Guest geological storytelling by David Middleton
In my recent post, How Climate Change Buried a Desert 20,000 Feet Beneath the Gulf of Mexico Seafloor, we discussed the rifting that enabled the opening of the Gulf of Mexico. In one of the comments, TTY brought up a recent paper on long-extinct volcanic activity in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, which reminded me of the “volcano” that was drilled back in the 1960’s near New Orleans. When I Googled Gulf of Mexico volcanic rocks, I found more science fiction than science.
I’ll start with the science…
Cretaceous volcanoes in the Gulf of Mexico
Door Point is in Louisiana State waters, just offshore St. Bernard Parish, in an area that was thought to be free of Mesozoic volcanic activity.
The Door Point “volcano” was discovered by Shell when they drilled into it in 1963.
The Door Point structure technically isn’t a volcano.
An exploratory well, the Shell Oil Company, State Lease 3956 No. 1, Offshore St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, was completed in 1963 at a total depth of 8538 feet. The last 1300 feet of hole was cored and drilled through volcanic material of Late Cretaceous Age. The location of this well is shown on Figure 1.
Pre-drilling seismic data had revealed the presence on this prospect of intrusive material with a density slightly higher than that of the surrounding sediments. Gravity data defined a weak maximum here, and no salt was believed to be present.
The igneous material consisted of angular fragments of altered porphyritic basic rock. In cores it proved to be evenly bedded and cemented by sparry calcite. Radioactivity age dating fixed a minimum age of crystallization of this rock at 82 m.y.+8, or middle Late Cretaceous (Austin). Bulk density of the igneous rock ranged from 2.02 gm/cc near the top of its occurrence to 2.53 gm/cc near the bottom of the well.
Three gas accumulations, with an aggregate thickness of 38 feet, were encountered in the Miocene section between 5092 and 6219 feet in the Shell well. Gas-bearing sands were not present in two other wells drilled later on the same structure (Fig. 2).
Although evidence of Late Cretaceous volcanic activity is widespread in northern Louisiana, as well as in Mississippi, and southeast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, the Door Point prospect lies within an area that had been previously designated as being free of volcanism.
Braunstein & McMichael, 1976
Although it is clearly composed of reworked volcanic material.
The Door Point structure penetrated by the Shell Oil S.L. 3956 well no. 1, located offshore in St. Bernard Parish Louisiana represents the singular observed subsurface occurrence of igneous rock in the entire offshore region of the GoM that is Cretaceous in age. Identified in the literature as a volcano, sill or other primary intrusive/extrusive feature, with an age of 82 ± 8 Mya, the Door Point “Volcano,” has received very little study since its discovery in the 1970’s.
Preliminary study of the core shows that the unit consists of volcaniclastic rocks. Initial review of the geophysical logs provided by Shell Oil and Drilling Info show a drastic and apparent offset in the resistivity, with a maligned or absent deflection of the Spontaneous Potential curve. The sequence of volcanics extend vertically a minimum of 396m with no base identified, and the singular cored interval taken of the final 8.5m. Initial petrographic examination has revealed there to be both massive un-bedded polymictic agglomerates as well as bedded volcanic ash. The basalt cobble agglomerates sequentially alternate with the packages of finer grained volcanic ash. Grain size for the igneous cobbles within the agglomerates range in diametric extremes from a maximum of 5 cm to a minimum of 1 – 2 cm. Sedimentary structures are absent in the coarser sequences, but are exhibited in the volcanic ash beds, in the form of cross bedding. The clast populations vary in composition from fragments of sedimentary rock, to the igneous rocks of interest. Possessing a porphyritic texture and angular in appearance the clasts contain visible clinopyroxene phenocrysts, in an aphanitic groundmass; CI > 90.
These results suggest the cobbles are sourced from multiple volcanic centers, and have undergone a multistage cooling history. Coupled with the presence of the calcite cement, the cross bedding is indicative of a marine or fluvial depositional system. We are able to reconstruct a regional story of episodic volcanism in the nascent Gulf of Mexico Rift during the late Cretaceous.Anderson, 2015
Session No. 320–Booth# 503
Door Point is most likely a salt or shale diapir (piercement structure) that carried volcanic material up with it.
It’s not the only volcanic oddity in the Northern Gulf of Mexico.
Alderdice Bank is a salt diapir, which appears to have transported several large blocks of basalt to the seafloor.
Rezak & Tieh, 1984
A basalt outcrop was discovered on Alderdice Bank on the outer Louisiana continental shelf. The basalt shows an age of 76.8 ± 3.3 × 106 years. Textural, mineralogical, and chemical characteristics indicate that it is an alkali basalt of shallow intrusive origin. It was probably brought to the seafloor by salt tectonics and exposed due to salt dissolution.
Bottom Depth Range: 165-240 feet (50-73 meters)
Alderice Bank is located about 52.5 km (32.5 mi) southeast of Sonnier Banks, about 60 km (37 mi) west northwest of McGrail Bank, and 157 km (97 mi) east northeast of East Flower Garden Bank. The bank is an oval lying in an east-west direction, and covers an area of about 16 km2 (10 mi2).
Three spectacular basalt spires of Late Cretaceous origin (~77 million years old) are found at Alderdice Bank. These are the oldest known exposed rocks on the continental shelf off of Texas and Louisiana, and unique geologic features for this region. The outcroppings crest at about 50 m (165 ft), with their bases at about 73 m (240 ft).NOAA
The basalt at Door Point and Alderdice Bank formed shortly after the deposition of the Austin Chalk formation.
Analyses of recent gravity, magnetic and high resolution seismic surveys have fairly clearly revealed the ancient rift system in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico (Lin et al., 2019).
An extinct, late Jurassic-to-earliest Cretaceous ridge-and-fracture zone geometry in the western Gulf of Mexico (GOM), and extinct seafloor ridge segments in the eastern Gulf of Mexico (EGOM), were previously identified using the vertical gradient of satellite-derived free-air gravity data. Circular gravity anomaly lows, and magnetic anomaly highs, over the center of spreading ridge segments are interpreted as large volcanic centers that erupted within a late Jurassic-to-earliest Cretaceous,Lin et al., 2019
slow-spreading center. Detailed mapping of oceanic basement using oil industry seismic data indicates that the EGOM oceanic ridge system is characterized by 30-60-km-long spreading ridge segments, that include 15-km-wide, 2-km-high axial volcanoes in their centers, and nodal basins at their ends. Stratigraphic evidence from seismic reflection data tied to a
deepwater well indicates that volcanism along the spreading ridge ended around the same time (Berriasian), or slightly after (Valanginian), the cessation of seafloor spreading in the EGOM. Flowlines of late Jurassic-to-earliest Cretaceous seafloor, based on a pole of rotation from the geometry of GOM spreading ridges and fracture zones, show a good match with gravity and magnetic anomalies along the Florida and Yucatan conjugate margins of the EGOM. Mapping of age-dated, stratigraphic downlaps onto the oceanic crust is consistent with an interpreted ridge jump at the beginning of seafloor spreading (Kimmeridgian) to the southwest, and in the same southwestward direction of a previously inferred mantle plume in the central
GOM. Our 3-D gravity structural inversion of the Moho requires 6.4 km thick oceanic crust in the northwestern EGOM, and 5.5 km thick oceanic crust in southeastern EGOM. We interpret this along-ridge, thickness variation to reflect faster spreading and thicker oceanic crust farther from the opening pole located in the southeastern GOM.
The EGOM volcanics pre-date Door Point and Alderdice Bank by about 50 million years
It is rather surprising that these volcanic oddities haven’t received more research attention… Maybe if there was oil in basalt, they would have… 😉 However, they have received some recent attention from some “alternate media outlets.”
“And now for something completely different”
Lew Rockwell is an interesting libertarian website. They actually have some decent articles on Mises, Hayek and other legends of the Austrian School of economics. However, when it comes to science, it’s full-Art Bell…
Something Incredibly Strange Is Going On In The Gulf Of Mexico As Temperatures Hit 130+ Degrees Repeatedly In One Location – Is Long Dormant Volcano Awakening Or Just A Bizarre Anomaly?
By Stefan Stanford
All News Pipeline
March 10, 2018
Back on January 11th, we reported on ANP that several days before a massive, 7.6 earthquake struck in the Caribbean Sea, causing a tsunami warning to be issued to several Caribbean islands, ocean water had suddenly and mysteriously ‘disappeared’ in locations more than 2,000 miles apart, both north and south of the epicenter of that quake.
As videographer MrMBB333 told us in a video that we used within that story, “water is trying to tell us something”.
Well if water suddenly and mysteriously disappearing in the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean then was trying to tell us something, then certainly temperature spikes of over 130 degrees in the Gulf of Mexico must be trying to tell us something, too!
As we see from MrMBB333 in the 1st video below, something incredibly strange is going on in the Gulf of Mexico with air temperatures recorded at over 130 degrees over and over again the past week, with temperatures fluctuating between ‘normal’ temperatures in the 75 to 80 degrees range before suddenly shooting up to at least 133 degrees as we see in videos and the 2nd image below.
Back on March 19th of 2013, Nesara News published a story titled “A Buried Ancient Volcano In Southeast Louisiana” in which they told us about evidence of Late Cretaceous era volcanic activity being widespread in Louisiana as well as in Mississippi and southeast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico.
Called ‘Door Point’, the proof of volcanic activity was found within an area which had previously been designated as being free of volcanism as seen in the next image below. Interestingly, that ’igneous free’ area includes where we are now witnessing these extreme temperature spikes in the Gulf of Mexico as seen in the images above and the videos below.
Might an ancient and long-dormant volcano be underneath the water of the Gulf of Mexico, suddenly coming back to life, its venting causing these temperature spikes we’re witnessing? Much more on that theory below with evidence that indeed we might be about to witness something un-thought of should a long-dormant volcano in the Gulf of Mexico be awakening.
The article features this image… Does it look familiar?
If you click Read the Whole Article, it takes you straight into The Twilight Zone…
While the ‘Ring of Fire’ has been heating up with volcanoes all around the planet now erupting and big earthquakes indicating an even bigger one is surely ahead as we hear in the 3rd video below from Infowars, it’s not lost on those paying attention that the Gulf of Mexico borders the ‘Ring of Fire’ as we see in the next image below.
The largest Gulf in the world, is it just a coincidence that the Gulf of Mexico is shaped almost like the mouth of a gigantic volcano, with one side ‘blown out’ that just happens to align with the Caribbean islands? We find the theory of the origins of the Caribbean to be very interesting, especially knowing that the Caribbean is a ‘large igneous province’, volcano created.
While we can’t see any underwater volcanoes in the Gulf of Mexico, what if the entire Gulf of Mexico was the ‘mouth’ of the ancient volcano and the ‘source’ of the Caribbean islands when they were created between 69 million and 139 million years ago? While Wikipedia says the islands are thought to be linked to the Galapogos Hotspot, which is quite far away, is the truth closer to home?
While we’re unable to see them, underwater volcanoes are nothing new and as the LA Times reported back in 2014, scientists had recently created a high-resolution map of the ocean floor revealing thousands of underwater mountains and extinct underwater volcanoes that had never been known before then. And while their map was twice as accurate as any map of the ocean floor before it, they quickly admit that it could only resolve features at least a mile high or bigger.
Enter this May of 2017 story from National Geographic which uses a new ocean floor map created by a government agency most have never heard of called the “Bureau of Ocean Energy Management” yet as we see in the photograph this new imaging provides below, we still know very little about the floor of the Gulf of Mexico with the image on the right the highest quality resolution that we now have, compared with the image on the left showing what we’d known before.
[…]All News Pipeline
The secret government agency’s map is apparently supposed to be evidence of a volcano.
Anyone recognize this? The high resolution bathymetry mapping was covered here: U. S. BOEM Releases Highest-Resolution Bathymetry Map of the Gulf of Mexico… Evah! Watts Up With That? May 30, 2017. The specific image is from an Eos article and it is the seafloor expression of a salt dome rimmed by a salt withdrawal basin.
The high resolution bathymetry map was derived from 3d seismic surveys, which relatively clearly image the salt domes, sills, massifs and other halokinetic features that form most of the hydrocarbon traps in the Gulf of Mexico and the rugose geomorphology of the seafloor on the continental slope. Calling this evidence of a volcano is the equivalent of crater hunters circling up roundish features on satellite images and declaring them to be impact features… without ever looking at the geology.
Oh… But it gets better (or worse depending on your perspective)… This is from “News Punch, Where Mainstream Fears to Tread”…
Scientists Warn Gulf Of Mexico ‘Supervolcano’ About To Erupt
March 15, 2018 Sean Adl-Tabatabai
Scientists have warned that extremely high temperature readings emanating from the Gulf of Mexico in the last week might be a precursor to a deep underwater supervolcano eruption.
Scientists working on the RFS Viktor Leonov CCB175 recorded water off the South American nation of Ecuador disappearing on January 5. Three days later, on January 8, waters began disappearing off the North American Florida coastline – which was followed 24 hours later by a huge 7.6 magnitude earthquake in the Caribbean Sea adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico.
With the average sea surface temperature of the Gulf of Mexico never falling below 23 degrees Celsius (73 degrees Fahrenheit) over the winter for the first time on record last year, and whose “Dead Zone” has grown to its largest size in recorded history, scientists aboard the research vessel say that no evidence suggests these events are due to climate change.
Unlike their Western counterparts, these Russian scientists, when confronted by such mysteries, look backward in time to our Earth’s most ancient stories and myths to see if parallels can be drawn to what is happening now—and that led an examination of the Maya peoples who in ancient times inhabited this entire region—even stretching into the American States of Florida and Georgia.
As documented by Carleton College researcher Lyndon DeSalvo in his 2008 research paper titled “Bleeding Earth: Volcanoes as the Prototypical Mountains in Mayan Cosmological Past”, the Mayapeoples stories and legends of their past speak of the entire Gulf of Mexico as being the place where mountains come from—and, also disappear into—and whose only modern-times explanation of is someone describing the activities of a volcanic caldera—that is a large cauldron-like depression that forms following the evacuation of a magma chamber/reservoir in a supervolcano eruption.
Disregarding the Maya peoples ancient legends, stories and myths that the Gulf of Mexico could, indeed, be a massive volcanic caldera, Western scientists have long sought to discover as to how came to it came to be shaped like one—with the latest attempt being made in 2002 when American geologist Michael Stanton published a speculative essay suggesting an impact origin (comet/asteroid) for the Gulf of Mexico—but that all global geologists quickly rejected for its not having any credibility.
Coming closer to the Maya peoples ancient stories, however, was noted American geologist Dr. David Prior—who, while doing research at Louisiana State University (LSU), became the first scientist to document volcanic eruptions were, indeed, occurring in the Gulf of Mexico—and the discovery of which he wrote about in his 1989 scientific research paper titled “Evidence for Sediment Eruption on Deep Sea Floor, Gulf of Mexico”.
Building on Dr. Prior’s scientific proof of volcanic eruptions occurring in the Gulf of Mexico, in 2003, “asphalt volcanos”—which were never heard of before—were found forming in these waters, too—and that led to massive effort, all around the globe, to re-map all the world’s oceans to discovery just how many underwater volcanoes there are—and when completed, in 2014, revealed thousands of underwater mountains and extinct volcanoes that were previously unknown.
This past May (2017), the first in history detailed seafloor map of the Gulf of Mexico was finally released by the Americans—and whose stunning findings revealed its deepwater seafloor was dominated by canyons, ridges, and faults—some of whose fault lines spread to the ancient Jackson, Mississippi, volcano—and with many believing that further discoveries will soon link the entire Southeastern United States to the feared Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt.
At this point, my brain began to leak out of my left ear. If anyone needs me to explain why nothing in the passage above is evidence of volcanic activity in the Gulf of Mexico, I will be happy to do so in the comments section… Hint: sediment expulsion, mud volcanoes and asphalt volcanoes aren’t related to volcanism, magma or any other igneous process… at least not in the Gulf of Mexico.
From abiotic oil, to The Weekly World News, to Earth crustal displacement, to supervolcanoes in the Gulf of Mexico… Why is it that they almost always cite “Russian scientists”?
Unlike their Western counterparts, these Russian scientists, when confronted by such mysteries…
In the case of The Weekly World News, it was usually, “according to Russian scientists, as reported by Swedish scientists (Fill in the blank: an oil rig drilled into Hell, a WWII bomber was located in a crater on the Moon, Batboy is advising Bill Clinton on the 1996 election).
Why did I take the time to debunk this nonsense?
Because it was both 1) fun and 2) easy… Apart from the minor brain hemorrhage.
There also seems to be a tendency among some AGW skeptics to gravitate toward alternative “science” in areas other than climate. This has to be done with care. And sometimes, even when done with care, it can lead to malicious attacks by the Warmunists. Rejecting the so-called scientific consensus on AGW doesn’t logically require skeptics to reject all scientific consensuses. While science isn’t a consensus building process, most scientific consensuses are the result of hypotheses being tested and confirmed, leading to scientific theories which demonstrate predictive skill… The theory of the formation of the Gulf of Mexico predicted that evidence of Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous rifting and volcanic activity would be found where it was subsequently found.
Anderson, Peter & Jonathan E. Snow. “Door Point: Volcano in the Gulf”. 2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Braunstein, Jules & Claude E. McMichael. “Door Point: A Buried Volcano in Southeast Louisiana”. Transactions-Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Volume XXVI, 1976
Lin, Pin, E. Bird, Dale & Paul Mann. (2019). “Crustal structure of an extinct, late Jurassic-to-earliest Cretaceous spreading center and its adjacent oceanic crust in the eastern Gulf of Mexico”. Marine Geophysical Research. 10.1007/s11001-019-09379-5.
Rezak, Richard & Thomas T. Tieh. “Basalt from Louisiana continental shelf”. Geo-Marine Letters (1984) 4: 69. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02277075
Science Made Stupid: How to Discomprehend the World Around Us is a 1985 book written and illustrated by Tom Weller. The winner of the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Non-Fiction Book, it is a parody of a junior high or high school-level science textbook. Though now out of print, high-resolution scans are available online, as well as an abridged transcription, both of which have been endorsed by Weller . Highlights of the book include a satirical account of the creationism vs. evolution debate and Weller’s drawings of fictional prehistoric animals (e.g., the duck-billed mastodon.)