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No. 7: June 1979

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Unwanted Noise On The Terrestrial Tape Recorder

The hypothesis of continental drift and sea-floor spreading depends heavily upon the strip-like magnetic anomalies that parallel the active ocean ridges. Molten material pushing out along these ridges spreads out, solidifies, and is magnetized by the prevailing terrestrial magnetic field. Thus, the spreading sea floor becomes a "tape Recorder" preserving the record of changing terrestrial polarity over the past several hundred million years. As one drills into this thin conveyor-belt/tape-recorder, one would expect to encounter only rocks of one polarity. Not so! Some of the holes drilled by the Deep Sea Drilling Project have passed through several polarity zones. To illustrate, core 395A from the mid-Atlantic ridge is magnetized normally for the upper 170 meters, reversely for the next 310 meters, and normally again for 40 meters. Is the tape-recorder idea therefore incorrect? Some scientists argue that it is and that the whole modern edifice of plate tectonics is suspect.

(Anonymous; "Testing Vine-Matthews," Open Earth, p. 28, April 1979.)

From Science Frontiers #7, June 1979. 1979-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987