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Interior Seaway

13 September 2021

At https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/09/09/the-creatceous-geology-of-alabama… … the author, a geologist, comments on an article in Hakai magazine [which you can get to online]. It revolves around a paleontological site in what is now Alabama, some 250 km inland from the Gulf of Mexico. It was of course submerged in the so called period of the Interior Seaway, cutting a swathe across the middle of North America in the Cretaceous period. Gullies of white chalk are said to represent the remnants of the bed of an ancient sea – the remains of an algae bloom. Chalk is composed of the broken shells of algae that were deposited on the sea bottom – or thrown on land. We are told that inb the Cretaceous high temperatures melted the polar ice caps and submerged land in various parts of the world [in the Hakai article]. A shallow sea environment. I've heard geologists over here in the UK express something similar, claiming co2 levels were much higher in the Cretaceous. In the comments the Hakai author is derided because he is an environmentalist rather than a geologist – as if geologists were a higher breed of life form. Geologists either buy into the co2 causes global warming – or they do not. Although the geologist posting at WattsUp is a uniformitarian he is a sceptic of the global warming mantra. Some high grade geologists in the Geological Society in London have a similar frame of mind – so it must be something being taught to geologists in universities in recent years that inculcates them with the mantra. Anyway, it is not as simple as blaming environmentalists for the point of view.

The Cretaceous is strongly associated with shallow seas as evidence of chalk occurs on land surfaces in the modern world. The site in question is located in a shallow sea environment, it is believed, the so called Mississippi Embayment, a huge area of land that shows evidence of a watery episode that flooded most of Alabama. The site in question is situated on the Moorville Chalk, and is bristling with fossils of reptiles that dominated the ancient seas. We don't get a lot of fossils in chalk in the UK apart from sponges trapped in flint or the occasional shell of marine molluscs. Dinosaur fossils tend to lie beneath chalk geology. However, we get a clue as the article describes the deposit as a marl – which is a mixture of chalk and clay and very often found in bottom layers. In other words, the lizards are associated with clay geology – just as dinosaur age fossils are in the UK. The chalk itself is composed of the crushed skeletons of microscopic algae.

The point of the Hakai article is to produce a scary story in front of this year's upcoming COP 26 jamboree and knees-up in Glasgow. Rising sea levels. If it happened in the Cretaceous could it happen in the modern world? The WattsUp geologist pours cold water liberally over the scary bits. The Cretaceous sea levels, he claims, have nothing to do with melting polar caps. He says they were not frozen over long prior to the Cretaceous – not in the Jurassic and not in the Triassic. It can't therefore, be down to higher Cretaceous temperatures. Hence, the argument made by the Hakai article is not valid. An interesting argument. Mind you, both sides skate around the fact that it is dark six months of the year at the poles – so why would trees be growing there. He continues by adding the paleogeography of the Cretaceous period was totally different than modern physical geography. Even though Cretaceous sea levels were higher than today the modern oceans are much deeper than they were in the Cretaceous. That is the consensus theory – but is that really true.

We then are told the second phase of the break-up of Pangaea began about 140 million years ago – in the very early Cretaceous. You might remember the earlier story today that dated a meteorite/asteroid strike in the sea off Norway to 142,000 years ago – very close to the start of the second phase. One might think there was a connection, but hey ho, the mainstream has other ideas. The WattsUp geologist even goes so far as to say there was rifting between North America, Greenland and northern Europe. We are even told that palms were growing at the south pole, in Antarctica. We may note a reconfiguring of the earth's geoid could also create shallow seas on land – but would also create an emerging land surface where it is submerged in the present world. We may also ask – what happened to all the water displaced by the Yucatan asteroid strike. Would it not have smashed into Alabama, providing geology with the illusion of an inland sea.

The WattsUp geologist, long time since university we might suspect, even goes on to say that at current rates of sea level rise, even those postulated by the UN IPCC people, it would take 70,000 years to drown the site in Alabama. Later, the geology becomes a bit controversial as another geologist chips in and claims Europe, Greenland, and North America were still joined up in the early Cretaceous. All the action in the first phase took place in the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province and this is what initiated the Pangaea break-up – at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary. Hence, some sections of the mid Atlantic existed in the Jurassic, providing water to seed the Interior Seaway. One gets the idea that geology is not as rigid as often presented, and alternative explanations exist for a lot of landforms. One suspects there is a controversy over the role of co2, for example, with older geologists set against the idea. The younger geologists seem to have jumped the gun, it would seem, as it is by no means certain co2 is capable of increasing atmospheric temperatures. You either ride with the crowd, or your peers, or you put yourself out on a limb, I suppose, and young geologists are riding with the global warming mantra – for better or worse. The Chinese, Russians, and the Indians will decide, at the end, not the West, which is in deep decline. Meanwhile, some people are filling their pockets, including Chinese and Russian investors.

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