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Loess formation

16 October 2013

There is another paper out this month that may be saying more than it actually admits in the written form – go to www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131014221537.html where the published article is commented on (from Quaternary Science Reviews). The authors have found evidence that the great rivers of East Asia control dust and sand transportation and deposition. This has a bearing on consensus theories which say wind blown loess, which forms in huge drifts across parts of China (exploited by farmers for generations as it is basically sorted and graded sediment, sieved by nature rather than a human contraption), was created in the cold dry conditions of the last Ice Age, and is in fact a major pillar in the view that the Ice Age impacted on East Asia (when it may not have done so). You will often see the stock phrase – the Ice Age was dustier in the Pleistocene, and there were more deserts. You won't find mention of the possibility the deserts were in different locations because the pole was somewhat closer to Greenland than it is now – so if evidence of desert conditions are found in a locality where there are no deserts in the modern world  this must mean they were more extensive (as it is unreasonable to think the Sahara had a more agreeable climate). It is easy to see how false conceptions originate – if they are false. Arguing against mainstream is diffiicult as it is built on blocks of so called evidence that must not be repudiated. Evidence to the contrary ends up being ignored – or sneered at, defined as fringe (or worse). True science would be open to all sorts of conjecture that are currently not on the radar – which might be due to academic laziness and junketing rather than anything malicious. This means that the science we have is not always honest – and you only need look at the UKs scientific advisors. The current incumbent is just as dysfunctional as the last three of them, going by his report to government on the recent IPCC findings. He clearly hasn't read it but just scanned a few bits – mainly the politicised press release by the enviros. 

If that is true of climate science the same is true of other academic sciences. Techonology and engineering are somewhat different in that something has to work at the end of the research – and the same goes for geology involving the extraction industries. It is a matter of knowing where the relevant geological layers can be accessed in the ground. The academic side of geology is the floss, and here we have a possibility that a field geologists has found the floss wanting – but cannot come outright and say so as the article would have been turned down (the usual screw in the process). 

The result of the study is that the Yellow River is acknowledged as the major transporter of huge quantities of sediments from Tibet to Mongolia and further indicates the river contributes a significant amount of material to the loess plateau formation. The Yellow River drains NE Tibet (a high plateau) and it seems that uplift of the plateau plays a significant role (and therefore tectonic changes) – but importantly it is the river that plays the dominant role in the transport of the sediments (consisting mainly of dust and sand). In Ice Age theory loess has an origin in dust created on the dry edges of the ice sheets. However, it is commonly found along river valleys – and former river valleys. For example, the Thames has formed a series of terraces along its course where it has cut down deeper and deeper into the landscape. This can be seen in the London clay as you go from the Embankment up to Traflagar Square, or around St Pauls and Fleet Street. In uniformitarian theory this shows that the London Clay formation is older than the terracing (assigned to varous interglacial episodes). Beyond the London Clay the same terracing is also evident – but vestiges of the London clay do exist in places such as Slough (where it was exploited in the 19th century to make bricks for the expansion of London). Mainly, the terraces here are formed of pebbles and gravels rather than clay and the terracing is distinct, divided by flat areas like monumental steps leading up in stages to the original land surface at the top (when the Thames first came into existence many millions of years ago). Burnham Beeches sits on a terrace and it has pockets of loess – clearly left behind by the river at some stage in the remote past. When farmers migrated out of Anatolia in around 6000BC they went up the Danube valley seeking out the loess formations – so there is definitely a link between loess and water. 

SIS has published articles by Allen and Delair that said loess was formed by water rather than just by winds blowing across the tundra. Does loess form in the modern world near the poles? These articles will be free to access over the next few months as they are being prepared as an online archive. When this is done readers will be directed to the relevant article – by author or subject. The consensus theory on loess formation may not be strictly correct – although we may assume several factors come into play. If it is being transported by water in the modern world it was probably transported by water in the past – that is all that requires consideration. How extensive that water might have been then becomes a focus of interest – is it more than river action alone?

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