Friday, November 15, 2013
A Catastrophic Breakup
A Scientific Look at Catastrophic Plate Tectonics
by Andrew Snelling, Ph.D.
March 20, 2007
When you look at a globe, have you ever thought that the earth looks cracked? Or, maybe the continents have reminded you of a giant jigsaw puzzle, with the coastal lines of South America and Africa seeming to fit together almost perfectly. But what did this “puzzle” of land masses look like in the past? Was the earth one big continent long ago? What caused the continents to move to their present locations? How did the global Flood of Noah’s day impact the continents?
Global investigations of the earth’s crust reveal that it has been divided by geologic processes into a mosaic of rigid blocks called “plates.” Observations indicate that these plates have moved large distances relative to one another in the past, and that they are still moving very slowly today. The word “tectonics” has to do with earth movements; so the study of the movements and interactions among these plates is called “plate tectonics.” Because almost all the plate motions responsible for the earth’s current configuration occurred in the past, plate tectonics is an interpretation or model of what geologists envisage happened to these plates through earth’s history (Figure 1).
Slow-and-Gradual or Catastrophic?
Most geologists believe that the movement of the earth’s plates has been slow and gradual over eons of time. If today’s measured rates of plate drift—about 0.5–6 in (2–15 cm) per year—are extrapolated into the past, it would require about 100 million years for the Atlantic Ocean to form. This rate of drift is consistent with the estimated 4.8 mi3 (20 km3) of magma that currently rises each year to create new oceanic crust.1
On the other hand, many observations are incompatible with the idea of slow-and-gradual plate tectonics. Drilling into the magnetized rock of the mid-ocean ridges shows that a matching “zebra-striped” pattern of the surface rocks does not exist at depth, as Figure 2 implies.2 Instead, magnetic polarity changes rapidly and erratically down the drill-holes. This is contrary to what would be expected with slow-and-gradual formation of the new oceanic crust accompanied by slow spreading rates. But it is just what is expected with extremely rapid formation of new oceanic crust and rapid magnetic reversals during the Flood.
Cann, J., Subtle minds and mid-ocean ridges, Nature 393:625, 627, 1998.
Hall, J.M. and P.T. Robinson, Deep crustal drilling in the North Atlantic Ocean, Science 204:573–576, 1979.