November 19, 2014 | David F. Coppedge

Geology Sale

We need to clear the deck of geology news.  Here’s a garage sale of interesting headlines, provided “as is” for researchers to pursue further.

Geo-researchers making diamonds out of odd materials, including peanut butter (PhysOrg):  “Robson points out that despite a lot of effort, scientists still don’t know the true composition of the Earth’s core and its upper and lower mantle.” Regarding the peanut butter diamond: “As a publicity stunt, the team also tried pressing peanut butter, which loosed a lot of hydrogen, but because of its high carbon content, also resulted in the creation of a small diamond.”

Continents may not have been created in the way we thought (The Conversation):   Nick Rawlinson questions simplistic plate tectonics.  “What does this mean for geology? It shows us that continents form in more complex ways than we thought.”

Earth’s magnetic field could flip within a human lifetime (Science Daily): “Earth’s last magnetic reversal took place 786,000 years ago and happened very quickly, in less than 100 years — roughly a human lifetime. The rapid flip, much faster than the thousands of years most geologists thought, comes as new measurements show the planet’s magnetic field is weakening 10 times faster than normal and could drop to zero in a few thousand years.”

Fossils cast doubt on climate-change projections on habitats (PhysOrg):  “Leave it to long-dead short-tailed shrew and flying squirrels to outfox climate-modelers trying to predict future habitats.”  Of short-tailed shrew fossils: “”It’s almost as though it is living in all of the places that the model says it shouldn’t be living in and not in any of the places that the model says it should be living in.”   Since the models are wrong, “The thing I want to do, as a scientist, is to have the best models possible so as we’re making informed decisions as a society.”

Small volcanic eruptions could be slowing global warming (PhysOrg):  “Climate projections typically don’t include the effect of volcanic eruptions, as these events are nearly impossible to predict…. Ridley said he hopes the new data will make their way into climate models and help explain some of the inconsistencies that climate scientists have noted between the models and what is being observed.”  Do these two entries indicate that some geologists are becoming more bold at contradicting the politics of consensus?

Life’s wrinkles in the sand (Astrobiology Magazine): “A new study shows how wrinkle structures can form on a bed of sand when waves and micro-organisms are present.  Wrinkle structures on sandy bed surfaces are rare on Earth today, but were more common in ancient sedimentary environments.”

Old textbook knowledge reconfirmed: Decay rates of radioactive substances are constant (Science Daily): “Researchers refute the assumption that the decay rate of some radioactive nuclides depends on the distance between the Earth and the Sun.”

Arroyo channel head evolution in a flash-flood–dominated discontinuous ephemeral stream system (GSA Bulletin): “Multiple stepwise linear regression indicates that the migration rate is most strongly correlated with flow duration and total precipitation and is poorly correlated with peak flow depth or time-integrated flow depth. The studied channel heads migrated upslope with a self-similar morphologic form under a wide range of hydrological conditions, and the most powerful flash floods were not always responsible for the largest changes in landscape form in this environment.”

Desert streams: deceptively simple (Science Daily): “Paradoxically, such desert streams have surprisingly simple topography with smooth, straight and symmetrical form that until now has defied explanation.”

Sticky issues arising from high-viscosity magma: Settling arguments on magmatic structures (Geology, open access editorial by James K. Russell): “Textures and structures in rocks, whether sedimentary, metamorphic or igneous, are a key source of information on “relative timing” of events. However, their interpretation in terms of physical and chemical processes can be ambiguous.”

Profile of a paleo-orogen: High topography across the present-day Basin and Range from 40 to 23 Ma (Geology): “Many tectonic reconstructions of the North American Cordillera suggest the presence of an Altiplano-like plateau in the location of the modern Basin and Range, with conflicting timing and mechanisms for the onset of surface-lowering extension and orogen collapse.”  The authors propose a 11,000-ft “paleo-orogen” that must have existed before the present topography.

Catastrophic emplacement of the gigantic Markagunt gravity slide, southwest Utah: Implications for hazards associated with sector collapse of volcanic fields (Geology): “The MGS thus represents one of the largest subaerial volcanic landslides on Earth, and along with the comparable Heart Mountain gravity slide in northwest Wyoming, constitutes a class of catastrophic collapse hazard not widely recognized within modern volcanic fields.”  See map on Science Magazine: “Ongoing fieldwork suggests that the Markagunt slide is substantially larger than first estimated, Biek says. That would dethrone the Heart Mountain slide as the world’s largest, he notes.  But the size of the Markagunt gravity slide isn’t the only interesting thing about the new study, Smith says: ‘It never ceases to amaze me how geologists can go into an area we think we know well and find new things.'”

Clues to one of the world’s oldest craters revealed (PhysOrg): “Thus, it seems that a comet with a chondritic refractory component may have created the world-famous Sudbury basin,” geologists say.

Update 11/19/14: A book review was just published in Nature about Martin Rudwick’s latest work, Earth’s Deep History: How it Was Discovered and Why it Matters.  Rudwick, a historian of geology, is no friend of young-earth positions, but is compassionate and realistic about early geologists who were.  Quote from Ted Nield’s review:

Yet far from being stifled by what had gone before, they were profoundly aided by the work of traditional, historical and antiquarian scholars working in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. The image of emergent science heroically struggling against obscurantist religion is a fiction conjured by post-Darwinian revisionism and militant atheists, Rudwick insists.

Rudwick describes a pivot in the “narrative” at the time of Darwin.  “Most people today would categorize Darwin as a biologist, but his view of species derived from his geologist’s instinct that all things embody a historical narrative,” Nield writes.  “The realization that much of Earth’s history was not just prehistoric but prehuman gave birth to what we now call deep time.”  Another name for a historical narrative is a paradigm; it tends to guide what questions are asked, and how they are to be answered.

These links are offered as a resource to creation geologists and anyone else willing to think outside the box of scientific consensus.

Paradigms are falling down, falling down, falling down;

Paradigms are falling down, Lyell’s shady.

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