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Sand … and Gibraltar

12 June 2014

At http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/06/12/climate-change-its-the-motions-of-… …. there is an interesting paper in the journal Science that claims a link between climate change and ocean currents over the past six million years. The area studied was the Atlantic at the Straits of Gibraltar. Sea bed sample were taken of the sediments and this indicates, they say, various shifts of climate change. However, it is the thick layer of sand and mountains of mud spewed nearly 100km into the Atlantic from the Gibraltar gateway that is most fascinating. Where did all that sand come from?

The consensus explanation is predictable and resorts to academic geological theory. They say that a powerful cascade of Mediterranean water spilling into the Atlantic scoured the 'rocky' sea floor and carved out deep channels in the rock, builiding up rafts of  sand – and mountains of mud. Obviously, the details are in the text rather than in this report – so we can't go too far on this without making things up. However, the claim is that the Atlantic, being salty, an injection of fresh water from the Mediterranean meant the outflow of water plunged downwards. It sounds a bit thin but this is actually consensus thinking – an injection of fresh water into the Atlantic (at different times) can affect the ocean conveyor belt system, shutting down a tendency to warm and bringing a tendency to cool. It is a theory that has been mooted on many occasions. It neccessitate the Mediterranean for a period was separate from the Atlantic – an inland land locked sea. At the same time it relies on tectonic events to cause a breach in the vicinity of Gibraltar and all that water to overflow from what would have been a giant version of Niagara – so much outflow the rock of the sea bed turned to sand as it was eroded fairly rapidly (on a geological scale). Obviously, only a uniformitarian minded person would see the logic of this scenario. A catastrophist might wonder if the event was sudden – and the sand had nothing really to do with the reality of what could have been a shift in the rotational axis – a realignment of the geoid. That would both cause climate change and the levelling of the sea level between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The sand is something else. Where did it come from?

The mud, perhaps, came with the outflow of water – but the sand, and the origin of sand, is something that can't be explained in a catastrophe of short duration. Or can it. Sand can be shifted very quickly under duress – a cascade of water. Did the sand already exist in the Mediterranean – or nearby?

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