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A bigger Earth

Stephen Foster

Geoscientist 18.9 September 2008

Stephen Foster thinks new data make it time to revive the Expanding Earth theory.

What would happen to plate tectonic theory if Panthalassa never existed? The evidence used to reconstruct the former positions of the continents that made Pangaea is based on continuity of structures, sedimentary basins, faunal provinces and palaeoclimatic data that extend across the continental margins and show that the Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans are all young features. Similar data show that the Pacific continental margins also formed a continuous landmass until approximately 220Ma1. In short, there was no Panthalassa Ocean covering half of the Earth’s surface because all the continents formed a continuous unit on a smaller Earth.

I suppose I have now either got, or lost, your attention! But do read on. Consider the Zodiac fan - a Paleogene submarine delta in the North-East Pacific2. Magnetic anomaly data clearly indicate that this fan has moved c. 15° west since deposition ceased in the Eocene: conventional theory would have that it moved northwards in this time. Yet if it had moved north, there would have been no sediment source for this feature. The Pacific Ocean is not moving north and subduction therefore cannot be taking place to any significant degree along the Aleutian trench. If subduction is taking place along any of the ocean trenches, two anomalies need explaining.

First, why are considerable thicknesses of undisturbed turbidites found in the northern part of the Atacama trench off the West Coast of Peru? They should surely be highly folded and contorted if the ocean plate was really descending beneath them. Second, all trench systems are almost devoid of significant thicknesses of disturbed ocean floor sediments. Where are the scrapings of thousands of kilometres of ocean plate that are supposed to have been subducted?

Revised palaeomagnetic data3 show that the Earth has expanded over the whole of Earth history, and that the rate of expansion has accelerated in the last 300 million years. In Maxlow's revised reconstructions, polar wandering just wanders off. Furthermore his maps show excellent continuity of structures, sedimentary basins, faunal provinces, etc. throughout early and later Earth history without having to appeal to complex crustal motions.

NASA satellite data obtained from over 560 different sites around the world show an average annual rate of Earth expansion of 22mm over the past 20 years. Rates of expansion over the past 200 million years, calculated from seafloor spreading and crustal rifting are in close agreement. Is this a coincidence?

Clearly the discovery that the Earth is expanding is revolutionary and not just for geologists. It is causing a great deal of headache among those who know about it. If we are to remain true to our science and the evidence that we collect from the rocks, we must accept the fact that our planet is expanding. The key question is, are we brave enough to accept the challenge? 


  1. McCarthy 2003: The Trans-Pacific Zipper Effect: disjunct sister taxa and matching geological outlines that link the Pacific margins, J. Biogeog, 30: 1545-1561.
  2. Stephenson A. J. et. al. 1983: Tectonic and Geologic Implications of the Zodiac Fan, Aleutian Abyssal Plain, Northeast Pacific, Bul. Geol. Soc. Am. 94. 259-273.
  3. Maxlow J. 2005: Terra Non Firma Earth, Terra Publications.