June 1, 2012 | David F. Coppedge

Geology Can Be Explosively Rapid

When people hear of “geologic time,” they are trained to think of millions of years.  Big things can happen in far less time.

Instant Manhattan:  Imagine covering Manhattan with sand almost 500 feet deep.  (Some might consider that a good idea, but this is about geology, not politics.) Explosions under the sea, described by Nature (485, 31 May 2012, page 551, doi:10.1038/485551f), produced that much sand instantaneously in Norwegian waters, according to a drilling survey.  “At the start of the most recent ice age, pressurized sand exploded through cracks in the sea floor at the bottom of the North Sea, producing a body of sand large enough to bury Manhattan under 160-metre-high dunes.”  Some 10 cubic kilometers of sand erupted through these cracks rapidly.

Diamonds by overnight delivery:  In January, popular science sites like Live Science and PhysOrg repeated the surprise that kimberlite eruptions, which bring diamonds from deep in the mantle to the surface, are much more rapid than previously thought.  Both articles used the word “rapid” several times.  Kimberlite eruptions are the deepest known events that bring magma to the surface.  Due to buoyancy and other physical processes now considered, the magma accelerates as it rises.

Off by three orders of magnitudeScience Daily reported another geological process that was much more rapid than thought:

The depths of Earth are anything but peaceful: large quantities of liquids carve their way through the rock as fluids, causing magma to form. A research team led by the University of Münster, has shown that the fluids flow a lot faster through solid rock than previously assumed. In the Chinese Tian Shan Mountains, fluids pushed their way to Earth’s mantle from great depths in just 200 years rather than in the course of tens or even hundreds of thousands of years.

You heard it right: 200 years.  “And the most exciting thing is that this amount of fluid flowed through the rock in what is for geological processes a very short time, only about two hundred years,” one of the researchers said.  The fluids had to act “like a jet through solid rock,” according to the headline.   The authors believe this mechanism is not just localized to the Chinese Tian Shan Mountains they hiked in.  ” It is also possible that such focused fluid releases are associated with the occurrence of earthquake events in subduction zones,” which, of course, are widespread throughout the world’s tectonic plates.

To keep their beloved millions of years, the Norway team hid the fluid accumulation there.  But the actual explosions and injections they deduced led to a correction by 3 orders of magnitude.  “The release of fluids from minerals in the descending plates is a large-scale and continuous process that takes place at depths up to two-hundred kilometres and takes millions of years,” they explained.  “During this time, the fluids first accumulate.”  Ad hoc explanations are popular because they are so convenient.

Based on 12 years of reporting here at CEH, it is a safe prediction that these instances will not be the last time we hear that some geological process is “more rapid than previously assumed.”  It’s time for some deprogramming from the indoctrination the Darwinian moyboys have injected into the students’ brains around the world.


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  • J.S. says:

    These are great examples of what I call the Principle of Creeping Catastrophism, which is that rates of geologic processes will tend to increase with increasing investigation.

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