Elaine Meinel Supkis
Just this week, the BBC covered the ongoing volcanic eruptions in Renucion Island which is off Madagasscar. People died in this latest eruption. But this brings us to the issue of 'hot spots' or 'plumes': what are they, why do they happen and why are they the producers of some of the most violent eruptions?
But the islanders are used to the spectacle. It is the third eruption of the Piton de la Fournaise or 'Mountain of the Furnace' this year alone.
About 50 teenagers were taken to hospital from three schools in Saint Joseph with respiratory problems caused by the volcano's sulpher fumes, according to Clicanoo.com, the online newspaper of La Reunion.
Researchers on the island are concerned the recent activity may be creating more cracks lower down the volcano, which will allow the molten lava to spread further.
The volcano is about 530,000 years old and has erupted an estimated 170 times since the mid 17th century.
Evidently, tourists photographing one of Nature's more violent emotional states fell into the lava and were burned to nearly nothing in no time at all. One of the most dangerous professions a scientist can go into is the study of these beasts: all too many volcanists die. Especially in the major explosions. For unlike mere lava flows, the most dangerous volcanic events is when a major volcano completely destroys itself in one mighty blast.
The last time in recorded histroy this happened was the great Krakatoa event over 100 years ago. Like all great blasts, the volcano not only vanished in an eyeblink, it left behind a huge ring which we call a caldera. All the great blasts in the past have left these empty rings. Many times, they fill with water from either the ocean, glaciers melting or rainfall. This is a feature of all meteorite strikes too.
An interesting feature is that a much smaller volcano will rise at one end of these lakes which are trapped inside of blown-up volcanoes. And always, the new, 'baby' volcano will be off-set because of the movement of the tectonic plate above. And always, the baby never reaches the dimensions of the older volcano. There is always some sort of pause before a new one begins. No one knows why this is so or how it really works.
For microscopic shelled animals known as foraminifera, new tran-K-T graphic correlation studies indicate that basal Tertiary stratigraphic successions display "progressive rather than instantaneous turnover in biotic, sedimentologic, and geochemical variables over at least 500,000 years." The impact "scenario fails to account for a large number of physical and biotic observations in both ancient and modern faunas and should be abandoned as a plausible model of tran-K/T events" (MacLeod, 1995).
Deccan Traps volcanic CO2 accumulation in marine waters also accounts for the trans-K-T extinction of both swimmers and organisms living on, or attached to, the ocean floor. Ward (1994) notes these extinctions commenced in phases. The earliest, just below the K-T boundary, involved inoceramid bivalves, reef facies, and other benthic mollusks. The next phase, at the K-T boundary, involved extinction of all the ammonites and the microscopic organisms discussed above. The final phase involved benthic foraminifera during earliest Tertiary time.
Accumulation of CO2 in marine waters is known to produce deleterious effects on many marine animals (Knoll et al., 1996, from which the following is abstracted). Elevated CO2 disrupts the acid-base balance of internal fluids leading to narcotizing acidosis. Increased acidity decreases the oxygen affinity of hemoglobin and other respiratory pigments (Bohr effect); high CO2 levels CO2 binds directly with respiratory pigments, reducing their capacity to carry oxygen. High CO2 levels also produce metabolic reduction and arrest. Animals that produce CaCO3 skeletons are especially sensitive because CO2 interferes with carbonate biomineralization.
One of the biggest 'hot spots' on earth is the one possibly connected with Reunion Island: the long chain of underwater volcanoes which have only a few islands above sea level which march in a straight line north to India. If we drained all the water off the surface of the earth, we would be able to see these straight lines which rise out of a rather depressed sea floor. Namely, the sea bed itself isn't filled with lots of mountains but is a rather flat plain which these mountains rise like classic 'sawtooth' mountains which often come from rifting but in this case, isn't rifting but is the result of the Indian Ocean plate moving rapidly north in nearly a straight line.
The movement of India is most astonishing: unlike most other plates, when the India subcontinent calved off of the Antarctic landmass, it took off like a bullet and shot north, hitting Asia which is moving eastwards in a long, slow arc, slamming into the belly of that great landmass with such forward force, it has raised the tallest mountains on earth which are still rising for this sector hasn't exhausted its momentum yet.
This is a map showing the earth's relative gravity. The lowest point is centered right over the lowest end of India. On the other side of the world's tallest mountains is another, nearly as low, gravity point! Right over Tibet, of all places, the world's highest plateau.
The world's highest gravity point is right next door: the volcanic chain of the islands of Indonesia and all along the leading edge of the same plate that carriest Australia. Australia was next door to India when Pangea broke up. For some unexplainable reason, when the break up began 100 million years ago, India tore away and began its journey while Australia lagged behind, only recently beginning its increasingly violent move, heading rapidly now towards Alaska. Which is curving westards towards Australia, but at a much slower pace.
This schematic drawing of the planet as some geologists believe it might have looked 100 million years ago shows how all the Southern Hemispheric continents might have interacted. I hypothetically placed Reunion's hot spot at the juncture of where Somalia joined the Punjab region of India.
I also drew in the massive meteorite strike that hammered the border between Antarctica and Australia 150 million years earlier. There are many questions this raises. Did this massive strike which possibly killed off most living things back in the Permian Extinction, cause Pangea to break up? If so, why did Australia move away much slower and later than India?
An apparent crater as big as Ohio has been found in Antarctica. Scientists think it was carved by a space rock that caused the greatest mass extinction on Earth, 250 million years ago.
The crater, buried beneath a half-mile (1 kilometer) of ice and discovered by some serious airborne and satellite sleuthing, is more than twice as big as the one involved in the demise of the dinosaurs.
The crater's location, in the Wilkes Land region of East Antarctica, south of Australia, suggests it might have instigated the breakup of the so-called Gondwana supercontinent, which pushed Australia northward, the researchers said.
What lurked under the joining of India, Africa and Antarctica? That center point where everything broke apart? Why is the deepest low gravity point associated with the Indian Ocean Plate and India itself INCLUDING TIBET?
Modelling of gravity data in order to construct the subsurface structure in terms of a density distribution is a time-tested technique of geophysical interpretation and is always relied upon to yield first order information, which is correlatable with observed geological knowledge. Nevertheless gravity models are plagued by the ambiguity of results, which are intrinsic to the mathematical treatment of potential field methods and suffers from increasing uncertainty and diminishing resolution with depth. Simultaneous three dimensional modelling of geoid data in conjunction with gravity data is an advanced interpretation technique, which provides added constraints and helps to reduce uncertainty, particularly in areas where there is a lack of data from other geophysical and/or geological studies.
In the Western Continental Margin of India, this method of interpretation, based on predominantly satellite derived potential field data, allows us to estimate the effects of the various regional scale geological units, viz. the crust, the upper mantle, the underplated magmatic material, low density crustal heterogeneities, etc. On subtraction of these effects from the observed anomalies, we are able to delineate the extent of the Deccan basalts, which was presumably associated with the episode of Reunion hotspot activity under the waters of the Arabian Sea, as far as 800 km from the coastline. Localised basins of low density material beneath the north western Deccan Traps are also resolved.
Namely, if there was, and it looks probable, a hot spot over this particular point in the planet's lithosphere/mantle junction, this was so hot and so powerful, it caused the Indian subcontinent, when it passed over, to create one of the biggest lava events on earth? Namely, the Indian Plate, as the thinner parts moved over, produced merely a long daisy-chain of islands which probably, 100 million years ago, were quite impressive, but when the center of India passed over, it all blew its gaskets and fountains of lava simply poured out, sans volcanoes, simply rent right through and gushed for the entire time India rolled on over this hot spot!
Why didn't it begin blowing up when the northern edge of India passed over? Did the Northern edge miss this spot? If so, I doubt this becaues this part of the continent sticks out! So I would suggest, the hot spot formed BECAUSE India created it AS IT CRAWLED OVER. All the continents 'sag' in the middle. This is why mighty rivers flow in these places: the Mississippi, the Amazon, the Nile, the Rhein and Danubes, the Yellow River, the Mekong, etc. The Dravos, the Volgo, on and on. Including the Ganges and the Indus Rivers.
If you look at a map of India, the Narmada River runs into the bay of the state of Gujarat. The coast of India seems like one, smooth shape like South America, for example, but like South America, there is, in the exact center of the subcontinent's outline, a deep dagger cut where, in South America, a great river seperating Argentina from its neighbors, runs. In India, there is no great river but this is because that sector of the continent isn't really low like the Mississippi valley, for example: it was covered starting right at that juncture, by a huge bed of lava, the Deccan Pans. There is no line of volcanoes north of this point where the lava simply roared out of the earth, I would guess, with terrific, loud violence. All the many creatures living on that continent proabably were instantly killed for many miles around!
We know this happens because the USA is moving over a hot spot which has caused terrific, sudden lava flows in Washington, Idaho and Montana over the eons. Geologists have found the outlines of large grazing mammals caught in these sudden floods of lava which come with little warning besides some considerable shaking of the earth's crust.
When this terrible event happened, there was virtually no ocean between Antarctica and India. In other words, this effusion of lava didn't happen when India began to break off from Antarctica abut after it had moved at least 400 miles northwards or so. When the weakest part of the continent 'snagged' this particular spot, it took off.
So there are several questions here as well as clues:
1. India broke off from Antarctica the same time as South America and Africa but before Australia.
2. A major asteroid/meteorite hit Antactica 100 million years before the other plates began to seriously move away.
3. The plate with India on it 'grew' as India moved northwards and as it grew in size due to Antarctica barely moving at all, as India sped northwards, both India and it became a low-gravity well.
4. As India moved over the Reunion hot spot, the earth's mantle was disgourged and covered half of the continent, weighing it down.
5. This massive event didn't even slow down the rapid move by India heading north.
6. Even when India slammed into Asia, slowing down the northwards movement of that plate, it didn't cause sufficient mountain-building to overcome the gravity loss effect and indeed, the lithosphere under Tibet was so weak, evidently it collapsed into the Mantle!
The Indian craton was once part of the Supercontinent of Pangaea, attached on what is now its west coast to Madagascar and southern Africa. About 160 million years ago during the Jurassic Period, rifting caused Pangaea to break apart, firstly into two supercontinents (Gondwana to the south and Laurasia to the north). The Indian craton for a time remained attached to Gondwana, but this too began to rift apart about in the early Cretaceous, about 125 million years ago, creating the Indian Plate. The Indian Plate then sped northward toward the Eurasian Plate, at a pace that is the fastest movement of any known plate. About 90 million years ago, it separated from Madagascar. The Indian Plate first collided with the Eurasian Plate about 50 million years ago. This collision, which is ongoing today, closed up an intervening sea, then lifted the Himalaya Mountains and the Tibetan Plateau, and caused parts of the Asian continent to deform westward and eastward on either side of the collision. Just before or simultaneous with this collision, the Indian Plate sutured on to the adjacent Australian Plate, forming a new larger plate, the Indo-Australian Plate.
The Deccan Traps
During its journey northward after breaking off from the rest of Gondwana, the Indian Plate passed over a geologic hotspot, the Réunion hotspot, which caused extensive melting underneath the Indian craton. The melting broke through the surface of the craton in a massive flood basalt event, creating what is known as the Deccan Traps. It is also thought that the Reunion hotspot caused the separation by rifting of Madagascar and India.
So these facts lead to many questions:
1. Did the gravity weak sector pre-exist at that spot of the earth?
2. Did this gravity zone which is represented by the color blue, is this a place where the lithosphere is particularily weak?
3. Did an event pre-3 billion years ago, create this huge gravity low point? It does cover several thousand miles.
4. It is suggested the Moon was blasted from the earth in a great collision at that time. Is this the place where the moon came from?
5. Is Earth's mantle permenantly deformed by ancient celestial events from the time when the earth and moon were first forming?
6. Are all the hot spots from this same time frame, predating the formation of the continents?
7. Are the hot spots places where the lithosphere is fatally compromised by the hammering our planet took when all that space debris poured down upon everything in the new star's LaGrange points?
These points make me wonder: are the hot spots that still exist, are they really very, very old and are they DEFORMATIONS of the lithosphere from very ancient debris events? In other words, when the planet was solidifying, wasn't the lithosphere rather maleable? Instead of blowing through it, asteroids would shape it like a smith hammering on steel?
These hot spots are scattered all over the planet and if one looks at detailed maps, they are very, very randomly placed. They are, like all the asteroid events in the past as we see on other planets or the moon, evenly scattered.
There is no earth-geological reason for them to be in the various odd places they inhabit. In the center of the Pacific Plate? Or right off the coast of Africa? Or how about smack in the middle of the Rock Mountains? This is illogical. But if the lithosphere were significantly deformed but NOT BROKEN by hard strikes of mega-rocks 3 billion years ago, these things could form a 'pocket'.
India was selected as the reference continent since it exhibits the most detailed APWP, having drifted about 50º of latitude since breakup. The paleomagnetic data from all continents exhibit a consistent trend in the form of a narrow envelope for the period representing the "fit" through to the mid-Tertiary. Paleomagnetic poles for the five discrete time intervals of this APWP (Fig. 1), correspond to the finite positions of the continents according to the marine magnetic anomalies at times 115 Ma (Fig. 2A), 80 Ma (Fig. 2B), 65 Ma (Fig. 2C), 53 Ma (Fig. 2D), and 39 Ma (Fig. 2E). The reconstructions corresponding to these specific anomalies are depicted in the animated, or time-slice, sequence (Fig. 2A-2F). Thus, it was demonstrated that currently available paleomagnetic data from the continents are consistent with the history of Gondwana dispersal recorded by marine magnetic anomalies. As a consequence, there was remarkable agreement on an overall reconstruction of Gondwana circa 150 million years ago: in very general terms, the 1937 du Toit (6) and the 1970 Smith-Hallam (8) reconstructions were vindicated.
I suggest clicking on this web-page. Just to see the movie. It shows clearly one possible scenario for the break-up of Pangea. As the continents broke up, they also were moving, en mass, across the planet's surface. The fact that not only continents but mega-continents were in and still are, in constant movement, is quite amazing and frankly, ill-understood. This always takes me to the fact that most of the super-big earthquakes that change the landscape in big ways, happen nearly universally at the 10 km level. There is something going on there we don't really understand yet.
Using terrestrial evidence and crater evidence from the Moon, which retains a record of bombardment going back nearly 4 billion years, Abbott has analyzed the timing of large impacts compared with major volcanic eruptions, or mantle plumes.
She found a strong correlation between the two and speculates that large impacts strengthen existing mantle plumes. She describes the ancient and dormant Deccan Traps volcanism, an area that is presently part of India. At the time of the Chicxulub asteroid impact, which occurred in Mexico 65 million years ago and likely led to the demise of the dinosaurs, the Deccan Trap region was near the antipode of the impact.
Others have suggested this coincidence could be possible evidence that impact antipode effects initiated the Deccan Traps.
However, Boslough says the Deccan Traps would have been several thousand kilometers away from the antipode to Chicxulub. Abbott says the Deccan Traps were active well before the Chicxulub impact, and so could not have been initiated by that event, but she observes that the Deccan plume was strongest immediately after the impact and this phase lasted less than one million years.
The key here is, they are operational TODAY. And thus, not part of the Mantle! Namely, there is no way these entities could exist after huge continental masses pass over unless they are part of the lithosphere and not the mantle!
This is the classic 'volcano' cut-aways I grew up with. Note how the volcano taps directly into the Mantle! I would say, 'Ouch'! If this were so, our volcano events would all dwarf the Deccan and Siberian pan eruptions and those two amazing events caused mass extinctions!
So I think our volcanoes don't directly tap into the Mantle but are much less direct.
I drew some pictures about this, comparing the old, standard vision of what volcanoes look like if one bisects them with my own idea of what these deformed portions of the lithosphere looks like in reality:
In this drawing, I show a schematic view of the depression, nearly a sack, caused by a meteoroid hitting the still very mallable lithosphere billions of years ago. Just like a smith heats the steel before hammering it, so did these early rocks striking the earth's surface long ago. They peppered it so none of the lithosphere is smooth or even but undulates a great deal. On top of this, the movement of the plates have totally deformed it. We now know this year that huge sections of it have simply detached and collapsed into the Mantle, for example. It is obviously not all that strong particularily after being hammered billions of years ago.
This is a schematic drawing of a typical caldera: these are created by volcanoes blowing up. Why do they do this? And why are these events mostly at hot spots and subduction zones? Again, there are many questions. One thing is certain: the official drawings showing a volcano with a thin thread of magma are not exactly a good example of how this works because all volcanoes that blow up, do so leaving a rim like a meteoroid strike. And the inside is very, very similar indeed except for one thing: a new volcano nearly always forms off to one side, the far side from the leading edge of the moving tectonic plate.
We know from Mt. St. Helen's that far from being a 'mountain' like those many mountains created by folding the crust, volcanoes have now real integrity as mountains, they blow up via their sides or wherever. It is interesting to me, HAHAHA, (arg) that Mt. St. Helen's blew up on the FAR SIDE from the leading side of the North American plate movement, namely, on the east side which is where the new energy center probably is and which is why it will probably end up being blown away just like Crater Lake, for example.
So viewing volcanoes not as mountains but as sand piles covering some hot spot that is activated by the movement of the tectonic plate, it makes it easier to understand why they blow up so hideously and dangerously.
RANONGGA, Solomon Islands (AFP) - The seismic jolt that unleashed the deadly Solomons tsunami this week lifted an entire island metres out of the sea, destroying some of the world's most pristine coral reefs.
In an instant, the grinding of the Earth's tectonic plates in the 8.0 magnitude earthquake Monday forced the island of Ranongga up three metres (10 foot).
Submerged reefs that once attracted scuba divers from around the globe lie exposed and dying after the quake raised the mountainous landmass, which is 32-kilometres (20-miles) long and 8-kilometres (5-miles) wide.
Further north at Niu Barae, fisherman Hendrik Kegala had just finished exploring the new underwater landscape of the island with a snorkel when contacted by the AFP team.
He said a huge submerged chasm had opened up, running at least 500 metres (550 yards) parallel to the coast.
Several surrounding islands sank but one shot up! Amazing. Just like the even greater Boxing Day Event moved a tremendous amount of real estate suddenly by 100 meters or more, this one probably moved the islands, too. And one of them jumped out of the water as Australia continues is much faster pace northwards compared to all the plates surrounding it which are moving, many of them, towards the same point in the planet, where Asia, North America and Australia are doomed to end up, roughly where Hawaii's hot spot sits...oh my.
Geologists theorize that water and gases trapped in the mantle during the formation of the planet puncture the crust. Water at great pressure and temperature can lower the melting point of silicates by hundreds of degrees. A basic description of planetary volcanism is: Water deep in the crust or mantle.
Water is key in the understanding of orgone. Water is the universal solvent/filter/accumulator of orgone. The same places where water is in motion is where orgone is in motion. Hot Spots are portals into the mantle of the Earth.
There are various numbers for Hot Spots. Most often the number thirty-three is cited. The number is more likely sixty as geologists have omitted most of Asian volcanism as arising from the mantle. Also due to the height of the Himalayas and other mountain ranges, Hot Spots may be hidden at depth but still creating orgone portals.
Recently, I wrote about how scientists have discovered the equivelent of the Arctic Ocean's waters trapped in the lithosphere under Tibet. The land of Tibet used to be under the ocean before India plowed into Asia. The fact that the lithosphere holds water like a sponge is very interesting because this particular part has collapsed into the Mantle yet still has the water embalmed within.
Volcanes blow up. They blow up not because of hot lava like the Reunion hot spot is engorging this week, they explode like bombs. And these events produce tremendous amounts of dust. And we suspect the build-up of gases is due to the interaction of the Mantle with water. But water is a funny substance: it would be totally ineffective as a trigger to explosions unless it is collected somehow.
And I would suggest the deformations from the earliest years, the deformations that made indentations in the lithosphere collect water and protect it from the Mantle but the cracks in the indentations caused by the violence of the impacts allows enough magna from the Mantle to flow into these depressions so they fill up regularily but also fill with water which then forms 'bubbles' that rise to the surface, thus the many minor events before a volcano blows up.
Further, the more the crust moves tectonic plates over these places, the opening for these bubbles to exit begins to CLOSE and when the 'hot spot' is on the further edge of a volcano, it blows up totally, forming a caldera.
Furthermore: when this caldera is created by a mighty explosion, the chamber holding the gasses and water and magma is now no longer under pressure. A small subsidiary can grow but the earth keeps moving while the volcano rests and when there is sufficient pressure again, a new one begins to form.
However, there is a body of theory that explains hotspots not as plumes from the deep, but mostly stirrings in the upper mantle—its top 400 kilometers—caused from above by the movements of the crustal plates and surface-based cooling. A 2001 article in Geotimes summarized this school of thought to a wide audience, citing fresh evidence. Clearly the debate is gaining visibility. A more pointed article published by the Geological Society of London in May 2003 continues the attack.
Earth scientist extraordinaire Don L. Anderson (of Caltech) has been a key player in this alternative hotspot hypothesis. He argues that the original hotspot theorists made assumptions about the upper mantle that new facts have overturned—the whole upper mantle is hotter and more fluid than once thought.
Making magma happens easily in the upper mantle, Anderson says, simply by releasing pressure, for example during continental breakups. He traces many hotspots backward in time to starting points at the edges of continents which have since moved away. And he calculates that the insulating effect of thick continental plates builds up heat beneath them, which eventually comes out in hotspots. There is no reason to call for hot magmas from any deeper in the Earth, he believes.
There is a great deal of disagreement about hot spots. I found no definitive expert. Using what little I could find and adding to it my own thoughts which have grown over many years as I have climbed in and out and around many a volcano or lava eruption site, all I know is, we barely have any idea what is going on right under our own feet.
And this makes our own planet most exciting. And the idea that water is vital for volcanic events is enhanced by the fact that all of Mars' volcanoes are dead. But once, when the planet had more water concentrated in greater volume on the surface as well as in the lithosphere, it raised some truly huge volcanoes...but only for a short while.