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Rethinking Mountain Bulding

4 June 2023

Seems like another well established consensus theory might not be up to scratch. Mountain building. At https://phys.org/news/2023-06-uncover-rethink-mountains-built.html … but just how do mountains form? This has been a vexed question over the last couple of centuries, with various ideas. These, from the mid 20th century  onwards, tended to associate it with the hypothetical plate tectonics consensus – although there are  various views to the contrary, such as an expanding earth scenario. Indeed, I have a couple of books with alternate ideas on mountain building, but whether they have legs or not is a matter of taste. The fact checker jobsworths continue to spout the consensus view – but having a brain that is resistant to new ideas is not something to be proud about. This new research is not necessary as revolutionary as the blurb sets out. It revolves around research at a site  in southern Italy, an otherwise recognised subduction zone in Calabria. It is thought one tectonic plate is diving beneath another plate, causing the  elevation to form, and the mountains behind it. Mountains in the consensus are formed by crumpling and a thickening of earth’s crust. This is not necessarily as simple as it is set out. The conclusion of the research is that the flat, high elevation, patches of the landscape along the toe of Italy repesent a time when mountain formation was slow. A steep transition below marks a period of rapid acceleration of the process. This does sound reasonable at first off as one would expect more rapid mountain building during major catastrophic events, and far less during long periods of no excitement of the earth system.

The researchers say they have created a record of rock uplift. Geologists like creating records of rock change and type etc. They say this one is the largest and most complete record of its kind. They could find no correlation between the rate at which the plate  is assumed to be diving downwards and their rock history. Crumpling and thickening of the crust appears to be secondary  to another process – the descent of the plate into the Mantle, as well as Mantle Flow. This is of course another assumption – but a newish idea which I suppose is currently fashionable. They say these two things seem to control rock uplift – unless there is something else that has not been tested or acknowledged. They have produced a record  that essentially seems to imply deep earth processes downwards, and I suppose also upwards, is what is affecting the crust at the surface. Time will tell.

See also https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-023-01185-4

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