I Blame the EU
Sorry, its a Monday morning and that is all I could come up with.
On November 1st, 1755, the Portuguese capital Lisbon experienced a very nasty earthquake. Up to 100,000 people died and much of the city was destroyed. A Portuguese scientist working in Australia now says the earthquake was caused by an 'embryonic subduction zone' that may split the Eurasian tectonic plate and cause the …
This is wonderful news on two counts. Firstly, even if it is the EU's fault, if the Atlantic is about to close up, then we'll be able to leave the EU soon enough, and be conveniently placed to join NAFTA.
Secondly if the Gorringe subduction zone becomes as famous as the San Andreas fault, then poets and songwriters will now have something to rhyme with Orange.
"then we'll be able to leave the EU soon enough, and be conveniently placed to join NAFTA.
Only from below the Earth's crust. The Atlantic sea floor has been produced by a diverging margin, and is therefore newer and usually less dense than older rock, such as the European continent. That usually means that the newer plate overrides the older plate at a subduction zone. So Europe will be sucked down into the Earth's mantle.
Europeans: Funny langugages, a comedy currency, and now it turns out they even built the whole thing on the wrong bit of rock. Looking on the brights side, volcanoes and new mountain ridges might pop up, making Blackpool a bit more lively than it has been a for an eon or so.
If I remember my geology correctly, continental crust is formed when oceanic crust subducts and is re-melted along with water to form a different set of minerals. These are less dense than those in oceanic crust, which is formed from minerals in the mantle (which is underneath us because it is denser). In this case, I would expect the crust under the Atlantic to subduct under the other half of the eurasian plate, subjecting western Europe to extended earthquakes and volcanism.
If you do an image search for the term 'subduction zone' using a Famous Web Search Engine, you get some diagrams of how this happens.
How about global moving? ;-)
Global warming won't work any more I think because that has lost some credibility as of late.
But we definitely need something new so that we can start expensive investigations into it for the greater good of the children. And the best part with this name is that "moving" doesn't even have to involve the plates, you can easily make something up as well.
I find it hard to do that, since I discovered that all phone roaming charges are to be dropped in July 2014 in the EU.
Yet further proof that the EU is to blame! Nigel Farage is right! Just as the EU announce they're stopping roaming charges, tectonic plates start roaming round the globe like there's no tomorrow. Coincidence? Pah! EU Conspiracy more like! And the same week as a Bildeberg Group meeting as well!
The lizard-people are coming! The lizard-people are coming!
Where's the tin-foil hat icon?
It's all changing, everything we see as grand and permanent, and it makes our lives seem ephemeral indeed. We are buzzing around like little flies. Our most amazing achievements soon to be turned to dust on this cosmic scale of time and power. Aaaargh! No wonder so many of us just spend our hours commenting on such articles instead of doing some work.
El Reg exists to allow the depressed and the frustated a means by which they can vent their spleen. ( Maybe the French could invent a version with some kind of theme revolving around Baudelaire - Les Fleurs du Mal for the IT community).
It was once suggested that Marvin, the paranoid android, actually thought up the El Reg website as an attempt to rid himself of Existential Nihilistic thoughts, he failed and we got left with the result.....
<-- Paris, cause she looks like she is shedding a tear.
"It was once suggested that Marvin, the paranoid android, actually thought up the El Reg website as an attempt to rid himself of Existential Nihilistic thoughts, he failed and we got left with the result..."
Which explains where we got Eadon from, I guess? Positive proof that bad memes can take on a life of their own, and wreak havoc in the real world!
This post has been deleted by its author
"Or is it time to make a cuppa and contemplate such dilemma?"
With or without sugar/milk? Plain digestive or chocolate coated? Such decisions. It's worse if you are retired - as Parkinson's Law states "every task expands to fill the available time".
My own apparently paradoxical philosophy is "Nothing in life matters - yet every small thing does matter".
This post has been deleted by its author
Couldn't agree more. For 99.999...% of us, we end up as no more than memories for our immediate descendants. After that, little more than a entry in a BMD register. And in a blink of universal time the BMD register itself is forgotten. And not long after that the human race is too a lost memory. And then the earth itself.
For some, its a bitter pill to swallow. I suspect that was one of the reasons why Facebook was invented.
"The memories of a man in his old age
Are the deeds of a man in his prime.
You shuffle in gloom of the sickroom
And talk to yourself as you die.
Life is a short, warm moment
And death is a long cold rest.
You get your chance to try in the twinkling of an eye:
Eighty years, with luck, or even less."
That reminds me of a quote from H.C. Andersen's "The Old Oak Tree's Last Dream" (http://www.andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/hersholt/TheOldOakTreesLastDream_e.html)--a mayfly replying to an oak tree:
"No, I don't understand you at all. You have thousands of my days to live, but I have thousands of moments in which to be happy and joyous. Will all the beauty of this world die when you die?"
"No," said the tree. "It will probably last longer, infinitely longer, than I am able to imagine."
"Well, then, we each have an equally long lifetime, only we figure differently."
Tectonic plates aren't quite the large rigid bodies in the standard explanation in the article, they each contain regions that can move independently over the main plate, either at different speeds or with different vectors, with the potential to create new major plate boundaries as they do so.
One possible future with a new subduction zone off Iberia (Spain & Portugal) is for the Atlantic to continue expanding either side of it (the mid-Atlantic ridge is very staggered, rather than a straight line), with the subduction zone causing Iberia to start moving West, out over the subducting oceanic plate, separating it from Europe once more (the Pyrenees are the remnants of Iberia joining Europe).
"... two newish zones have already been spotted in the **East** Atlantic. One is in the North Atlantic, near the Caribbean Sea, and another lies between South America and Antarctica, beneath the 55th parallel."
Am I off target here, but aren't the Caribbean and South America in the **West** Atlantic??
Is this reporter error or more dodgy science?
I re-checked my re-checking of my compass. Apparently, the author has difficulties with the cardinal directions of the compass.
But then, the author of the paper had difficulty understanding that there already is a plate collision in the Caribbean.
Or that it's been extremely well observed and measured that the Atlantic is still spreading and Africa is still on the move. Or that the Red Sea is part of a plate separation.
Come to think of it, it seems that the author of that paper shall fail peer review quite early on.
It's a complicated set of processes, the author seems to be oversimplifying matters and his theory suffers for it.
cool, the current crop of doomsday preppers have been getting a little stale, economic collapse and dinosaurs are all unlikely, but this... this looks like a very real worry... but how will we prepare? under ground bunker? it will be more underground... bug out to the hills and live off your relatives? sounds like a better plan... either way, I look forward to seeing new fear poured on to our American cousins...
> 'No-Nukes' lobby
So, experts. Science fiction novels have proposed getting rid of nuclear waste by vitrifying it and dropping it into subduction zones, on the basis that by the time the glass has dissolved/disintegrated in a few 10K years it will have been absorbed into the crust and be on its way, harmlessly, to the core.
Is this actually practical? Discuss...
The vitrification part works, West Valley Nuclear had a pilot project for it near Buffalo, NY in Springville to cleanup the leftovers of a failed nuclear fuel reprocessing center. Left a bunch of big black glass logs that could never be trucked to the underground storage in Yucca Flats because hey didn't want it there either.
Unfortunately, we're not close to any subduction zones. Assuming these are close enough to the surface to be useful, it would sound like a great idea.
I assume that Magma can be radioactive considering where it comes from and adding more by dumping the waste may not greatly increase the overall level due to dilution.
Launching it into the Sun would work too but too costly Would deep sea dumping be any less costly?
"It's kinda worrying that he's moved to the other side of the planet .."
Last night's episode of the BBC "Rise of the Continents" was about Australia. How it parted company with Antarctica - leaving the latter at the South Pole cut off from warm seas to support its then lush vegetation.
Australia continues its drift northwards and is on target to crush Indonesia against India - and Japan against China. In the process its deserts will again become the lush vegetation that the fossil records capture.
The current BBC documentary series on plates tectonics is trying to educate the general public, or at least the subset that watches BBC Two or BBC Four. Very slow moving and full of flashy graphics and pretty pictures. It does contain some interesting long views of the way the continents have been formed, and re-formed - plus some of the scientific evidence behind the theories.
Reminds me of our "O" Level Geography teacher in the early 1960s. He told us that it was a coincidence that South America and Africa seemed to be complementary shapes. My memory is that he also said that a "new" theory called "plate tectonics" was not really viable.
"The modern Horizon format makes me weep"
The last Horizon that I couldn't snooze through was at least a decade ago. That was the one about the human condition where cartilage turns to bone - especially if it is cut in an operation. Miss a second and you missed an important step in the development of the story.
The "Continents" program would have been much improved if the graphics had been less detailed and shown for longer so one could appreciate exactly what was happening. The content was interesting - but included too many irrelevant "human interest" scenes. That particular presenter's style puts me off - although in fairness that may have more to do with the programme's production team.
Science was interesting to us as kids for its own wonders - not for being dressed up with irrelevant bystanders' antics.
Subduction doesn't mean the ocean is closing, only that some of the oceanic lithosphere has become cold enough and old enough to lose most of its bouyancy. The Atlantic will only be in trouble once its spreading ridge is subducted; a similar thing has happened the East Pacific Rise under the Western United States which is why the ground there is - stretchy.
The Atlantic is going to more closely resemble the Indian ocean which is still opening and doing a splendid job of (amongst other things) building the Himalayas, but there is active subduction of its crust at Makran under Pakistan, under the Indonesian Arc and in and around Vanuatu. There's also a region to the South of New Zealand, the Macquarie Fault Zone, where subduction appears to be starting, much like what is going on under Portugal right now.
"Newly-appearing subduction zones are, Dr Duarte added, to be expected as part of Earth's “super-continent cycle” that sees much of earth's land come together in very large continents..."
And here I thought the continents were moving apart since the days of Gondwanaland and Pangea...
"And here I thought the continents were moving apart since the days of Gondwanaland and Pangea..."
There is a limited pool of ocean in which they can move. The up-welling magma flows find weaknesses that split the larger pieces apart - and then they have to go somewhere. Like a multi-player game of pong - in very slow motion - they keep colliding with each other.
As someone above rightly said the BBC Horizon format is on a time rack - but the "Rise of the Continents" does contain some interesting nuggets about this phenomenon. If they had cut out the glossy images then they could have made a good single programme covering the meanderings of all the continents.
Pangaea was just the latest in a series of supercontinents. It was made by assembling Gondwana (pedant note: you don't need the 'land' since Gondwana means 'land of the Gonds') which is a borderline supercontinent of its own as well as Laurentia, Baltica and Siberia.
Before that there was Pannotia around the 0.6Gy mark which is associated with the Pan African Orogeny that created the modern African continent, that followed the surprisingly long-lived Rodinia (1.25-0.75Gy) that contained pretty much everything apart from the Kalahari and the Congo craton.
Prior to that things get a bit hazier because the magnetic records of rocks have largely been overprinted by later orogenies. The Columbia (Nuna) supercontinent around 1.8-1.5Gy is highly likely to have existed - odd place - eastern India docked to where California would be and Australia neighbours with Canada.
Further back there is Kenorland which seems to be associated with diamonds and iron formations between 2.7Gy and 2.0Gy, and the hazy Ur that work in South Africa and Australia suggests might date as far back as 3.6Gy. But at that point the geology is getting seriously buggered and whilst it is possible to work out the sort of processes that were going on (a mix of modern subduction and weird buckling of continents), it's almost impossible to relate the continental fragments to one another.
"collision of African and Eurasia has just about run its course, having already spawned the band of mountains from Gibraltar to the Himalayas"
Surely the African impact on Europe didn't have that much effect on the Himalayas? That was surely caused by the Indian plate barrelling up into the midrift of Eurasia like an over enthusiastic puppy into the crotch of a bishop?
Having chucked Africa and India into Eurasia those sticky mantle currents will presumably find another way to transfer their momentum to the surface scum. I suppose the action near Lisbon might be a case of crumpling as the Atlantic pushes the combined mass to the right while the opening of the Red Sea pushes Africa to the left.
On the other hand I seem to recall that there are a number of features that start down the road to being plate boundaries but never actually get there.
The African collision is responsible for everything from the Atlas Mountains through the Alps and Carpathians to the massive deformation of the Aegean Sea. Further East it is Arabia which is crunching into Europe along the Zagros. Until recently (say 30My) Arabia was part of Africa, but it has now become a separate plate by the emplacement of the Afar Mantle Plume under the Southern Red Sea where a new constructive margin has formed.
The Himalaya are the result of India whacking into Eurasia at 20cm pa (nice analogy of yours by the way).
Mantle currents don't seem to directly drive continental movements. Much more important are vertical displacements - such as dynamic uplift of continents over hot Mantle plumes which cause material to slide sideways towards lower elevations (such as is happening in the African Rift, the Western United States and Central China), and, at the other end of the process, the subduction of dense material into the Mantle which drags ocean crust after it.
Then we should proceed with my plan to move Great Britain to the safety of the Mediterranean post haste.
Stage 1: Build a new motorway carving a straight line from Lands end to john o groats.
Stage 2: load Scotland into dumper trucks, use the rubble to build a causeway into the sea at lands end.
Stage 3: Snake causeway around France and through the straights of Gibraltar consuming GB from the top down as we go.
Stage 4: create a new donut shaped landmass in the Mediterranean, effectively annexing the entire sea.
Stage 5: Relax on the beach for a job well done, txt 'told you so' to Norway as they sprout volcanos.
"Then we should proceed with my plan to move Great Britain to the safety of the Mediterranean post haste."
It seems a shame to bury all that beautiful scenery into the foundations of the causeway. I think we should move Slough and Crewe first then any town/city in which Katie Price or Simon Cowell live. We should then move onto the homes of any BMW/Audi drivers and Rupert Murdoch.
We can melt down windfarms to make pontoons and the hole left by the removal of Slough would become my first giant shark tank adjacent to my newly built mansion. Now all I need is a white pussy-cat....
Where is the icon for Not Joking? The 1755 Lisbon quake caused a tsunami in which "great loss of life and property occurred upon the coasts of Cornwall". The new subduction zone is active and growing so the next quake could come along any time now. The UK (and presumably also France & Ireland) is at genuine risk of a serious tsunami.