Uncertainty in Geology

11 May 2013

At http://phys.org/print287302604.html … the American Geophysical Union (see also http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/tect.20025/abstract) have published a paper on the Zagros fold and thrust belt that stretches from the Persian Gulf into eastern Turkey (Anatolia), a region of crustal deformation and seismic activity which is interpreted, by necessity, to uniformitarian parameters. It is the pressure point between three tectonic plates which are thought to drive the formation, and elevation, of the Turkish and Iranian plateaus, a fairly smooth terrain which in some places is 2km in height (to the NE of the Zagros belt). How the plateau was formed and attained its dramatic height is unknown as the consensus model does not allow such an elevation as a result of seismicity alone (or that appears to be what is being suggested). This is perhaps because they think in terms of the plateau growing incrementally at one spot and expanding laterally – when the whole plateau probably moved upwards enmasse. The same uncertainty is involved in the elevation of the Tibetan plateau – it appears to upset the current thinking in terms of prolonged pressure, time scales involved, and the physical manifestation as we see it today. Did they occur in one movement – or as a succession of periodic bursts of seismic activity? It seems that in textbooks, cause and effect are shown only for popular consumption – and geological dilemmas exist of which most people are not aware.

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