CHAPTER SEVENTEEN


VOLCANISM

Five hundred volcanos of the Massif Central in France, now defunct, were erupting 12,000 years ago, or less, during the Magdalenian Upper Paleolithic culture. So maintained Escalon de Fonton of Montpellier University. The spheres of the Earth were once so active that humans must have been encouraged to a pan-animism, an omnidirectional feeling which would have dominated all religion and culture if there had not appeared some immense and forceful sky bodies that focused attention upon themselves. Mother Earth, now a picturesque name, was devoutly and literally supplicated by the ancients even in the millennia of the great sky gods between 13,000 and 2700 B. P. She was often married to the greatest of the gods, and it was generally believed that her nuptial ties explained much of the animism of the Earth. "A theory of volcanicity" must not only be "taking into account the whole range of geodynamic processes," as Rittmann says in his classic work on volcanos, but also the whole range of cosmodynamics.

The great movements have gone, but a restlessness remains, erupting locally; volcanos erupt solo, almost never performing duets. The volcanos of the world adhere to the world-girdling fracture system. The system organizes the world's volcanos. The volcanos of the land, active and extinct, follow the great fracture lines that pass underground as for instance in the Tethyan shear sub-system of the Caribbean-Mediterranean-Middle East, or beneath the Pacific coastal states of America. The same is true of the volcanic belts off the East Asian continent. The oceanic volcanos string along with most of the fracture system. Isolated volcanos such as the Hawaiian Islands require special explanations; if the general theory here that seamounts (guyots) are fossil short-lived mantle taffy is correct, the isolated volcanos can have originated at the same time, "the same, but more so." The difference may be explainable by measurements made by Preston in 1893: "The lower half of Mauna Kea is of a very much greater density than the upper. The former gives a value of 3.7 and the latter 2.1, the mean density of the whole mountain being 2.9," [1] for the height above sea level. Thus, like a seamount, Mauna Kea stretched in a taffy bubble until finally it burst and began operating as a typical volcano.

More puzzling is the absence of clear connections between volcanism and astroblemes. Why should not a deep shocking crater give rise to a volcano? That a meteoroid often makes a melt of a kind is undisputed, but where is the persisting volcanism? Obviously one must seek for deeper roots of the world's volcanos.

Volcanism takes the form of cones and fissures. It is also beneath swellings and bubblings of surface features. Most of the igneous basaltic surface of the world, including the ocean bottoms, was created by fissure volcanism. As occurs still in Iceland, fissure volcanos produce lava copiously. "During recorded history more lava has poured forth above the sea in Iceland than in all the rest of the earth's volcanic belts combined. Yet... Iceland's volcanic belt comprises less than one-half of one per cent of the total length of the world-encircling rift." [2] Beaumont points out that 40,000 square miles of the British Isles afford plateaus of basalt in sheets; though nowhere are cones or vents to be found, till and clay accompany the basalt [3] . Rampant fissure volcanism is today observable on planet Venus. "Recent first-class Pioneer photographs of Venus show that the planet is rent with fissures, and most remarkably has been described as 'the most volcanic planet' in the solar system." [4] By "most remarkably" the writer implies the theory that Venus is a very young planet and has been losing its heat of eruption from Jupiter only slowly.

When the Earth had to erupt magma on a large scale, from far down, because of a loss of crust and an expansion of crust, fissure volcanism had to be the means. The deep ocean ridges of today still supply lava for paving the abyssal surface; the process has assumed a certain orderliness. On the other hand, viewing the Pacific Basin one must conjecture that a very large surface was once removed and a deep wound was left exposed that repaired itself in situ. The concept of cone and fissure volcanism fails, then and there, and one must speak of sheet volcanism, creating its own hard skin.

Fissure volcanism stands for extensive catastrophic venting; if there is so little of it today, the reason occurs in the general global settling. Cone or tube volcanos represent a moderate 'need to erupt. ' Volcanic fields denote an interconnected set of tubes with a number of outlets. Volcanic outlets are spaced apart in relation to the thickness of the lithosphere; thinner rock invites closer spacing [5] .

When dormant or extinct, all of these suggest either that a local rock crisis has been settled or that the global volcanic system has been shutting down its ramifications and further extensions. Many hills and uplifts, whence gases and lava have never escaped, are in the same fossil status. A major exoterrestrial encounter, the only event that can excite general volcanism, would reinvigorate the pattern of prehistoric and present volcanism insofar as the force vectors of the encounter prescribe, and would excite new volcanism wherever new stresses were imposed. Ultimately, geophysics should be able to locate as a set of overlays the total historical series of exoterrestrial encounters in fossil and live volcanism and go so far as to discover or substantiate the detection of their avenues of approach, their duration, and their energy.

Neat surveys of past volcanism are not to be had. Rampino, Self and Fairbridge collected "known volcanic eruptions of large magnitude within the last 100,000 years." [6] Their interest lay in associations between volcanism and climate, and a shaky correlation was established, with climatic change apparently preceding eruptions, suggesting to this author exoterrestrial issues. Presently germane, however, is the possibility that the statistics will confirm or deny a greater incidence of volcanism in the past. No help is forthcoming, because of the inadequacy of the data: the dating methods are perforce questionable; the bias toward known historical instances is heavy (12 of 28 cases occur in the past 5000 years, one twentieth of the period studied); and there is no uniformity of occurrence over time (implying, if anything) that heavy volcanism is aroused by global events. Because fossil volcanism is generally assigned even older dates, most scholars do see very heavy volcanism in periods beyond 100,000 years; australopithecus, for example, is often tramping in volcanic ash, but 'three million years ago and more. ' Some 13 ash layers have been already discovered in the Central East Pacific Ocean, none blanketing the entire region. There is a great discrepancy in dating between the argon radiometric and biostratigraphic methods, about half a million years within the single million years of total assigned time. The argon technique is faulted for atmospheric contamination and incomplete outgassing of lava containing radiogenic argon. (But is this not an inevitable occurrence, then, in all catastrophism, where atmospheric 'pollution" is inevitable?) Even so, both methods are faulted when it appears that preclassical Mayan artifacts are found under the 500,000 y argon-dated (or 50,000 y biostratigraphic-dated) so-called "D" (or Worzel) layer of ash in the region.

The explosion of the island of Thera about 3000 years ago sent about 40 km 3 material into the atmosphere. The seas were covered with pumice, some of which was driven ashore. Marinos and Melidonis plotted the story of one such incident at the small island of Anafi to the east of Thera. Two pumice deposits were noted. The one at Vounia is notable.

On the base of a natural profile of soil, we observe the following sequence: lowermost schists of the basement (bed rock), on this a bed of earth and pieces of schists of alluvium and slope debris. On this the mentioned bed of pumice and on the pumice a younger bed of soil and small stones of the surrounding rock with the usual cementing of lime carbonate. The general dip of these strata is gentle (about 10 ) to the bottom of the valley. The lower part of the pumice bed consists of broken pumice, though the upper one consists of almost powdered pumice mixed with small pieces of pumice, irregularly rounded, of some millimeters to a few centimeters. We cannot give any other explanation about the formation of the above pumice bed except the transportation and deposition of this material by the tidal tsunami wave following some terrible phase of the catastrophe on Santorin (Thera). [7]

The height of the foaming wave increased after rushing into the funnel opening of the narrow deep valley. It ascended, achieving 250 meters, and then retreated, leaving the pumice. The authors do not comment on the heavy, late diastrophism evidenced: the absence of low-lying pumice beds, the abrupt cut-off of the bed, as drawn by them and the layering of ca 2 meters of alluvion talus atop the pumice bed. I have observed the same deep bedding of semi-consolidated rock over pumice in Thera-Santorini itself. Possibly there occurred subsequent explosions of rock and soil, or violent quakes that shook down hill-tops. The investigation of cases such as Vounia and Thera where the dating is relatively secure may enable us to reconstruct a larger and/ or later sudden deposition of non-volcanic material. Without the historical dating here, one would be inclined to assign very old ages (as was the case here before Marinatos discovered Late Bronze Age artifacts in the ruins of Akrotiri) in order to account for the superposition of heavy 'erosional' deposits and then a slow landscaping.

Today, volcanism of all kinds may be remanent. Fascinating and destructive as it may be, it is as nothing compared with the volcanism of times past. The Soviet geologist, A. P. Pavlov, declared in 1936: "At the present time, only a residual, negligible manifestation of volcanic activity is observed on the earth; formerly, this activity was perhaps the most typical and almost universal phenomenon in the life of the planet." [8] Probably the phenomenon is correct, but the volcanism, like astroblemes, may have happened during only several immense exoterrestrial encounters.

The greatest eruption of modern times, some say (incorrectly) of all history, was the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa. The total volume of erupted material has been estimated at 18 to 21 km 3 . "When compared with prehistoric ignimbrite-forming events ranging in volume up to 10 3 km 3 .... the volume of the Krakatoa eruption was very modest." [9] So declare S. Self and Rampino.

Thera's volcano (Aegean Sea) blew away most of a large, high island and its culture three thousand years ago [10] . Ilopango (El Salvador) destroyed a cultured Mayan area of thousands of square miles in an explosion of 1800 years ago [11] . The volcano of Tamboro on Sumbawa Island in the East Indies emerged from the waters in 1812. Within three years it grew the awesome height of 12000 feet, some three miles tall. Then it exploded. Approximately 100 cubic kilometers of material shot into the atmosphere. About 100,000 people were killed, many more than died in the Anglo-American War of 1812 being fought at the same time across the world.

Hawaii arises eleven miles from the bottom of the sea. It is the world's tallest mountain. It appears to be stable. Yet it ends a long fracture out of Mexico and begins an arc of seamounts that strikes Siberia. The scene of volcanism today is the pallid termination of the scenario of quantavolution. There is nothing objectionable in present theory; it is just not historical.

Volcanic activity serves as a mechanism to release thermal energy from the Earth's interior. Thus, we can view the Earth as a boiler and the inactive volcano or vent as a sealed valve. Conversion of tidal energy to thermal energy by friction is concentrated at plate boundaries, where almost all active volcanos are found. Thus tidal energy helps heat up the boilers and increase the pressure, while tidal stresses weaken and break the seals. Both of these triggering effects increase during periods of increasing peak tidal stress... Once a volcano has erupted, its susceptibility to triggering remains low for a longer period of time and then increases rapidly following a hyperbolic or exponential stress [12] .

Now we turn to Rittmann for additional theory:

Volcanic activity is caused by the loss of gases from magmas, a process which takes place wherever magmas can ascend from the depths and come into regions of lower pressure. This ascent of magma is, however, only possible if the earth's crust is stretched and fractured through tectonic forces. The existence of volcanos is thus closely connected genetically with orogenesis and epeirogenesis. We then attempted to explain these genetic connexions on the principle of the causal chain of disturbed equilibria, and so to place volcanicity in its correct position in the overall picture of geodynamic processes. The interpretation of a wide variety of observed facts led us to the conclusion that magmas could originate in two ways, and that we could distinguish between primary magmas having their origin in a subcrustal zone encircling the earth, and secondary magmas formed by the anatexis of sialic rocks within the earth's crust [13] .

One notes here, besides the requirement of a stretching and tearing of the crust, the origination of volcanic magma from the "subcrustal zone encircling the earth" and anatexis, or regurgitation of surficial rock. This region occurs some 15 to 30 miles below the land surface and about 5 miles below the oceanic bottoms. This layer corresponds not only to the Moho discontinuity, as I have mentioned in connection with the base of seismism, but also with the volume of "missing sial" from the ocean basins, which roughly approximates the volume of the Moon. Volcanism, then, like seismism, reflects the level at which, all over the globe, the still landed crust moved in reaction to the eruption of the Moon. Whether or not the mantle on which this lunar boundary level rides jostling is solid or liquid, in the years of its fast movement it would have heated, liquefied, and expanded. The volcanos are probably still draining the liquid.

Studies of volcanic eruptions arrive at correlations between the moment of major eruption and the tidal forces exerted upon the Earth by the Sun and the Moon. Similar correlations have been detected between tides and seismism. In this regard, volcanism and earthquakes reveal themselves as close relatives.

G. Beccaria ( 1716-81 ) with Stokeley, Franklin and others, set the stage early for a systematic approach to electricity in connection with earthquakes, cyclones, and volcanos, but the promised scientific drama has never been enacted [14] . As early as June 21, 1902, Elmer G. Still published his observations of the volcano-solar-lunar relationship [15] :

The writer has for several years been observing this relation between the positions of the heavenly bodies and seismic, volcanic, and electrical disturbances, and is forced to the conclusion that the latter are caused in part by the conjunctions, oppositions, perihelions (or perigees) and equinoxes of the moon, earth, and seven other planets, especially when several of these occur at once.

He warned that such disturbances do not always occur at these times and that the relative position of the heavenly bodies have to be combined with local causes to produce volcanism and seismism. After all, he commented, if solar storms (sun spots) are excited by perihelion with Jupiter, why would not earthquakes and sun spots be transactive?

A second article in the same year stressed that "the influence of the Moon and planets in causing and intensifying seismic and volcanic disturbances is not altogether tidal action -gravitational; it is partly, or mostly, electrical, and seismic and volcanic action is an electrical disturbance." [16]

Once more in 1902, the same author, E. Still, continued his prescient argument, now declaring that gravitational tides of the Moon were quite inadequate as explanations of many terrestrial disturbances. "We know [Still was seventy years ahead of the field] that magnetic earth currents (which interfere with telegraphing), brilliant auroras, severe thunderstorms, violent storms of many kinds, and also earthquakes and volcanic activity accompany sun spots. All these are electrical disturbances, and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and numerous seismic shocks which occurred at the time of the last large sunspots -about September 15, 1898 -were no doubt electrically caused by them." [17]

We are not surprised at these statements, in view of Chapters 4 and 5 earlier on in this book, where electricity was allowed a broad scope among geological effects. The electrical volcanism of Io, satellite of Jupiter, will be recalled, where ejecta speed at 2000 miles per hour from 60 to 160 miles above the surface. A number of factors operate holistically in terrestrial volcanism; electricity may sometimes take up center-stage; mechanical heat and pressure are probably the chief actors in late historical times. Yet the electric and the mechanical are always working together: no rock can be squeezed without emitting electricity; no electric charge can pass without heating rock.

Recently, Johnston and Mauk examined the unusually complete records of Mount Stromboli (Italy) over a 72-year period and related 33 major eruptions to the amplitude of tidal forces operating upon the Earth [18] . A distinct pattern emerged. Some ten days after the tidal peak is the significantly likely moment for the eruption. The eruptions concentrate in the days between full moons.

Roosen used oxygen isotope ratios in cores of the Greenland ice cap as an indication of mean temperatures between 1200 and 1976 A. D.

Variations in tidal stresses on the Earth caused by the Sun and Moon cause changes in the stratospheric dust produced by volcanic activity; this in turn changes the thickness of the stratospheric dust veil and hence the atmospheric radiation balance. At least some significant fraction of the dust occurs at peaks of tidal stress. The tides measured vary over long periods. There is a peak of stress at approximately 179.3 years period. This period actually shows up in a (significant) correlation of 0.37 between the stress periods and the temperature curve [19] .

The relevance of such studies here is that tidal stresses and volcanism correlate; hence, great tidal stresses of the past must have excited great volcanism; conversely, evidence of heavy past volcanism denotes heavy past tidal stresses.

In the present placid astronomical order of the world, there is scarcely a place to look for such tidal forces. A mere 500 active volcanos occupy the world landscape, compared with the 500 of the Massif Central of few thousand years ago. Flying high over southern Italy, one may luckily see Vesuvius, Stromboli, and Etna all smoking at the same moment. Arriving in sight of the famous seven hills of Rome, there is a grandeur of culture, not nature. Yet Breislak in 1801 was arguing that the seven hills were debris amidst a large volcanic caldera, and Cuvier for one approved the idea. When the oldest hominids, human in some ways, walked the Earth at Afar (E. Africa), some ten nearby volcanos were active.

A great many dormant volcanos exist and an enormous number of extinct volcanos. If the belts of inactive fissures and the unnumbered thousands of seamounts are added, the Earth has undergone periods of the most intense exoterrestrial stress. Or else, one will have to parcel out these millions of volcanos and 'volcano equivalents' over exceedingly long stretches of time. But if volcanism even in the stable "solarian" period of the past 2000 years exhibits a 'grouping' tendency in response to exoterrestrial tides, then pre-historic volcanism must have exhibited grouping, too. Once more, we force the question: quantavolution, yes, but could it not happen at widely spaced intervals over time?

Even with fossil and radiochronometric data that give, I think, ages too "old," the ocean volcanos and ridges are geologically young, under 80 million years. Is there some reason to believe that land volcanos should not be also as "young"?. Probably not, inasmuch as most of the land volcanos are tied into the ocean ridges, into great faults, and into the ring of fire that bounds the Pacific Basin.

If there exist extinct volcanos and fissures that belie this statement by extruding from the surface far from the zones of present activity, these, it will turn out, are aligned with expired branches or special fractures of the Earth's crust. That is, it is plausible to assign all volcanos to the same geological time, and a young age; "where are the volcanos of yesteryear?"

If the continental and oceanic plates break up and drift apart, as the prevailing theory will have it, touring the globe every 200 million years, forming new combinations, where are the extinct volcanos that should dot the world like pine trees? That is, so far as volcanos are concerned, history ends recently. Presumably, before then, lands broke up and plates travelled without their fiery boundary-markers; this is implausible.

The innumerable seamounts are a standing reproach to opponents of quantavolution. I have mentioned their origins as pulled mantle taffy in cosmic encounters. They are an impossibility for tectonic plate theory for there the continents move on plates, not through them, and seamounts appear abundantly around the Moon Basin of the Pacific, with a solitary but impressive chain of hundreds off the New England Coast [20] . If the Moon were erupted from the now Pacific region, the seamounts could be visualized as pulled taffy drop-backs that could not follow the Moon into space. But the Atlantic Ocean off New England would only then have opened its abyss and "New England" would have been retreating westwards. To explain this particular "taffy-full" we must conjecture a prolonged explosiveness or subsequent passes of an attractive exoterrestrial body in order to assist their generation.

Morphological comparison of Atlantic and Pacific seamounts may be of use in deciding the sequence of events. One study of the former finds shallow water fossils, including coral and the algae Melobesia, at 3000 meters, and suggests that somehow the seamounts subsided that much. More in order is our hypothesis that the sea did not fill the basin until recently; similar phenomena are discoverable in the Pacific seamount areas.

I would be loath to leave the subject of volcanism before tightening its awesome connection with the birth of the Moon in the parturition of Earth. In 1907, William Pickering was continuing George Darwin's effort, begun in 1879, to establish that the Moon fissioned from the Earth's present Pacific Basin. He called it "The Volcanic Problem." [21] He alluded to spectroscopic binaries as examples of fission in the Universe.

He argued that when the Moon fissioned, "the Earth was in much the same condition that we find it at present, except that it was hotter." It was supposed to be rotating in only several hours (so as to provide the centrifugal force for whipping out the Moon). He matched the continents at the Atlantic to show the breaking away occasioned by the need to fill the emptied basin; he mentions "North America during its transit across the fiery ocean, in obedience to the pull of the Moon." (Thus he preceded Wegener with the idea of continental drift.)

Geologists generally abandoned the search for proof of Moon fission, even though they could choose their own time and state of the Earth to accomplish the feat. Thus they might afford a gaseous fission, or a thin crust, or a hot and molten body and they had no care for the biosphere or atmosphere or even stratified rocks. It is surprising that under such easy conditions for speculation, they could reject the theory. A reader of this book will surmise that an ideological block against any immense catastrophic event would account for the rejection of fission. Rather should the Moon come sailing in nicely and moor itself above the Earth. The catastrophic implications of capture were not generally pursued, except by Hoerbiger and the maverick mythologist Bellamy. Nevertheless many establishment scholars looked benignly upon the fission theory, allowing that the event was to have occurred eons ago. Also, of course, exoterrestrial inducements to fission were taboo.

D. U. Wise, more rationalistically, attributes non-acceptance of the fission theory to calculation problems. "The traditional and seemingly insurmountable obstacle to all fission hypotheses has been the discrepancy of approximately 400% between the present angular momentum of the earth-moon system and the values calculated as being necessary for the last stable configuration before fission." [22] That is, an incredibly flattened obloid would have to drop its end like ash off a cigar. After disposing of several types of calculations, he is satisfied that "the basic problem of excessive angular momentum in fission hypotheses may have a solution in volatilization and escape of a silicate atmosphere generated by dissipation of lunar tidal energy in a high-temperature early earth." [23]

The eruption of the Moon certainly extends beyond the conventional concept of volcanism, although Vsekhsvyatskii claims that planets and comets originated in volcanic episodes, especially involving escapes from Jupiter. Explosion is of course a fission; rocks are transformed; gases and electricity are part of the process, and so on. Also, exoterrestrial influences are connected with volcanism, both as to origins and to triggering activity. These influences are provable in our own time by correlations of volcanism with tides, electricity and seismism. They are provable for ancient times by the patterned system of volcanism in the world and the obvious function of volcanism in relieving stresses according to a pattern highly suggestive of transactions in outer space. Withal there is a uniqueness to the lunar event; the dimensions of the event soar almost beyond comparison with ordinary disaster and even all other catastrophes. But the theory of the fission is greatly simplified if it is conceived to occur through the passing intervention of a large body in space.

Furthermore, it is well to mention, as a postscript, that should the Moon have erupted from the Earth and all ocean bodies are young, then the eruption must have occurred recently. The basins are dated at under 100 million years. Thus the Moon episode, so incredibly destructive, would have occurred with the full realization of life on Earth, including many thousands of existing species and with most Earth rocks still present. If those species could survive, so even could homo sapiens.

Therefore, one must accept the possibility of the Moon originating by eruption. The evidence is that such occurred. The evidence is that it occurred recently relative to geological convention. The evidence is that it occurred without total destruction of the Earth's surface or its occupants. If, finally, one is to argue whether the Moon erupted 12,000 years ago as opposed to 120 million years ago, the issue may seem idiotic, but it is imperative to dispose of it.

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Notes (Chapter Seventeen: Volcanism)

1. CXLV Am. J. Sci. (1893), 256.

2. Heezen and Hollister, op. cit., 557.

3. Comyns Beaumont, The Mysterious Comet, (London: Rider, 1945), 197.

4. R. D. Mac Kinnon, 3 S. I. S. Workshop 1 (July 1980), 7.

5. P. J. Smith, 265 Nature (1977), 206; Vogt, 21 Earth Planet. Sci. Let. (1974), 235.

6. 206 Science (16 Nov. 1979), 826.

7. G. Marinos and N. Melidonis, "On the Strength of Seaquakes (Tsunamis) During the Prehistoric Eruptions of Santorin," reprint from Acta (see fn. 10), 280.

8. Quoted in S. K. Vsekhsviaskii, "Indications of the Eruptive Evolution of Planetary Bodies," (Kiev: unpubl. paper, ca 1973), 7.

9. "The 1883 Eruption of Krakatoa," 294 Nature (24 Dec. 1981), 699-704.

10. Acta, First Int'1 Cong on Volcano of Thera, 1969 (Athens, 1971) J. Keller, D. L. Page, and C. and D. Vitaliano, eds.

11. N Y Times, 101 Jan. 1977, quoting Payson Sheets.

12. R. G. Roosen, "Earth Tides, Volcanos and Climatic Change," 261 Nature (24 June 1976), 680.

13. Rittmann, op. cit., 267.

14. Artifical and Natural Electricity. See Heilbron.

15. 86 Sci. Amer (21 June 1902), 433.

16. 87 Sci. Amer. (26 July 1902), 54.

17. 87 Sci. Amer. (27 Sep. 1902), 203.

18. M. J. S. Johnston and F. J. Mauk, 239 Nature (29 Sept. 1972), 266-7.

19. Op. cit. 682.

20. J. R. Heirtsler et al., 65 Amer. Sci.( 1977), 466-72.

21. "Place of Origin of the Moon: The Volcanic Problem," 15 J. Geol. (1907), 23-38.

22. "Origin of the Moon from the Earth: Some New Mechanisms and Comparisons," 74 J. Geophys Res. (15 Nov. 1969), 6038.

23. Ibid., 6044.