Weird Geology Requires Faith
If you are an evolutionary geologist, you don’t need much data to get an incredible story published.
Weird rocks in Australia are a missing piece of the Grand Canyon (New Scientist). Lucas Joel reports a new theory that parts of the Grand Canyon originated at the antipode, the opposite side of the planet – Tasmania, to be exact. Believe it or not!
The Grand Canyon in Arizona has a bizarre Antipodean link. A chunk of the rock sequence that has been sliced through to form this natural wonder of the world now sits thousands of kilometres away in Tasmania, Australia.
How did Jack Mulder, a geologist at Australia’s Monash University, come up with this notion? “He thinks these rocks – which are between about 1.1 and 1.2 billion years old – look just like similarly ancient rocks in Tasmania.” In other words, just because some rocks he saw on the ground looked out of place and had some similar minerals to layers in Arizona, he drew a connection:
“We concluded that although it’s now on the opposite side of the planet, Tasmania must have been attached to the western United States,” he says.
“We concluded that Tasmania must have been attached to the western United States.”
To support his idea, he envisioned an ancient continent called Rodinia breaking up and going different directions long ago. His idea got published with five co-authors in the prestigious geological journal of the GSA, Geology. He calls his Tasmanian rocks a “Rodinian devil in disguise.” To work, his theory has to cover up some evidence and invent forces:
A 1.14–1.07 Ga connection between the combined Grenville-Maud orogen and the Musgrave orogen of central Australia is compatible with paleomagnetic data but requires ∼4000 km of relative motion between Australia-Antarctica and Laurentia prior to the final assembly of Rodinia at ca. 0.90 Ga. We hypothesize that the final assembly of Rodinia was achieved by dextral motion between the crust of Australian and Laurentian affinity along a plate boundary concealed beneath ice cover in East Antarctica.
Explosive lies: how volcanoes can lie about their age, and what it means for us (The Conversation). Three guys from down under say that a volcanic caldera in New Zealand is an inveterate liar. It’s last eruption was more recent than it looks. And therein lies a warning about radiocarbon dating:
Lake Taupo, in the North Island of New Zealand, is a globally significant caldera supervolcano. The caldera formed after the collapse of a magma chamber roof following a massive eruption more than 20,000 years ago.
Now it seems that the Taupo eruption that occurred in the early part of the first millennium has been lying about its age. But like many lies, it was eventually found out, and it reveals exciting processes we hadn’t understood before.
The eruption of Taupo in the first millennium has been dated many times with radiocarbon, yielding a surprisingly large spread of ages between 36CE and 538CE.
You can trust the new age these guys came up with. They wouldn’t ever tell a fib. Not on purpose, at least. Their paper in Nature Communications, “Evidence for magmatic carbon bias in 14 C dating of the Taupo and other major eruptions,” was peer reviewed, so it’s official truth – until geology lies again. “Our reinterpretation implies that ages for other proximally-dated, unobserved, eruptions may also be too old.” Don’t ever take a proxy’s word for it. Dating works better when observed.
A Deadly, Fast-Spreading Form of Super-Ice Could Be Killing Off Alien Life-Forms (Live Science). A form of ice called “Ice VII” has been found in diamond, and it’s pretty scary. Reporter Rafi Letzer cues the horror music:
It forms at speeds of more than 1,000 mph (1,600 km/h), it lies deep beneath our feet, it could destroy hopes for alien life, and — finally — scientists understand how it works.
Back in March, researchers writing in the journal Science revealed that they have found the first evidence for this ice, called “Ice VII.” Scientists had predicted its existence beforehand. Under the right conditions, it was believed, ice could form in a pool of water without a layer of heat at the leading edge of its growing surface. That — along with super-intense pressures and temperatures — would allow the ice to form without most of the usual brakes that slow its growth, Science Alert reported. It would also have a different crystal structure, or arrangement of atoms. Now, scientists say they’ve found that elusive ice for the first time in the frozen-water cores of diamonds that bubbled up from deep inside the Earth.
Since this ice could destroy life trying to form on other planets, astrobiologists now have an excuse for the Fermi Paradox, in case no life is found by SETI activists.
This could pose problems for the hunt for alien life, Physics Central reported. Pressure spikes — say, from meteor impacts — could cause the explosive formation of Ice VII on watery planets otherwise suited to alien life. But the mass formation of this cubic ice at ripping speeds would likely prevent any such life from forming or surviving. On worlds where this happens, life could get snuffed out before it really began.
The question then remains, why didn’t it happen here? Are we just lucky to live on a privileged planet?
Geoscientists discover an overlooked source for Earth’s water (Phys.org). Secular planetary scientists are still struggling with the question, ‘Where did Earth get its water?’ According to the old Nebular Hypothesis, Earth should have formed from a dust cloud that was mostly hydrogen. As it condensed, it would have become far too hot to hold onto any volatile compounds, such as water. Theories have come and gone to get around this little problem. A popular one we call the “water balloon theory” postulates that a water-rich, Mars-sized planet crashed into the Earth, bringing its water by special delivery (23 July 2012). Comets used to be popular as a source, till it was discovered that the deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio (D/H) didn’t match. Asteroids were postulated, but it would have taken many lucky strikes, since they have much less water. Theories come and go, making a splash, but dry up eventually (2 April 2014, (20 March 2017).
A team from Arizona State led by Jun Wu thinks that Earth may have sourced its own water in spite of the magmatic heat. To make this idea work, the Earth would have had to send most of its nebular hydrogen into deep storage in the core of supposed “embryos” from which the planet was supposedly made. But wait; hydrogen is not water. What about the O in H2O? Well, silly, “oxygen is abundant.” Surely the two must have gotten together somehow, even if the hydrogen was mostly locked up in the core, and the exothermic reaction requires energy to get H and O to to join. One educational website at the University of Illinois explains the problem for students: “To combine hydrogen and oxygen to make water, you basically have to mix the gases together and light them with a match. Just mixing the gases together isn’t enough – you have to do something to get the chemical reaction started. The problem is that this creates a big explosion.”
Creationists are often ridiculed for ideas that sound implausible to secular minds. Well?