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No. 9: Winter 1979

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An Ancient Planet Beneath A Youthful Veneer

Gerald Wesserburg and Donald de Paolo, two California geologists, have studied the isotopic ratios of neodymium 143 and 144 in both continental and deep-sea lavas. If the underground lava sources were the same, the isotope ratios should be the same. But they are not. Midocean lavas are enriched in neodymium143 compared to continental lavas. Since neodymium-143 is a decay product of samarium, scientists have been able to establish the neodymium isotope ratio from the time of the Big Bang to the present.

The isotope ratio for the mid-ocean lavas is just what would be expected on a planet where lighter surface materials had come to the surface during a molten state. The continental lavas, though, must tap very ancient reservoirs, possibly those of a true primitive earth. This ancient core is now swathed with younger materials from who knows where! This young envelope wraps around the whole planet, with the present continents being caused by slight protuberances on the ancient core. Whence the young veneer? A rain of material from some recent close encounter?

(Anonymous; "Underground Sites of Ancient Earth," New Scientist, 83:886, 1979.)

From Science Frontiers #9, Winter 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