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David Pratt (continued)

1 June 2013

Excuse me for labouring this particular paper but it appears to have some important things to say which are quite contrary to the current consensus view. The article is a very lengthy one, and turning to page 94 of the March 2013 newsletter (Journal of the NCGT) – go to www.ncgt.org/newsletter.php

All the Pangaea reconstructions (and there are thought to have been three of them) ignore several major submarine structures in the North and South Atlantic Ocean, and these appear to be continental crust in origin. For example, there is the Faeroes-Iceland-Greenland Ridge, the Jan Mayen Ridge, the Voring Plateau, Walvis Ridge, Rio Grande Rise, and the Falklands Plateau, among others. Conversely, they do normally include the Rockall Plateau for the simple reason, they can slot it into their jigsaw puzzle.

The opening of the Atlantic, following the final Pangaea configuration, began in the Jurassic by the rifting apart of the Euroasian and American plates. On the opposite side of the world, the NE Euroasian landmass is joined to N America by the Bering-Chukotsk Shelf which is underlain by Precambrian continental crust, and it is continuous between Alaska and Siberia. Geologically, these regions are a single unit and it is unrealistic to suppose they were formerly divided by an ocean several thousands of km in width (as in the Pangaea models) which duly closed to compensate for the Atlantic opening. The geological continuity between the Bering-Chukotsk Shelf and the Lomonosov Ridge rules out sea floor spreading or continental drift in the Arctic Ocean. It is what it is.

The idea that Siberia collided with Europe along the line of the Urals in late  Palaeozoic is contradicted by abundant evidence which clearly demonstrates Siberia and Eastern Europe were a single continental whole during Archaean to Proterozoic times. Structures and rock units of the East European Timan Range strike beneath the Urals and reappear on the eastern side, and are present under Mesozoic rock of the West Siberian Platform.

If Baffin Bay and the Labrador Sea had formed by Greenland and N America drifting apart this would have produced hundreds of km of lateral offsets between Greenland and Ellesmere Island. Geological field studies revealed no such offsets. Greenland is separated from Europe west of Spitzbergen by just 50 to 75km  at the 1000 fathom marker (depth contour) and in turn is joined to Europe by the continental crust of the Faeroes-Iceland-Greenland Ridge. Yet the Atlantic is supposed to have been tearing itself apart from both sides for almost 100,000 years. These sections of old continental crust appear to be a very real problem for Plate Tectonics and one wonders why the consensus theory ignores this aspect of the sea floor. Is it because they are embarrassing? I suspect they have a ready made explanation but Pratt claims virtually 60 per cent of the sea floor between 62 and 82 degrees north seem to be underlain by continental crust – which is remarkable. By itself this would appear to rule out a general eastwards and westwards drift in the N Atlantic. It appears to be locked together.

Plate models require a suture zone running the length of the Mediterranean Sea. Instead, there appears to be continuity between Europe and Africa, quite contrary to the Plate Tectonics consensus. Gibraltar and Rif on the one side and Calabria and Sicily on the other, are permanent features since at least the Palaeozoic. Where does that leave the idea the African plate crashed into Europe and caused the Alps to rise up?

On the basis of palaeogeomagnetic dates plate tectonics people say the Bay of Biscay was formed by the Iberian peninsular rotating anti clockwise by up to 40 degrees – which is contradicted by other field studes.

Lots of different schemes are suggested for the Middle East in the Plate Tectonics models – including a succession of plates and microplates. This requires a subduction zone somewhere in the melee – which is wanting. In contrast, geological field data, compared to academic computer modelling and theorising, show there is nothing to actually support the idea of a past separation of Arabia and Africa, on the one side, from the remainder of the Middle East. The Iranian Plateau and Arabia have been a single whole since the beginning of the Proterozoic – at least (and he lists various continuities).

Pratt continues by saying Plate Tectonics people are very fond of chopping up continents and moving the fragments around. This has also been applied to China and most of SE Asia – over 3 billion years. We might call that the 'play time' on the computer – but Pratt is not so sarcastic. He just says they create a microplate ( N China) being far apart from another microplate (S China), colliding with each other in the Permian, after which they rotated towards each other through an angle of 67 degrees. In contrast, Meyerhoff (1991), based on stratigraphic and palaeographic studies in the field came to the conclusion that cohesion characterised not only China but greater Asia as a whole. Field studies even show that many supposed satures are not collision zones. The similarity of Plate Tectonics modelling with Climate Science models which predict warming when it is cooling is just so remarkable that one's faith in the subject is like a tyre that has been punctured.

Apparently, there is overwhelming evidence (geological and palaeontological) that India has been an integral part of Asia since the Proterozoic (and yet we have all been weaned on the idea India was a loose cannon, originally joined up with Australia and Antartica, and subsequently crashed into Asia and formed the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau. Well, it seems not – or possibly, not so. Depends how much faith you have in the consensus. The plate movements it seems are based on palaeomagnetic assumptions and marine magnetic anomalies, adopted shortly after WWII as a useful tool to bolster the uniformitarian timescale. Plate tectonics theorists claim India became detached from Antarctica during the Mesozoic, drifted NE by 7500km at speeds of 18cm a year and collided with Asia in the Eocene, some 55 million years ago, pushing up the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau in the process. Collision models generally assume the uplift of Tibet began during or after the Eocene whereas palaeontological, palaeoclimatological, and palaeoecological, together with sedimentological data conclusively show the major uplifts began in early Pliocene, just 5 million years ago – and they didn't reach the present elevation until 2 million years ago. Numbers are just numbers and don't mean a lot when said quickly but we seem to have a missing 50 million years. What was happening in the interim?

If the long journey of India, drifting across the ocean, was a reality, and then it would have been an island continent for millions of year – sufficient time to have evolved highly distinct fauna and flora – but this did not happen. Indian fauna and flora is closely comparable to nearby Asian regions and is nothing like that of Australia -which appears to have been genuinely isolated.

Pratt says a myth has developed around Alfred Wegener, used by PR to boost the Plate Tectonics theory. It concerns the continental drift theory, thwarted by conservative and dogmatic geologists and rescued by Plate Tectonics. We might add that this is a mantra that is repeated over and over again even in innocuous articles and comments by people on blogs and the Internet at large. Wegener is considered to be a maligned scientist that was banished to the sidelines for 50 years and then given the light of day after WWII when it was found there were magnetic stripes on the sea floor and these, as chance would have it, seemed to support the uniformitarian model. In an instant Wegener was brought out of the wilderness of radical ideas and given light of day. Conveniently he was no longer alive otherwise he would have had more to say as he also postulated major polar wander amounting to 60 degrees that was evident, he thought, since the Carboniferous, and 15 degrees since the late Pliocene/Pleistocene boundary. This brings us on to another aspect of the Pratt article, polar wander – which I will return to in the final post on what is turning out to be a geological feasting event.

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