Monday, October 30, 2017

The Road to Damascus

.. a retrospective

Damascus :-: Earth expansion

Fig.1. The phoenix rises. Destination Damascus. 
(.. "The Big Bird sails on the ally-ally-oh .." )

Yes, .. I know, .. two million people just left so why would anyone want to go there when all roads lead to Rome anyway, and Rome is known for its happy parties, lions, cougars, and its institutionalised slaughter of innocents, .. and it does offer front seats on cheap days. And there is revelling and the odd crucifiction along the way, earning it a reputation as a red-hot tourist destination. [This page was written some time before Berlusconi was rolled - hence the brochure.]

Did I get there though ('Damascus') ? In the end I have to say I don't rightly know. Through my eyes it does look like a Damascus of sorts, but given the way that discovery works it would be hubrisic to the point of stupidity of me to unequivocally say yes. And I'm happier to admit to stupidity than to hubris, so I am inclined to say "yes" after all. :) - I think the Earth *is* bigger than it used to be. By quite a lot. 

Though some with a concern for lack of 'mechanism' might disagree, it is only on this ground of mechanism that disagreement has ever been raised. Ever since Sam Carey proposed the forceful case for expansion half a century ago no-one (to my knowledge) has ever taken issue with the geology, only with a lack of mechanism, implying that there *is* no objection on geological grounds, just an objection to any messenger who dares draw attention to a deficit of consensus.

[Correction :- Just discovered this one (earmarked for later attention). References suggest there could be a few after all. But right now am more concerned with sorting out my own, than exploring others).]

 So check it out. There could be something in it for you. 

Though of course aware of Carey I did not follow his path, preferring to hack my own way through the labyrinth, so it's a reprise of the journey as best I remember. It worked for me. If it works for you too, then both of us could be defying consensus with an understanding that is very much higher than the banality of Plate Tectonics. I found it very interesting, and having 'arrived' it seems really as if we're just starting out (with lots more to discover). That said, and now taking account of Carey's work, there are (as would be expected) many points of similarity, but also numerous additional others that are not, and still others I would take issue with. [" PSSS(t)", .. Carey doesn't mention boudinage at small, large, or any in-between scale [in his 1976 book, though he does in his 1986 one)so I guess I can lay claim to priority of this particular application of geological principle, stemming out of an earlier one relating to structural controls on ore deposits more than a decade earlier (Link).]

 However, the general paucity of comment on my earlier blogs does show it's not everybody's cup of tea. But then nobody really abused me over what I had to say (over a period of more than ten years of posting), and given that this blog has a fairly good google-ranking on the web on the topic of expansion - and even on Plate Tectonics if you add the word 'blog', which is a good idea because anybody with something to say on a subject these days will probably be running a blog.  Since people generally have a tendency to abuse anything that doesn't fit with their world view (like me, here) I take that almost as a commendation.  Anyway I hope it clicks with some reader. 

No new thing under the Sun (so it is often said). And it would appear to be true for Earth expansion, because it is also said that expansion was once common knowledge, a mainstream view almost, .. but was laid to rest by the emergence of Plate Tectonics.  To the best of my reading (as a Johnny-come-lately to that particular point on the time-line) that's not so, but anyway I prefer to regard it as the phoenix rising from the ashes of Plate Tectonics that has proved itself after half a century not to work after all.

 Plate Tectonics, .. the inchoate neonate that still has to break out of its shell and be destroyed in the flames of its own contradictions so that it can fly? Or the baby that should be thrown out with its bathwater... .. [That's rhetorical.] 

 All essential elements that are said to support Plate Tectonics support the alternative (and obvious) view that the Earth's surface is bigger than it used to be by the extents of the ocean floors. Many more elements besides can be added. It was prescient indeed of Messrs Isacks Oliver and Sykes in 1968 in their landmark paper titled Seismology and the New Global Tectonics to anticipate that point, and revealing of the controversy of the day that (for emphasis) they postpone making it until the last sentence of their paper (Fig.2). Given the controversy at the time, that doubt /qualification reflected in that last sentence should have been the substantial core of their paper. 

Fig.2.  Plate Tectonics' 50-year warranty :-: 'Newness' - and the seeds of its destruction about to sprout.  [Isacks, Oliver and Sykes, 1968. Seismology and the new global tectonics, Journal of Geophysical Research, v.73, No.18, p.5855-5899)  [Last sentence; four pages of references .]

I need to read it again, but from memory of my first reading I don't think much space (if any) is given to Earth expansion at all, much less any weighing of argument.

Qualifying 'newness' with an expectation of discard in the future is certainly reasonable enough, but taking it in the context of the time when the 'newness' was seen by many as not very new at all [ link : then scroll to Oreskes], when Earth expansion was very much in the ascendency, and when seismology was being used to patently misrepresent the most seismically active earthquake-ridden fault zone on the planet as a coherent 'slab', in order to kill the aforementioned ascendency [Menard, The Ocean of Truth. Princeton University Press, 1986, 353pp], this reads (to me) very much like butt-covering to mask deliberate misadventure with the words 'new', 'healthy'. 'stimulating' and 'unifying' being the expedient, padding for the said butt. Contrary to those words and in my opinion, the effect of this so-called newness has been stultifying in the extreme. And I don't know why more people don't say so because ever since Plate Tectonics was formulated it has gone nowhere other than down the blind alley of self-congratulation. 

If Earth expansion was "common knowledge" and "mainstream view" when I was a student, then I certainly didn't know about it till some very substantial time later. In fact not until starting to write these essays taking issue with Plate Tectonics and supporting Earth expansion, did I come to know both the depth (and the superficialness) of the difference between the two. As a student in the sixties I didn't know the concept of Earth expansion existed, much less what it entailed. Earth contraction, did make some sense in a quirky sort of way if you didn't think about it too much. Planetary accretion theories that proposed the Earth was once an incandescent ball that cooled and differentiated (and that was still doing so) must entail contraction (mustn't it?). A cooling shrinking crust crumpling "like the skin of an apple" was logical enough but field evidence showed that 'crumpling' (folding) was accompanied (initially at least) by an increasing , not decreasing, intensity of metamorphism (not cooling), and though it might be possible to side-step this contradiction with some creative thinking, the idea of moving plates colliding with each other driven on convection cells (like "porridge in a pot") did seem more acceptable to a student, even if only for the reason that it was the consensus view. For all that's said about scepticism in science being desirable, it is not the student's place to question a professional consensus, or to hone the techniques of covert dissent. 

In my day (mid-to-late sixties) tutors and students alike were comfortably ensconced in simple notions of a mobile crust that responded in mysterious way to 'Earth forces' that were generated somehow by heat and pressure and density difference (/convection), all of which were obviously facilitating agents for what could be readily observed in outcrop, ..folds, faults and of course the cycle of erosion. The mantle was hot and regions of the Earth's crust were driven this way and that by convection, buckling it up into mountain belts wherever there was 'collision' and sagging it into sedimentary basins wherever there was pull-apart. In those student days it didn't much matter how or where convectional return was happening, the concept by itself was good (enough) at least. 

Thus when PlateTectonics did appear in the late sixties proclaiming itself to be "The New Global Tectonics" there was very little about it really that was obviously different from these earlier views. It was simply as if a few bells and whistles had been added to the ocean floors and an older concept had been overwritten by a new name to provide new zest to an old idea - not something to be overly excited about. Or interested in. [ Students are like that. They lack the two heads of 'doublethink'. They take it all in their nonchalant, "Yes?-so- what-else-is- new" .. & .. "I-wouldn't-know", stride, and, in their naivety of understanding the 'scientific method', the double-think as par for the course.

And neither would they. And if the point 'easily led' comes to mind, and students are reading this, then that is the caution (and challenge) before them :-: it is not easy to know the difference between fact and fiction (/ 'theory') when you're a student, far less to go against decades of mainstream consensus (which is not necessarily thought), .. and invite the attendant opprobrium.  The crust was still mobile and convection was still "the mechanism".  It would be some considerable time before the geological difference between 'continental drift' (in its rag-tag student sense), and 'Plate Tectonics' in its better-dressed academic one (helped by an enthusiastic media greedy for rubbing shoulders with 'the litterati' /'cognoscenti), would occur to me, and an even greater time before I would recognise the reason for the change, which was to extinguish what was then (half a century ago) an emerging geological paradigm of stunning significance.  Why didn't the media go with the Earth expansion (rather than the 'new global tectonics')? - institutional kudos and therefore who control the debate ['Princeton,' 'Cambridge,' America as cultural leader generally (/the atomic bomb) etc.]

Still with me? Then let's rough out the road map and keep it simple. But feel free to suggest an insert. This is the outline of the story as it occurred to me. Links are to the original disc for those who might be interested to read further (404s are pages to construct,  hopeful punts for support to the site in the interest of re-education of the world's (relative) cleanslates.  It'll cost you a beer (ta very much), maybe two if it goes beyond closing time.

Of course we could just storyboard it by compacting the whole thing to a few bullet points, when we would discover there's nothing new in it, .. and you know it already in a sort-of kind-of-a-way, .. but why not take the trip and smell the roses. It is Damascus after all (known in a golden yesteryear as the ancient city of culture) so no hurry. You just never know what you might discover along the way. I'm still discovering (with amazement) how one realisation leads to another -  when cocks crow and daylight illuminates the place.

 Fig.3  Daylight illuminates the circumglobal mountain belt, .. posing the question, how can that brown highlight be anything BUT the same 'mountain' belt (of elevation) ??   [ Link ]

 ..because that is (almost) where we started.

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