Earth Is Sucking Down Way More Water Than We Thought, And No One’s Sure Where It’s Going

From Science Alert

WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN ST. LOUIS

25 NOV 2018

Slow-motion collisions of tectonic plates under the ocean drag about three times more water down into the deep Earth than previously believed, according to a seismic study that spans the Mariana Trench.

The observations from the deepest ocean trench in the world have important implications for the global water cycle, researchers say.

“People knew that subduction zones could bring down water, but they didn’t know how much water,” says Chen Cai, who recently completed his doctoral studies at Washington University in St. Louis and is first author of the paper, which appears in Nature.

“This research shows that subduction zones move far more water into Earth’s deep interior—many miles below the surface—than previously thought,” says Candace Major, a program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Ocean Sciences, which funded the study.

“The results highlight the important role of subduction zones in Earth’s water cycle.”

“Previous estimates vary widely in the amount of water that is subducted deeper than 60 miles,” says Douglas A. Wiens, professor of earth and planetary sciences and Cai’s research adviser for the study.

“The main source of uncertainty in these calculations was the initial water content of the subducting uppermost mantle.”

Under the sea

To conduct the study, researchers listened to more than one year’s worth of Earth’s rumblings—from ambient noise to actual earthquakes—using a network of 19 passive, ocean-bottom seismographs deployed across the Mariana Trench, along with seven island-based seismographs.

The trench is where the western Pacific Ocean plate slides beneath the Mariana plate and sinks deep into the Earth’s mantle as the plates slowly converge.

The new seismic observations paint a more nuanced picture of the Pacific plate bending into the trench—resolving its three-dimensional structure and tracking the relative speeds of types of rock that have different capabilities for holding water.

Rock can grab and hold onto water in a variety of ways. Ocean water atop the plate runs down into the Earth’s crust and upper mantle along the fault lines that lace the area where plates collide and bend. Then it gets trapped.

Under certain temperature and pressure conditions, chemical reactions force the water into a non-liquid form as hydrous minerals—wet rocks—locking the water into the rock in the geologic plate.

All the while, the plate continues to crawl ever deeper into the Earth’s mantle, bringing the water along with it.

Previous studies at subduction zones like the Mariana Trench have noted that the subducting plate could hold water. But they could not determine how much water it held and how deep it went.

“Previous conventions were based on active source studies, which can only show the top 3-4 miles into the incoming plate,” Cai says, referring to a type of seismic study that uses sound waves created with the blast of an air gun from aboard an ocean research vessel to create an image of the subsurface rock structure.

“They could not be very precise about how thick it is, or how hydrated it is,” he says.

“Our study tried to constrain that. If water can penetrate deeper into the plate, it can stay there and be brought down to deeper depths.”

The seismic images show that the area of hydrated rock at the Mariana Trench extends almost 20 miles beneath the seafloor—much deeper than previously thought. The amount of water that can be held in this block of hydrated rock is considerable.

What goes down must come up

For the Mariana Trench region alone, four times more water subducts than previously calculated. Researchers can also extrapolate these features to predict the conditions under other ocean trenches worldwide.

“If other old, cold subducting slabs contain similarly thick layers of hydrous mantle, then estimates of the global water flux into the mantle at depths greater than 60 miles must be increased by a factor of about three,” Wiens says.

And for water in the Earth, what goes down must come up. Sea levels have remained relatively stable over geologic time, varying by less than 1,000 feet.

This means that all of the water that is going down into the Earth at subduction zones must be coming back up somehow, and not continuously piling up inside the Earth.

Scientists believe that most of the water that goes down at the trench comes back from the Earth into the atmosphere as water vapor when volcanoes erupt hundreds of miles away.

But with the revised estimates of water from the new study, the amount of water going into the earth seems to greatly exceed the amount of water coming out.

“The estimates of water coming back out through the volcanic arc are probably very uncertain,” says Wiens, who hopes that this study will encourage other researchers to reconsider their models for how water moves back out of the Earth.

Read the full article here.

The research has been published in Nature.

Source: Washington University in St. Louis, Stony Brook University

HT/ozspeaksup

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237 thoughts on “Earth Is Sucking Down Way More Water Than We Thought, And No One’s Sure Where It’s Going

    • It is highly unlikely that water which is hydrogen and oxygen becomes hydrocarbons. What is the source of the carbon and where does the oxygen go? Makes no sense.

      As NASA has found that the ocean basins as well as the continents are getting larger over time, where does subduction fit in? Seismic readings are interpreted and, if it as assumed to be subduction, it will be interpreted so. But, what if the deep trenches are deep and NOT filled with mud because the bottom is spreading, cracking ever deeper, and eventually to become a deep ocean ridge filled with upwelling magma. The lack of a mountain of bottom sediment at reputed subduction zones is not a minor problem. Diatomaceous ooze does not subduct, it would be scraped off subduction bottom and mound up in great amounts.

      • I’ve had a beer and a shot of bourbon (no wine yet), so maybe I misinterpreted your post. But at the risk of sounding lime a moron (and I have ample experience), you’re talking about an expanding earth. If you could clarify my misunderstanding, I would greatly appreciate it.

          • Pop Piasa,

            You’re absolutely (not a reference to Vodka) right, but my understanding of boilermakers is one right after the other. I was able to do slowly over a period of time in my garage (and I have some left).

          • All is not lost:

            Brother bought a coconut, he bought it for a dime
            His sister had another one, she paid it for a lime
            She put the lime in the coconut, she drank them both up
            etc.

          • Pop Piasa

            Traditionally known as a ‘hauf and a hauf’ in Scotland (half and a half in English). A half pint of beer, and a whisky (¼ Gill when I was growing up in the 70’s, reduced by law to ⅕ Gill then ⅙ Gill – for our own good you understand) with a dash of water usually added.

            Nectar.

        • It seems intuitive that crustal expansion of a planet might occur due to volcanism, but is it measurable?

        • Millions of tons of solids in fall on the Earth every year. Similarly, water might be in falling on the Earth (look up “small comets”). So, yeah, a very slowly expanding Earth is plausible.

          The surface hydro-logical cycle is well studied. We have lots to learn about the sub-surface cycle. Estimates now suggest a tremendous amount of water is deep underground, bound up in rocks. Estimates of the amount being subducted are being tripled. Now we need better estimates of all the ways water comes back out. Anyone have any idea how much comes out of the expanding rifts undersea?

          • Oh no! Now you’re telling us that we have an expanding earth which means increasing gravity. If Al Gore and the media get hold of this idea, then after the AGW scam is widely revealed, they’ll start touting impending doom due to gravity – we’re going to become a Black Hole unless we redistribute our wealth to other nations.

          • Interesting – I’ve always wondered if there is a ‘pulse’ to volcanic activity driven by water entrainment in subduction. It’s obvious in hot-smokers too, though I’m sure they are just convection percolators rather than net sinks.

            Is there any evidence that g isn’t a constant? I’ve always thought the most logical reason for dinosaurs being so large could be that the earth was smaller which would likely mean it was less massive and gravity was less of a force than it is now. Simple back-of-the envelope calculations based on known cosmic influx suggest a couple of mm accretion rate per year is plausible. It’s a wacky idea, but explains why ancient ruins are always covered up (if there is no water to erode away the incoming material), and suggests earths gravitational field would be reducing. Obviously just 0.5mm per year over 100 million years gives you 50km or extra diameter which is a fair bit and from recollection I think I could get gravity down to 0.8 of present levels when T-rexes roamed, but that may have been using 3mm per year not 0.5!
            But there’s also plenty of reasons to think accretion rates from space are not constant.

            Large impacts I think we’d know about, but even a glancing blow from a decent sized comet would dislodge chunks of crust and you’ve only got to shove them 100km or so to put them into space where they would be captured in low earth orbit to degrade and reimpact a fairly short while after. It’s no wonder comets were regarded as portents of doom – simple physics suggest they could easily make life down here uncomfortable long after impact. And the atmospheric effects of a large water based comet entering the atmosphere would totally disrupt any greenhouse effect from CO2.
            I’d love to have the physics skills to put some of this into some simple models to look at the energies and trajectories. How big does a water comet need to be before it can impact? How does the angle of approach affect that?

            Probably stomping all over established geology in this, but hey, what is this site for if not airing paradigms and testing consensus views?!

          • “Is there any evidence that g isn’t a constant?”

            There is some evidence that it is at least close to constant. For example studies of billion-year old raindrop marks (which actually exist) shows that gravity was roughly as strong in the Archaean as now. Raindrops hit the ground with approximately the same force back then.

          • Thanks TTY, that’s so cool to know! Archaen a long time before the dinosaurs. But it’s stretching the theory to go from a big earth to a small earth and back to the same sized big earth especially as I think we’re pretty sure Earth hasn’t had a massive earth changing impact since the moon was knocked off.

          • Infalling matter is more less balanced by outgoing, knocked off by impacts big enough to launch chunks of Earth at escape velocity.

            But whether our planet’s diameter is slightly increasing of shrinking isn’t the expanding Earth hypothesis. That says that around 200 Ma (age of oldest seafloor) Earth rapidly expanded from much smaller to its present size. It seems that this hypothesis retains some acolytes in Oz.

            But the fact of plate tectonics is observved and measured every day. Some smallerr plates are still being identified, as GPS receivers are set up in more remote places and more geology is explored.

      • Charles,

        NASA has found no such thing. Panthalassa covered 70% of Earth’s surface, which was the same size 250 million years ago as now. Its descendant, the Pacific Ocean, is much smaller.

        The Atlantic Basin of course is growing, thanks to the split up of super-duper continent Pangaea, commenced about 200 Ma. First the North Atlantic opened up due to rifting between North America on one side and NW Africa and Europe on the other. Then the southern super-continent of Gondwana also split, with South America and Africa moving apart to create the South Atlantic.

        Very little seafloor is older than 145 million years, since oceanic plates subduct under continental plates, and new ocean bottom material erupts from mid-ocean ridges, leading to seafloor spreading.

        Subduction is a fact, ie a scientific observation. We can measure the absolute and relative motion of the continental and oceanic plates. We can detect the remnants of subducted oceanic plates in the mantle.

        Sorry, but the expanding Earth is a myth, completly lacking in any shred of supporting evidence. Plate tectonics, OTOH, is a fact supported by all available evidence.

          • ??? and what else do you question? To the extent that geology in general is established as an earth science and plate tectonics is an accepted process (97% of all geologists who have studied plate tectonics agree), then yes, subduction is a fact. What, on your world, do you disagree with?

          • Yes “really ” though it would not be very apparent where you are on the Barcoo in the middle of the Australian continental plate….Sailing North Westwards at a gentle 3 cms a year…But up North of you the leading edge of the Australian continent is indeed subducting oceanic plates…Hence the mountain ranges in New Guinea, the volcanoes and the earthquakes..

            But live long enough & you at the Barcoo river will get there !

            As I’m in southern SA, I’ll get there a good later than you…So good luck ! 🙂

          • The subduction model cannot explain why the spreading from the mid-Atlantic ridge does not produce any evidence of subduction along the eastern edge of the North American continent or the eastern edge of the South American continent, or the western edge of the Eurasian continent or the western edge of the African continent.

            The subduction model cannot explain why the spreading from the mid-Indian Ocean ridge does not produce any evidence of subduction along the western edge of the Australian continent or the eastern coast of the African continent, where the African rift valley is suggestive of spreading rather than compression.

            The subduction model cannot explain why the spreading from the mid-Arctic Ocean does not produce any evidence of subduction along the entire coast of the Arctic Ocean.

            How does continental drift explain deep crustal depressions such as the Mediterranean, Black, Caspian and Aral Seas, the Tarim Basin and Lake Baikal? Simple physics would suggest that holes in continental crust are more likely to be made by pulling things apart as opposed to pushing things together.

          • Even those who believe the earth is only 6,000 years old believe in continental drift and subduction zones. The evidence is too strong.

          • Barcoo,

            Yes, of course it is a scientific fact, ie an observation of nature.

            As noted, we can measure the actual movement of tectonic plates, both velocity and direcction.

            Like evolution, plate tectonics is not “just” a theory but a fact. Both are much better understood than, for instance, gravity.

          • On the outer Barcoo November 28, 2018 at 7:54 pm

            Clearly you don’t understand subduction, plate tectonics, seafloor spreading or geology.

            Plate tectonics aren’t a model. They are a fact.

            Of course the east coast of North America isn’t a subduction zone. How dould it be? The NA Plate is moving SW, not east. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a divergence zone between the NA and African Plates.

          • After some 50 years of working as a field geologist, I’m cognizant of the work done by Marie Tharp, whose 1961 map of ocean floor spreading was decades before comprehensive geomagnetic maps were completed by the USGS. Right from the get-go, I’ve found too many inconsistencies with the subduction and plate tectonic models which have more in common with groupthink than original thought. The negative aspects of “consensus” in science is not confined to the CAGW crowd.

          • Barcoo,

            To answer your other questions, please start by looking at a map of presently known tectonic plates and their relative movements. You seem to be laboring under the misconception that every continental edge should have a subduction zone. Nothing could be further from the truth. You also appear falsely to believe that continental plates don’t also carry oceanic crust.

            https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/images/TectonicPlates.jpg?maxwidth=1200&maxheight=1200&autorotate=false

            There is no subduction off western Australia because Oz is moving in a generally northerly direction. And the eastern Indian Ocean is part of the Australian Plate (formerly the Indo-Australian Plate, which set the tectonic speed record on its trip from Antarctica to colliding with the Eurasian Plate, crumpling up the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau.

            The African Rift, extending into the Red Sea and SW Asia, is an instance of the same process which first opened up the North Atlantic at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary.

            Why would you imagine that there should be subduction zones around the Arctic Ocean? The plates there are moving away from the central Arctic. The North American Plate, as noted above, is moving SW. The Eurasian and North American Plates meet along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, extending clear up to the mid-oceanic Gakkel Ridge, a divergent tectonic plate boundary located in the Eurasian Basin of the Arctic Ocean, between Greenland and Siberia. Again, please study a map of plate boundaries and movements before commenting upon them.

            Continental drift has no problem with the Med. It’s where the oceanic bits of the African and Eurasian Plates meet, throwing up the Alps. Previously, there was subduction in the western Med, but now it’s in the eastern, where the small Aegean, Anatolian and Arabian Plates come into play.

            Lake Baikal lies in a rift valley, where the crust is slowly pulling apart. It is not only consistent with the tectonic “model”, but is explained by it.

            As a remnant of the Paratethys Ocean, the Caspian Sea is also explained by tectonics. Divided into Northern, Middle and Southern regions, it lies in a tectonically complex region.

            The boundary of its shallow Northern portion is the Mangyshlak Threshold, which runs through Chechen Island and Cape Tiub-Karagan. The boundary between its Middle and Southern parts is the Apsheron Threshold, a sill of tectonic origin between the Eurasian continent and an oceanic remnant, running through Zhiloi Island and Cape Kuuli. Garabogazköl Bay is the saline eastern inlet of the Caspian, part of Turkmenistan, and at times a lake in its own right due to the isthmus that cuts it off from the Caspian.

            The Aral Sea is just a depression in the Eurasian continent. Why would you imagine that continents would be perfectly flat?

            The Tarim Basin results from an amalgamation between an ancient microcontinent and the growing Eurasian continent during the Carboniferous to Permian Periods. At present, deformation around the margins of the basin is pushing the microcontinental crust under Tian Shan range to the north and Kunlun Shan to the south.

          • The complex situation in the eastern Med, with small plates in play:

            Subduction and vertical coastal motions in the eastern Mediterranean

            https://academic.oup.com/gji/article/211/1/593/4079526

            The western Med is also not simple, but GPS observations in this century have helped to elucidate what’s going on there now, and to reconstruct its geologic history since the Oligocene.

            Active tectonics of the western Mediterranean: Geodetic evidence for rollback of a delaminated subcontinental lithospheric slab beneath the Rif Mountains, Morocco

            https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/gsa/geology/article-abstract/34/7/529/129596/active-tectonics-of-the-western-mediterranean?redirectedFrom=fulltext

          • Can we at least have scientific consensus that there was a big earthquake today deep in the Alaska subduction zone. Oh and a really big one in it in 1964 (magnitude 9.2, with focus 15,000 MILES deep).

          • Stan,

            Yup.

            The world’s largest earthquake with an instrumentally documented magnitude occurred on May 22, 1960 near Valdivia, in southern Chile. It was assigned a magnitude of 9.5 (9.4-9.6) by the United States Geological Survey. It is referred to as the “Great Chilean Earthquake” and the “1960 Valdivia Earthquake.” While the biggest of the 20th century, others not so well recorded must have been worse.

            Number Two was the magnitude 9.2 Alaskan quake you cite, at Prince William Sound on March 27, 1964.

            The December 26, 2004 Sumatra, Indonesia quake might have been more powerful given its estimated range of 9.1-9.3.

            The March 11, 2011 Tohoku region, Japan quake registered 9.1.

            The November 4, 1952 quake in a series at Kamchatka, Russia is rated 9.0.

            All Ring of Fire subduction zone quakes.

          • I’m hanging out for your list of similar quakes along the margins of the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Western Indian, Eastern Indian and Southern Indian oceans as well as the entire Arctic and Southern oceans.

          • The one series of earthquakes (3 or 4 all of them believed to be close to 9 on the Richter scale-depending on who is doing the guestimating) that plate tectonics does not explain very well was the New Madrid of 1811-1812. If it were to re-occur today it would cause much, much, much more damage and death than any of the subduction zone earthquakes have done so far (except possibly the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1930). The reason for that is because of the geology the energy goes much further.
            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2c/NMSZ_Vergleich.jpg
            Also, almost none of the buildings east of the Rockies were built with earthquakes in mind, and a huge number of them are un-reinforced masonry-basically a house of cards when an earthquake strikes.
            I found it quite interesting that none of the 10 earthquakes in terms of deaths were subduction zone earthquakes. They occurred in areas where 90+% of the population lived in extreme poverty-and thus had s****y homes. It is interesting that the greatest earthquake, the subduction zone 9.5 earthquake that hit Chile doesn’t even make the top 100 list in terms of fatalities. As someone said, it isn’t the earthquake that kills, it is the falling houses.

          • On the outer Barcoo November 30, 2018 at 5:14 pm

            As I keep trying to explain to you, subduction zone earthquakes only happen in subduction zones. You must not have bothered to read my replies to your ill-informed comments on eastern North America and other areas without subduction zones.

            Of course earthquakes occur outside subduction zones, too, but the worst on record have happened within them.

            As for the Southern Ocean, the Antarctic Plate has been subducting under South America for about 14 million years.

            The southern side of the Ring of Fire is formed by volcanoes on the Pacific Coast of Antarctica.

          • Richard,

            Obviously not all earthquakes occur in subduction zones, as I just said. That doesn’t mean that plate tectonics can’t explain the New Madrid seismic zone, which overlies an ancient rift. The geology of the region however is still not known in detail.

            Note however that quakes outside subduction zones tend not to be as powerful, except for supervolcano zones over hot spots, like Yellowstone.

            The moment magnitude of the New Madrid quake on December 16, 1811 is estimated at 7.5–7.9, with a moment magnitude 7.4 aftershock later that day.

            You\re right about deaths. Chile adopted California’s building code. The building I’m in there now shows cracks, as do most edifices here, but has survived quakes of magnitude 7, 8 and 9.

          • No disagreement there John, I just thought it odd that the most powerful earthquakes, subduction zone earthquakes, are not in the top 100 for earthquake deaths. It indicates to me the best way to prevent death and injury from earthquakes is to strictly enforce building codes to withstand earthquakes. How to do that, especially with older buildings I don’t know. As an example, I live in an area, which in historic times (Jan 20, 1700) has received a 9.0+ earthquake. The foundation of my house is just concrete blocks on dirt. I would literally have to rebuild the house from the ground up to make it earthquake resistance. (at least I no longer have a free-standing water heater or furnace.

          • Barcoo.

            You wrote:

            “Right from the get-go, I’ve found too many inconsistencies with the subduction and plate tectonic models which have more in common with groupthink than original thought. The negative aspects of “consensus” in science is not confined to the CAGW crowd.”

            But you have it backwards. The consensus and groupthink were opposed to “continental drift”, despite all the evidence in its favor, until the explanatory mechanism of seafloor spreading was discovered, thanks to the US Navy.

            There is no need for consensus behind the fact of plate tectonics, since it’s now simply an observation, not an hypothesis or theory. A body of theory of course seeks to explain the observations, but the fact that Earth is covered with crustal plates, which move at different speeds and directions, some of which collide and some subduct, is not in doubt, since it can be and has daily been observed.

            Might as well argue that the Earth itself doesn’t move through space as try to defend the proposition that plates on its surface don’t move.

          • Richard,

            Some of the ten deadliest earthquakes were in subduction zones, like the Kanto you mention, and the Boxing Day Sumatra quake and tsunami.

            http://www.nbcnews.com/id/42029974/ns/world_news-asia_pacific/t/top-deadliest-earthquakes-history/#.XALWN2hKjIU

            But you’re right that construction in continental interiors often isn’t up to snuff, due to less frequent quakes. But then, there’s Haiti.

            Codes in OR and WA have been tightened up, but many schools on the coast are still vulnerable to tsunamis, due to cost of relocating them.

            If both the northern and southern parts of the Cascadia triple junction (as off Sumatra) slip, then we’ll get a 9.0 or higher. If just the south, then 8.0. Both versions are about equally frequent. We’re overdue, but not by much.

          • John,
            Actually, I was counting direct deaths, not deaths from Tsunami. If you count tsunamis, then for sure subduction zone earthquakes are far more deadly. Non-subduction zone earthquakes don’t have the potential for Tsunamis that subduction zone earthquakes have. Regarding the potential for Cascadia 9.0+ earthquakes, more recent studies of the turbidity flows off the Oregon/Washington coast caused by earthquakes indicate that the previously thought 300-year interval is incorrect. 7+ earthquakes occur about every 300 years. The 9.0+ earthquakes occur less frequently, about every 1500 years. That being said, my house is toast if even a 7.0 earthquake hits. I was shocked when I first went under my house and found out what a foundation it didn’t have.

          • Richard,

            Yes, if you exclude tsunamis. But then what of fires, such as afflicted SF in 1906? Some of the older death tolls might also include associated causes such as famine.

            The many Syrian earthquakes owe to the fault running up from the Dead Sea, which is an extention of the African Rift, so again tectonic. The Iranian quakes also result from tectonic activity.

            You’re not alone. On the Oregon Coast, high rises in the late 20th century were literally built upon the sand.

            Jacking up your house to put a firm foundation under it is a non-trivial function.

        • Skepticism is out! Out I say!

          There is always reason to question what we think that we ‘see’.

          We haven’t observed anything actually, we don’t have the necessary scale of time available to do so. So we have only interpreted observed phenomena collections through the prism of an interpretive paradigm, and that is not observation at all, that deserves considerable skepticism and reserve.

          Sometimes I think geology is one of the more deluded of the sciences. Not as bad as very much alleged science of ‘economics’, but it has very many serious quandaries, and contradictions that have been swept under the paradigm carpet for much too long, by people who can’t see anything but one construct.

          Here is merely one example of the case for skepticism about subduction mechanics:

          “… The Problem of the Subduction of Plates

          If we, for argument’s sake, accept that decoupling and horizontal movement is, however, possible, the following question is raised: How is it possible for a lithospheric plate even to begin to gravitationally ‘‘sink’’ into the mantle at all, due to a marginal density difference gradient? This would require that the plate be metaphorically as hard as a nutshell and dense as lead, and for the mantle to be softer than butter. The actual physical data from seismic wave propagation distinctly indicate that both materials have approximately the same mechanical properties, namely, both are solid, of similar density, stiffly rigid and basically, mechanically unyielding materials, at the scales involved in geotectonics. The viscosity and rigidity of the crust and the mantle is higher than 1020 Pa.s and 1010 Pa, respectively.

          These values materially approximate well only with plastic solids; furthermore, these properties of mechanical stiffness and decreasing deformability are observed to increase with depth, i.e., the material becomes even more rigid and harder to mechanically deform as depth in the mantle increases. The deformational introduction of one solid into and through another solid, as per alleged subduction settings, cannot occur unless the energy required to overcome the tremendously strong net inter-atomic crystalline bonding forces which hold the rock’s atomic solid-state matrix together is somehow directly provided, when and where it is needed, in time and space. For example, the electrostatic attractive force between an electron and a proton is 10^39 times stronger than their gravitational attraction. That is because gravity only effectively dominates energy processes on the larger cosmic scale, i.e., 10^25 m, while the much more concentrated short-range electromagnetic force overwhelmingly dominates and is effective only at a particle’s quantum electro-dynamic interaction scale of about 10_14 m distance between quantum particles. It is not physically possible for a nail or a bullet projectile to gravitationally sink into the interwoven bonded cellulose matrix of a piece of wood, simply because it is denser than the wood and also has a small sectional area. The scale of the nail is far too small for gravity to make a difference, even after a very long time of applied gravitational force. Only if the nail receives a sudden concentrated overwhelming energy impulse, a ‘‘hammer blow’’, can penetration occur.

          More realistically, the appropriate and credible physical metaphor of subduction would be of a wooden nail being projected very slowly into a cannon ball. This is, of course impossible, even over infinite time; but even if the wooden nail were to suddenly receive such a hammer blow, required to project it into the steel sphere, the energy impulse gradient itself would simply incandescently disintegrate the wooden nail at the surface. The steel sphere may oscillate minutely, but otherwise would not be penetrated or deformed by the shattered nail. …” – An Integrated Alternative Conceptual Framework to Heat Engine Earth, Plate Tectonics, and Elastic Rebound, Stavros T. Tassos – Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 43–89, 2005.

          There are many, many more.

          • Something causes earthquakes.

            Anyways this is a duplicate article. This study was covered before.

            MOD PLEASE check previous articles more thoroughly. And while you are at, it the site would benefit from a search feature. And just to show that I am not criticism whiner. This site has the best skeptic experts and mods that mete out justice in a fair and equitable manner unlike most alarmist sites.

          • Indeed Alan, and the author of that paper cited is a seismologist and geophysicist, and the paper goes on to say this:

            “ … The logical implication of all this is that the elasticity of the mantle is far greater than the elasticity of the crust, where, in actual fact, most earthquakes occur. Thus, the relatively pliable and porous crust of Earth is inevitably the least elastic medium of Earth’s rocks, in conflict with elastic rebound theory, which renders the elastic lithospheric mechanics of the conventional plate tectonic geodynamic model logically and physically inoperable and profoundly in error.

            An earthquake mechanism other than the crust’s non-existent greater rigidity and effectively weak small-scale elasticity has to be responsible for the concentration of the bulk of recorded earthquakes within the thin, locally heated, porous and discontinuous outer skin of our planet. Implicit in this preceding statement is the recognition that observable aseismic creep within a known active fracture zone does not and cannot equate to accumulation and storage of elastic stress over time and then a sudden release of it seismically.

            Static Stress Changes Along Faults Do Not Produce or Trigger Earthquakes

            Static stress is a stress which is constant, or slowly increasing, with time and that can actually produce rupture, but that cannot mechanically induce a true adiabatic deformation. According to mainstream theorization, though, static stress changes along faults produce frictional sliding on a fault plane, eventual regional failure, and then formation of a true earthquake shock.

            In the expected conventional context, if the earthquake is large enough it can influence the spatial and temporal distribution of regional seismicity. Its redistribution effect depends on the fault geometry and accelerates proximal seismic activity in areas of resulting static stress increase, although it decelerates it where static elastic stress has been relieved (Figure 1a).

            The Coulomb failure criterion requires that both the static shear and normal stress on an incipient fault plane satisfy conditions analogous to those of friction on a pre-existing surface (King, et al., 1994), i.e., a weakening close to failure state, which nonetheless is the opposite of the high-strength ‘‘locked’’ fault prerequisite required for high elastic strain energy accumulation in the first instance. Bypassing this obvious contradiction, and in an attempt to explain this necessary critical precursor state, the idea of ‘‘self-organized criticality’’ has been introduced (Bak & Sneppen, 1993; to 1995). According to this general idea, somehow (but how?) all parts of the ‘‘brittle’’ crust are at the point of failure, and some distant events may be triggered by stress changes as low as 0.1, or even 0.01 bar.

            But ‘‘Seismologists have never directly observed ruptures occurring in Earth’s interior. Instead, they glean information from seismic waves, geodetic measurements, and numerical experiments’’ (Kanamori & Brodsky, 2001), or statements like ‘‘An isolated fault has never been observed!’’ (Sornette, 1999). Also, Knopoff (1999) notes, ‘‘Seismicity at almost all scales is absent from most faults, before any large earthquake along that fault. The San Andreas Fault in Southern California is remarkably somnolent at all magnitudes on the section that tore in the 1857 earthquake’’, and ‘‘there is no evidence for long-range correlations of the stress field before large earthquakes’’. Likewise, Chinese scientists have noticed the remarkable lack of correlation between fracture phenomena and surface tectonic features, with seismogenesis, which is attributed to deep sited on-going activity within rift zones (Shih et al., 1978).

            Therefore, the doubtful assumption of an elastic crust, in which elastic strain accumulates over time in the focal region of a future earthquake, is actually not verified by observations and cannot provide any realistic assessment of relative earthquake potential. In other words, contrary to all expectations, we do not have any known cause-effect relationship between fault existence or recent activity and its future earthquake potential. Faults, whenever present, are a secondary post-seismic effect, and not a pre-seismic factor in their occurrence or recurrence.

            The January 19, 1968 ;1 MT, 1 km depth, thermonuclear test at the Central Nevada test site, given the code name ‘‘Faultless’’ before it took place, produced a fresh fault rupture at the surface about 1.2 km long (Bolt, 1976). In this same ‘‘Faultless’’ nuclear test, another observation of great importance was made. The seismographic records showed that the seismic waves produced by the fault movement were much less energetic than those produced directly by the explosion itself. The implication is clear. Static stress changes along faults can only produce relatively minor to almost undetectable tremors, but no full elastic shockwave response. Instead, an almost instantaneous high stress rate is required

            After this ‘‘Faultless’’ nuclear blast, the Central Nevada site was considered unsuitable for high-yield testing, which lead directly to a five times larger 5 MT underground test called ‘‘Cannikin’’, in the isolated Aleutian Islands. This test conclusively showed that artificial earthquake shocks, caused by particularly energetic thermonuclear explosions, have not been observed to trigger sympathetic earthquakes. The ‘‘Cannikin’’ test occurred on Amchitka Island, midway along the arc of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, on November 6, 1971, and was the U.S.’s largest historical underground test, with a body wave magnitude of about 7. If such powerful shocks could trigger sympathetic elastic strain release, then it could be reasonably expected that a shock with a prompt measured ground uplift about 7 m would produce correlated shocks in the following time. But, it did not increase local seismicity at all, in an area where crustal seismic swarms were very common. Hence, large seismic shocks are not the cause of smaller temporally and spatially correlated shocks. A different primary mechanism must be responsible for each, of which both shocks and fault ruptures are geodynamic symptoms—and are not considered causes of each other’s occurrence. …” – S Tassos, 2005.

            So no scientific reason to sign-off on any particular paradigm’s interpretation. Clearly focused persistent skepticism is merited within the ‘97% view’ of crustal and mantle geodynamic mechanism.

          • “How is it possible for a lithospheric plate even to begin to gravitationally ‘‘sink’’ into the mantle at all, due to a marginal density difference gradient? This would require that the plate be metaphorically as hard as a nutshell and dense as lead, and for the mantle to be softer than butter.”

            Gravity, WXcycles, gravity. Gravity affects each single atom in a lithospheric plate (and everything else) equally regardless of physical strength or cohesion.

            By the way do you believe in the isostatic effect of icecaps? Ice is vastly softer than rocks, but ice can move rock hundreds of meters vertically and thousands of kilometers horizontally given enough time.

          • Sometimes I think people spend all their time writing lengthy diatribes no one will read rather than reading books that would have supplied their lengthy diatribes with something of substance.

          • “Something causes earthquakes.”

            I have a Donald Duck comic that attributes earthquakes to the activities of two tribes of creatures (the Terries and the Fermies) that live deep underground. So far I have never had reason to doubt it.

        • On the outer Barcoo November 29, 2018 at 5:33 pm

          Please list the inconsistencies which you imagine falsify the fact of plate tectonics.

          As noted, how do you show a valid observation false?

          BTW, not Miss Tharp, but USN veteran Harry Hess is responsible for the discovery of seafloor spreading.

          https://www.geolsoc.org.uk/Plate-Tectonics/Chap1-Pioneers-of-Plate-Tectonics/Harry-Hess

          Miss Tharp did however convince her Columbia colleague Bruce Heezen that the Mid-Atlantic Ridge supported “continental drift, and not the hypothesized expanding Earth, for which no evidence exists.

      • Water plus Calcium Carbonate under extreme pressure produces hydrocarbons – the Russians have been making oil discoveries based on where this is likely to be happening,

      • Source of carbon = subducted limestone & dolomite. Calcium bearing solid precipitate out of sea water (via dissolved CO2) constantly in addition to what is created by shelled creature (clams).

        • Except that limestone is not very dense, compared to ocean floor basalt, and thus does not subduct, but rather rides over the top of the subducting basalts.

          If your case were true, then volcanoes along subduction zones would have a high calcium signature as the subducted limestones melted and were recycled in the zone’s back arc volcanic ranges. This is patently not the case. Back-arc volcanos uniformly exhibit high ferric/silicic content which does correspond to melting basalts.

      • There’s lots of carbon already in the mantle (see CO2 emissions in volcanoes) and besides carbonated rocks are also carried down by subduction.

      • It is highly likely that the H in water (which is H2O) becomes hydrocarbons, all you need is carbon, in the rocks and sediments, heat and pressure. Perfect. This is why hydrocarbons are found with bio related element/compound signatures. See my post from 4 or 5 years ago about abiogenic oil production and quantities. Energy from gravity and a hell of a lot of it. Where does the oxygen go. A most reactive gas, O, will simply exchange hydrogen for other elements, many of them, enabled by the thermal energy under pressure, available at such depths. At such energies H is simply knocked out by another element, which will thus be oxidised, leaving H free to grab the carbon. It is a parallel of what happens at stp with a different set of elements. Look at what happens to iron oxide, burned with carbon – it steals the oxygen to leave iron. Now imagine the process in reverse. I suggest stuff like sand, silicates, SiO2, inorganic sulphur,etc., compounds with oxygen are made at depths (temp & pressure) where O changes its affinity, or simple energy balance dynamic, to oxidise the other elements not possible at stp. Quite simple chemistry. Do the chemical energy calcs and you’ll see new balance as the affinities at higher energies change. I am not a chemist as such and invite the more professional in the field to weigh in with the numbers and perhaps clarify my clumsy attempt to explain it.

      • If “NASA has found that the ocean basins as well as the continents are getting larger over time,”

        Then of course the ocean basins must get shallower.

        And If “the deep trenches are deep and NOT filled with mud”

        Then of course the mud is dispersed by deep sea streams.

    • Nope. There is a small amount of abiogenic methane via iron catalysis, mainly at basaltic spreading centers. Prime example is the methane clathrate in the Framm Strait.
      There is NO abiogenic petroleum. All the theories (Thomas Gold) and supposed ‘finds’ (Sweden, Ukraine) have been thoroughly debunked. Liquid petroleum comes from two sources. Primary is marine shale kerogen subsequently processed geologically in the oil (and gas) temperature/pressure window. Examples include the Bakken, Permian and Bazhenov shales. Secondary is hydrocarbons processed during formation of certain massive coal beds. Best example is Norway’s offshore Haltenbank fields.

        • Yes, extensively. And back to the primary resources, not somebody’s later internet summary of them. Had to do this reasearch for the carrying capacity premises of ebook Gaia’s Limits, published in 2012. That research took 3 years near full time (my idea of a work week has always been >60 hours).

      • There is methane on Mars – presumably abiogenic. This suggests a possible “parallel path” for hydrocarbons which may only account for a small percentage of the observed samples ??

        • Methane in planetary atmospheres (Wikipedia):

          Earth = 1.8 ppm
          Jupiter = 3,000 ppm
          Saturn = 4,000 ppm
          Uranus = 23,000 ppm

        • Boffin,

          There remains at least some finite chance that Martian methane be biogenic, produced by sub-Martian methanogenic microbes.

          But more likely abiogenic, like the hydrocarbons of Titan. However some in NASA hypothesize that life as we don’t know it might also produce a carbon cycle on that chilly moon.

      • Boffin,

        Simple hydrocarbons, ie methane and ethane, abound on Titan. But chemically complex and rich petroleum seems to require a biotic origin. It might however form deep in Earth’s crust from microbes living there, as well as from organic material at or near the surface, mainly marine microbes.

    • Water would supply hydrogen and oxygen. You would also need carbon but apparently there’s a lot of that in the mantle. link

      There is the abiogenic theory of petroleum origin. Wikipedia says that theory is largely rejected. For a rejected theory, there sure seems to be a lot of research. 🙂

      • A group of methanogenic Archaea produce methane from CO2 and Hydrogen with water byproduct. Archaea also produce methane from carbohydrates with CO2 byproduct.

        Archaea despise Oxygen, and so do their thing deep in the earth and in underwater sediments and bogs, anaerobically. This activity may confound notions of “abiogenic” methane, particularly methane fractionated in favor of 12C.

        Probably missed it, but havn’t seen how much water (as in Gt) they see being subducted annually.

        • Plus the lab science would be near impossible to do on this: analogues to the way DNA analysis of stool samples now gives us far more information about the biotic composition of the human gut. The anerobes were here long before us, and they are still here, but retreated to the places that oxygen can’t get them.

      • Wikipedia also says global warming or climate change or whatever the latest buzzword is is a proven fact. Wikipedia is no good for anything but non-controversial subjects like what is the volume of a sphere.

    • Jesus changed water into wine – so water may convert into petrochemical fuels, perhaps.

      But who is worried, anyway. What goes down must come up – some time in the future!! And rest assured : it will come up as water.

  1. “The estimates of water coming back out through the volcanic arc are probably very uncertain,”

    I wonder if that also applies to the Carbon Dioxide?

    • They are uncertain, but not off by a factor of four.

      There needs to be a new of water into the biosphere, in addition to volcanic emitted water which we have taken into account for, that is roughly three times greater than the volcanic emission.

      • Water emerging from submarine hydrothermal vents is conventionally assumed to be “mostly” oceanic water that has been drawn down into fracture systems, heated up by near-surface magma, and expelled, in a continuous convection cycle.

        We don’t know what proportion of hydrothermal vent water comes from magmatic sources (i.e. has been subducted, incorporated into hydrous minerals in the upper mantle and is now being returned to the hydrosphere).

        We don’t know how many hydrothermal vents there are.

        There’s a lot we don’t know about the earth. And a lot of earth science studies involve a lot of guesswork. Including this one.

    • “But with the revised estimates of water from the new study, the amount of water going into the earth seems to greatly exceed the amount of water coming out.”

      …then they over estimated the amount of water going in

      estimates all the way down

        • It’s another variable that needs to be put into the computer models – since they don’t know the exact amounts they will just have to guess as usual.

      • Some people have a hard time understanding geology, including some geologists. Their estimate of water coming out is based on fundamental uniformitarianism, and the difference will be made up with a few catastrophic eruptions.

    • Whatever amount of water reappearing from below must be much the same amount as was originally subducted. If less, we would have run out of water here on the surface long ago. wouldn’t we?

      • There’s a lot of water and the ratio of landmass to ocean surface seems to be increasing slightly through geologic time.

  2. It’s hot and high pressure down there. The water will react with the minerals down below.

    The new rocks coming up come with the water incorporated in new minerals. How do they distinguish that Oxygen and Hydrogen from the other minerals formed deeper below?

    • Exactly. Was going to post that it was being recalled to make more quartz, amethyst, aquamarine, emeralds, and all the other hydrothermal beauties.

      PS – Earth Sciences Dept at WUStL had the best t-shirt in the beginning of the 80’s. Missed my chance for one. “Reunite Gownwanaland”

      • M Courtney & George Ellis,

        At those temperatures an pressures, “water” doesn’t exist; it is just plain H & O in a soup with everything else.

        George,

        The cool (figuratively and literally) minerals don’t exist at high P & T. They generally crystallize out of the cooler, lower P, high H2O (hence hydrothermal) conditions.

    • take that with a 4 billion year old pinch of salt mate. I;ve seen that. it’s pure guess work, worse, its guess work used to make guesses

      • The age of the solar system is constrained by isotopic analyses of various meteorites. Sound science. Repeated by independent labs.
        The age of the sun is constrained by well understood nuclear and solar physics. Both closely agree the solar system and sun is 4.56 billion years (Gy) old +/- 50 million years.
        That places the Earth’s age at around 4.5 Gy. Apollo Lunar samples tell us the moon formed not long after that.

        The period of heavy comet and meteor bombardment and water delivery by comets lasted maybe 300 million years at most.
        Still the Earth of 4.1 to 4.2 Gy would look very hostile and alien to us. Mostly water, higher pressure, no free oxygen, and lots of undersea and seamount volcanos, and regular earthquakes due to a thin crust. It would be another 1 Gy before plate tectonics fully formed most of the above sea level land mass.

        For some folks though, science and their religion doesn’t mix. For them the Earth is only about 10,000 years old. But that’s not science, that’s take-it-on-faith religion. Those folks need to steer clear of science altogether.

        • But, but, but that great authority Lord Kelvin said… and you know “great authorities” can never be wrong.

          • Lord Kelvin didn’t know about radiogenic heat. He couldn’t because the evidence wasn’t there yet.

            A cautionary tale, telling us to beware of settled science.

        • But (serious but) – lots of small impacts add up to a large net gain that would be unnoticeable: Most meteorites are small and retarded sufficiently by the atmosphere that they then fall vertically under gravity and can then be found. That’s a massive sampling bias over water/gas meteors that will sublime long before they impact…so I can’t see how we could measure net water on Earth?

      • Lost its surface water? Then why everywhere you look, there is ice on Mars under layer of dust? Even robotic landers found ice just after scooping little of dust.
        Mars water is all there, just frozen.

        • Mars is interesting..

          CO2 makes up 96% of the composition of it’s atmosphere ..But there is no greenhouse CO2 warming to speak of..In Winter it can reach a minimum of -136 degrees C..And a maximum of just 35 degrees C in Summer…
          Ummmm ? I wonder if all that martian CO2 is just not pulling it’s climate warming weight…..

          Or is that all the water is frozen on the surface under the red dust..With no water vapor in the atmosphere to really get a greenhouse effect going…like we have on Earth !

          Ahhhh well ! The CO2 climate warmists will still cry ‘Wolf’ at rising CO2 here…Dopiness abounds..

    • Just down-right careless of Gaia that.

      ”Earth has lost about a quarter of its water over the past four billion years.”

    • that was what i thought as well, but then? maybe? the glaciers etc melting might be equalling the volume they think they’re losing..
      be curius to know if the total humidity in global atmosphere has increased or dropped.
      as long as we get ice snow rain etc the surface water we rely on mostly, refreshes our small liveable landmasses(compared to ocean volume area)
      I dunno I dont have the maths to even begin to figure that

  3. Q,
    Is the temperature of the mantle sufficient to break the H-O-H bond into H-H O and cause a recombination with Sulfur into O-S-O (SO2) Sulfur Dioxide and H-S-H (H2S) Hydrogen Sulfide?

    • These reactions occur much shallower than the mantle. As long as you have free sulfur and ground water to react with, these reactions will occur just a few thousand feet beneath the surface. H2S is a frequent danger when drilling for oil and gas, and even in some cave systems – suggesting very shallow formation and migration of the H2S

  4. There is another dimension: A dimension not of mind or body, and where the known laws of science and physics don’t apply. Next stop ahead; The Climate Zone. CO2 heat is a regular customer there, and now we have H20 joining it. What is next to vanish is anyone’s guess.

  5. All biological and geophysical processes on earth, with contributions from solar energy, have one final purpose: the production of crude oil, natural gas and coal. The earth is simply a vast and efficient engine that produces hydrocarbon fuels.

    It appears the purpose of humans is to recycle those products back into the atmosphere. Which we are learning to do very well.

    An elegant system.

  6. I read long ago that it is estimated the mantle contains twice as much water as all the oceans. It occurred to me that given a really good shake, the rock could settle!

    While they write that the water disappearing must be coming back at about the same rate, I don’t see that is necessarily so. Perhaps it comes back episodically. Perhaps it is bloating the lithosphere right now, and drives volcanic activity episodically.

    It is certainly involved in the formation of complex hydrocarbons below 30 km.

    If it is episodic in its effects on geology, perhaps that provides a new mechanism for the lubrication of the lithosphere to move (rapidly) over the mantle from time to time doe to centripetal acceleration does to the uneven deposition of ice on Antarctica.

    • Crispin in Waterloo

      Probably a really stupid question, but related to your “shaking”. When the comet/meteor (whatever it was) hit in the Gulf of Mexico and extinguished most dinosaur life, wouldn’t that be the equivalent of a good shake, and have we any idea what happened to sea levels following it?

    • If I’m not mistaken, “water” (H2O) at the depth and pressure of the mantle just doesn’t exist. It’s above both the “triple point” at atmospheric temperatures and pressures, and above the critical point (if I read the phase diagrams correctly). Water (H’s and O’s) exists, just like the precursor elements of other minerals (olivine, pyroxenes, amphiboles, feldspars, etc.). When the magma starts cooling and crystallizing, the mantle elements start crystallizing into minerals. When a crystallizing magma becomes “wet,” and excess H and O are available, then “water” can start evolving.

      Lots o’ “water” in the ocean plates/sediments being subducted in the trenches generally doesn’t make it too far down and actually lowers the melt temperature, forming the granites, andesites and other cool things that make up the continental crust that we live on.

      • Apparently we who thought water is chemically disassociated at depth are wrong.
        There is 2-3 times the oceans trapped in the mantle.
        Much food for thought.

  7. “The observations from the deepest ocean trench in the world have important implications for the global water cycle”

    Our observation of the water cycle has no effect on it. It is what it is whether we know about it or not.

  8. A couple of thoughts.
    1. Whatever is happening has been going on for a LONG time. Just because Man didn’t realize it doesn’t mean it is something “new” or to be alarmed about. It’s just something new to Man for him to try to understand.

    2. Wherever the water is going has been going on for a LONG time. Just because Man didn’t realize it doesn’t mean it is something “new” or to be alarmed about. It’s just something new to Man for him to try to understand.

  9. Doesn’t the planet work in mysterious ways.

    Funny that, I thought the climate alarmists had it ALL figured out.

    Hey! Where the hell did my ocean go, come back!

    • GOSH!
      It never occurred to till I read your comment. The “missing heat” is being sucked into the Earth’s core!
      Al was RIGHT! All those “Hiroshima CO2 Bombs” is why the Earth’s core is millions of degrees!!
      Think I’ll go to the library and check out “An Inconvenient Truth”.
      (Does that last line suffice for a “/sarc” tag?)

  10. Water from 20 miles below the top of the subducting slab is not seawater, or even connate water. This is juvenile water and who cares if it recycles around and around? The visible/accesible earth water budget does not extend to 20 miles down. Calm down everyone, the only threat to our water budget is a weak magnetic field and loss to solar winds, which is maybe a billion years off (I don’t have any idea how far off but I like the number billion).

  11. Water trapped in hydrated rocks will not stay put once the rock becomes hot enough – it separates into heavier and lighter minerals, and the lighter minerals tend to well upwards given enough time. Once it gets high enough in the crust, the pressure becomes less and the minerals can become magma with dissolved gases in it – so no longer the mineral(s) that melted but chemically the same mixture of elements. Those dissolved gases can also separate and move upwards independent of the magma if given any opportunity – usually as magma moves into cracks and the pressure drops, the gases just boil out. If the amount of magma is great, and the depth is really shallow (like in some volcanoes) the gases blow the top plug of lava right off.

    I have always wondered if there is also hot water trapped in shallow sea-floor crust that is actively welling up behind the subduction zone. This would mean there is a lot more thermal vents in the ocean then we have accounted for, and the volume of hot water (and the associated dissolved gases) is much greater. This would mean the ocean might have more CO2 than it can hold, and is releasing it to the atmosphere (on average), or it could be forming carbonates faster then we think.

    “So sea levels should be lowering?”

    No, the ocean’s should be staying within a limit of minimum and maximum volume based on the amount of ice and fresh water trapped on or near the surface. Subduction zones water-in and water-out would be nearly in balance over the short time humans have been around. But if you went back far enough in time, to say Pangea, there may once have been less water trapped in rock… Interesting.

  12. It would seem to me that observations from the deepest part of the ocean cannot be generalized to all of the oceans. Different states of temperatures and pressures would obviate that generalization it would seem.

      • Not true. As one shallow example, the ‘Big One’ subduction system off Oregon and Washington known as the Cascadia fault, also responsible for the Cascade Mountains and volcanoes like St. Helens and Hood.

        • Mark & Rud,
          Local geologists like to keep the Cascade Mountains conceptually distinct from the volcanoes. The mountains, including the Olympics, have a very long history, some being sourced from far away, and much older**. What is now Washington was a flat surface with sandstone, conglomerate, marble**, and so on, before the Cascadia Subduction Zone began to change things.
          The volcanoes we know have a short life, coming and going in about 2 M years.

          ** Mt. Stuart, 93 Ma; likely from Baja California
          ** Denny Mountain is marble

          If you have 20 minutes, here is a video field trip across WA on I-90.

      • There are many subduction zones. The challenger deep at the end of the mariana trench is the deepest at over 32, 000 ft ocean depth. My comment was as to relative depth of ocean and possible different effects due to different water depths at various zones.

  13. As shear stresses (in 3 dimensions) increase in the subsea formations, the Poisson ratio effect will increase the porosity in porous rocks and create fractures/increase the fracture widths – either way, can get voidage to fill slowly from above with water. These material constants vary substantially. I hope the scientists have considered this.

    • By the time the water gets deep enough to boil, it’s under 100’s of tons of rock per square inch.
      Compared to that, the pressure created by converting water to steam is trivial enough to be non-existent.
      In fact, under those pressures water might not be able to “flash to steam” in the first place.

      Regardless, the energy for earthquakes comes from plate movements.

    • Thanks for the link, nice videos. The propane tank clearly did not explode, so all you see is propane escaping through the safety valve.

      • It won’t explode. There is no oxygen under the lava. Whether it’s through the safety valve or the tank ruptures, the propane won’t burn until it reaches the surface. Once on the surface it’s no longer under any pressure and so it just burns.

  14. Old news, already discussed here..

    There was an earlier post “Earth Devouring Its Own Oceans!!! Film at 11”

  15. Granite magmas have 5 to 7% water by weight. These magmas also have buoyancy. They intrude upwards. They are much less viscous than most geologists think (siliceous magmas at the earth’s surface – rhyolite lava is, indeed very viscous and dangerous because of it – it can intermittently plug the vent and pressure can build up). However, because of supercritical water, the magma below is quite fluid. Water above CT of ~380C has a density of only 0.32kg/l. Now that 7% water by WEIGHT under these physico-chemical conditions actually makes up ~36 – 40% of the magma by VOLUME!

    When the magma gets to shallow depths of about ~8 to 12km, the water has percolated up to the top and it forms a cupola at the top of the magma chamber like a giant blister under 3-5kbar pressure (300 to 500MPa). The upward push of magma causes doming of the overhead rocks and some fractures are propagated. Moreover, the main mass at these cooler levels (<700C) starts to crystallize and shrink causing further failure overhead. Now the real fun starts!

    The watery liquid ascends a fracture and the lowered pressure results in a "first boiling" which is a fine mist of bubbles that act to maintain the pressure in the fluid above the lithostatic pressure of the walls of the fracture. This results in further progression of the main fracture upwards, causing more boiling and fresh fluid from below. With the pressure continuing to be maintained as the fluid rises, the fracture propagation accelerates. Suddenly at 1-1.5km from the surface, the lithostatic pressure suddenly switches to hydrostatic, a sudden drop of about 65% and away she blows!

    There is a lot more to the story – the magma still fluid below now also joins the parade in a 4th of July send off. There is much more. CT water at a density 0f 0.32 is a powerful solvent which in the magma dissolves the alkali-alumina-silica composition of the granite so much so that the saturated aqueous solution at CT rises to a density of about 1.0 with its burden of solute. When the temperature drops below CT, almost all the solute precipitates almost instantaneously. It can plug things up and get even better cemented by the rising material below. The water volatilizes into steam. Assisting in this colossal explosion is CO2, the halogens, boron, SO2, H2S, the first named a major component of the volatiles. Yeah, fellow students there is a lot of water going in but also 'more than you thought' coming out.

    I'm giving a paper on this in relation to lithium deposits at the AEMA (American Exploration and Mining Association) in Tacoma in the coming days.

    • “Water above CT of ~380C has a density of only 0.32kg/l. ” Under what pressure or at what depth?

      • The minimum required pressure is well below the 3-5kbar (300-500 MPa) pressure that exists at 8-12 km depth where it percolates to on the roof of the magma chamber.

  16. Since 70% of the Earth’s surface is oceanic crust whose maximum age has been dated at around 180 m.y., the question is: what happened to the oceanic crust that existed for the remaining 96% of geologic time? Has the purported subduction process been so complete as to expunge every last skerrick of evidence that such a crust ever existed?

    • It no longer exists on the floor of the ocean. Most of it has been subducted. At the margins of these subduction zones, you can go and see for yourself areas where that ancient oceanic crust has been scraped up by the continent into deposits called a mélange. This ancient ocean floor is visible today and consists largely of a mineral type called serpentinite – which consists of ocean floor basalts that have been altered through hydrolization (forcing sea water into the mineral’s matrix). This produces a set of new minerals and a very distinct and unmistakable texture and appearance to the rock.

    • “expunge every last skerrick of evidence that such a crust ever existed?” No.

      There are many areas on earth where remnants of oceanic crust are preserved and these are primarily along the margins of continents. The suites of rocks formerly existing as oceanic crust are called ophiolite. Ophiolite marks the location of ancient subduction and asscoiated tectonic processes.

      http://volcano.oregonstate.edu/ophiolites excellent diagrams and descriptions

      The understanding of the origin and significance of ophiolites was one of the pillars of the “revolution in the earth sciences” during the 1960s and 1970s.

      • According to Wikipedia, ophiolites are common in orogenic belts of Mesozoic age (e.g. Oman) but are quite rare in domains of Archean to Paleo-proterozoic vintage.

  17. Since the ice sheets melted, continental plates once weighed down are still in the process of ‘bobbing up’. Why wouldn’t all the added water weight over the much-thinner oceanic plates push them down, thus reducing friction along subduction faults?

    This process could also be opening cracks that allow water to drain into the abodes of the mole people. Perhaps the missing water is pouring through their tunnels and bubbling up at the North Pole, raising temperatures in the Arctic.

  18. It took a while looking at the original study to find what I wanted … the global amount of water going into the mantle.

    Modifying previous calculations of global water flux into subduction zones to take into account the hydrous alteration of this increased mantle thickness yields an estimated flux of 3.0 × 10^9 Tg Myr−1

    Three billion teragrams per million years, that works out to about 3E+9 cubic metres, or about 3 cubic kilometres of water. More than an Olympic swimming pool, to be sure.

    However, given that the oceans contain about 1,370,000,000 cubic km of water, I think the technical term for 3 cubic km is … well … “not much”. It would make a difference of 0.008 mm/year in the sea level …

    Check my figures, I’ve been known to lose a decimal point in the shuffle, but I think those numbers are right.

    w.

    • Still, if the figures are correct it would imply that the oceans are recycled about every 450 million years. Doesn’t seem too unreasonable. And 3 cubic kilometers of water per year coming out of volcanoes and as water of hydration in minerals intruded in oceanic ridges doesn’t sound unreasonable either.

    • H20 is the mother of all greenhouse gases, and now its in the mantle too? Oh, the humanity!

      Yup, that one’s on us too. Anthropogenic magma is on the way up yer dike.

    • that’s easy. we’re sucking oil out of the ground and nature abhors a vacuum. the real question will be “how did my ribeye contribute?”

  19. Sea Water has lots of dissolved Halite, NACL, and Calcite, CaCO3, to name a few. So there is your carbon being recycled into the mantle to produce Hydrocarbon fluids and Gas phases and in time expelled back into the crust, continental and oceanic reservoirs via deep faults.

    • Even notionally, this can be disproved. If it was true, then major subduction zones (past and present) would be correlated with major oil and gas provinces. Instead, we find the inverse to be true.

      As an example, the west coast of Oregon/Washington or the east coast of Japan are major subduction zones, and, according to your theory, would be foci for hydrocarbon expulsion back into the crust, but that is clearly not the case. As a counter-example – most major hydrocarbon provinces in the world are on passive margins – areas with no evidence of subduction – the Gulf of Mexico, the Persian Gulf, the west cost of Africa, around the South China Sea. These are the opposite geologic settings from what your theory suggests.

      • “If it was true, then major subduction zones (past and present) would be correlated with major oil and gas provinces.”

        Why?

        • Because the original poster – JBorn – states that light metals from sea water being recycled back into the mantle (I assume the process is subduction since he does not propose an alternative) provide the needed carbon to produce oil and gas.

          In my experience, no subsurface fluid or gas – water, magma, oil, gas, CO2, H2S, travels very far laterally from its source – a few miles maybe? If my experience is reflective of reality, then how does this newly generated hydrocarbon migrate from the subduction zones to someplace else? And why are major oil and gas fields not associated with this process as it is described? There is no evidence in the real world for such a process, or even the hint of such a process.

  20. So, what your saying is, that there really is accelerated sea level rise but its being hidden by some sea level going down the big drain. This explains why we dont see the unprecedented, catastrophic, tipping point levels in sea level rise that alarmists expect. My God! if its all those things and we dont notice its worse than we thought!

    Clearly only money can save us! where do I send my check?

  21. Oh Boy! “We don’t know WTF is going on!” True science, none of this ‘the consensus is’ garbage.

  22. Previous estimates only out by a factor of 3? Not exactly surprising, really.

    Like silly guesses about the amounts of methane emanating from the intestines of ruminants, I would be surprised if their estimates eventually proved to even be accurate to within a factor of 10. It’s usually a case of “Just write the report and stick in any number(s) you want. Nobody will read it or take it seriously anyway”.

  23. Ever hear of the hollow earth theory ? If so, There is plenty of space for water to go. Not saying i believe it but just saying.

  24. THERE IS NO CO2 CLIMATE WARMING ON MARS !!!

    Why ?

    Does increased CO2 in the atmosphere cause the Earth to warm ?

    A comparison with Mars is worth noting. In fact it’s very interesting

    CO2 makes up 96% of the composition of it’s atmosphere and weighs ~24 terratonnes.

    By contrast CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere is 0.00048 % & weighs ~ 2.4 terratonnes.

    (All these figures come from Wikipedia. I’m not making them up. )

    Ummmmmm ? Let’s think about that folks..

    Despite all that CO2 in the Martian atmosphere, there is no CO2 greenhouse warming to speak of..

    In Winter ambient temperature on Mars can reach a minimum of -136 degrees C..Very bloody cold ! And in Summer ambient temperature gets a maximum of just 35 degrees C.

    What’s all that CO2 on Mars doing ? Maybe all that martian CO2 is just not pulling it’s climate warming weight…..

    Or is that all the water on Mars is frozen solid under the .. And there is no water vapor in the Martian atmosphere to really get a greenhouse effect going…like we have here on much warmer, much more livable, & much pleasanter, Earth

    By the way this has all been said & written about before. But still the CO2 ‘Climate Warmists’ are still crying ‘Wolf, Wolf, Wolf ’ at rising CO2 here in order to scare us…Dopiness abounds..

    And unfortunately it looks like my own local member of our Australian parliament ( who I helped to elect in July ) has become a convert as well….

    • Note that on Mars there is no atmosphere to speak off that will protect you against the sun. Here on earth, solar flares are continually neutralized by earth’s atmosphere by reactions with oxygen, H2O and nitrogen/oxygen, forming ozone, peroxides and N_oxides, respectively. If this did not happen we would all be dead here. Hence the lesson I am trying to teach here: don’t go to Mars until you first established an earth like atmosphere.

          • I am not sure if anyone here watched is or is watching the series ‘Mars”?
            In it AGW is of course accepted as the gospel truth and very much propagated. Deniers [like those in the Rep. Party] are ridiculed.
            I even heard Elon Musk saying he is 70% sure he will go to Mars.
            I thought about that. Why would he chose 70%? I think he must be sure that like Steve Jobs he is 70% sure of dying of some ailment? so once he is sure of the fact that he is dying, going to Mars is a good place for his grave?

  25. Some of the seawater remains as salt water. Just a few miles north of Hwy 34, 2-3 foothills west of Loveland, Colorado, there is old seawater just a few hundred feet down. This was a problem in the 70s when people built on small acreages, and drilled wells for water. This water is at 5000’+ elevation now.

  26. I am not sure but I would say with reasonable certainty that whatever [liquid] water is sucked into earth will come out as water [vapor] somewhere else, where it finds a little hole to escape. Hence the existence of volcanoes? I don’t expect it to be splitting up or being absorbed/adsorbed, as claimed…..

    Now all this water being sucked in coming out as water vapor , would that not contribute to earth’ s natural warming processes? Water is a major GH gas and there is about 10x more of it in the atmosphere than CO2.
    Anyway, anyhow, my empirical method shows that CO2 is not to blame for the warming, AGW or non-AGW.
    Click on my name and go figure.

    • The amount of water coming out of volcanoes is infinitesimally small compared to the amount being evaporated from the ocean surface by the sun.

      • I am sure you are right about that. But seeing that everyone [i.e. non deniers] is able to show how global Tavg and CO2 has been rising, over the past century or so, can somebody also show me how much global RH has been rising?

    • I don’t think that thread featured as many plate tectonics “deniers” or abiotic oil aficionados.

      • On the one hand, it isn’t right, abiotic oil was a subject, on the other hand discussing about isn’t a sign for aficionados.

  27. Not a surprise, really. Look at the shape of the Earth? It’s round – really round. Even a bit overly-round in the middle, making it pudgy! Being thirsty all the time is a sign of the onset of diabetes. Not surprising at all, really…

  28. Verdviewer: The added pressure increases the hydrostatic pressure a tiny amount: 120m sea level rise over the 11,000m deep Mariana Trench. The continental crust of the land under which this oceanic plate is sliding is more than 11,000m of lithostatic pressure, say ~3 x the hydrostatic pressure.

  29. “All the while, the plate continues to crawl ever deeper into the Earth’s mantle, bringing the water along with it.”

    The plate goes away from us, so it takes the water along with it. If it goes, it takes. If it comes, it brings.

    But even those of us who know how to use “bring” and “take” are doomed.

  30. As we have long feared, the jackassification of science has crept out of the realm of climate studies and infected anything even remotely related…and the rot is spreading at an accelerating rate.
    Thanks a heap climate liars…you broke science.

    • Errors in science thinking happen for a variety of reasons, and science moves on. Remember when some thought that gravity traveled faster than light. Every now and then a nutty idea turns out right, like plate tectonics, quantum dynamics, dare I say entanglement?

      • I am fairly certain that the degree to which entire generations are being miseducated, not to mention lied to and taught what to think rather than how to think, is unprecedented in the industrial age.
        This has grave implications for the ability to simply shrug off a widespread but mistaken belief.

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