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The Inflating Earth

29 May 2013

This is a term picked up from Tim Cullen and it epitomises the subject somewhat better than the 'expanding earth'. It is better by far as we are talking about a release of gases from inside the Earth, oxygen and hydrogen. It's nice to know somebody else out there has also been trawling through David Pratt's article at www.ncgt.org/newsletter.php and at the same time finding a lot that is positive – see http://malagabay.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/the-inflating-earth/

He is not averse to the idea of an expanding earth and at the same time he provides a mechanism – two waves of oxygen outgassing in the history of the Earth, and hydrogen (mainly in the form of water). This is best described at another post, http://malagabay.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/the-tale-of-the-tektites/

Returning to the first one we may note an inflating earth model could explain the apparent movement of the Poles which appear to have been mainly in one direction and over a long period of time – much like the continental drift theory used to be able to explain away. Continental drift theory was abandoned as Plate Tectonics was considered to be a superior explanation and avoided the doubtful assumption that continental plates moved around the globe, from the far north to the tropics, and so on. The idea of the sea floor spreading came to dominance for a variety of reasons, outlined by Pratt, and contained the motion of the continental plates. Into the web of possibilities we have the idea of the inflating earth – an idea going way back and preceding Plate Tectonics. The inflating Earth model can also explain the little bits of continental crust left behind – as continental drift can too. In the Plate Tectonics model these pieces of crust should not be there. Old crust is thought to subduct at particular plate boundaries. If new sea floor forms and then old sea floor must subduct – or somehow disappear. That is if you start on the assumption the Earth has not grown in size over the course of Earth history. For example, if you go to the west coast of Britain or Ireland you will see offshore little pieces of rock stranded off-shore, and other pieces that are best described as small islands. Are these pieces left behind after jerks and fits as a result of tectonic activity, continental drift, or an inflating Earth? It all depends on what is inside your head when you are looking at them – and this goes for geology in general. If you begin in a uniformitarian mind-set it all seems quite logical – small changes over millions of years. If you look at it from a non-uniformitarian angle, bearing in mind that upheavals of various kinds might have taken place, you see things in a different way – but which side of the coin is the more realistic? A bit of both may be inferred, long periods of erosion by slow processes such as wave energy, wind and frost, interspersed with catastrophic events (of differing degrees of magnitude) which may also include outgassing episodes.

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