Science Frontiers
The Unusual & Unexplained

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About Science Frontiers

Science Frontiers is the bimonthly newsletter providing digests of reports that describe scientific anomalies; that is, those observations and facts that challenge prevailing scientific paradigms. Over 2000 Science Frontiers digests have been published since 1976.

These 2,000+ digests represent only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The Sourcebook Project, which publishes Science Frontiers, also publishes the Catalog of Anomalies, which delves far more deeply into anomalistics and now extends to sixteen volumes, and covers dozens of disciplines.

Over 14,000 volumes of science journals, including all issues of Nature and Science have been examined for reports on anomalies. In this context, the newsletter Science Frontiers is the appetizer and the Catalog of Anomalies is the main course.


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Compilations of back issues can be found in Science Frontiers: The Book, and original and more detailed reports in the The Sourcebook Project series of books.

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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 134: MAR-APR 2001 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Plate Tectonics Subducted?In the Fall 2000 number of the Journal of Scientific Exploration, D. Pratt fired a thunderous broadside at that revered paradigm of geophysics: plate tectonics, nee continental drift. This 47-page study, which includes 10 pages of references, is best summarized by quoting from the author's own conclusions. Plate tectonics -- the reigning paradigm in the earth sciences -- faces some very severe and apparently fatal problems. Far from being a simple, elegant, all-embracing global theory, it is confronted with a multitude of observational anomalies and has had to be patched up with a complex variety of ad hoc modifications and auxiliary hypotheses. The existence of deep continental roots and the absence of a continuous, global asthenosphere to "lubricate" plate motions has rendered the classical model of plate movements untenable. There is no consensus on the thickness of the "plates" and no certainty as to the forces responsible for their supposed movement. The hypotheses of large-scale continental movements, seafloor spreading, and subduction , as well as the relative youth of the oceanic crust are contradicted by a substantial volume of data. Evidence for significant amounts of submerged continental crust in the present-day oceans provides another major challenge to plate tectonics. (Pratt, David ; "Plate Tectonics: A Paradigm under Threat ," Journal of Scientific Exploration," 14:307, 2000.) Definition. Asthenosphere = ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 96: Nov-Dec 1994 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Two really deep oceans During our latest anomaly-collecting cycle, we came across two reports on apparently identical phenomena. Neither article mentioned the work of the other! Both groups of scientists processed massive quantities of earthquake records to form "seismic images" of structures deep in the bowels of the earth. (The technique is called "seismic tomography.") Both groups have discerned huge slabs of crust that were once on the planet's surface but were subsequently thrust (" subducted") down under the continents. These slabs are now hundreds of kilometers below the surface, and they have dragged water along with them. In fact, their water inventories may rival today's surface oceans; they may even have been surface oceans themselves millions of years ago before they descended into the infernal regions. Only a few years ago, all geologists maintained that all water in subducted slabs was squeezed out of the rocks by immense pressure and later reappeared at the surface as volcanic steam. Deep ocean #1 . G. Nolet and A. Zielhuis, Princeton seismologists, report a huge reservoir of water about 900 kilometers under present-day Europe. Some 400-500 million years ago, there was an ocean in this locale. (Zimmer, Carl; "The Ocean Within," Discover, 15:20, October 1994.) Deep ocean #2 . H. Wysession, Washington University, has located a water ...
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... seismic signals can be interpreted as huge blocks of different composition and/or temperature. T.H . Jordan, from MIT, ventures: ". .. that what they have mapped are 'continents' on the core-mantle boundary. 'What we've seen is something really incredible,' he says. According to Jordan, the anomalies are analogous to continents on the surface of the earth, because they can't be accounted for by temperature variations but must reflect some compositional change as well. These features 'represent the scum or slag that sits up on the outer core boundary, just as continents sit on the outer surface of the earth,' he says." Some have even speculated that these subterranean chunks of debris are pieces of surface continents that were subducted at the plate boundaries long ago. There are, after all, missing pieces in the continental drift jigsaw puzzle. There might even be substantial chunks of asteroids and comets down there waiting, like the Titanic, to be explored by scientific instruments. Can once-subducted continents and cosmic debris ever rise again? (Weisburd, Stefi; "Seismic Journey to the Center of the Earth," Science News, 130:10, 1986. Also: Kerr, Richard A.; "Continents at the Core-Mantle Boundary?" Science, 233:523, 1986.) Earthquake waves allow seismologists to construct models of the earth's interior. Coninent-sized inhomogenities have been found near the core-mantle boundary. From Science Frontiers #47, SEP-OCT 1986 ...
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... there, even though we have produced 25 volumes of descriptions of hard-toexplain phenomena. Be this as it may, let us see what Frohlich has to say about deep-focus earthquakes. Why are they anomalous? Can't quakes occur at any depth in the earth? No! Because below about 60 kilometers, the rocks should be so hot that they become ductile; instead of breaking catastrophically under stress, they just deform or "flow." It would appear, then, that conditions for earthquakes do not exist below 60 kilometers. Nevertheless, since 1964, more than 60,000 earthquakes have been recorded below 70 kilometers - some as far down as 700 kilometers. Conditions way down there cannot be what we think they are! Most deep-focus earthquakes occur near subduction zones, where the science of plate tectonics says that the earth's crust is diving below another crustal plate. In addition to this geographical preference, deep-focus quakes are different from shallow quakes in that they produce few if any aftershocks. They are fundamentally different. We don't really have enough clues as yet to guess just what is going on between 60 and 700 kilometers. If the rocks that far down cannot break to created earthquake shocks, perhaps there are explosions of some sort. There may be something about the rela-tively cool mass of subducted crust that stimulates explosions when it contacts the hot, deep rocks. Possibly, the de-scending crust carries water or other chemicals that react explosively. Complicating the problem are those few deep-focus earthquakes that ...
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... listed below have not yet been cataloged and published in catalog format. These do not have the alphanumerical labels. EC Chemical and Physical Anomalies associated with inner Earth ECC CHEMICAL ANOMALIES ECC1 Anomalous Abundances of Some Noble Gases ECD DEEP-DRILLING DISCOVERIES ECD1 Drilling Truth Confounds Surface Science ECG STRUCTURAL ANOMALIES INDICATED BY GRAVITATIONAL ANOMALIES ECG1 Remarkable Gravity Anomalies ECG2 Gravity Trends That Challenge the Continent-Accretion Model ECG3 Gravity Data Indicating Large Mantle Inhomogeneities ECG4 Anomalous Gravity Signals Following Earthquakes ECH HEAT-FLOW ANOMALIES ECH1 Mid-Plate Volcanism ECH2 Hawaiian Hot-Spot Tracks ECH3 Dearth of Continental Hot Spots ECH4 Non-Random Distribution of Hot Spots ECH5 Thermal Plumes Correlated with Other Geophysical Activity EQ SEISMIC PROBING OF INNER EARTH EQA LOCALIZED STRUCTURES IN THE CORE AND MANTLE EQA1 Stratification of Basement Rocks EQA2 Deep Continental Roots EQA3 Deep Penetration of Subducted Slabs EQA4 Lateral Inhomogeneities in the Lower Mantle EQA5 Mysterious Structures at the Core-Mantle Boundary EQA6 Seismic Reflectors EQD SEISMIC DETECTION OF LARGE SCALE DISCONTINUITIES, ZONES, STRUCTURES EQD1 Velocity Discontinuities EQD2 Channels and Zones EQD3 Structural Anomalies of the Inner Core EQD4 Anomalies Associated with Mantle Convection Cells EQQ ANOMALOUS SEISMIC SIGNALS EQQ1 Deep-Focus Earthquakes ES STRATIGRAPHIC ANOMALIES ESA EMBEDDED ACCRETION STRUCTURES ESA1 Cylindrical Structures in Rock and Unconsolidated Sediments ESA2 Spherical Aggregates ESA3 Concretions ESA4 Small Fused Structures ESA5 Geodes ESA6 Orbicules ESB ANOMALOUS BIOLOGICAL PHENOMENA IN GEOLOGY ESB1 Biological Extinction Events ESB2 Biological Explosion Events ESB3 Recent Vegetation and Shallow Water Fossils at Great Depths ESB4 Long-Buried, Undecomposed Organic Matter ESB5 Living and Fossil Marine Organisms Found Far Inland ESB6 Living Organisms and Recent Fossils at Very High Altitudes ESB7 Growth Structures on Marine Organisms and Their Fossils ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 129: MAY-JUN 2000 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Leaky Seas Just as we have been assured that the Greenhouse Effect is melting the ice caps and that rising ocean levels will force us to abandon our coastal cities, we read the following: Within a billion years, our planet could be as dry and barren as Mars, claim geologists in Tokyo. They have calculated that the oceans are leaking water into the Earth's mantle five times as fast as it is being replenished. It is true that ocean water is being drained away at subduction zones where oceanic crustal plates dive under the continental plates; there's a 10,000-mile unsealed crack there. S. Maruyama and colleagues at the Tokyo Institute of Technology estimate that 1.12 billion metric tons of water leak through that crack in the earth's integument every year. Geologists have always assumed that most of this leakage was returned to the oceans through deep-sea vents and volcanic action, but Maruyama calculates that only 0.23 billion metric tons are recovered. The balance is probably absorbed by lawsonite and other minerals forming 100 kilometers below the surface. (Hadfield, Peter; "Leaky Seas," New Scientist, p. 4, September 11, 1999.) Comment. Does this mean we should cease our attempts to stem global warming? From Science Frontiers #129, MAY-JUNE 2000 . 2000 William R. Corliss Other Sites of Interest SIS . Catastrophism, archaeoastronomy, ancient ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 134: Mar-Apr 2001 Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues Last Issue Next Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Contents Archaeology Water Signposts, Ritual Paths Incroyable? Astronomy Missing Martian Meteorites Speaking of ALH 84001 Missing Planets in Globular Clusters Biology Toppling-Penguin Theory Overturned Bigfoot Mile-High, But Light-Years from Acceptance What Sang First? Geology Plate Techtonics Subducted? I Must go Down to the Goo Again! Geophysics Weird Waterspout? Psychology Sleep-Work and Dream-Work ...
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... 1994 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Deep Quake Deepens Mystery Most earthquakes are shallow. They are concentrated no deeper than 20-25 kilometers down. However, a few extremely deep quakes rumble at depths of about 600 kilometers. On June 8, 1994, what may be the largest deep earthquake of the century -- magnitude 8.2 -- exploded 640 kilometers beneath Bolivia. "Exploded" may or may not be the proper word. Geophysicists are really not certain what causes the very deep quakes, because at 640 kilometers rocks are so hot that they flow rather than snap under geological stresses. The more common, shallow earthquakes are generally created when rocks snap and fracture. Since the deep quakes seem to be concentrated in subducted slabs of terrestrial crust that plunge down deep into the earth's mantle, geophysicists suppose that the increasing heat and pressure applied to the descending slabs may cause "explosive" phase changes in minerals contained in the slabs. Phase changes often involve volume changes that, if sudden, might generate seismic waves. Too, water of hydration in minerals may be explosively turned into vapor. But this is all surmise at present. The Bolivian quake also caused the whole earth to ring like a bell. Every 20 minutes or so, the entire planet expanded and contracted a minute but detectable amount. Another surprise: the Bolivian earthquake was felt a far away as Seattle -- the first time that a quake in that part of South America has been actually felt in North America. (Kerr ...
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... . If the researchers are correct, then the view of the interior of the Earth that scientists have previously accepted is wrong. "The geophysicists say that they have found minerals like those in the Earth's crust in a layer of crustal material, 250 kilometres thick, which starts about 400 kilometres below the surface and extends to a depth of 650 kilometres. There is enough crustal material at this level, according to geophysicists to form a crust 200 kilometres thick - the average thickness of the Earth's crust is only 20 kilometres. .. .. . "The material is not trapped at this depth: the layer acts like a conveyor belt which returns the crustal material to the surface by a process of convection. At the surface, the material cools and sinks along the subduction zones. Below the surface, it reheats and rises to join the crust again, along one of the Earth's midocean ridges." (Anderson, Ian; "Seismic Waves Reveal Earth's Other Crust,: New Scientist, p. 28, November 26, 1988.) Comment. An obvious question is: What does this repeated circulation of crustal material do to radiometric and indexfossil dating of the crustal material we can access at the surface? Large sections of the stratigraphic record are missing on our planet; maybe they have now been found. From Science Frontiers #61, JAN-FEB 1989 . 1989-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 150: Nov - Dec 2003 Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues Last Issue Next Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Contents Archaeology Australians First in the New World? Origin of Clovis Culture Disputed A "Magic Number" Encoded in Three of the World's Major Pyramids Astronomy Mapping and Analyzing Dark Matter Biology Frog Poison Factory Puffin Tongue Trick? Human-chimp DNA Dissimilarities Four-Dimensional Biology A Squid's Eyes that Look Up and Down Tuberculosis and the Extinction of the Megaforna Dark Matter in our Genome Unknown Source of Animal Diversity Communication among Bacteria Geology When the Earth Gets Cracking Subduction Doesn't Check Out Chicxulub Didn't Do It! Geophysics Squishy Ball Lightning Far-Floating Fowl Psychology Natural-Born Readers Physics Mixed Anomalies ...
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... , W. Sager and A. Koppers, have plotted 27 ancient pole positions dated between 120 and 30 million years ago. Using rock samples brought up from submerged Pacific sea-mounts, they find that the earth's magnetic poles shifted 15-20-deg about 84 million years ago. The north magnetic pole was not slowly drifting, it was lurching. It took just a couple million years to shift 700 miles or more; that's more than ten times the rate of continental drift. The earth from afar must have seemed to be a disturbed top---on a geological time scale, of course! What could have perturbed the earth? One suggestion blames a sudden shifting of the planet's mass distribution, some sort of subterranean indigestion, like a subducted ocean plate suddenly plunging through into the lower mantle. (Kerr, Richard A.; "Did the Dinosaurs Live on a Topsy-Turvy Earth?" Science, 287:406, 2000.) The biological consequences of such a sudden tilting could have been severe. The event -- known as rapid true polar wander -- may have been accompanied by worldwide volcanic upheavals and reorganization of tectonic plates that would have played havoc with anything living in the Late Cretaceous period, 65 million to 99 million years ago. Although the notion that an asteroid was the immediate cause of dinosaur extinction about 65 million years ago has won wide acceptance, many paleontologists have argued that volcanic activity may have played a role in changing the climate and sending populations of the giant creatures into decline. ( ...
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... anomalies in the 1950s, plate tectonics (nee "continental drift") was considered pseudoscience. In fact, it was possible to find authors in mainstream geological journals complaining the geology could not call itself a science if it permitted ideas like continental drift to run rampant. Of course, the situation has now been reversed as some scientists plead that data contradicting plate tectonics should no longer be accepted for publication! Happily, at least one publication is still open to heretics. In a 1997 number of New Concepts in Global Tectonics , we find S. Keshav, at Bombay's Indian Institute of Technology, asserting that plate tectonics is a "myth that has paralyzed our thinking." And he gives some reasons for his view: Plate tectonics incorporates many physically impossible processes, such as sediment subduction; i.e ., soft sediments should be scraped off plates as they dive beneath the continents. Plate tectonics does not completely explain the ophiolites (rocks resembling bits of ocean crust that are sometimes found in embarrassing places (far inland). Plate tectonics has difficulty accounting for some mountain belts; i.e ., those far from collisional sites, like Tibet's Kunlun mountains. Finally, Keshav observes: "On the continents this theory assumes mysterious character as many of the features go unexplained (as exemplified by inability to find a trace of the Asthenosphere/Moho) and truly depicts an act of escapism." (Keshav, Shantanu; "A Myth Called Plate Tectonics," New Concepts in Global Tectonics , p. 23, no. 3, June 1997 ...
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... Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects 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 ...
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... , we mentioned the possibility that the helium-3 emanating from the earth might indicate that cold fusion was occurring deep down. In a recent issue of the New Scientist, a short unsigned article reveals that this "excess" helium-3 was an impetus for the cold fusion research at Brigham Young University. In fact, P. Palmer, a geo-physicist at Brigham Young, suggested the possibility as long as three years ago! We have not seen Palmer's speculation in print, but the stimulating effect of anomalies on scientific research is reassuring, whatever the final outcome of the cold fusion wars. The same New Scientist article supports the above speculation as follows: "Calculations show that more than enough deuterium finds its way into the upper mantle by this route (seawater in subduction zones) to account for the heat emitted by the Earth's core, although the heat obviously comes from other sources as well. The rate of fusion of deuterium nuclei required to produce the observed rations of helium-3 to helium-4 in rocks, diamonds and metals is similar to that observed by Jones in his experiments with electrolytes. Tritium can also be a product of the fusion of deuterium. Jones and his group say that the tritium detected in the gases from volcanoes is further evidence of cold fusion." Jones has also wondered whether Jupiter's excess heat could be generated deep within the icy planet via cold fusion. (Anonymous; "Rocks Reveal the Signature of Fusion at the Centre of the Earth," New Scientist, p. 20, May 6 ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 32: Mar-Apr 1984 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Grand Canyon Shamed Again Exploration and mapping of submarine canyons cut into the continental shelves of Alaska and Siberia emphasize once again the colossal scale of these crustal gashes: "Erosion of some of the largest known submarine canyons has removed more than 20,000 km3 of former subduction margin between the Aleutian Islands and Cape Navarin, U.S .S .R . The canyons are incised as deeply as 2,400 m into Tertiary sedimentary and igneous rocks that make up the margin and attendant deep sedimentary basins along the outer Bering shelf. Cutting of the seven major canyons probably occurred during low stands of sea level when the Bering shelf was exposed to a depth of about -135 m, which allowed the ancestral Anadyr, Yukon, and Kuskokwim Rivers to carry large volumes of sediment to the outer shelf. Although their positions appear to be structurally influenced, the canyons apparently were cut by combinations of massive slumping and sliding of sediment deposited near the shelf edge and of scouring action of the resulting turbidity currents that carried debris to the abyssal sea floor, where deep-sea fans have formed." (Carlson, Paul R., and Karl, Herman A.; "Ancient and Modern Processes in Gigantic Submarine Canyons, Bering Sea," Eos, 64:1052, 1983.) Comment. The authors believe that submarine slumping and turbidity currents were sufficient to have eroded these huge canyons. Other geologists doubt this. The other ...
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