Friday, December 30, 2011

A New Atlantis?

I am reading a fascinating book at the moment, "Forbidden History", which challenges certain prevailing scientific edicts and claims there are intellectual conspiracies at hand regarding such matters as the reality of ice-ages, the prospect of interplanetary cataclysms caused by massive electromagnetic discharges (lightning bolts striking one planet from another) and that ancient mythologies may provide accurate records of cosmic events in pre-history. It is also speculated that there may have been technically advanced civilizations on Earth prior to our own who were wiped-out along with most of any physical record of them by abrupt and cataclysmic events. It is claimed these people may have lived on the fabled island of Atlantis, but traversed the globe as evidenced e.g. by common linguistic roots and architectural constructs that are found across a range of geographically diverse human cultures. The source of such cataclysm it is suggested might be a "pole-shift", an event speculated upon by Charles Hapwood and by no less a figure than Albert Einstein.

Now, what is being proposed here is not a gentle shifting of the Earth's magnetic poles but something rather more dramatic. It involves a physical slippage of the Earth's crust over the substance of the planetary interior, like the skin of an orange skidding over the softer and deeper fruit, with the movement of entire continents abruptly from polar to warmer regions and vice versa. It is speculated that the absence of a steady fossil record showing the process of evolution in action is due to a past forged by catastrophic suddenness rather than by gradual change and adaptation. The work of Immanuel Velikovsky is given due mention, but also that it was eschewed and the man himself vilified by senior scientists. His books, however, won him public fame and became best-sellers, e.g. "Worlds in Collision", "Earth in Upheaval", "Ages in Chaos", which are of the highest erudition and scholarship and well worth reading, whether the ideas they propound may finally prove valid or not.

Atlantis itself and where it might have been is discussed in some detail. It is the stuff of legend that the island was destroyed by some unknown and possibly volcanic calamity. However, it is speculated that rather than disappearing to the bottom of some sea, it might have been what is now Antarctica. It is proposed that at the time of the Atlantean civilization and its advanced state of knowledge the island was located at a more temperate latitude, but the "skin-skid" which wiped-out the Atlanteans relocated it to the south pole and over the intervening 10,000 years or so Atlantis/Antarctica has become covered deeply with ice. All very interesting and I keep an open mind on such alternative and iconoclastic views to be both intrigued and entertained by them.

But how unstable is the Earth? I am reminded of the following which I wrote some time ago:

"An Unstable Earth?

I came across an interesting article, referenced below, which suggests that we may expect trouble from within the Earth itself, in addition to the surface effects of climate change involving mainly the atmosphere and the seas. According to the geologic record, the interglacial periods are separated by around 100,000 years, and are inter-spaced by the ice-ages. The exact causes of ice-ages remain a matter of considerable speculation but are generally thought to relate to changes in the Earth's orbit around the Sun, and hence to variances in the amount of solar radiation falling onto the Earth.

As an ice-age progresses, glaciers advance in varying degrees from the polar regions in the direction of the equator, resulting in substantial proportions of the continents becoming covered in sheets of ice with a thickness of more than one kilometer. Now that is an amazing thought! To achieve this phenomenon, water is drawn from the oceans and frozen into ice. Correspondingly, the sea levels globally were anywhere up to 130 metres lower than they are today. Given the relatively shallow basin of the English channel and that between Alaska and Russia, it was once possible to walk between the various continents.

At the end of an ice-age, the ice-sheets retreated and so the melt-water drained back into the ocean basins, causing the sea levels to rise at a rate of several metres per century. Significantly, research by Bill McGuire, who is director of the Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre, shows that in the Mediterranean area, there exists a good correlation between the rate of rise and fall of sea levels during the last ice-age and the number of volcanic eruptions in Italy and Greece. The connection was clearest following the retreat of glaciers which occurred around 18,000 years ago, resulting in extensive flooding of the globe, and an increase in sea levels to where they are now, with a corresponding 300% increase in the number of volcanic explosions in the Mediterranean region.

Now correlation does not necessarily reveal cause, but the following explanation has been offered to account for these findings. The huge mass of melt-water pouring onto the continental margins and marine island chains (where over 60% of the world's active volcanoes are) squeezes and distorts the Earth's crust, forcing-out underlying magma into an actual eruption. There is considerable variation in results from mathematical models as to the extent of sea level rise that might occur in the future, but it seems quite possible that hair-trigger volcanoes (those close to blowing their top) might be set-off by relatively modest increases. Sea-level rise is in itself a dangerous thing, since a one metre rise would threaten to inundate about a third of all agricultural land in the world, two metres would overwhelm the Thames flood-barrier under surge-conditions, while four metres would swamp Miami, placing it 60 kilometres off the US coast.

The higher that sea levels rise, the greater is the chance that the world's volcanoes may be triggered, and in extreme cases, the activation of geological faults could occur, resulting in more earthquakes and undersea landslides. Hence there is a tsunami risk too, for example the Storegga Slide off Norway 8,000 years ago, which sent a 20 metre high wave across the Shetland Islands and onto the east coast of Scotland. The whole notion brings to mind that the Earth is not a collection of unrelated parts but an holistic entity (the "Earth system"), wherein change in one feature may have ramifications through the whole planet."

Related Reading.
"The Earth Fights Back," by Bill McGuire, Guardian Unlimited August 7, 2007.
"Forbidden History", Published by Bear and Co., Rochester, Vermont 2005, Ed. J. Douglas Kenyon)


Hamarcturus said...

Very cataclysmic! Velikovsky theorized that Venus was a planet that emerged from Jupiter. This has been discredited long ago. If you want a reasoned argument on the pitfalls of orthodox science then read Rupert Sheldrake's new book ;-)

Professor Chris Rhodes said...

Yes, I thought someone would find this entertaining! Velikovsky was indeed pilloried but he did sell a good number of books. They are well wroth reading. My point is the question of whether the Earth is periodically subject to cataclysms and might be again. Indeed it has been, for example "The Great Dying" which punctuated the Permian–Triassic period and is thought to have extinguished around 95% of life on Earth. I look-out the book you mention. As I recall from reading World's in Collision, Velikovsky theorised that in accord with the myth of Aphrodite being born from the head of Zeus, Venus was formed as a comet and emanated as you say from Jupiter, causing great consternation as it approached the earth, before finding a stable orbit. Mars too was thrown from its orbit and unleashed all hell until it too settled down again. I find this all fascinating, and it is indeed the stuff of a great Holywood film! :-) That said, Velikovsky's erudition, knowledge of many different languages, cultures and their myths is truly impressive, even if he was wrong. Regards, Chris