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Solar eruptions and tectonic uplift

4 April 2014

Bob Johnson, at www.ncgt.org/newsletter.php … comes up with a list of issues. Click on the March issue at the top and a pdf of the whole journal will come up. Scroll down to page 16 for the article – or click on print and when the box comes up alter the page numbers to be printed out to 16-37 and you will get a copy of the whole article with notes. It's a lengthy read and best sat in your armchair with a cup of tea or coffee. Bob Johnson has spoken at past EU conferences and on one occasion at an SIS meeting. He begins by saying all theories of tectonic uplift published to date rely on the earth's internal resources of energy to power the process. This assumption imposes constraints on the various models of uplift which often conflict with geomorphic evidence in the field. An external source of energy would alter the constraints and thus could reconcile many existing models with the evidence. In other words, he is not rubbishing mainstream geological theory, as such, but is adding a new dimension, energy from an external source – the Sun. Presumably this could equally apply to space in general and the Milky Way in particular – beyond the Sun.

He goes on to theorise that an external source of energy arising from a massive solar eruption is likely to have been available on rare occurrences in the past. Electric discharges to the earth's surface, many orders of magnitude larger than your average lightning strike could deliver energy straight to the crustal strata which would be sufficient to 'contribute' to uplift via existing thermal expansion and phase change models. He says Ollier and Pain, in their book, 'The Origin of Mountains' (2000) demonstrates the one size fits all theory of Plate Tectonics does not accord with the evidence in many instances, where it is applied. The tendency, I suppose, is to ignore the anomalies and hope new evidence in the future will make them comply with consensus thinking. In this instance, it requires procrustean adjustments to much geological and geomorphic information to force it to fit the theory. According to Ollier and Pain the principle problem with Plate Tectonics includes mountain ranges remote from plate boundaries or situated at passive margins. It has also been found the folding associated with subduction very often predates the uplift as evidenced by erosion surfaces cutting across field strata. In addition, the timescale of uplift is generally much shorter than the timescale of subduction processe such as colliding plates. Johnson goes on to say that field evidence is often ignored by the various theories leading to conflicts with the geomorphic facts. In addition, uplift comes in many different forms – and goes on to descibe some of them. Ollier and Pain list a total of 20 separate models of tectonic uplift which have previously been proposed – none of which fits all the evidence.

The full article is 20 pages with notes and I will probably return to it later – but invite feedback.

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