Study finds billion-year superocean cycles in Earth’s history

Curtin researchers believe that ancient supercontinents formed and then fell apart through alternating cycles spanning hundreds of millions of years that involved superoceans being swallowed and the restructuring of the Earth’s mantle.

Research found that ancient supercontinents formed and then fell apart through alternating cycles spanning hundreds of millions of years. Image: Curtin University

The research, published in science journal Precambrian Research, found the supercontinents assembled and broke up through alternating processes of ‘introversion’ and ‘extroversion’.

The latter process caused supercontinent Rodinia to be turned inside out by tectonic forces, thereby consuming the surrounding superocean and leading to the creation of Pangea, the supercontinent that incorporated almost all of the Earth’s landmasses.

Rodinia had formed via ‘introversion’ where the internal oceans formed during the break-up of previous supercontinent Nuna were consumed.

Lead researcher John Curtin Distinguished Professor Zheng-Xiang Li, from the School of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Curtin University, said the assembly and break-up of supercontinents occurred in alternating cycles of about 600 million years.

“In the past 30 years, researchers have discovered that Pangea-like supercontinents existed at least twice before Pangea, occurring roughly every 600 million years in what is known as the supercontinent cycle,” Professor Li said.

“More recently, researchers studying Earth’s geochemical records and formation of mineral deposits identified even longer-term variations in these cycles but it was not known why.”

Professor Li and his team of Curtin researchers, funded by the Australian Research Council’s Laureate Fellowship grant, recently discovered that the answer to this question could be found in the history of some of Earth’s deepest oceans.

“We found that supercontinents appear to assemble through two alternating processes of extroversion and introversion,” Professor Li said.

“More intriguingly, these two alternating processes determine not only whether the superocean survives, but also whether the circum-superocean Ring of Fire ­- like the present-day Pacific Ring of Fire – survives.

“If the Ring of Fire survives along with the superocean, then the Earth’s mantle structure maintains a similar pattern to the previous supercontinent. If not, then the mantle gets completely reorganised.

“Such alternating ways of supercontinent assembly, along with the survival or regeneration of the superocean and the Ring of Fire, led to the presence of an Earth cycle twice as long as the 600-million-year supercontinent cycle and influenced the formation of some of the planet’s resources.”

The paper, ‘Decoding Earth’s rhythms: Modulation of supercontinent cycles by longer superocean episodes,’ is available online here.

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93 thoughts on “Study finds billion-year superocean cycles in Earth’s history

    • I wonder how they make this work with the expanding Earth model which has the crust splitting up into plates 200 million years ago. Even NASA admits it is expanding. There is absolutely no rational or scientific reason for the continents to move around randomly or seemingly randomly in cycles (?).

      • NASA “admits”?
        As if they are the repository of all information, which they dole out to the rest of as it suits them?
        The same NASA that crashes space shuttles because of political discomfort at the idea of disappointing anyone?
        The same NASA that alters historical records rather than “admit” that global warming theory has been falsified?
        That NASA?
        Perhaps you can explain the mechanism by which the Earth expands?
        Because that sounds like complete nonsense to this kid.
        To put it mildly.

      • ‘ There is absolutely no rational or scientific reason for the continents to move around randomly or seemingly randomly in cycles’

        http://solarviews.com/thumb/earth/earthfg2.gif
        Yes, there is. Excluding most inner part, the solid inner core, only tiny proportion of the rest is solid. Until earth’s interior completely cools down or it stops rotating at rate faster than orbiting there is good reason that its continental masses will move around.

        • vulcevic, there is something interesting concerning what moves the tectonic plates. This is directly related to the train of thought that Salby working on. Are you aware of Sably’s work? Have you read Thomas Gold’s book?

          There is a ‘breakthrough’ (Nobel prizing winning astrophysics, Thomas Gold’s, re-discovered theory which is the same theory the Russians have had for the last 60 years) that is related to the origin of hydrocarbons and the time of release of hydrocarbons into the crust of the planet and what moves the tectonic plates cyclically.

          It is an observational fact that there was been an unexplained 300% increase in mid-ocean seismic activity period B for the entire planet as compared to period A.

          The earth’s mid-seismic activity has abruptly dropped back down to the lower activity in period B.

          Period A: 1979 to 1995

          Period B :1996 to 2016 (More than 300% increase in mid-ocean seismic activity)

          The observed changes in mid-ocean seismic activity are orders of magnitude too large and too fast for all of the current geological mechanisms to explain. The observations are a hard paradox. (No possible alternatives, the solution is forced from the observations).

          The assumed energy input from the mantel and core (radioactivity, material phase change, reactions), cannot physically change in that time scale/entire planet and even if they did change could not appreciably change temperatures to affect mid-ocean seismic activity for the entire planet.

          It is physical impossible for abrupt change in convection motion in the mantel (and its assumptions) to explain the sudden and astonishingly large increase and decrease in mid-ocean seismic activity.

          Detailed analysis of seismic wave travel in the mantel has shown there are intercrossing tubes in the mantel which reflect waves. This was a recent new discovery.

          These core to crust ‘tubes’ transmit force and liquid CH4 from the earth’s liquid core as the liquid core solidifies and extrudes the liquid CH4. The core of the earth is believed to have started to solidifying roughly a billion years ago.

          The ‘tubes’ form as the elements hydrogen and carbon have been removed from the mantel when the Mars size object impacted the earth roughly 100 million years after it was formed and by the descent of heavy metals into the core. The ‘tube’ is required to contain the force that is produced when the CH4 is extruded from the liquid core when it solidifies and to contain the CH4 to enable it to reach the surface of the planet.

          As noted in the paper below, increase in mid-ocean seismic activity closely correlates with ocean temperature changes for the entire period.

          https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/have-global-temperatures-reached-a-tipping-point-2573-458X-1000149.pdf

          • Seismic activity goes up and down all the time. It doesn’t need to be explained.

            Once again you have latched onto a false argument to try and resurrect a disproven theory.

          • Hi Mark,

            This is a link to a summary which supports what I have said above. Convection motion in the earth’s mantel does not explain tectonic plate movement. That is an urban legend.

            http://www.davidpratt.info/tecto.htm

            The driving force of plate movements was initially claimed to be mantle deep convection currents welling up beneath midocean ridges, with downwelling occurring beneath ocean trenches. Since the existence of layering in the mantle was considered to render whole-mantle convection unlikely, two layer convection models were also proposed.

            Jeffreys (1974) argued that convection cannot take place because it is a self-damping process, as described by the Lomnitz law. Plate tectonicists expected seismic tomography to provide clear evidence of a well-organized convection-cell pattern, but it has actually provided strong evidence against the existence of large, plate-propelling convection cells in the upper mantle (Anderson, Tanimoto, and Zhang, 1992).

            Many geologists now think that mantle convection is a result of plate motion rather than its cause and that it is shallow rather than mantle deep (McGeary and Plummer, 1998).

            Smoot and Meyerhoff (1 995) have shown that nearly all published charts of the world’s ocean floors have been drawn deliberately to reflect the predictions of the plate-tectonics hypothesis. For example, the Atlantic Ocean floor is unvaryingly shown to be dominated by a sinuous, north-south midocean ridge, flanked on either side by abyssal plains, cleft at its crest by a rift valley, and offset at more or less regular 40-to-60-km intervals by east-west-striking fracture zones.

            New, detailed bathymetric surveys indicate that this oversimplified portrayal of the Atlantic Basin is largely wrong, yet the most accurate charts now available are widely ignored because they do not conform to plate tectonic preconceptions.

            Side-scanning radar images show that the midocean ridges are cut by thousands of long, linear, ridge-parallel fissures, fractures, and faults.

            This strongly suggests (William: In correct mechanism) Magma is not fracturing the ocean floor.) that the ridges are underlain at shallow depth by interconnected magma channels, in which semifluid lava moves horizontally and parallel with the ridges rather than at right angles to them.

            The fault pattern observed is therefore totally different from that predicted by plate tectonics, and it cannot be explained by upwelling mantle diapirs as some plate tectonicists have proposed (Meyerhoff et al, 1992a).
            A zone of thrust faults, 300-400 km wide, has been discovered flanking the Mid-Atlantic Ridge over a length of 1,000 km (Antipov et al., 1990).

            Because it was produced under conditions of compression, it contradicts the plate-tectonic hypothesis that midocean ridges are dominated by tension.

            In Iceland, the largest landmass astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the predominant stresses in the axial zone are likewise compressive rather than extensional (Keith, 1993). Earthquake data compiled by Zoback et al. (1 989) provide further evidence that ocean ridges are characterized by widespread compression, whereas recorded tensional earthquake activity associated with these ridges is rarer. The rough topography and strong tectonic deformation of much of the ocean ridges, particularly in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, suggest that instead of being “spreading centers,” they are a type of foldbelt (Storetvedt, 1997).

  1. Obviously climate change is causing the continents to move. Please tell CNN and Ocasio. 🙂 🙂

    You might have to tell them what a continent is.

    • It is; speculation for cash . . .
      Meanwhile in Australia, policing, road trauma and wild-fires (courtesy of poor management) to name a few are ignored as there’s only limited funding to keep the electorate safe.
      Plenty of funding for academics with compelling funding pitches.
      Academic snobbery cheered on by politicians and ‘educators'(spending our money at will); spending our money for their perverse recognition, self importance, career advancement and financial reward 100% at our expense.
      They’re always positioned with their hand held out for another grant . . .
      Shame on you Australian Research Council!

    • Continental positioning is not speculation. They study the age of the rocks through radioisotope decay ratios and use geomagnetism of the rock to determine the direction is was pointing to north at that time. As continents split apart, they leave identical rock on each side of the ocean basin, allowing reconstruction. Old accretionary boundaries are identified as faults, that can also be age dated. When lava erupts onto the surface, when it cools it leaves a signal of its orientation to true north.

      • … true north …

        Geomagnetism means you’re talking about magnetic north, not true north. Given that the poles sometimes reverse …

        It’s late, I’m tired and going to bed. Therefore I leave the implications of the planet’s moveable magnetic poles to you as an exercise.

      • How can they be certain what direction is north? As we’ve seen recently, the magnetic poles move quite a bit.

      • However, when you bring the continental edges together based on their ages (using the sea floor age in between), there is compelling evidence that the continents fit together quite nicely on a smaller Earth. If the core is a supernova remnant and the neutron-rich elements are breaking down, the core is indeed expanding and, finally, about 200 million years ago ( the oldest sea floor we can find) the crust fractures into tectonic plates and have been spreading apart every since. There is no evidence of multiple, different aged collisions and separation of plates. There is also no subduction, a myth we need to get rid of.

        • Wow, never thought of that *rolls the eyes*
          Good thing we have insightful geniuses like you to ‘splain it to us.

        • And where did the oceans hide before 200 million years ago when there were no ocean basins?

          The volume of the oceans is about 1,300,000,000 km^3 and the area of continental crust is about 200,000,000 km^2, so it would have been covered to a depth of about 6,500 meters.

          Might have been a bit soggy, don’t you think?

        • A supernova remnant is also called a black hole. If there were a black hole in the center of the earth, the earth would be shrinking. Rapidly. Very, very rapidly.

          That the continents fit together is evidence of continental drift, as PROVEN by both the spreading at the mid-atlantic ridge and subduction around the Pacific.

          Subduction is proven, the evidence for it is extensive.

        • If these neutron-rich elements were breaking down rapidly enough to cause the diameter of the earth to expand by several centimeters a year, (that’s how fast the mid-Atlantic ridge is spreading) the Earth would be so radioactive that life would be impossible on it.

        • The expanding earth theory in not correct. It is no fun to discuss a theory that does not have legs.

          It is a fact however that there are specific tectonic plate observations (with pictures in peer reviewed papers) that absolutely cannot be caused by convection motion in the mantel.

          “Alfred Wegener’s theory of continental drift died in 1926, primarily because no one could suggest an acceptable driving mechanism. In an ironical twist, continental drift (now generalized to plate tectonics) is almost universally accepted, but we still do not understand the driving mechanism in anything other than the most general terms”2.”

          Convection motion is of course primarily up and down.

          Comment: An example of observational evidence that cannot be explained by mantel convection motion moving is the crushing observation at ocean ridges. There is evidence of multiple piston like immense compression concentrated force that breaks the ocean floor at ridges. The mantel convection theory can only generate stress as the mantel for unexampled reasons moves horizontally along the bottom of the very rigid and strong ocean floor and the stress that convection motion of the mantel theoretically generates is an order of magnitude too small to crush the ocean floor.

          https://www.newgeology.us/presentation21.html

          Plate Tectonics: too weak to build mountains
          “In 2002 it could be said that: “Although the concept of plates moving on Earth’s surface is universally accepted, it is less clear which forces cause that motion. Understanding the mechanism of plate tectonics is one of the most important problems in the geosciences”8. A 2004 paper noted that “considerable debate remains about the driving forces of the tectonic plates and their relative contribution”40. “Alfred Wegener’s theory of continental drift died in 1926, primarily because no one could suggest an acceptable driving mechanism. In an ironical twist, continental drift (now generalized to plate tectonics) is almost universally accepted, but we still do not understand the driving mechanism in anything other than the most general terms”2.”

          “The advent of plate tectonics made the classical mantle convection hypothesis even more untenable. For instance, the supposition that mid-oceanic ridges are the site of upwelling and trenches are that of sinking of the large scale convective flow cannot be valid, because it is now established that actively spreading, oceanic ridges migrate and often collide with trenches”14. “Another difficulty is that if this is currently the main mechanism, the major convection cells would have to have about half the width of the large oceans, with a pattern of motion that would have to be more or less constant over very large areas under the lithosphere. This would fail to explain the relative motion of plates with irregularly shaped margins at the Mid-Atlantic ridge and Carlsberg ridge, and the motion of small plates, such as the Caribbean and the Philippine plates”19.

          The lack of a forcing mechanism explains why the theory of plate tectonics took so long to be accepted.

          Based on observations (there are roughly 50 independent observations that support the assertion) plate tectonics is driven by liquid CH4 that is extruded from the liquid core of the planet as it solidifies. That assertion is consistent with the analysis of wave velocity which shows there must be light elements in the liquid core and theoretical analysis for the liquid core that shows CH4 can ‘dissolve’ in the liquid core and would be extruded when a portion of the liquid core solidifies.

          P.S. Thomas Gold, the nobel prize winning astrophysics, provided a set of geological observations (with pictures) that can only be explained by the immense flow of CH4 through the earth’s mantel in his book and his papers. These are physical observational proofs that CH4 moved and moves from the core of the planet up to surface.

          The elements hydrogen and carbon were removed from the mantel by the collision of a Mar’s size object that struck the earth roughly 100 million years after the earth was formed. This collision removed the early earth’s Venus like atmosphere.

          It is believed the core of the planet started to solidify roughly a billion years ago. At that time there would be a large increase in extruded liquid CH4 which explains why there is a sudden increase in continent crust building at that time. The sudden increase in continental crust building and the increase in water on the planet at that time is the likely explanation for the Cambrian ‘explosion’ of complex life forms.

          The continuous release of CH4 up into the mantel and into the biosphere explains why the earth is 70% covered with water even though there is continuous removal of water from the earth’s atmosphere by the solar wind.

          Organic metals form in the very, very, high pressure liquid CH4. These organic metals drop at specific pressures.

          The forced movement of the super high-pressure liquid CH4 from the liquid core and drop out of the organic metals at specific pressures explains why there is heavy metal concentration in the crust of in some cases a million times more than the mantel.

          • Convection motion is of course primarily up and down.

            Not true. If it only moved up and down, then each magma would be descending in the same place that magma is rising. What happens is that magma rises, moves sideways, then sinks. How far it travels before sinking depends on many factors.

            crushing observation at ocean ridges

            The ocean ridges are expanding. No crushing going on.

            oceanic ridges migrate and often collide with trenches

            Please name the places where this happens?

            Based on observations (there are roughly 50 independent observations that support the assertion) plate tectonics is driven by liquid CH4 that is extruded from the liquid core of the planet as it solidifies.

            Please name the people that are stupid enough to believe such nonsense.
            Please list the papers that have been published supporting it as well.

            I give up at this point. Please retract this paper and have it re-written so that it is actually readable.

          • There is unexplained crushing of the ocean floor at the ocean ridges. The cartoon drawings which you have seen push an urban legend. They are physically incorrect.

            Note I provided a paper that shows mid ocean seismic activity has increased by 300% in the last 20 years.

            Why are you angry? This is not a fight. I am only interested in theories that have legs. Dead theories are sad.

            It is a fact that there is observational evidence that cannot be explained by the old theory and there is an alternative theory (in this case extrapolation of Thomas Gold’s theory which is the same as the Russians) that explains all of the observations. Theory explains the force and source of hydrocarbons on the surface of the earth. It is related to Salby’s findings.

            Thomas Gold has fifty observations in his book and in papers to support the assertion that CH4 moves from the deep earth (CH4 is extruded from the liquid core of the planet as it solidifies) to surface.

            See this paper for pictures of the ocean floor which shows fractures. Something is pushing to cause the fractures and the complex history of the ocean floor.

            http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.581.3772

          • MarkW
            I see realy no rason to name William Astley aliar. Wouldt be better to come with arguments to prove your words.

          • @ William Astley

            Thomas Gold has fifty observations in his book and in papers to support the assertion that CH4 moves from the deep earth (CH4 is extruded from the liquid core of the planet as it solidifies) to surface.

            The reason for a firedam in coal mines is CH4 gasing out of the depth into the mine.

  2. What is this referring to? Climate change? Deforestation is something we are responsible for and greenhouse gasses are directly related to human activity. We are overpopulated and rapidly consuming earth’s resources and we are not prepared to sacrifice anything to improve our situation.

    • Greenhouse gases regularly spew out of the oceans and they’ve been doing it since they formed. How is that man’s doing and can you explain billion year old SUV’s..?

    • The issue here is balance. With too many people on one side of a continent, the continents shift, which causes them to move and collide. We need to move more people to the northern, colder regions to balance things out.

    • Oh and my dear flower child, you’re wearing your bandanna too tight. Please bring some proof of what you blubber before parroting the same tired BS that all the uninformed do. If you believe what you say and can’t see the AGW scam for what it truly is, you’re advocating your own demise. Please check on the Goreacle, Hil-liary and DiCraprio’s privete jet-setting, endless holidaying in gas-guzzling yachts and buying up seaside properties all the while telling you to freeze to death in a cave.

      They tell you not to eat red meat because climate BS yet throw you the bone from their own plate demanding you fawn at them – AND YOU DO!!

      Told ya. The bandanna’s too tight.

    • Your absolutely right, Iris.

      But what preliterature empire build the ring of fire is still an open Question.

    • Lastly:

      What is this referring to? Climate change?

      No. It’s about continental drift. Seriously, what are they teaching you at school these days.. Anything..?

    • Every time an ocean basin opens or closes the planet climate is changed because ocean circulation is changed. Some stop. Some start. Some change location.

    • I know, right Iris? How does this advance global socialism? Not a peep about evil industry spewing deadly CO2 or white guys causing genocide. Total waste.

      So it’s not important but what it says is that in 600 million years we’ll have a new supercontinent. Maybe by then socialism will get it right. Well in any case, we’ll only be 30 years away from cheap, abundant fusion power.

      • Actually we’re about halfway through the cycle, so in around 300 million years we’ll have a new super continent. Oh, and as a side effect, the Earth will be back to hothouse mode, and the poles won’t have permanent ice caps. The horror! /s

        • It’s worse than we thought!

          What we will have to do, is build artificial continents at the poles…if we survive the 3000 or so major glaciations between now and the shift to hot house, that is.

          This should be an urgent priority. Of course it needs to be done taking into consideration every existing socialist dream. Never let a good crisis go to waste.

    • We are overpopulated? You go first. Oh, and stop using anything that is derived from oil. Otherwise you are a hypocrite.

      • Everyone that buys this drivel should take a pledge to use no fusil fuel based anything and to never have kids.

    • Iris Koren – February 3, 2019 at 5:20 pm

      Deforestation is something we are responsible for and …..

      Even this deforestation, RIGHT? To wit:

      Petrified Forest National Park is known for its fossils, especially of fallen trees that lived in the Late Triassic period of the Mesozoic era, about 225 million years ago.

      Read more @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrified_Forest_National_Park

      Iris K, …… how do you explain to someone that they have been “brainwashed” by their guardian mentors?

    • we are not prepared to sacrifice anything to improve our situation.
      ==========
      Typically “we” and “our’ really mean “you” and “my”.

      I’m having trouble seeing how giving up my money today will improve my situation 100 years from now when I’m lying cold in the ground. It surely won’t improve my situation today.

    • We aren’t anywhere close to being over populated. We have hundreds of years worth of oil/gas/coal left, and everything else isn’t being consumed, it’s being converted from one form to another. When we are done with it, it can be converted into another form.

  3. This is fascinating. On a first read of the linked material, it seems they are modeling the Earth something akin to a lava lamp.

    I suppose there are enough geological clues to indicate where the ‘lava’ (land, sea, and mantle material) was at different points in time, so their models shouldn’t be too farfetched, although they are undoubtedly wrong. I’m no one capable to say if they are wrong enough to matter or are right enough to get the mechanisms right.

    Anyhow, the descriptive motions they give to the mantle and the oceans, via the article’s graphics, seem to make sense to this dumb ol’ country boy.

  4. “Wait, it wasn’t called Pangea back then, was it?”*

    * A quote from a young woman in one of my geophysics courses at Berkeley in 1983.

      • Give it a hundred million years and that ‘o’ will pop right back out again.

        Hmmm… interesting thought. Their graphics of a super continent makes you wonder why the Earth didn’t have one hell of a wobble. (And you thought being an ounce off on your tire was bad at 55mph.)

        • Yeahbut….

          My wheels spin at several hundred times a minute. The Earth spins once every 23 hours and 56 minutes. A hell of a difference.

          Also, if the earth were the size of a billiard ball, it would be smoother than a billiard ball, and very slightly damp. My car wheels are extremely rough in comparison.

        • My fault, of course

          ZigZag, rotation is 40,000 / 24 km/h. And then there’s that globes sheer mass.

          • But like a billiard ball, almost zero difference in mass of any point on the surface (which is what we are talking about). Just a larger billiard ball, extremely smooth and even.

  5. Reorganization of the mantle? Is that translated right? I mean we’re talking a really, REALLY big chunk of Earth’s interior here.

    I mean from my limited intro to geology courses I understand the mantle is subject to convection currents, but I’m having a hard time understanding how what’s happening on the crust and a few miles under it has anything to do with the rest of the deep mantle.

    • Don’t get cause and effect turned around, the mantle’s internal dynamics rearranges the crust, not the other way around.

      • The continents insulate the mantle compared to the deep oceans.
        The result is that the location and nature of the convection currents can be changed.

    • The idea that Pangaea formed, broke up and reformed again , twice, is the new thing.
      I had only heard of it forming once.

      Not having access to the paper I can’t tell if there is genuinely any need to name two new processes for what could be a circular motion in the mantle.

      • M Courtney
        Nothing new in that part of the paper. Try the book “Supercontinent: 10 Billion Years In The Life Of Our Planet” by Ted Nield published in 2012 which explains this very well and sets out the evidence for the past ten cycles of supercontinent aggregation and splitting.

  6. Does this report on the research seem incomprehensible to anyone else?
    “…If not, then the mantle gets completely reorganised.”
    What?
    “The latter process caused supercontinent Rodinia to be turned inside out by tectonic forces”
    What in the world does that mean?

  7. Little known factoid: Curtin University was founded by Jane Curtin, of Saturday Night Live fame.

    😉

  8. All the paleogeography and continent reconstruction depends on paleomagnetism. Measurements of minute amounts of remanent magnetism can indicate the paleo-latitude of a piece of continent (by the magnetic dip). And it can also tell how that piece of continent has rotated (by the magnetic azimuth).

    All of which depends on the earth’s magnetic poles being close to the geographic poles. Which they are not; within the last few hundred years, the north magnetic pole has been up to 20 degrees from the north pole. So there’s some uncertainty in all these reconstructions. There’s also the possibility of verifying a reconstruction by seeing if distinct geological trends match between adjacent segments of a reconstruction, which doesn’t depend on paleomagnetism; it works well for Pangaea but not so well for Rodinia, and hardly at all for Nuna.

    These authors theorize that the 600 million year supercontinent cycle is half of a 1200 m.y. cycle. They only have 3 of the 600 m.y. cycles and 1.5 of their 1200 m.y. cycles. One and a half cycles isn’t a lot to be sure that a cycle exists.

    Also, cyclic behaviour assumes a more or less steady process that doesn’t vary over time. Well, it’s reasonably sure that heat flow is the driving force behind plate tectonics, and most of the earth’s heat flow comes from radioactive decay of four radioactive isotopes: 238U, 235U, 232Th and 40K. From their half-lives, which vary from 700 m.y. (40K) to 14 billion years (232Th). Two billion years ago, the heat flow from these four isotopes would have been 2.3 times greater than it is today. That’s hardly indicative of a steady state. And if you look at pre-Nuna (Nuna being the first supercontinent) geology, things were very different from today. All those mini-continents charging around and bashing into each other.

    This article is more arm-waving than substance, I’m afraid. And I can’t see any new data in it, just recycled stuff from other workers. In other words, a typical 21st century scientific publication.

    • Nash,
      Might you be a little premature?
      Surely it is possible for a Mann to review this and discover that all is (far, far) worse than we thought!
      All those early gas-guzzlers, and perhaps a tree ring, will prove that this continental ballet is purely due to CO2, and we are weeks away from disaster if we all [apart from the self-appointed eliterarti, of course] self-immolate, especially if we believe in private property . . .

      Auto

  9. I asked you guys to stop with the stories about how CO2 could be turned into any sort of fuel. Now I will ask you again, stop with the cycles. A cycle with an irregular period, not so much, just making WUWT look foolish. Is this a good idea?

    • WUWT didn’t write the paper or publish it.
      Take it up with the science journal Precambrian Research.

    • But CO2 can be turned into fuel. Of course doing it will always consume more energy than it produces, but such details have never stopped the green blob has it?

      And the Wilson Cycle is pretty undisputed, though these people claim there are two alternating types of Wilson Cycles , which is pretty daring based on a sample of 3.

  10. “Curtin researchers believe that ancient supercontinents formed and then fell apart through alternating cycles spanning hundreds of millions of years that involved superoceans being swallowed ”

    Well, so do I and just about everybody who knows something about geology and tectonics, so exactly what is supposed to be new here?

  11. A new supercontinent will appear in 300 million years time? Did I get that right? Seems a bit fast, but as it’s NASA they must have it right with their superocean cycle. I have a cycle in my garage, it is a bit rusty – is that anything NASA can use?

    Anyway, don’t they know the movement of the continents is determined by Scrat, the Ice Age squirrel/rodent thing. I know it’s true because they made a film about it – better science than the Al Gore film “Embarrassing Drivel” or was it Inconvenient something or other.

  12. Introversion? Extroversion? We really don’t need new words to describe behavior of continental masses and ocean basins that has been clear for half a century. All this means is that periodically the continents get swept into a pile, and subsequently the pile gets busted up. We need even a tentative hypothesis for why, and we have none.

    True polar wander affects even Paleozoic reconstructions. Controversial corrections can be applied, but magnetic geolocation of the late Proterozoic supercontinent must be considered highly suspect, and before that…

    Focusing on the Phanerozoic seems the best bet. The tentative hypothesis for continental amalgamation should explain why during the Phanerozoic there has always been a continent near or at the South Pole (magnetically negative by convention for normal polarity); and never a continent at the North Pole.

    • Apart from the intrinsic interest of Earth History it is quite useful for geologists to know how the bits and pieces fitted together in the past, since it means that the older geological features on one side of e. g. the South Atlantic will most likely continue in the corresponding place on the other side.

  13. I’ve read the oceans are gradually seeping away, down into the deep crust. I’ve read there is more water in the crust than on the crust. I’ve read that the current continental granite drifted atop the basalt literally in a matter of years, as a result of the crust unzipping itself, releasing the water that keeps seeping back into the crest. Very interesting our earthly history. Whatever the case, I won’t be here. 🙂

    • Dunno about that… ringwoodite has its water bound up much tighter than serpintinized crust. I don’t even know if it has a dehydration aided melt zone like the 110km depth contour that feeds arc volcanism.

  14. Sounds bad. I’m sure we can prevent this from repeating with the right combination of tax increases and subsidies.

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