you don't like other scientists taking you to task because you perceive it as patronizing tone, you need to make sure you find the best 'fit' regarding advisors, mentors, and colleagues as to minimize personality clashes.

And, you're correct, I suppose I'm not contributing to the discussion ... my whole point is that these blog and/or forum discussions tend to stall in terms of their productivity at some point because of a lack of (or perhaps difficulty in effectively sharing) data.

I prefer relevant data to be involved. EE advocates tend to dislike dealing with data. If that's patronizing, I apologize, don't take it personally.

So ... I will not say anymore and apologize for butting in ... proceed.

Bryan said...


"To return to the original point of the article then, would the correct line of reasoning then be; that the largest creatures ever to have existed live now that gravity is lower? Or that, perhaps, the oceans themselves are larger than they have ever been?"

No that would not be a correct line of reasoning. That is a logical fallacy called the false dichotomy.

Unknown said...

Thanks to both Brians. I will attempt to present any future submisssions in a more mature manner.

BTW I loved the false dichotomy response. Perhaps there is another explantion but I am genuinely very interested to know if any readers do have a comment to make regarding the evolution of cetaceans over the past 65My (a period which has witnessed rapid expansion of oceanic crust) with comparison to pre-cenozoic marine fauna. I do believe it is pertinent to the question of oceanic expansion and gravity. If the oceans were to have expanded concurrently with an expansion of the Earth as a whole, then surely they would reperesent the largest low-gravity environment ever on Earth. Is it only coincidence that these huse mammals have evolved only during this short period of Earth history?

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

"Actually, you are missing something fundamental. After an extrusive event, something has to fill the void left by the extruded material, this something comes from a collapse higher up the gravitational gradient. Think about stirring a bowl of soup. When you stir up the material from the bottom, the void does not just maintain itself (and it isn't filled in by a new source of soup), it is rapidly filled in by the surrounding soup."

I think I understand what you are saying here, but I'm not sure the anaology washes. Does the "collapse higher up the gravitational gradient" you refer to only mean subduction or do you mean another form of surface sinking? Does this mean that, for every igneous intrusion there would be an equal and opposite collapse elsewhere in the continental crust?

It is true, the peas and gristle at the bottom of your soup do return to the bottom of the bowel via convection and gravity but then they do not lose density as they rise to, become less dense than the soup - otherwise they would float. And yes, the asthenosphere is plastic but only plastic in the same sense that my ruler is plastic. The ruler wont allow less dense soup to pass through it either. But it would flex slightly if I placed some soup upon it. Surely this would go more towards explaning why rate of Earth expasion does not match the rapidity that the rate of sea floor spreading might suggest, rather than reinforcing PT. Extrusion = Loss of density = Expansion I hate to labour that point but it is inescapabale.

Robert Boessenecker said...

In regards to cetacean evolution, the large body size in baleen whales is probably related to increased upwelling and abundance of food in Plio-Pleistocene oceans. At least in the Balaenopteridae (humpbacks, fin whales, etc.) it is also linked with the evolution of lunge feeding (Goldbogen et al. 2007). It is also possible that the sperm whale has attained large body size through 'escalation' with increasing body size of the giant/colossal squid (which, unfortunately, don't have a fossil record).

It is important to not fixate on orthogenesis (i.e. completely directional evolution); there have been large bodied marine vertebrates in the past. For example, Basilosaurid whales attained gigantic body sizes during the late Eocene. Leedsichthys, a 30 meter fish, lived during the Jurassic. Gigantic Pliosaurs (Liopleurodon, Kronosaurus, "Predator X") and Plesiosaurs (Elasmosaurids, e.g. Hydrotherosaurus, Elasmosaurus) lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous. On top of that, there were +20 M Ichthyosaurs during the Triassic (Shonisaurus spp.), and +15M Mosasaurs during the Cretaceous (E.g. Tylosaurus). There were marine turtles that attained 4-5 m lengths during the Cretaceous and Miocene. Also, there were multiple lineages of extant giant sharks that either appeared in the Paleogene or early Neogene (Megachasma, Cetorhinus) or evolved during the Paleogene and went extinct during the Neogene (Parotodus and the Otodus/Carcharocles lineage).

As you can see, the trend is a little more complicated.

Bryan said...

Hi all,

I am experiencing quite a bit of computer headaches right now (I have a post about it at the top of the page), and I am also under severe pressure with more important real-world issues. The upshot of this is that I am going to temporarily lock the threads so they don't devolve into a mess of poor arguments with insufficient data/citations.

This will be unlocked at some point in the coming weeks, when things lighten up around here and when I get my computer functioning again.

If anyone should want more information, I suggest following up on citations sprinkled throughout this thread. Thanks for visiting.

Unknown said...

one final response if i may Brian, then I will leave you in peace

Unknown said...

Hi Robert et al,

Thanks for the response. I see from your web page that you are indeed the specialist I was referring to!

Whereas I accept your suggestion that orthogenesis is never guaranteed, I think it would be wrong to dismiss it altogether. It is an interesting sideline to this discussion and, without wanting to sound pedantic, if lunge feeding at depth is a relatively recent evolutionary adaptation, would this not also imply that depth itself may have changed?

I also think we should be slightly more accurate for our interested reader (if he/she exists). The dimensions of Leedsichthys were more akin to those of a Whale Shark than that a Blue Whale - 30 feet rather than 30 meters. (Which, for the record, still weighs in at over 80 tonnes more than the weight proposed for the previous champ, Argentinosaurus) In fact, the giant Ichthyosaurs apart, none of the genera you list actually came very close to 20m in length - considerably shorter than the 33m of a modern Blue Whale. The Basilosaurs, the largest of the quoted genera, are early ancestors of modern whales and evolved 40 to 30 Mya during the Cenozoic.

I believe that the key to establishing the validity of Earth Expansionism lies in similarities/diversity of the paleontological record of the Western seaboard of the Americas and the Eastern Pacific rim, Antarctica and Australasia. Particularly with a view to terrestrial fauna, prior to the end of the Triassic over 200Mya. According to the PT model, none of these territories were connected so there should be, to my mind, considerable diversity in the remains of terrestrial fauna. However, EE predicts that Australia was originally positioned alongside North America and Asia and with Antarctica neighbouring South America as far back as the Permian. I intend to dedicate my future research to an examination of the fossil records of these specific regions if it will be possible (partly because it would involve “holidays” in exotic locations). I’m sure it has already been done but where else do you begin? Perhaps you have already carried out a similar type of project yourself, although, as you mention in your blog, it may be a bit further back in time than you have specialised.

Having reread the entire thread, I really only have one final comment to make on the wider issue of EE v PT. Earth expansionists would argue that the Earth is not fundamentally different from the other rocky, inner planets. (Please do not scream WATER, as we have already established that it is, or has been, a feature common to all of them) Plate tectonic advocates would argue that it is fundamentally different. The question that needs answering is why? Parsimoniously speaking, of course…

Robert Boessenecker said...


To a degree, lunge feeding is controlled by water depth. However, it is simply controlled by the depth at which sunlight penetrates the water column allowing planktonic microorganisms and 'invertebrates' to thrive, and nektonic inverts/verts (i.e. krill, fish - whales eat both). Mysticetes feed only in the photic zone, which is an extremely small portion of the uppermost part of the water column. In fact, mysticetes generally do not dive very deep at all. Those cetaceans that do (e.g. sperm whales) do so to pursue giant cephalopods, and are the exception rather than the rule. There isn't any sane reason to link this with depth of an ocean basin.

I apologize about Leedsichthys - my bad. I'm not a fish expert. In any event, 30 feet is still pretty damn huge for a fish. 20 meters is not some 'magical' cutoff. Large body size/gigantism relative to terrestrial (or just close relatives as far as giant fish go) ancestors has arisen multiple times (i.e. the Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Eocene, and Neogene).

I applaud your efforts, and encourage you in your education.

Bryan said...

I found a broken link (in reference to bumblebees and flight). Unfortunately, I can't edit the comment directly to fix it. So here is the corrected link.

and here is the url:


All the Latin on this page is from my vague recollections from High School. There are mistakes in the text. I just was trying to get the point across

Between Los Alamos,NM and White Rock, NM

Between Los Alamos,NM and White Rock, NM
The photo of the travertine spring was taken in the small opening in the center of the image.

Lectio Liber