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Could the earth be growing in size?

Below are a few paragraphs that I've taken from a book entitled "The Evolving Earth: The World of Science," Copyright Equinox (Oxford) Ltd. 1989.

Although supported by a small minority, the arguments in favor of an expanding Earth are extensive. In the 1970s, for example, the chief proponent of the hypothesis, Professor S. Warren Carey of Tasmania, published a volume of no fewer than 500 pages putting the case in considerable detail. Unfortunately, however, much of the evidence is also complex, very technical and, as most geologists would argue, highly ambiguous and perhaps even wrong. Nevertheless, expansion enthusiasts can point to a number of simple phenomena which apparently defy explanation by plate tectonics alone.


1) The continent of Antarctica is almost completely surrounded by active oceanic ridges, and so newly created lithosphere is continuously spreading toward it. But where does this lithosphere go? It is not being subducted because, with the possible exception of a small region opposite South America, there are no subduction zones around Antarctica. Nor is there any evidence that it is compressing Antarctica and thus forcing the area of the continent to decrease. The only possible explanation, assuming the Earth to have a constant radius, is that the encircling ridges are migrating away from Antarctica at just the right rate to accommodate the new lithosphere being laid down between the ridges and continent. Antarctica is therefore stationary at the center of a diverging plate system. On an Earth of constant radius, Africa cannot be both stationary and moving away from a stationary Antarctica, but on an Earth of increasing radius it can.

2) Paleomagnetic data show that all the continents except Antarctica have a northward component of drift, which means, if the Earth has a constant radius, that the Arctic Ocean is getting smaller. But other evidence suggests that the Arctic zone is one not of compression but of extension, implying that it is increasing in area. These mutually exclusive sets of evidence can e reconciled easily only if the Earth's surface area is increasing.

3) Similar circumstances apply in the Pacific. The continents are generally converging on the Pacific which, again assuming that the Earth has had constant dimensions, must be getting smaller. Yet ocean floor spreading data suggest that each pair of adjacent landmasses around the Pacific are moving farther apart. The Pacific is thus apparently decreasing in area whilst increasing in circumference, which is yet another paradox.

When Pangea is reconstructed on a globe the size of the present day Earth, there are a number of gaps where the continents do not quite fit. According to H. G. Owen of the British Museum (Natural History), a strong supporter of expansion, this is because, at the time of Pangea, the Earth was only about 80 percent of the present diameter. When Pangea is reconstructed on a smaller globe the mismatches are eliminated.


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Expanding Earth 441 Cindy 04-Dec-00 17:33

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