Plate tectonics is a theoretical concept of geology that is thought to account for many features of Earth’s crust including how the continents arrived at their present shape and location, the origin of mountains, the existence of deep sea trenches, earthquakes and volcanism. The idea that the continents were once a single land mass was proposed by the cartographer Abraham Orelius 400 years ago in his work Thesaurus Geographicus around 1578. He was the first mapmaker to create a map of the entire known world and he suggested that the Americas were “torn away from Europe and Africa … by earthquakes and floods.” He also went on to say: “The vestiges of the rupture reveal themselves, if someone brings forward a map of the world and considers carefully the coasts of the three [continents].”[i] The continents have shapes that appear to fit together much like a jigsaw puzzle though a number of major land masses will not integrate into the puzzle at all. It was a generally accepted concept but did not have a worthwhile mechanism to account for the movement of entire continents. In 1912, Alfred Wegener first presented the locations of the continents as the result of drift to the German Geological Society. Though popularized by Wegener, continental drift still had no source of locomotion when in 1931, the British geologist Arthur Holmes championed the theory that the Earth’s mantle contained convection currents that dissipated heat by rising and cooling and by these currents, the crust of the earth was carried. [ii] The idea of plates drifting on a molten slab has been further developed since then.
Many lines of reasoning added to the interest in the theory such as the existence of continental shelves, similar fossil assemblages and rock types at intersecting continental edges along with volcanic and seismic activities at potential plate boundaries, all seemed to point to the possibility that plate tectonics was a real phenomenon. If so this process was responsible for moving continents through deep sea floor spreading on the plasticity of the underlying mantle. While a fascinating concept, it is surprising that at the time when the geological community adopted this theory only 0.0001% of the ocean floor and less than 20% of the land area of the world had been mapped in any detail. By the mid-1990s, approximately 3 to 5% of the deep ocean basins had been explored. Around 25 to 30% of the land was known to any extent. From a scientific understanding, very little of the earth’s surface is understood and much less about the Earth’s interior.
Much like the current push-back on biological evolution, a paradigm that has poor scientific credibility yet it has been adopted with little to no critical thinking; many geologists have assembled alternate means of communicating their research with one another, pushing back against a tide of militant tectonic supporters. As David Pratt stated:
“Although enormous strides have been made in our knowledge of the earth and much
has been added to Geology by Physics and Chemistry, we need to acknowledge that we are only at the beginning of tabulating and understanding what is at the surface of the earth, let alone what is underneath….”
“In this context, in the 1950s and 60s the new theory of Plate Tectonics was propounded by “Geophysicists” (Physicists) and mainly young Geologists with little experience, depth of understanding or respect for existing geology. The theory, although admittedly simplistic and with little factual basis but claiming to be all embracing, was pursued by its proponents in an aggressive, intolerant, dogmatic and sometimes unfortunately an unscrupulous fashion. (emphasis mine) Most geologists with knowledge based locally or regionally were not confident in dealing with a new global theory, which swept the world and was attractive in giving Geology a prestige not equaled since the nineteenth century.”
“The ideological influence and strength of the Plate Tectonic Theory has swept aside much well-based data as though it never existed, inhibited many fields of investigation and resulted in the suppression or manipulation of data which does not fit the theory. In the course of time, the method has become narrow, monotonous and dull: a catechism repeated too often. As new data has arisen there is a growing skepticism about the theory.” [iii]
Not unlike the modern rejection of any biological data antithetic to evolution, geologists around the world have been seeing their research being ignored and excluded from publication because the evidence does not fit the paradigm of plate tectonics. Since 1996, a small venture of determined scientists began to organize a collaborative exchange of research information in order to continue the advancement of geological sciences, which has so long subverted good research antithetic to this model. Criticism of plate tectonics has increased in line with the growing number of observational anomalies.
Beloussov, a Russian geologist, held that it was premature to hold plate tectonics as more than a hypothesis as it was inadequate on data of the ocean floor and far removed from geological reality. He wrote in 1980:
“It is … quite understandable that attempts to employ this conception to explain concrete structural situations in a local rather than a global scale lead to increasingly complicated schemes in which it is suggested that local axes of spreading develop here and there, that they shift their position, die out, and reappear, that the rate of spreading alters repeatedly and often ceases altogether, and that lithospheric plates are broken up into an even greater number of secondary and tertiary plates. All these schemes are characterised by a complete absence of logic, and of patterns of any kind. The impression is given that certain rules of the game have been invented, and that the aim is to fit reality into these rules somehow or other. (Emphasis added).”
The new movement has established its own privately funded organization called “The New Concepts in Global Tectonics Group” or NCGT. It is an informal association of earth scientists who are critical of plate tectonics and want to explore alternative theories. As the group’s lead points out,
“The most appalling point is that mainstream organizations not only suppress unorthodox interpretations, they censor factual material. A general feature that characterizes dissents from established scientific dogmas is also illustrated: While the received view is monolithic, the critiques are anything but. That makes very challenging the task of creating non-mainstream organizations and publications, for those with unorthodox views may disagree among themselves as much as they disagree with the governing paradigm.”
This sounds so much like biological evolution, which has explanations most often opposite to its predictive direction such that some organisms evolve fast, some slow and some not at all. Some organisms show enormous numbers of mutations from putative ancestors but they have no markedly distinguishing differences. Evolution has no direction yet it is generally towards more complex forms, unless it is not -in exceptional cases. And the exceptional cases are becoming more common. No rules or logic or pattern of any kind can be addressed by biological evolutionary theory.
The major dispute among geologists surrounds the age, composition, and structure of the ocean floors. Tectonics asserts a continuous production of new sea floor from the ridges that pushes the most ancient floors down into subduction zones located at trenches. The ocean floor should not be more than 200 million years old and this chronology for the formation of oceans is based upon bands of magnetic intensities fixated in the ocean basalts that show reversals in polarity and are located on opposite sides of the midocean ridges. As David Pratt explains:
“Critics argue that the magnetic-stripe chronology is suspect because it is based on subjective, qualitative correlations, and has not been ground-truthed by radiometric dating, and that the stripe pattern is better explained by fault-related bands of rocks of different magnetic properties. They stress the need to drill all the way through the ocean crust and into the mantle before reaching definitive conclusions on the age and composition of the seafloor. The newsletter has presented a great deal of evidence from ocean drilling, dredging, and seismic research suggesting that ocean crust can be just as old as continental crust and that large areas of it consist of continental-type rocks and were once dry land. There have been some very lively exchanges on this subject.”
Most frustrating is the fact that the current model of plate-tectonics is known to be flawed. Seismic studies show that the plastic mantle upon which the crust or lithospheric plates move is not continuous, not global and missing below the deep roots of the continents. In other places the boundaries between plates are nonexistent altogether.
Serious questions remain on the plate-tectonic model of plate movements. Much contradictory and inconsistent data are often explained away by the contention that conflicting data suggest the crustal movements are local, or regional and not continental. Even paleomagnetic data of the seafloor basalts is open to interpretation; the geographic poles have changed positions or the continents have drifted or the Earth itself undergoes expansions. Arguments over the unreliability of paleomagnetic data and the questionable assumptions concerning geomagnetism as well as continental rotations and polar wanderings add to the multiplicity of other theoretical postulations that are over-ruled by the prevailing paradigm. Furthermore, there is an unequal volume of seafloor spreading and subduction since ocean trenches are short by two thirds of the length required to subduct the postulated volume of new floor being generated. Also, trenches lack the piles of sea floor sediment that should be created at these collision zones between ocean floor and continental crust. Even the seismic activity that is predicted at these interfaces is missing. So what critical data exists for believing in sea floor spreading?
Current attempts at proving the continents have drifted from a super-continent have failed miserably to succeed. Continents are fitted along convenient depth contours, ignoring overlaps and dissimilarities in geology. Ocean plateaus and ridges may be excluded or included at convenience while whole landmasses are left out of the re-creations. All of this makes geology less science and more illusion. So many large structural evidences as well as deep earthquakes and associated crustal features that contradict global seafloor spreading and continental drift are ignored by conventional tectonics.
Most recently, the entire paradigm for mountain building has come into question. Once thought to be a result of continents colliding, data shows they appear to be the result of localized upwelling of deep earth plumes; much of which appears to have been the result of recent and catastrophic activity rather than ancient, and slow uniformitarian-type plate collisions.
Competing data on the nature of the existence of underwater seamounts, volcanic islands, the deeping ocean, submergence of continental land masses have met with resistance to publication. The NCGT has described this as a historical suppression of factual information and censorship by mainstream journals and organizations.
As to the legitimacy of the claim that science has been hijacked by knowledge monopolies and research cartels, we have here the exact phenomenon that is seen in evolutionary biology. Mainstream organizations in geology, biology and, to a much lesser extent, cosmology suppress unorthodox interpretations and censor factual data. Dissent of Darwin and Lyell as well as of Hubble and Sagan is leading new opportunities for competing hypotheses and theories about the world and our place in it… and these, based on real data so that open opinions can be heard and healthy debate engaged. We have not exhausted our search for understanding or for truth. We have barely begun and we certainly have no conclusions of sufficient validity such that critics, opponents, anomalous data and alternative interpretations can be ruled as out of the question.
[i] ^ Kious, W.J.; Tilling, R.I. (2001) . “Historical perspective”. This Dynamic Earth: the Story of Plate Tectonics (Online ed.). U.S. Geological Survey. ISBN 0-16-048220-8. Retrieved 2008-01-29.
[ii] ^ Holmes, Arthur (1944). Principles of Physical Geology (1st ed.). Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson & Sons. ISBN 0-17-448020-2.
[iii] DAVID PRATT Plate Tectonics: A Paradigm Under Threat. Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 307–352, 2000