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No. 127: Jan-Feb 2000

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Do Continents Really Drift?

For geologists, Continental Drift (or "Plate Tectonics") is as vital to their scientific outlook as the Big Bang is to astronomers, or Evolution to biologists. Indeed, Continental Drift is taught as an unassailable hypothesis -- in essence, a "fact." It is, therefore, a tempting target for anomalists.

Fortunately, there are some maverick geologists who are willing and able to draw up a list of arguments against the "fact" of Continental Drift. Australian P. James is one such brave soul. Here follows the abstract from one of his papers.

"Anomalies in the three basic concepts of mobile plate tectonics -- sea-floor spreading, transform faults, subduction -- are analysed. The process is then extended to subsidiary aspects; sediments on a moving basement, continental evidence, mechanisms and measurements. In summation, the criticisms present a formidable and damaging document against the total framework of mobilism, both in its general concepts and it its detailed interpretations."

From James' lengthy paper, we select just two anomalies that he has identified in the Atlantic where North America and Europe are supposedly drifting apart.

First, repeated direct measurements of the drifting seem to be a wash; that is, there is no drift to speak of. The expansion of the Atlantic basin seems to be only 5-13 mm/year (just 20% of the predicted rate), and this is partially offset by apparent contractions within the North American land mass!

Second, St. Peter & Paul Rocks, on the Equator just west of the Atlantic Ridge, are supposed to be riding west on the spreading sea floor. Being close to the ridge, they should be 15-30 million years old. (The closer islands are to the Ridge, the younger they should be, if they are truly riding on a sea-floor conveyor belt.) But radiometric dating of the rocks making up these islets insists that they are 100800 million years old.

(James, Peter; "A Synthesis of Major Objections to Mobile Plate Tectonics," New Concepts in Global Tectonics, no. 2, p. 6, March 1997.)

From Science Frontiers #127, JAN-FEB 2000. 1997 William R. Corliss