Evolution Encyclopedia Vol. 3
CONTINENTAL DRIFT AND PLATE TECTONICS
Tectonics theory requires that continents travel around from place to place, changing direction from time to time as they go. This is called "continental drift." It, in turn, is based on another theory that there are massive moving plates on the surface of the earth and, where they meet, one gently "plunges beneath" another. Concerned scientists have something to say about these strange theories:
*Maxwell lists five fatal flaws to the plate tectonics theory:
"In 1973 an interesting book was published, edited by the Indiana State University geologist, Bruce Moulton. It contained a paper entitled Continental Drift and a Dynamic Earth' by John C. Maxwell, who urged caution by all regarding the theory of drift. Maxwell pointed out some virtually fatal objections to the theory, including:
"1. Underthrusting of the required magnitude should initiate compressive buckling of the crust, but, instead of the associated oceanic downwarping, reflects passive sinking and stretching.
" 2. The figure of the Earth departs sufficiently from the ideal ellipsoid of [convective current] revolution to [instead] imply considerable strength and therefore a high viscosity incompatible with a converting mantle.
" 3. The linkage of crust to mantle, extending to depths of several hundred kilometers, is difficult to reconcile with [theoretical] active upper mantle convection.
"Maxwell writes, 'to the above fundamental objections may be added several others' (italic's Maxwells).  The worst of these is the 'impossibility of forcing thousands of cubic kilometers of light crustal rock downwards into heavier rock.'  He goes on to say that pileups of enormous amounts of oceanic sediments and basaltic rocks against the margins of continents with bordering young mountain systems should be found but they are not found, certainly not in the volumes required. This fact has puzzled a number of geologists and I predict their puzzlement will continue while they hold to the theory." A. W. Mehlert, Book Review, Creation Research Society Quarterly, June 1987, p. 31. (Mehlert's source: *John C. Maxwell, in *B. Moulton, Readings in Earth Science , pp. 154-162.)
Maxwell's list of five objections, as quoted by Mehlert, above, is one of the best succinct analyses you will find. Here is a brief rewording of those five points so that you can grasp them all more clearly:
(1) The two plates should collide and produce massive broken-ground mountains, instead of sliding underneath one another.
(2) Viewed from the side, boiling fluid in a pan flows up, around and down in a flattened circular manner. But the earth's surface is a very thick and solid substance, incompatible with the Newtonian convection currents in a pan of boiling water.
(3) How can the earth's crust, which is hundreds of miles thick, behave like hot, flowing water?
(4) According to the theory, where the "plates meet," the upper, lighter-weight crust on each plate is supposed to "plunge downward" through over a hundred miles of heavier, solid rock!
(5) Hundreds of vertical miles of solid rock on each side is said to meet each other, then both are theorized as sliding quite gently down into a 90 angle about 500 miles (804.6 km) without any crunching, bunching action. There is no way to push large masses of solid rock down into and through large masses of solid rock. A new physical law will have to be invented to explain it:
"Two solid objects can occupy the space already totally filled by one. This is done simply by inserting the second into the first" Modern global plate tectonics is based on this new imaginary law.
"Subduction" is the name given to the supposed plunging of one plate beneath another. Peterson speaks strongly in opposition to it:
"[According to the theory of plate tectonics], The crust of the earth is not divided up in even squares, but in plates of irregular size and shape. The Theory of Plate Tectonics calls for certain edges of certain ocean basin plates to be continually rolled under, with the leading edge constantly being melted in the mantle, the supposed process being called subduction. This appears to me to be an impossibility. The plates are not made of rubber, to so be bent, but of solid, rigid rock up to 40 miles [64.372 km] thick, that certainly will crack and break off rather than bend. Therein lies another objection. There is no natural force from above which could push on the edge of the plates and bend it. Neither is there a force below that could pull or suck the edge down. Then how could it happen? Menard believes he has a solution and writes authoritatively:
" 'Trench is created where the leading edge of a plate that emerges from a fast spreading center collides with another plate. Because the combined speed of the two is more than six centimeters per year, neither can absorb the impact by buckling. Instead one crustal plate plunges under the other to be destroyed in the asthenosphere.' [*H.W. Menard, "The Deep-ocean Floor," in Readings from Scientific American (1969), p. 163.]
"The logic of all this escapes me. A speed of six centimeters a year does not seem to be enough to cause any damage in a collision. The opposing plates should just stop, and if the driving force continued, the plates should just be in a shoving match. Also, the words 'collision' and 'plunge', can hardly be associated with a speed of six centimeters per year.
"Another objection is that there never could be a collision. That would implies an aginal separation of two objects which then come together with face. Two plates of the earth's crust, however, never can have an empty gap between them. (If they did so on land, vast quantities of lava would continually pour out of them.] Calder explains:
"'No gap can exist between the platesthere are no forty-mile deep chasms in the earth's surface.' [*Nigel Calder, The Restless Earth (1972), p. 48.]
"No gap, no collision; no collision, no plunge; no plunge, no subduction; no subduction, no continental drift. That is the way I see it." Everett H. Peterson, "How the Flood Altered the Earth," in Creation Research Society Quarterly, September 1981, p. 124.
Unfred takes them, plate by plate, and points out a number of difficulties in the theory:
"Plate tectonic models have attained widespread popularity and, therefore, are taught with varying degrees of certainty as scientific fact. However, there are major problems between what is predicted by theory and the geologic evidence. A sampling of these problem areas is highlighted below.
"A. Africa. The African plate includes the continent and a surrounding 'ocean floor spreading' zone. Assuming that Africa has separated from the other continental land masses, plate tectonic theory requires an area of crust larger than the African continent to have been subducted. But between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans spreading ridges, there is no trench system available to swallow 'older' crust. In fact Africa is surrounded by a spreading ridge-rift system.
"Plate tectonic theorists have suggested that the African plate has remained stationary while new ocean floor growth has been accommodated by the Pacific trench system and towards Antarctica. As Carey observes:
"'The Peru-Chile Trench then has to swallow more than 1600 km [2574.88 mi] of Africa's share, plus more than 1400 km [2252 mil of South America's share, plus 3700 km [5954.4 mi] from the South Pacific, making a total of 7000 km [11,265 mi] of lithosphere underthrust below the Andes." [*S. Carey, "The Necessity for Earth Expansion," in *S. Carey (ed.), Emending Earth Symposium (1983), pp. 375-393.]
"Towards Antarctica, the Kermadec Trench between Australia and Africa would have had to subduct 1300 km [2092 mi] of oceanic crust. Is there any evidence that this massive magnitude of subduction has occurred? The answer is 'No.'
"B. Peru-Chile Trench. In order for the Earth's radius to remain constant, the trenches around the globe must swallow oceanic crust at the same rate that the ridge-rift systems are producing new ocean floor. However, the sediments deposited on the ocean floor would not all be subducted. Sediments are lighter than the basaltic crust and would `float' on the denser mantle rocks. Scrapings of the lighter sediments should pile up in the trenches and at continental margins. Massive volumes of ocean floor sediments should be found within the trenches and at continental margins. Geological surveys of the Peru-Chile Trench have revealed a different picture. Some sections contain undisturbed tertiary sediments. Geologic evidence for massive oceanic crust subduction does not exist in the Peru-Chile Trench.
"C. Antarctica. Plate tectonic theory causes even more severe problems for Antarctica than Africa. The Antarctic plate is bounded on all sides by [supposed) 'spreading' zones. Again, according to the theory, an amount of oceanic dust no less than the size of the continent would have been subducted. No sign of such a massive subduction exists. The only small trench (South Sandwich) in the region is at right angles to the hypothetical spreading zone.
"Theoretical diagrams of ocean floor spreading and subduction may appear convincing. On the otter hand, when plate tectonic principles are applied on a global scale, the geologic evidence is lacking." David W. Unhed, "Flood and Post Flood Geodynamics," in Creation Research Society Quarterly, March 1986, pp. 173-174.
Burdick adds still more hurdles to the theory. (His first point disproves an "evidence" suggested by those creationists anxious to be in agreement with this latest scientific theory.)
"1. The notion is essentially an evolutionary one, involving long ages. h could not apply to the reference in Genesis 10:25, which says briefly that in Peleg's days the earth was divided. If India, for instance, had traveled all the way from Antarctica to its present location [and done it all] in 'Peleg's days', the result would have been a catastrophe . .
" 2. If Africa had really traveled westward, as had been suggested on the grounds of the nature of the eastern shore, is it supposed to have traveled eastward at the same time, to leave a gap and form the Atlantic Ocean?
" 3. It is claimed that continents fit together like fingers in a glove to form Pangea [an imaginary earlier combined continent]. However, it should be noted that in order to get this perfect fit, some small pieces of the continents have to be left out.
"4. The Appalachian and Rocky Mountains are not parallel, as they should be according to the Pangea notion.
"5. Whence came all the power to move the continents? From radioactive disintegration? But there should have been more radioactive material, and hence more disintegration, in earlier times, back to Precambrian. Why, then, was there no motion until (as is stated) Cretaceous times?
"6. If the present Atlantic Ocean did not exist until Cretaceous and later geological times, why are Cambrian fossils found in the north Atlantic?
"7. The Stromabolite fossils, to mention just one kind, indicate stable continents in the past,. as Meyerhoff has shown.
"8. The evidence shows that in the Permian age the North Pole was in essentially the same location as it now is.
"9. The only driving mechanism proposed for continental drift seems to be 'convection currents' in the mantle and crust of the earth. But Jeffreys, Knopoff, and Tozer, citing the Lomnitz Law, question whether such currents are possible.
"10. The convection notion would require that the continents be stacked at the equator or at the poles.
"11. There is at present no evidence for the subjection crustal movements. Yet they would be an essential part of the crustal shortening, and so would seem necessarily to go along with the drift." Clifford L Burdick, "A Critical Look at Plate Tectonics and Continental Drift, " in Creation Research Society Quarterly, September 1980, pp. 113-114.
The necessary gaps simply are not there, nor is the lava that should have exuded upward through them.
"For the two plates to move as indicated, they will have to cam themselves apart leaving a gap between them, which would then fill up with lava. In the supposed millions of years of movement, similar situations must have arisen many times. The fault line, therefore should be a wide band of hardened lavabut it is not." Everett H. Peterson, "How the Flood Altered the Earth," in Creation Research Society Quarterly, September 1981, p. 125.
"Convection currents" are said to be the driving force pushing up plates and them taking them down. Unfred describes the theory and the unproven basis it rests upon.
"Plate tectonics proposes that horizontal plate movements are the cause of all major geotactonic effects. Theoretically, when an oceanic plate collides with a continental plate, the heavier oceanic crust descends beneath the continental plate. To move these plates along, convection currents within the mantle have been assumed.
"A pan of heated water shows thermal convection. The hotter, less dense water rises from the bottom of the pan and at the surface it loses heat to the atmosphere. The cooler, denser surface water descends inward the bottom of the pan. When applied to the Earth's mantle, the idea is [that,] 'given enough time,' the Earth will behave as an ideal Newtonian [ellipsoid (flattened circular) moving] fluid. If so, mantle rock should show a convection similar to the thermal convection described above. However, experiments with rock deformation under strain indicate the Earth's mantle may have properties which make it act differently from a normal Newtonian fluid.
"The obstacle to knowing is that geophysicists cannot adequately test their hypotheses about the Earth's interior. Fluid properties of the mantle, beyond those required for isostasy phenomena of the crust, are unknown. In fact, geophysicists still are unable to determine mantle composition precisely." David W. Untied, "Flood and Past-Flood Geodynamics, " in Creation Research Society Quarterly, March 1988, p.174.
*Meyerhoff summarizes some of the difficulties facing anyone who would accept the tectonics theory:
"All proposed models for 'New Global Tectonics' are seriously in error. Paleoclimatic data distributions on continents and shelves of ancient evaporites, carbonate rocks, coals, tillites, can be explained only if present positions of rotational axis, continents and ocean bins have been constant for at least 1,000 million years.
"Also distribution of fossil invertebrates and tetrapod faunas and floras likewise indicate constancy of position of the rotational axis, continents and ocean bins for at least 570 million years, or since Proterozoic time. Space requirements for the continents do not permit east-west movements since Archean time of more than 100-200 Km [160.9-321.8 mi] in the northern hemisphere. The north-south movements of continents are limited to a few hundred kilometers on the basis of paleo-climatic and paleontological data.
"Ocean bin studies show island arc trench fills where subduction supposedly takes place [are] undeformed. Probably there is no such thing as subduction. Sediment fills in fracture rifts crossing mid-ocean ridges are also undeformed. Joides drilling results [oceanic core samples] have been hailed as a remarkable confirmation of plate tectonics predictions. [But] The first dating of the 'basement' basalts of Joides coreholes indicates that the 'basement' beneath Mesozoic rocks is late Tertiary or younger . .
..No Physical Theory Known can Explain Plate Tectonics." *A.A. and *Howard Meyerhoff, "Continental Drift IV," in Journal of Geology 80(1):34-60 (1972). (Italics ours: see all five A.A. Meyerhoff articles (with or without co-authors): in Journal of Geology, 78:1, 78:4, 79:3, 80:1, and 80:8.)
Frankly, the whole theory is all just a lot of clever speculation:
"The results of our respective investigations and deliberations represent no more than clever speculations or, at best, more or less reasonable working hypotheses. We have not really advanced our theoretical thinking and knowledge much beyond that of our teachers twenty or even fifty years ago. We may postulate, or even believe it fervently, that convection is the ultimate and ubiquitous motor in plate tectonics. Yet we cannot prove that friction between mantle and crusthow else can thermal convection be converted into direction and motion?is sufficient to drive crustal plates, large and small." *R. Brunnschweiler, "Evolution of Geotectonic Concepts in the Past Century," in S. Carey (ed.), Expanding Earth Symposium (1983), pp. 9-15.
The whole theory was just as ridiculous when it was first suggested.
"During the period of nearly universal rejection, direct evidence for continental driftthat is, the data gathered from rocks exposed on our continentswas every bit as good as it is today. It was dismissed because no one had devised a physical mechanism [conventional currents] that would permit continents to plow through an apparently solid oceanic floor. In the absence of a plausible mechanism, the idea of continental drift was rejected as absurd. The data that seemed to support it could always be explained away. . In short, we now accept continental drift because it is the expectation of a new orthodoxy." *George Gaylord Simpson, The Meaning of Evolution (1950), Note 233, p. 278.
According to one of the most recent books on the subject, the plates have to be rigid or they could not push apart entire continents; (but yet must be soft, so they can gently move downward at subduction zones, those places where the plates meet).
"Because the plates are rigid and the convective patterns are orderly, plate movement is not haphazard. For example, in places known as subduction zones, the edge of one plate will slip under another and be dragged down into the interior, pulling the rest of the plate with it in a steady direction." 'Roberta Conlan, Frontiers of Time (1991), p. 11.
"Rigid plates," yet one is "slipping" downward as it nears a second. Let us imagine the scene for a moment: Take two dinner plates and set them on the table. Each one is solid and horizontal. Now take one of the plates (call it the "Pacific Plate") and begin sliding it beneath the other (the "North American Plate"). Proportionally, in accordance with the side-view drawings of plate tectonics, within an inch after beginning to slide under the second dinner plate, the first plate will be moving downward vertically. Obviously, that downward-moving plate ought to be tilted at least a few degrees on its surface. Yet that would cause the other end of that "rigid plate" to stick out of the Pacific Ocean thousands of feet into the air! Yet nowhere does such diagonal movement of the plates occur. In addition. such massive quantities of water would pour down the cracks, where one plate is sliding beneath another, that water/magma explosions to put Krakatoa to shame would continuously occur, devastating the planet. Only 22 percent of geologists accepted plate tectonics in 1961, but by 1978, a full 87 percent had gotten on the bandwagon and aligned with the new concept.
"Nitecki et. al.  did a study involving a survey of 215 professional American geologists concerning their position towards the 'new global tectonics.' 87 percent accepted it (about half considering it 'essentially established' and slightly less than half considering it 'fairly well established'), and the remaining 12 percent rejected it as being 'inadequately proven'. 22 percent accepted in 1961." John Woodmorappe, "Anthology of Matters Significant to Creationism and Diluviology: Report 2, " in Creation Research Society Quarterly, March 1982, p. 219 preference: M.H. Nitecki, et. al., "Acceptance of Plate Tectonic Theory by Geologists," in Geology 6:661-4 (1978)j.
The Nitecki opinion poll of geologists included this note:
"Those who have recently accepted the theory did so in an atmosphere of general acceptance that does not seem to require that they weighed all the evidence themselves." *M.H. Nitecki, et al., "Acceptance of Plate Tectonic Theory by Geologists," in Geology 6:661-4 (1978).
Unfortunately many "creationists" quickly accepted the new view also, just as they have done with many other evolutionary concepts. Yet the evidence for tectonics is simply not adequate.
"Most of the presumed evidences for the 'new global tectonics' are squarely evolutionary-uniformitarian and so have no meaning in the Creationist-Diluvialist paradigm. The argument from paleobiogeography, for example, has meaning only if one accepts geologic periods and evolution: acceptance of paleoclimatological arguments also requires acceptance of geologic periods. The vital ocean-floor arguments (magnetic 'stripes', ocean-bottom biostratigraphy, K-Ar results from submarine lavas) all require acceptance of geologic periods, geomagnetic reversals, and radiometric dating." John Woodmorappe, "Anthology of Matters Significant to Creationism and Diluviology: Report 2, " in Creation Research Society Quarterly, March 1982, p. 219.
The fact that plate tectonics is little more than a sand castle theory continually reveals itself in statements by its advocates. Consider the following quotations:
"This theoretical insight, which goes by the term 'plate tectonics'." *Tom Alexander, "A Revolution Called Plate Tectonics has Given us a Whole New Earth, " in Smithsonian, 5(10):3040 (1975).
"Much fossil evidence has been adduced for and against Continental Drift, but the evidence is far from conclusive." *Encyclopedia Britannica (1971 ed.), p. 139.
"While few earth scientists agree on details, the broad outlines of plate tectonics are established beyond dispute." *J.R. Heirtzler, "Project Famous, " in National Geographic, 147(5):588 (1975).
"This uplifting, from processes unknown, may be the primary agent building the Mid-Atlantic Ridge." *Op. cit., p. 603.
"Driven by implacable and still not-altogether-comprehensible forces, these plates move off around the world." *Tom Alexander, "A Revolution Called Plate Tectonics has Given us a Whole New Earth," in Smithsonian, 5(10):39 (1975).
"The motion of the ocean floor is driven by thermal convection in the mantle. This motion provides the visible half of a convection loop . . The details of the return flow are poorly understood and are therefore the subject of continuing investigation." *J.G. Sclater and *C. Tapscott, "the History of the Atlantic," in Scientific American, 240(6):159-160 (1979).
"Although no one knows exactly how the plates of the earth's shell are driven around, that does not deny their movements." *Nigel Calder, The Restless Earth (1972), p. 108.
"The plates and their interactions constitute a fine piece of machinery that explains the outward appearance of the planet. It is exasperating not to be sure how the machinery works." *Nigel Calder, The Restless Earth (1971), p. 106.
Burdick says it succinctly:
"The head structural geologist at a university, with whom I discussed this [theory of plate tectonics and continental drift], was not ready to adopt the theory. 'Be not the first by whom the new is tried, nor yet the last to lay the old aside.' He cited Wesson, who enumerated some 75 objections to the hypothesis, which as yet have not been answered." Clifford L Burdick, "A Critical Look at Plate Tectonics and Continental Drift, " in Creation Research Society Quarterly, September 1980, p. 111. (Referring to *Paul S. Wesson, "Objections to Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics, " in Journal of Geology 80 (2):185-197 (1972).)
With excellent insight, Peterson compares plate tectonics with the general theory of evolution:
"The two theories of Evolution and Plate Tectonics have two big points in common. They both need millions and billions of years to accomplish their objectives, and neither one can find a satisfactory mechanism to make their systems work." Everett H. Peterson, "How the Flood Altered the Earth," in Creation Research Society Quarterly, September 1981, p. 125.
We might add a third quality of both theories: Both predict certain activitiespast, present, and futurewhich have never been observed to take place. How can a theory be considered "scientific," much less correct, when (1) it never describes a process which occurs and (2) there is no known physical or biological means by which it could possibly occur.
*Corey summarizes several reasons why the idea of continents drifting around is a foolish one.
". . [There are several] topological impossibilities and topographical embarrassments created by the hypothesis of continental drift. Some of the "embarrassments" are: (1) Regions that have obviously been expanding when they should have been under compression; (2) The existence of too much area on the present-sized globe for the required fauna) and paleogeographical proximities; and (3) The absence of subduction zones where, according to the theory, continent-sized sections of crust should have been swallowed up . .
"India has close fauna and paleogeographical ties with Australia, Antarctica, Madagascar, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Tibet, East Africa, Iran, and Arabia. The theory of continental drift has trouble in explaining all of these connections. . The India paradox resolves into one of total surface area. It is impossible to satisfy the valid proximity demands of one insistent neighbor without leaving wide blank spaces between India and others whose proximity demands are equally compelling . .
"Like all continents, Africa is surrounded by its ocean-floor-spreading rift cone, shaped like an inflated caricature of Africa, more than twice its own area. New oust, youngest at the rift ages from quaternary through Tertiary and Cretaceous. Somewhere within Africa, plate theory demands a sink which has swallowed an area of crust lithosphere greater than the whole of Africa. Where is it? Such just does not exist!" *S. Warren Corey, "The Necessity for Earth Expansion," The Expanding Earth: A Symposium, 1981, p. 377.
*Hallam comes to the subject with a background of expertise in this areaand provides a number of reasons why continental drift would have been impossible.
"According to Wegener, DuToit, and their followers, the vast continental massGondwanalandconsisting of the five continents or continental areas combined into one, broke into separate continental masses as a result of fragmentation and drifted apart, eventually reaching their present positions. The separation of the individual continents began to take place, presumably, in late Mesozoic time and culminated in Early Cretaceous time . . Some of the geodetic and geophysical conditions or postulates which radically affect the concept of continental drift are examined here briefly.
"The latest and most effective tool in measuring the shape and gravity of the Earth has been provided by the artificial satellites. Combining ground and satellite geodesy, which complement each other, new important information has been obtained. Specifically, the Earth is not uniformly spherical. This information leads to the description of the Earth geoid as a flattened ellipsoid of revolution with four isolated protuberances and corresponding depressions. These were located (Newton, 1964) in (1) the western Mediterranean, (2) near New Guinea, (3) west of South America, and (4) between South Africa and Antarctica. Their counterparts, the depressions, are found (1) near the tip of India, (2) near Bermuda, (3) between Hawaii and Japan, and (4) near the Ross Sea, off Antarctica.
"Thus, the irregular ellipticity of the Earth, as shown by gravity measurements from satellites, indicates that it is not in a state of hydrostatic equilibrium which was formerly assumed from ground-level measurements. This evidence that the Earth departs from hydrostatic balance, by a value that could exceed the strength of its materials, raises the questions whether convection currents or other random motions within the Earth, capable of exerting excessive outward stresses, are at all possible. The alternative condition could be immobility a symmetrical motion around the Earth's axis, none of which would satisfy the concept of convection currents and its essential application to the hypothesis of continental drift . .
"Although there exists a broad similarity or 'fit' in the outlines of the Atlantic coasts of South America and Africa a similarity does not take into account the effect of intense marine erosion of the coasts of these continents since Early Cretaceous time when the breaking up of the continents is supposed to have taken place. DuToit (192 considered the vast Triassic basalt lava flows of southern Brazil as proof of the catastrophic separation of the two continents and which was preceded by the great outpourings of lava. The writer measured the lava traps of southern Brazil, and observed that they are the largest recorded on the earths (Oppenheim, 1934), covering an area of more than 1,200,000 sq km. However, the basalt lava beds are separated from the Atlantic coast by an extensive range of Archean granite and metamorphic rocks Serra do Mar which shows no evidence of regional rifting or thrusting.
"The Atlantic Coast of South Americathe key continent for the concept of continental driftin no perceptible measure reflects any evidence of such drift. Its structural pattern is everywhere characterized; by normal block faulting observable in rocks of all geologic ages from Precambrain to Tertiary. The structure of the vast Parana basin in southern Brazil is unequivocally characterized by block faulting (Oppenheim, 1934;Sanford and Lange, 1960). The bathymetric and seismic observations of the Argentine basin, recently surveyed by the research vessel Verna and the Argentine Navy (Ewing et al., 1964), covering an area of 3,400,000 sq km between 30 degrees and 50 degrees south latitude and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge on the east, reveal the presence of approximately 2, 500-3.400 m of horizontally layered sediments with no indication of tectonic disturbance or other structural anomaly.
"The Falkland islands form an inseparable part of the South American continent, and the long eastward-trending Falkland Ridge connects the Argentine cast with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, forming the southern limit of the Argentine basin. Within this seismically surveyed area of thousands of square kilometers, there are no indications of structural disruptions of the ocean floor such as might have been expected . .
"Where the older shield rocks are faulted, the contacts with younger sedimentary formations appear to be undisturbed by thrusting. The prevailing structural pattern of the South American shields alms is block faulting with no indication of thrusting or drag faulting. These surface and subsurface observations of the structure of South America have this far shown no tangible evidence of a westward drift of the continent. Some observable of physically recordable indication of drift in rocks from Precambrian to Pleistocene ages would have been expected, considering that a distance of more than 4,000 mil separates South America from South Africa . .
"It can be concluded that the structure of East Antarctica forms part of the framework of borderlands circling the Pacific basin with its young orogenic belts and Tertiary to Recent volcanic activity. The geological and geophysical information gathered to date indicates that the Antarctic continent evolved and grew by accretions to the vary Precambrian shield of successively younger geosynclines. Thus, the structural pattern of Antarctica confirms what has long been know, that the circum-Pacific orogen has been part of the Pacific basin since before Mesozoic time. There is no evidence of the effect of a hypothetical continental drift anywhere in this part of the Pacific basin .
"Ocean-basin studies show that island-arc trench fills, where 'subduction' supposedly takes place, are undeformed. . "Sediment fills in fracture zones crossing midocean ridges also are undeformeda remarkable fact if sea-floor spreading is taking place. Many of these fractures continue onshore into the continents, where the proved senses of movement are the opposite of those predicted by 'transform-fault' solutions.
"JOIDES drilling results have been hailed as a 'remarkable confirmation of plate tectonics' predictions. The first dating of the 'basement' basalts of JOIDES coreholes indicates that the 'basement' beneath Mesoglobal tectonics' begins to crumble. .
"This paper collates some problem of the continental drift hypothesis as formulated in its present aspect of plate tectonics. Many of the objections are long standing but apparently unknown to many geophysicists, while some are peculiar to the new global tectonics. The conclusions drawn, in order of probability, are (1) the continents have almost certainly not moved with respect to each other; (2) convection is not active throughout the whole mantle; (3) even if convection is active in the upper mantle it cannot account for drift; (4) pole positions derived from paleomagnetism, and results of this method of investigation in its global form generally, are afflicted with an unknown cause of error and are in any case too inexact for drift reconstructions . .
"The postulated geometric schemes for mobile plates, moving continents, midocean ridges, and convection cells in general are mutually exclusive. Regardless of which scheme of drift, seafloor spreading, or plate tectonics is adopted, absurd contradictions result. Areas where plate tectonics should be clearly demonstrablesuch as Iceland and India are the very areas where the non-existence of plate tectonics can be shown clearly and unambiguously. l conclude therefore that the premises of drift are false; that convection does not take place; and that, with so many contradictions and without a mechanism, drift sea-floor spreading, and plate tectonics are fruitless exercises in nothingness . .
"The celebrated Bullard fit of the Atlantic continents, and its successors such as the Smith and Hallam fit of the Gondwana continents, pose awkward problems of continental overlap and misfit which have not been adequately explained away. For example, many geologists have been worried by the loss of much of Central America in the Bullard fit, despite the fact that extensive areas of old continental rocks occurs there, and attempts to get round this problem by seemingly arbitrary ad hoc tectonic displacements and rotations, have lacked plausibility.
"Likewise, if one adopts the Smith-Hallam fit, West Antarctica does not run naturally into its obvious geological continuation in Patagonia. More disturbing perhaps, a large gap is left west of Australia, which had led to the suggestion that the Wharton Basin in that region was ancient ocean, now disproved by the Deep Sea Drilling Project which had demonstrated that the basin is underlain by oceanic oust as young as elsewhere. On the other hand, fitting India against Australia, as others have done, leaves a corresponding gap in the western Indian Ocean . .
"In looking for missing pieces to the puzzle, some geophysicists have hypothesized the existence of large pieces of thinned and foundered continental oust; viz., the Voring Plateau off Norway, a wide area off Nova Scotia, a region off Angola, and (shades of Atlantis) a sector between Africa and America . .
"An important implication is that a sector of subsided and attenuated continent well over 1,000 km wide in places must exist between Africa and America." *A. Hallam, Nature, 282:9495 (1978).
There is evidence of magnetic reversals. Are they always localized, or do some originate from reversals within the earth's core? Do such reversals prove long ages for earth's history? Both questions will be dealt with in this section; the second will be considered in this and the next two sections.
Brown provides us with an introduction to the problem:
"Everyone is familiar with a compass needles small magnetized object, freely pivoted so that it lines up in a magnetic North-South direction. The behavior of a compass needle is the composite behavior of the molecular-domain-sized components in its structure. If the needle were ground into powder and the powder allowed to fall freely, the individual powder would maintain a magnetic North-South orientation as they fell. In a similar manner a sediment can [theoretically, but not actually, because of the variety of problems discussed in chapter appendix, "4 - Ocean Core Dating" preserve a record of Earth's magnetic field direction at the time the sediment accumulated. Volcanic ash or lava may contain magnetic particles that preserve a record of Earth's magnetic field at the time the ash falls or the lava hardens. The investigation of such records comes under the classification of paleomagnetism . .
"About half the rods samples representing earlier stages in the history of Earth's oust are reversely magnetized, i.e., the molecular domainsized 'compass needles' in them point southward, rather than northward as they would if unrestrained at the present time. The surprising implication is that the geomagnetic field has reversed at some time, or times, in the past. A sequence of 26 reversals has been recognized for rocks extending from the Upper Miocene to the present." A.H. Brown, "Reversal of Earth's Magnetic Field," in Origins, Vol. 18, no. 2 (1989), p. 81.
Even sandstone can have its iron magnetically reversed when struck by lightning.
"Anomalous remanent magnetization of sandstone attributed to lightning strikes is documented in detail for the first time in this paper. The effects of lightning strikes on the remanent magnetization of volcanic rocks have been documented previously an a basaltic lava flow by Cox (1961) and in a dike by Graham (1961)." *Michael Purucker, EQS, 55:1112 (1974).
One expert in the field, *Tarling, declares that there are simply too many problems standing in the way of proving long ages from magnetic reversals.
"It is now generally accepted that most of Europe and North American were contiguous from Devonian to Cretaceous-Tertiary times. On this basis, the paleomagnetic data of the two continents should also be consistent when the continents have been placed in their previous relationship. In fact there are serious, consistent differences between the paleomagnetic data on most acceptable reconstructions while reconstructions based on the paleomagnetic data alone do not result in viable continental reconstructions. Such observations suggest either that the paleomagnetic data still contain consistent errors, the geomagnetic model is wrong, or that the actual continental relationships were radically different to all extant models." *D.H. Tarling, "The Reliability of Phanerozoic Paleomagnetic Data from Europe, " in Transactions of the American Geophysical Union 80(32)589 (1979).
*Corliss adds this:
"The modem edifice of Global Plate Tectonics has been built largely upon the foundation of paleomagnetic data. This foundation, however may be seriously flawed due to (1) self-reversal of rock magnetism; (2) self magnetism; (3) distortion of the magnetized sediments; and (4) external physical and chemical processes that may modify magnetic properties. Caution must be advised in accepting generalizations based on paleomagnetism." *W. Corliss, Unknown Earth: A Handbook of Geologic Enigmas (1980), p. 746.
The cautions suggested by *Corliss are important. Rocks found with reversed magnetism are not necessarily evidence of an earlier reversal in earth's core; localized factors in and near the rock may have been responsible. Yet when a lava flow reveals a change in polarity, we are dealing with something quite different.
Some creation scientists do not believe that magnetic reversals of earth's core could possibly occur. In this chapter we assume that they have occurred, and were caused by the violent eruptions of water and fire that spewed forth from beneath the surface during and after the Flood.
A key to a proper understanding of magnetic reversals is the fact that they can occur rapidly. It is not necessary to postulate long ages of time for them to occur. Both localized and earth-core reversals can occur very quickly. Humphreys cites newly-discovered evidence from a North American lava flow which indicates that magnetic reversals of earth's core can occurand very rapidly.
"A recent paper in Earth and Planetary Science Letters offers startling new evidence for a creationist view of reversals of the earth's magnetic geld. The conventional evolutionary view is that a transition from one magnetic polarity to the other generally took millions of years, certainly no faster than thousands of years.
"Even small changes in the earth's field today are thought to be slowed down to a time scale of several years by the field's passage from the earth's core up through the earth's semiconductive rock mantle. However, at the 1986 International Conference on Creationism, I proposed that geomagnetic reversal took place very rapidly, with periods of days to weeks, during the year of the Genesis Flood. In the conclusions of that paper I suggested that a good test of my hypothesis would be 'to look for strata which clearly formed within a few weeks and yet contain a full reversal,' in particular, 'distinct lava flows thin enough that they would have to cool below the Curie temperature [50010 700C (932-1292F)] within a few weeks.'
"To my delight, two geoscientists have examined such a basalt flow and found just such a polarity transition recorded in it.
"[Humphreys refers to *R.S. Coe and M. Prevot, "Evidence Suggesting Extremely Rapid Field Variation During a Geomagnetic Reversal," in Earth and Planetary Science Letters 92:290-298 (less)].
"Robert Coe, from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and Michel Prevot, from the Universite ties Sciences et Techniques at Montpelier [France], are respected paleomagnetists, well-known for their detailed investigations of magnetic polarity transitions in the huge Miocene lava flows at Stems Mountain, Oregon (*Prevot, et. al., 1985).
"Coe and Prevot went back to Stems Mountain and carefully sampled a relatively thin lava flow, number B51, at a point where their previous investigations suggested a rapid transition was likely to be recorded.
"The seven flows stratigraphically above B51 are of normal polarity and the ten flows below it are of reversed polarity. Numerous samples taken through the several-meter thickness of flow B51 show a bumpy but continuous transition from the reversed polarity below to the normal polarity above, using a simple model of heat condition, Coe and Prevot calculated that flow B51 'would cool to 500C [932F] or below in about 15 days.'
"Since magnetic grains in the basalt would 'freeze' their magnetizations at about that temperature, this means that the transition had to be made in less than a fortnight. [I] Coe and Prevot comment: ' . . even this conservative figure of 15 days corresponds to an astonishingly rapid rate of variation of the geomagnetic field of 3 per day.' The authors acknowledge that such a rate is hard to believe:
" 'The rapidity and large amplitude of geomagnetic variation that we infer from the remanence directions in flow B51, even when regarded as an impulse during a polarity transition, truly strains the imagination.'
"As a result, they carefully consider a number of alternate explanations, but decide that the most straight-forward interpretation explains the data best:
" 'We think that the most probable explanation of the anomalous remanence directions of flow B51 is the occurrence of a large and extremely rapid change in the geomagnetic field during cooling of the flow, and that this change most likely originated in the [earth's] core.'
"Are Coe and Prevot correct? As far as I can tell from their paper, their work is very meticulous and quite thorough . . If Coe and Prevot are correct, we can infer two important facts about the earth at the time when this Miocene lava was flowing, a time which most creationists would place during the latter part of the Flood year, or soon thereafter. First, the earth's mantle had to have been at least 4 to 5 times less electrically conductive [more resistant to electromagnetic impulses, and therefore causing them to travel to the surface more slowly] than it is thought to be today, or such a rapid change could not have been observed. Second, some physical process was at work in the earth's core which could produce very rapid reversals of the earth's magnetic field . .
"The most important implication relates to the geomagnetic time scale. The magnetic field change recorded in flow B51 was about 50,000 times faster than the 2000 years previously thought to be the theoretical minimum time for reversals. According to the conventional time scale, it was millions of times faster than the shortest reversals actually recorded in the geologic strata. If all recorded reversals occurred as fast as the one in B51, or even thousands of times slower, than the age of the geologic strata would be much less than billions of years. Thus this data is important new evidence for a young earth." D. Russell Humphreys, "New Evidence for Rapid Reversals of the Earth's Magnetic Field," in Creation Research Society Quarterly, March 1990, pp. 132-133 [italics Humphreys].
"Coe and Prevot have analyzed paleomagnetism in a Miocene basalt flow at Steens Mountain in southeastern Oregon, U.S.A. using cooling models, they obtained good estimates of the time lapse between when various levels of the basalt flow cooled to a sufficiently low temperature for the magnetic characteristics to remain fixed (be recorded). From an analysis of the paleomagnetism at various levels in the flow, together with the associated time differences, they were able to establish geomagnetic field change rates of at least 3 degrees direction and 300 gammas intensity per day. At 3 degrees change per day a reversal (180 degrees change) could be completed in two months. Three hundred gammas is in the vicinity of 1/150 of the present geomagnetic intensity. The available evidence indicates that although the geomagnetic field intensity deceased during reversals, it did not drop to zero." Robert H. Brown, "Reverse! of Earth's Magnetic Field, " in Origins, Vol. 16, No. 2 (1989), p. 83.
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