Expanding Earth Theory

Here’s a great theory.

According to:


The author of the paper posted on that page suggests distribution of far flung plants of the same family can be accounted for via the earth being a single shell of land with miniscule oceans at the Jurassic, and then over time expanding, allowing “outgassing of volatile substances” which filled the expanding sea basins.

Now i really have HUGE doubts about this theory because what the hell was all that water doing in the mantle nearly 4 billion years previous? Does the author think it was locked up in the mantle, waiting for tectonics to free it so it could “outgas”?

I may have misread the paper, but does this theory have any creedence?

Your link is broken, but I found this page by I think the same guy (James Maxlow). He says the Earth has actually expanded in size over the ages.

He’s obviously a crackpot, I wouldn’t accept anything he says.

Huge doubts? I guess that’s where you got your name. :slight_smile:

The theory is completely ridiculous on its face. I’ve run into this before - is this a type of catastrophism?

A paper came out just last year in a major journal supporting the Expanding Earth hypothesis, on the basis of trans-Pacific palaeobiotic similarities (i.e. implying that the land around the Pacific was once connected, similar to the ‘jigsaw fit’ of the continents on either side of the Atlantic). I think it was maybe some sort of biogeographical journal? I’ll do some poking around. Anyway, that was my first exposure to the theory, and I did some follow up reading.

In a nutshell, it looks like one Professor S. Warren Carey was the main proponent (in the English-speaking world at least) of Expanding Earth theory, and most of the literature on the theory is either written by him or inspired by his thinking on the matter (and he was quite a good communicator of ideas). He just died a couple of years ago, aged 90 or so. He was also one of the leading proponents of plate tectonic theory, waaay back when it was having a hard time being accepted. So he had been around for a while, and presumably knew his geophysical stuff.

This page, while sort of ugly and sporadically inaccessable, is a fairly Carey-centric overview of Expanding Earth theory. Carey’s view is distinguished by extreme expansion (with the palaeoEarth roughly doubling in diameter to its present size), and strong Cosmological linkages, as well as some off-the-wall physics thrown in (i.e. matter creation as the driving force of the expansion, and linking the expansion to other cosmological processes). As far as I can tell, there are a number of other Expanding Earth theories that propose much less dramatic expansion, and different mechanisms for the expansion.

For me, the strongest piece of evidence in favour of Expanding Earth is the excellent fit of the current continental plates on a much reduced globe. It really seems to be a great fit, although it’s a bit hard to visualise shrikning the diameter of the earth while the continents sort of curve and stay the same size and shape. There’s also palaeomagnetic data, and recent satellite data, in support of the theory.

On the other hand, Carey, in particular, makes some fairly outlandish claims about an Expanding Earth. For one, he seems to think that subduction does not actually occur, and was merely invented to make plate tectonic theory work properly. While the lack of subduction zones in the Atlantic seems odd, the pairing of deep trench + high mountains off the Pacific coast of South America seems to strongly indicate the some subduction is in fact taking place, at least. Also, his proposed mechanism for Earth Expansion (essentially, matter creation), is way out there, and while some of his cosmological comparisons and speculations are interesting, there’s not a lot of hard data to support them. To his credit, he seems to acknowledge these weaknesses, but he argues that the lack of a satisfactory mechanism for Earth Expansion shouldn’t negate the evidence for its having occurred. Personally, I can sympathise with this. It’s a really interesting theory to me, and it’s a pity that apparently very few people have heard of it, and so thoroughly detailed rebuttals are hard to find.

On preview: Excalibre, don’t confuse this with Velikovsky-inspired ‘pole shift’ theories, where the Earth’s crust is supposed to slip around suddenly and all at once. Those theories have been thoroughly discredited. My impression is that Expanding Earth hasn’t been engaged with sufficiently by most geoscientists to have been discredited.

Doesn’t the slow circuilation of the Earth’s interior by convection adequately explaing the fit of continents of opposite sides of the Atlantic without resorting to “matter creation” or the conversion of energy to matter?

I don’t understand what the “expanding earth” theory is able to explain that plate tectonics cannot. Similarities between fossils on different continents can be explained by the fact that they were once part of the same continent, and have drifted apart over the eons. The same holds true for the good fit of the continents.

It’s right up there the moon being made of cheese.

Let’s see - if the Earth is currently expanding at 21mm/yr, don’t you think we’d be able to measure it?

The extra mass appears to come out of nowhere.

The extra depth of the oceans (an extra mile deep) is pretty hard to explain, what with the widespread deset environments of the Permian/Triassic and all.

The observed subduction around the Pacific Rim is a fact.

Exotic terrains (eg around 90% of Alaska) are a result of something pushing it there. No room for this in the expanding earth theory.

I could go on like this for pages, but I won’t because the theory really is just plain stupid.

It’s my understanding that the apparent “continintal fit” is more an accident of the current ocean level than anything else. If global warming gets going good and the seas rise the oft estimated 300’ (give or take) you should see noticable differences in the “fit.”

The ideas mentioned in the OP sound, well . . . crackpotish.

Well, the Earth’s mass is increasing simply because of meteoric dust and whatnot pulled in by gravity. I doubt that would be enough to cause a measurable (at least in one lifetime) increase in volume, though. As soon as a theory moves into cosmology, though (unless it started there originally), all bets are off.

Three hundred feet!?! Who estimates that?

I don’t think so. I think the fit is even better on the continental shelves than on the current coastlines. Geologists — ?

Don’t stop there: compare the coastlines with the outline of the mid-Atlantic ridge. Example:


And it’d be best to not call it a “theory” since there is absolutely no evidence that the earth is expanding.

Expanding Earth proponents aren’t just claiming that continents fit together on the Atlantic side, but on the Pacific side as well. Maxlow claims this is evidence that the Earth was once only 1700 km in diameter. He admits he doesn’t know whether the current Earth is more massive or less dense than the ancient Earth. Let us know when he makes up his mind so we can ridicule him properly.

I’m not aware of Velikovsky having proposed any crustal displacements. Charles Hapgood did propose that at a similar time (with both interesting Einstein), but Velikovsky had whole planets flipping.

I’m no geologist, but my impression is quite the opposite: Carey was utterly respectable at the time he proposed it, people took it seriously enough as one of the radical ideas floating about and then it was overtaken by the subsequent evidence. As a suggestion it originally seems to have been regarded as on a par with continental drift. A minority position, but not an insane one. Carey took part in the debate that eventually saw plate tectonics prevailing - and several of his students were major participants in it. But, on the specific issue of the expanding earth, he wound up as one of the losers. See William Glen’s The Road to Jaramillo (Stanford, 1982), especially p206ff.
It’s thus an example of a serious suggestion that became pseudoscientific once the improved evidence ran against it.

The obvious answer is that the Earth is now hollow (or where else would the Nazi UFOs be hiding)?