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           ( .. a retrospective .. )

Earth expansion :-:-: My road to Damascus

(Destination Damascus.)


[ Yes, .. I know, .. Everybody just left so why would anyone want to go there when all roads lead to Rome anyway,  and Rome is known for its happy parties, lions, cougars, and its institutionalised slaughter of innocents, .. and it does offer front seats on cheap days.   And there is revelling and the odd crucifiction along the way, earning it a reputation as a red-hot tourist destination.]
Did we get there though ('Damascus') ?  In the end I have to say I don't rightly know.  Through my eyes it does look like a Damascus of sorts, but given the way that discovery works it would be hubrisic to the point of stupidity of me to unequivocally say yes.  And I'm happier to admit to stupidity than to hubris, so I am inclined to say "yes" after all.  :)  -  I think the Earth *is* bigger than it used to be.  By quite a lot.

Though some with a concern for lack of 'mechanism' might disagree, it is only on this ground of mechanism that disagreement has ever been raised.  For something that looks so geo-logically obvious in the way that the mantle has broken through the crust making the surface area of the Earth so obviously bigger (mantle = 2/3rds, continents 1/3rd), we simply have no answer to how it could have happened other than to say that the Earth must be getting bigger, and worse, .. an apparent objection - aversion even - by the Earth science community as a whole towards trying to find one.

Ever since Sam Carey  proposed the forceful geological case for Earth expansion half a century ago no-one (to my knowledge) has ever taken issue with any of his points, only with pointing out a lack of mechanism, implying that there *is* no objection on geological grounds, just an objection to any messenger who draws attention to the deficit of the alternative consensus view of Plate Tectonics.

Though aware of Carey I did not follow his path, preferring to hack my own way through the labyrinth, so it's a reprise of the journey as best I remember. It worked for me.  If it works for you too, then both of us could be defying consensus with an understanding that is stratospherically higher than the banality of Plate Tectonics.  I found it very interesting, and having 'arrived'  it seems really as if we're only just starting out - meaning there's lots more to discover.  Hopefully it will click with some reader, .. a channelling of sorts of what I actually mean.  For it is one thing to understand from your own experience what somebody is saying,, but quite another to understand it from theirs.  In fact the glimmer of realisation that prefaces understanding and the understanding itself is very much a two-headed affair even for the same person.  Between people across the proverbial crowded room it is often a veritable gulf, even if on the surface it might initially not appear so.

It is often said there is no new thing under the Sun, and it would appear to be true for Earth expansion, because it is also said that expansion was once common knowledge, a mainstream view almost, that was laid to rest by the emergence of Plate Tectonics.  This is not really true (as these postings describe), but anyway I prefer to regard expansion as the phoenix rising from the ashes of Plate Tectonics, destroyed in the flames of its own contradictions, with Earth expansion being the inchoate neonate - a 'ylem' of geological understanding that still has to attain physical substance. .

All essential elements that are said to support Plate Tectonics support the alternative (and geologically obvious) view that the Earth's surface is bigger than it used to be by the extents of the ocean floors.  And many more elements can be added.   It was prescient indeed of Messrs Isacks Oliver and Sykes in 1968 in their landmark paper titled Seismology and the New Global Tectonics to anticipate that point, and revealing of the controversy of the day that for emphasis they postpone making it until the last sentence of their paper (Fig.2), when (given that controversy) the qualification which is embodied in that sentence should have been the very substance of their entire paper, rather than being presented as a triumphal coup.

Fig.2.  Plate Tectonics' 50-year warranty - the last sentence of their paper:: 'Newness' - and the seeds of its destruction about to sprout.  [Isacks, Oliver and Sykes, 1968. Seismology and the new global tectonics, Journal of Geophysical Research, v.73, No.18, p.5855-5899)  [ Last sentence and four pages of references  .]

Instead, it was seized upon as Liturgy, and those proposing it, Popes.

Qualifying 'newness' with an expectation of discard in the future might be reasonable enough, but taking it in the context of the time when the 'newness' was seen by many as not very new at all [ link : then scroll to Oreskes], when Earth expansion was very much in the ascendency, and when seismology was being used to patently misrepresent the most seismically active earthquake-ridden fault zone on the planet as a coherent 'slab', in order to kill the aforementioned ascendency [Menard, The Ocean of Truth. Princeton University Press, 1986, 353pp], this reads (to me) very much like butt-covering to mask deliberate misadventure with the words 'new', 'healthy'. 'stimulating' and 'unifying' being the expedient, management-speak padding for the said butt.  To the contrary of those words, and in my opinion, the effect of this so-called "newness" has been stultifying in the extreme.  And I don't know why more people don't say so because ever since it was formulated it has gone nowhere other than down the blind alley of self-congratulation..

If  Earth expansion was  "common knowledge" and "mainstream view" when I was a student, then I certainly didn't know about it till some very substantial time thereafter.  In fact not until starting to write these essays taking issue with Plate Tectonics and supporting Earth expansion, did I come to know the depth (yet superficialness) of the difference between the two.

As a student in the sixties I didn't know the concept of Earth expansion existed, much less what it entailed.  Earth contraction, did make some sense in a quirky sort of way, crinkling the Earth's cooling surface like the crinkling skin of an apple. . Planetary accretion theories that proposed the Earth was once an incandescent ball that cooled and differentiated (and that was still doing so) must entail contraction (mustn't it?).  A cooling shrinking crust crumpling "like the skin of an apple" was logical enough but field evidence showed that 'crumpling' (folding)  was accompanied (initially at least) by an increasing  intensity of metamorphism (not a decreasing, cooling one), and though it might be possible to side-step this contradiction with some creative thinking, the idea of moving plates colliding with each other driven on convection cells (like "porridge in a pot") did seem acceptable to a student, even if only for the reason that it was the consensus view.  For all that's said about scepticism and independent thinking being desirable in science it is not the student's place to question a professional consensus, or to hone the techniques of covert dissent.

In my day (mid-to-late sixties) tutors and students alike were comfortable enough with simple notions of a mobile crust that responded in mysterious way to 'Earth forces' that were generated somehow by heat and pressure, density difference and convection, all of which were obviously facilitating agents for what could be readily observed in outcrop - folds,  faults and of course the cycle of erosion.  The mantle was hot and regions of the Earth's crust were driven this way and that by convection, buckling it up into mountain belts wherever there was 'collision' and sagging it into sedimentary basins wherever there was pull-apart.  In those student days it didn't much matter how or where convectional return was happening, the concept, superficially at least, was good enough.

Thus when PlateTectonics did appear in the late sixties proclaiming itself to be the "the new global tectonics" there was very little about it really that was obviously different from these earlier views.  It was simply as if an older concept had been rebranded to provide new zest to an old idea - not something to be overly excited about. Or interested in.  [Students are like that. They lack the two heads of 'internalisation'.   "Yes? Pretty obvious.  So what-else-is- new?"  and  "I-wouldn't-know".   And, relying on consensus authority, neither would they. And if the point 'easily led' comes to mind, and students are reading this, then that is the caution (and challenge) before them.  It makes no sense to go against decades of mainstream consensus (which is not necessarily thought), .. or to put exam results in jeopardy by showing how clever you are.

The crust was still mobile and convection was still 'the mechanism'.  It would be some considerable time before the geological difference between 'continental drift' (in its rag-tag student sense)  and 'Plate Tectonics' in its better-dressed academic one, helped by an enthusiastic media, would occur to me, and an even greater time before I would recognise the reason for the rebranding, which was not to present a theory that was intrinsically better, but to extinguish what was then (half a century ago) and by then an already-decade old emerging geological paradigm of stunning significance - that the Earth was getting bigger - by a legerdemain that represented the observation of expansion as theory and the theory of Plate Tectonics as observation.

Still with me?  Then let's rough out the road map, for the outline of the story as it occurred to me. Links are to the original disc for those who might be interested to read further.

Of course we could storyboard it by just compacting the whole thing as bullet points, when we would discover there's nothing really new in it.  We'd know it already in a sort of way.  But it is Damascus after all, known in a golden yesteryear as the ancient city of culture, so why not take it easy and smell the roses?  We never know just what might be discovered along the way.  It's amazing how one realisation leads to another.

  "Life,  .. It's a beautiful circle .. " 

(even though it does tend to get screwed up by one's "'real-me", trying to get  out
( and we all must live with each other)

(Satellite view)

Fig.3  "From the Alps to the Pacific" (and back again).   How can that highlighted belt of elevation be anything *BUT*  the same mountain belt (dilated  by the Pacific)??
By its continuity with the Pacific Ocean the Indian Ocean is implicated by crust-mantle dislocation.]

..That realisation is (almost)  where we started.

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