The Earth’s Axis Shift
Schematic relationship between ongoing geomagnetic excursion caused by disruption of convection currents of fluid metal in the Earth's outer core and mass extinction, human extinction and civilization collapse:
The magnetic field of the Earth is generated by dynamo action. Convection currents of fluid metal in the Earth's outer core are driven by heat flow from the inner core. The Coriolis force tends to organize fluid motions into columns aligned with the rotation axis. The fluid motions create circulating electric currents, which generate the magnetic field.
Earth's inner core is the innermost geologic layer of the Earth. It is primarily a solid ball with a radius of about 1,220 kilometers (760 miles), which is about 20% of the Earth's radius. The inner core is believed to be composed of an iron–nickel alloy with some other elements.
The inner core is rotated by a mechanism similar to an induction motor. Magnetic fields passing through the inner core provide a magnetic torque. Inner core rotation is called super-rotation because it’s different from the rotation of the Earth as a whole. Super-rotation is estimated to be up to 3 degrees per year.
A geomagnetic reversal is a change in a planet's magnetic field such that the positions of magnetic north and magnetic south are interchanged. The Earth's field has alternated between periods of normal polarity and reverse polarity. These periods are called chrons.
Evidence of geomagnetic reversals can be seen at mid-ocean ridges where tectonic plates move apart and the seabed is filled in with magma. As the magma seeps out of the mantle, cools, and solidifies into igneous rock, it is imprinted with a record of the direction of the magnetic field at the time that the magma cooled.
The first image represents geomagnetic polarity during the last 5 million years:
The second image represents geomagnetic polarity during the last 180 million years:
Dark areas denote periods where the polarity matches today's normal polarity. Light areas denote periods where that polarity is reversed.
Reversal occurrences are statistically random. There have been 183 reversals over the last 83 million years. The latest occurred 780,000 years ago. Stable polarity chrons often show large, rapid directional excursions, which occur more often than reversals, and could be seen as failed reversals. During such an excursion, the field reverses in the liquid outer core, but not in the solid inner core.
Although there have been periods in which the field reversed globally for several hundred years, these events are classified as excursions rather than full geomagnetic reversals. Such excursion occurred recently, 41,400 years ago, during the last ice age. The period of reversed magnetic field was approximately 440 years, with the transition from the normal field lasting approximately 250 years.
Most estimates for the duration of a polarity transition are more than 1,000 years. But polarity transitions may contain series of rapid excursions. Geologists found evidence for a several-year-long excursion. Furthermore, studies indicate the Earth's magnetic field is capable of shifting at a rate of up to 6 degrees per day.
Geomagnetic excursion and geomagnetic reversals significantly weaken Earth's magnetic field.
Ongoing Geomagnetic Excursion
The Earth's magnetic north pole is drifting from northern Canada towards Siberia with a presently accelerating rate – 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) per year at the beginning of the 20th century, up to 40 kilometers (25 mi) per year in 2003, and since then has only accelerated. The most recent survey determined that the Pole is moving at more than 55 km (34 mi) per year.
The movement of Earth's North Magnetic Pole. Observed north dip poles during 1831 - 2007 are yellow squares. Modeled pole locations from 1590 to 2020 are circles progressing from blue to yellow:
The movement of Earth's South Magnetic Pole. Observed south dip poles during 1903 - 2000 are yellow squares. Modeled pole locations from 1590 to 2020 are circles progressing from blue to yellow:
The speed of the north magnetic pole:
Strength of the axial dipole component of Earth's magnetic field:
In the following image green color represents rotation, blue – precession, red – nutation.
Polar motion of the Earth is the motion of the Earth's rotational axis relative to its crust. It consists of following components:
· Axial precession with a cycle of approximately 25,772 years.
· Axial nutation which consists of the following major components:
o Chandler wobble with a period of 433 days.
o An annual oscillation excited by atmospheric dynamics and ocean currents.
o An irregular drift, about 20 m since 1900, due to motions in the Earth's core.
Angular momentum is the rotational equivalent of linear momentum. It is a conserved quantity – the total angular momentum of a closed system remains constant. Therefore, changes in the fluid motions in the outer liquid core may cause changes in the rotation, axial precession and axial nutation of the Earth.
The geoid is the shape that the ocean surface would take under the influence of the gravity and rotation of Earth alone, if other influences such as winds and tides were absent. The deviation of the geoid compared to a perfect mathematical ellipsoid is very small and ranges from +85 m to -106 m:
But the difference between Earth’s radius in different directions is huge. Its value ranges from 6,378 km (3,963 mi) at the equator to 6,357 km (3,950 mi) at a pole. The difference is 21 km (13 mi). The following image shows distances between surface relief and the geocentre:
An imaginary change of the axial tilt of the Earth by 90 degrees would change the geoid and thus the sea level by 11 km (7 mi). A lower change of the axial tilt of the Earth would cause a lower change of the geoid and the sea level, but it still could be huge.
A mass extinction is a widespread and rapid decrease in the biodiversity on Earth. There were six major mass extinctions during the Phanerozoic Eon that covers 541 million years to the present (including recently recognized End-Capitanian extinction event). In addition to the major mass extinctions, there are numerous minor ones as well, and the ongoing mass extinction caused by human activity.
The blue graph shows the percentage of marine animal becoming extinct during given time interval. It does not represent all marine species, just those that are readily fossilized:
Phanerozoic biodiversity as shown by the fossil record:
Events which are most often cited as causes of mass extinctions:
· Flood basalt events. This term describes widespread volcanic or supervolcano activity that causes very large accumulations of igneous rocks that are erupted within an extremely short geological time interval.
· Change of the sea level.
· Impact events.
· Global cooling
· Global warming.
· Clathrate gun hypothesis.
· Anoxic events.
· Hydrogen sulfide emissions from the seas.
· Oceanic overturn.
· A nearby nova, supernova or gamma ray burst.
· Severe geomagnetic storms during a geomagnetic reversal.
· Plate tectonics.
Cataclysmic Pole Shift Hypothesis
The cataclysmic pole shift hypothesis is a fringe theory suggesting that there have been geologically rapid shifts in the relative positions of the modern-day geographic locations of the poles and the axis of rotation of the Earth, creating calamities such as tectonic events.
Geomagnetic reversal is caused by disruption of convection currents of fluid metal in the Earth’s outer core. Thanks to the conservation of angular momentum it may lead to significant change of the axial precession, axial nutation and rotation speed of the Earth. The change of the axial precession leads to deformation of geoid. And this may lead to the following causes of mass extinction:
· Flood basalt events. Deformation of geoid leads to a widespread volcanic or supervolcano activity. That produces toxic volcanic gases and volcanic ash. Volcanic gases cause acid rain. Volcanic ash causes a volcanic winter. Volcanic gases, acid rain and a volcanic winter may cause a mass extinction.
· Change of the sea level. Deformation of geoid directly changes the sea level because the ocean water responds to the new shape of geoid faster that the Earth’s crust. Depending on the location it causes a mass extinction to sea life or life on land.
· Severe geomagnetic storms during the geomagnetic reversal. Weaken Earth's magnetic field expose the atmosphere and live forms to the solar winds. Severe solar storms without a protection of Earth’s magnetic field may cause a mass extinction.
The significant change of the axial nutation of the Earth may produce the great tidal forces which cause the great tsunamis up to several thousand feet (more than 1 km). This may be the main reason of the possible great mass extinction following the geomagnetic reversal.
Diagram of the internal layering of the Earth:
Lithosphere consists of tectonic plates which are pieces of Earth's crust and uppermost mantle. The plates are around 100 km (62 mi) thick. The image bellow shows the largest tectonic plates:
Plate motions range up to 10–160 mm/year (about as fast as hair grows). The image bellow shows plate tectonic movements measured by GPS devices. The vectors show direction and magnitude of motion:
In more recent literature, the driving forces of the plate tectonic movements are:
· Driving forces related to mantle dynamics.
· Driving forces related to gravity.
· Driving forces related to Earth rotation:
o Tidal drag due to the gravitational force the Moon and the Sun exerts on the crust of the Earth;
o Deformation of the geoid due to displacements of the rotational pole with respect to the Earth's crust.
A fault is a planar fracture in a volume of rock, across which there has been significant displacement as a result of rock-mass movement. Large faults within the Earth's crust result from the action of plate tectonic forces, with the largest forming the boundaries between the plates. A satellite image bellow shows of a part of the Piqiang Fault in China that runs for more than 70 kilometers:
Most fault surfaces do have such asperities. Once the fault has locked, continued relative motion between the plates leads to increasing stress and therefore, stored strain energy in the volume around the fault surface. This continues until the stress has risen sufficiently to break through the asperity, suddenly allowing sliding over the locked portion of the fault, releasing the stored energy in form of an earthquake.
It is estimated that around 500,000 earthquakes occur each year, detectable with current instrumentation. About 100,000 of these can be felt. Earthquake epicenters occur mostly along tectonic plate boundaries. Most of the world's earthquakes (90%, and 81% of the largest) take place in the 40,000-kilometre (25,000 mi) long seismic belt, known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, which for the most part bounds the Pacific Plate.
The effects of earthquakes are the following:
· Shaking and ground rupture are the main effects created by earthquakes, principally resulting in damage to buildings.
· Ground rapture can damage large engineering structures such as dams, bridges and nuclear power stations.
· Earthquakes can cause tsunamis when an earthquake occurs near or at sea.
· Earthquakes can trigger volcanic activity in the nearby area.
· Earthquakes can produce slope instability leading to landslides.
· Earthquakes can cause fires by damaging electrical power or gas lines. In the event of water mains rupturing and a loss of pressure, it may also become difficult to stop the spread of a fire once it has started.
Tsunamis are long-wavelength, long-period sea waves produced by the sudden or abrupt movement of large volumes of water. Tsunamis can also travel thousands of kilometers across open ocean and wreak destruction on far shores hours after the earthquake that generated them.
The effects of tsunamis lead to the total destruction. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was among the deadliest natural disasters in human history, with at least 230,000 people killed or missing in 14 countries bordering the Indian Ocean.
A volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object, such as Earth, that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface.
A supervolcano is a large volcano that has had an eruption of the largest value on the Volcanic Explosivity Index. Eruptions of supervolcanos are so powerful that they often form circular calderas rather than cones because the downward withdrawal of magma causes the overlying rock mass to collapse into the empty magma chamber beneath it.
The effects of volcanic eruptions are the following:
· Release of toxic volcanic gases. Massive release of volcanic gases may cause acid rain.
· Release of volcanic ash. Massive release of volcanic ash may cause volcanic winter.
· Lahars which is a violent type of mudflow or debris flow composed of a slurry of pyroclastic material, rocky debris and water. The material flows down from a volcano, typically along a river valley.
· Lava flows and pyroclastic flows.
· Earthquakes related to volcanism.
The Earth's magnetic field is much weaker during a polarity transition. It makes the Earth unprotected from geomagnetic storms, which are temporary disturbances of the Earth's magnetosphere caused by a solar wind shock wave.
The effects of geomagnetic storms include the following:
· The penetration of high-energy particles into living cells can cause chromosome damage, cancer and other health problems. Large doses can be immediately fatal.
· Damage to power grids that can cause electrical blackouts on a massive scale.
· Permanent damage to computer data storages.
· Damage to computer systems.
· Disruption of radio communications.
· Disruption of navigation systems.
Dmitry Kovba, 2019
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