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Alaska at the equator?

by Angeline Booher / March 4, 2007 8:11 PM PST
Imagine a shift in the Earth so profound that it could force our entire planet to spin on its side after a few million years, tilting it so far that Alaska would sit at the equator. Princeton scientists have now provided the first compelling evidence that this kind of major shift may have happened in our world's distant past.

By analyzing the magnetic composition of ancient sediments found in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, Princeton University's Adam Maloof has lent credence to a 140-year-old theory regarding the way the Earth might restore its own balance if an unequal distribution of weight ever developed in its interior or on its surface.

The theory, known as true polar wander, postulates that if an object of sufficient weight --such as a supersized volcano -- ever formed far from the equator, the force of the planet's rotation would gradually pull the heavy object away from the axis the Earth spins around. If the volcanoes, land and other masses that exist within the spinning Earth ever became sufficiently imbalanced, the planet would tilt and rotate itself until this extra weight was relocated to a point along the equator.

True polar wander is different from the more familiar idea of "continental drift," which is the inchwise movement of individual continents relative to one another across the Earth's surface. Polar wander can tip the entire planet on its side at a rate of perhaps several meters per year, about 10 to 100 times as fast as the continents drift due to plate tectonics. Though the poles themselves would still point in the same direction with respect to the solar system, the process could conceivably shift entire continents from the tropics to the Arctic, or vice versa, within a relatively brief geological time span.

Maloof said that true polar wander was most likely to occur when the Earth's landmasses were fused together to form a single supercontinent, something that has happened at least twice in the distant past. But he said we should not worry about the planet going through a major shift again any time soon.

"If a true polar wander event has occurred in our planet's history, it's likely been when the continents formed a single mass on one side of the Earth," he said. "We don't expect there to be another event in the foreseeable future, though. The Earth's surface is pretty well balanced today."


There was a TV show about this the other day, I think on the history Channel.

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I remember reading about this back in the Sixties...
by EdH / March 4, 2007 9:40 PM PST
In reply to: Alaska at the equator?

in one of those "Earth is Doomed" books that were popular then. I guess it didn't catch on because they couldn't attribute it to human behavior.

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Shifting earth
by marinetbryant / March 4, 2007 10:22 PM PST

I believe it was Charles Hapgood who proposed a theory along those lines. Like the skin of an orange sliding around the orange. That was why he said "Atlantis" was in Antarctica. It could make one think that such events would erase a lot of earth's history. There is a map, don't think it has been proven a fake yet, that shows the coastline of Antarctica even though it's under a bunch of ice. The Air force has taken some radar images which show the coastline, which aligns with the map.
For the "simple, there has to be more" folks like me, Graham Hancock"s "Fingerprints of the Gods" is a good read. He doesn't claim it as science.


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Could have been...
by EdH / March 4, 2007 10:53 PM PST
In reply to: Shifting earth


According to the second link he taught at Keene State, which is only a few miles from where I live. Small shifting world!

Immanuel Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision was also somewhat popular in those days.
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This is a wild topic, with
by drpruner / March 5, 2007 7:01 AM PST
In reply to: Alaska at the equator?

aspects from many sciences. Takes a polymath just to follow the sound bites. Happy

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