There has been much talk about an impending “Pole Shift” on Earth but there is a conflation of the two kinds of shifts which can and have occurred in the Earth’s past. I wrote about this at length in my last book, ‘2012: Science or Superstition.’
One kind of Pole Shift is called True Polar Wander (TPW). As most of us know, the Earth’s polar axis is tilted at a roughly 23 degree angle, giving those of us located at higher latitudes the changes in seasons throughout the year. The angle of this axis has been different over the course of Earth history, such that, during the Carboniferous period of geology, what are now polar regions were rotating at equatorial latitudes. Conversely what are now the equatorial tropics were once frozen polar wastelands. Mainstream geophysicists claim that the change of the Earth’s rotational axis occurs very, very gradually, over the course of hundreds of millions of years (see my interview with a top German geophysicist, Bernhard Steinberger, below) – never abruptly.
One would think that an impact by a large asteroid might have some effect on the Earth’s rotational angle, if the force was great enough to knock the Earth off its axis. There are alternative scientists and writers who see great evidence that a major change in the rotational axis — or else another phenomenon, such as Earth Crust Displacement — rapidly changed the location of the surface of the Earth, roughly 12,000 years ago, causing the rapid extinction of the Northern Hemisphere’s megafauna (mammoths, etc.) The Theory of Earth Crust Displacement is a formerly accepted geological theory which was repudiated in the 1960s, to be replaced by the now-accepted Theory of Plate Tectonics.
These two kinds of shifts described above are not to be confused with geomagnetic reversal, which is the subject of this NOVA documentary. There have been numerous geomagnetic pole shifts in the past and they have occurred at completely irregular intervals but regardless, the reversal has generally occurred gradually, taking around 5,000 years to accomplish, although there was at least one event, millions of years ago, when a massive meteor struck what is today Germany and this caused an instantaneous geomagnetic shift of the entire planet Earth.
There is much accepted scientific evidence that the Earth is undergoing a geomagnetic reversal as we speak. This process is not generally thought to be extremely hazardous to life. For more information about this, watch the film and read below from the extract of my book, ‘2012: Science or Superstition’:
IS THERE A GEOMAGNETIC POLE SHIFT UNDER WAY?
Short Answer: Yes.
Geomagnetic reversals have happened several times before and the process has been very erratic and unpredictable in the history of this planet, usually taking thousands of years to complete:
“NASA’s website features a map showing the gradual northward migration of the north magnetic pole in the past century and a half. Since more than double the time interval has elapsed since the last reversal, compared to the time lapse between the previous two pole reversals, some believe we may be overdue for the next north-south flip. However, though the interval between reversals of the Earth’s magnetic field can be as short as 5,000 years, it can also be as long as 50 million years. There does not seem to be any logic or rule governing the planet’s behavior.”
-Mary-Sue Haliburton, Science Blogger
Although it is not known what the physical effects of a geomagnetic reversal might be for those of us living on the Earth while it takes place, I asked top geophysicist Bernhard Steinberger (more of him up ahead in this chapter) to guess what the potential effects might be and his response was, “During a reversal, energetic charged particles can more easily hit the Earth, and this may indeed lead to an increased occurrence of genetic mutations, but I don’t think the effect is very dramatic. In any case, life has gone through many reversals, and it doesn’t seem much dramatic has happened during those.”
IS THE EARTH LOSING ITS MOJO?
Short Answer: Yes.
A very interesting observation by Canadian science writer Mary-Sue Haliburton confirmed my own intuitions about the extinction of the North American megafauna and how the surviving animals were often smaller versions of the ones that didn’t make it past the end of the last Ice Age.
“It is not only the direction but also the strength of this magnetic field that is a concern. In the time of dinosaurs, at an estimated 2.5 gauss, it was eighty percent stronger than it is now. This may have been one of the reasons such gigantic life forms thrived. It is now accepted that a catastrophic event ended the reign of giant reptiles. However, they did not re-evolve to equivalent dimensions. And the disappearance of mammalian megafauna in more recent times is still considered to be a mystery. The mastodons and mammoths would have towered over modern elephants. Why are there so few large terrestrial animals today?
“The smaller average size of modern animals may be due to the gradual decline of Earth’s…magnetism. Thousands of years ago the Chinese, with their astute discovery of bioelectrical energy flows known as “meridians,” learned that magnetism promotes vigor in biological life. They used magnetic rocks in medical treatment. In the past century there has been a further decline of Earth’s magnetic field by another five percent down to only 0.5 gauss…”
It isn’t known exactly what would happen if the Earth’s magnetic field were to drop to zero gauss. It is guessed that electronic devices and satellites might cease functioning, that migrating animals might lose their sense of direction, that the atmosphere might expand and become thinner, causing altitude sickness at sea level and that deadly cosmic rays could eventually kill all life on the Earth’s surface. Some life-loving folks have been building underground bunkers, believing that this is the only way that they will survive. Anyone who wants to be completely paranoid and assured of some form of survival should have access to a comfortably outfitted underground bunker, with all the MREs and TP and other necessities to last at least eleven years. It may be of some comfort, or not, depending on your point of view, to know that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a secure seedbank located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, contains a wide variety of plant seeds from locations worldwide in an underground cavern to provide a safety net against accidental loss of diversity in the event of a major regional or global catastrophe.
WOULD A GEOMAGNETIC REVERSAL BE CATASTROPHIC?
Short Answer: No.
The general scientific consensus is that the magnetosphere will not entirely disappear and that humans will survive geomagnetic reversal, even if communications may become patchy for a while.
In the 2002 paper by UC Berkeley’s Dr. Richard Muller, “Avalanches at the core-mantle boundary,” he says evidence suggests that the Nordlinger-Ries impact event, which occurred around 15 million years ago in what is now Germany, caused a geomagnetic reversal immediately following the impact that also left behind a 24-km crater. In the same 2002 paper, Muller states that the region between the core of the Earth and its surrounding mantle, once thought to be homogeneous, has now been found to vary greatly in viscosity and to have areas of “turbidity,” suggesting that the core-mantle boundary could easily become destabilized, lending credence to statements made by Graham Hancock during his on-camera interview for the film, 2012: Science or Superstition.
THE DAY THE EARTH CAPSIZED
“Do I give credence to pole shift theories? Yes I do, actually. What happened at the end of the Ice Age, to my mind has never been satisfactorily explained by mainstream science. It was truly a cataclysmic event. We had ice sheets that were two to three miles thick, sitting on top of Northern Europe and North America, covering enormous areas of land and in a very short period of time, all of this ice melted down and returned to the oceans, raising sea level by 400 feet, all around the world, submerging ten million square miles of land.
“This was not the gradual drip-drip-drip of Global Warming, this was a dramatic and sudden change that took place on the Earth. I think that [there is a] possibility of some kind of capsizing of the Earth in space, some kind of pole shift, whether it was a shift of the outer crust or mantle of the Earth or whether it was actually a pole flip. And we know the magnetic poles have flipped repeatedly in the past.
“Magnetic North and South poles are connected in some way that we don’t fully understand, to the rotation of the planet. There is information to suggest that something very dramatic and very cataclysmic may have happened at the end of the Ice Age and that it may have involved a shifting of the poles, perhaps not a 180-degree shift, but a change of polar positions. This is all highly speculative. It can’t be proved, but I don’t see enough in conventional explanations of the end of the last Ice Age to explain the sudden dramatic and cataclysmic nature of the change that occurred.
“My sense is this planet has at its heart a ball of molten iron with enormous mass and weight, which is also spinning inside the Earth itself. Is it possible that there is some interruption in this spin, perhaps to do with magnetism, perhaps to do with solar magnetism, which literally capsizes the Earth? I wouldn’t rule it out entirely. And there’s much that’s come down to us from the past to suggest that. I went into this in great depth in Fingerprints of the Gods.”
– Graham Hancock, On-Camera Interview in 2012: Science or Superstition
THE LAST OFFICIAL POLE SHIFT
According to accepted geology, “The last reversal was the Brunhes-Matuyama…approximately 780,000 years ago.” It has not been established that a geomagnetic reversal occurred anytime afterwards, such as between 13,000 BP and 9000 BP, as Hancock and many others suggest. Officially, though it does remain rather unsettled and obscure as to what, exactly happened at the end of the last Ice Age.
Dr. Anthony Aveni is a Professor of Astronomy and Anthropology at Colgate University. In his interview for the film 2012: Science or Superstition, he does not see past and future magnetic pole shifts as having cataclysmic effects, in and of themselves.
GEOMAGNETIC REVERSAL: “NOT CATACLYSMIC”
“I don’t think it’s known whether the consequence will be calamitous, disastrous. It certainly won’t be sudden…What you have inside the Earth is a semi-molten mass of matter, magma that carries electrical charge. Now, when it comes to these reversals, the explanation of the “dynamo effect” [would] predict when these overturnings of magmatic matter take place [but] we don’t know enough about that because the flow of material inside the Earth, as we understand it, is too random.
“We know less about what’s going on a thousand miles under our feet than we do a thousand light years away on a bright star like Rigel! That’s kind of unsettling, isn’t it? But we do know from archaeo-magnetism, from the study of magnetic records preserved in materials, that these changes have occurred.
“They don’t coincide with the demise of dinosaurs, as far as we know. They don’t coincide with an overflowing of the sea. They happen. And they must have had their effect. I have a sense that that effect would be short term and not cataclysmic.”
– Dr. Anthony Aveni, On-Camera Interview in 2012: Science or Superstition
SHOULD WE WORRY ABOUT EARTH CRUSTAL DISPLACEMENT?
Short Answer: No, according to accepted geophysics. Yes, if you don’t trust the scientific establishment. (See the alternative view of this topic in Chapter 3).
The theory of Earth Crust Displacement was superseded in the 1960s by Plate Tectonics, which posits that the Earth’s crust consists of eight major continental plates and several minor ones, with new crust upwelling from ocean ridges and old crust getting recycled at subduction zones. However, Earth Crustal Displacement was still in play in the early 1900s and a concise description of the theory appears in a book by one of its chief proponents, Charles Hapgood, in its Foreword written by none other than Albert Einstein:
“In a polar region there is a continual deposition of ice, which is not symmetrically distributed about the pole. The Earth’s rotation acts on these unsymmetrically deposited masses [of ice], and produces centrifugal momentum that is transmitted to the rigid crust of the Earth. The constantly increasing centrifugal momentum produced in this way will, when it has reached a certain point, produce a movement of the Earth’s crust over the rest of the Earth’s body, and this will displace the polar regions toward the equator.”
There is geological evidence that the earth’s rotational axis was higher than 54 degrees for as long as 2 billion years, making the present-day equator the coldest part of the planet and the current polar areas the “paleo-tropics.” Lots of tropical fossils have been found at extremely high latitudes in both the Arctic and Antarctic, in geological layers from the Carboniferous period, 300-350 million years ago. This was at a time when all the Earth’s continents were still part of the Pangaea Supercontinent, before they began separating into Gondwana and Laurasia and spreading out into the continents that we know today. There hasn’t been any evidence that has been officially accepted by modern science of a sudden, massive crustal shift occurring 12,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, as alleged by Hapgood or at any time in the past several hundred million years.
Many myths from all over the world refer to strange times, with reports that the Sun didn’t rise – or didn’t set (depending on the culture’s location) for days and of other unusual movements of the Sun, which could be apt descriptions of what it was like to be on the Earth if the Earth’s rotational axis were to shift or if the crust itself were to shift in a matter of days. But according to the scientists who are certified to read our planet’s mineral entrails, these events physically happened hundreds of millions of years ago, over the course of millions of years – not days. If one is to believe the experts, these legends can’t be taken literally, even if they do express a mysterious knowledge of the Earth’s Paleozoic contortions. Perhaps these legends were derived from shamanic visions…? The view of Allan and Delair, the Flem-Aths and others, that both the Earth’s rotational axis and its crust shifted at the end of the last Ice Age, are irreconcilable with the official view.
TRUE POLAR WANDER: 1 DEGREE PER MILLION YEARS
I looked up one of the top research scientists in the study of the Earth’s changing axial tilt, Dr. Bernhard Steinberger, a German geophysicist with numerous university fellowships, and he was kind enough to give me the most accepted views on a variety of geophysical phenomena.
BRUCE: What causes the Earth’s rotational axis to change?
STEINBERGER: Generally, the rotational axis always orients itself such that it moves excess masses towards the Equator. Since the Earth isn’t a perfect ellipsoid (flattened sphere) and even the ocean surface has humps and dents (the actual shape being called the “geoid”) the rotation axis “tries” to orient itself to move the “humps” towards the equator.
The question, “what causes the rotational axis to change?” then essentially becomes, “what causes those humps and dents (i.e., the geoid) to change?”
This is something that is not addressed in our published paper, but we are right now working on another paper addressing this issue. Essentially, we think the biggest contribution to geoid changes are changes in the distribution of subduction – that is, where and how much tectonic plates converge and (as so-called subducted “slabs”) sink towards the Earth interior. Based on what we know, when a slab sinks into the Earth, it first (as long as it is [more or less] in the upper half of the mantle) causes a hump in the geoid, which then would tend to move towards the equator, and when it gets to the lower part of the mantle it causes a dent, which then would tend to move to the pole.
Our [previous] article essentially proposes a way to distinguish between (1) motions of plates relative to the underlying mantle and (2) a re-orientation of the entire Earth (i.e. the plates AND the underlying mantle) relative to its rotation axis.
I think an important aspect of our (as well as others’) work is that the second mechanism works fairly slowly; my estimate is that it won’t be much faster than one degree per million years. So it certainly cannot lead to substantial shifts of the crust (and underlying mantle) relative to the poles over historic times, as some proponents of crustal displacement theory would suggest.
I am…aware of the book by Hapgood with the Foreword by Einstein, but in order for a dramatic shift of the crust within a short time to happen it would have to be globally underlain by a low-viscosity (likely liquid) layer, and there is no evidence for that, and there isn’t any evidence documenting such rapid shifts either.
BRUCE: Did these incidents coincide with the beginning of the split between North America, South America and Africa?
STEINBERGER: According to the model we are using the split between North America and Africa began at 175 million years ago (which would be during the clockwise movement) and the split between South America and Africa at 132 million years ago.
BRUCE: Do these movements relate to the early 20th century discovery of tropical fossils in Carboniferous layers in the Arctic of Spitsbergen, Norway?
STEINBERGER: We also point out in our paper that, superposed on these clockwise and counterclockwise movements, there is a general northward trend in the motion of continents, such that, for example, Spitsbergen was in the tropics during the Carboniferous. We argue in the paper that this general northward motion is likely not True Polar Wander but represents a motion of the continent relative to the mantle.
BRUCE: Do you agree with Williams, Kasting & Frakes, in the December 1998 Nature article, “Low-latitude glaciation and rapid changes in the Earth’s obliquity explained by obliquity-oblateness feedback,” where they propose that about 2.4 – 2.2 billion years ago and then again, about 820 – 550 million years ago, the Earth experienced low latitude glaciation and that the Earth’s rotational axis was higher than 54 degrees for a 2 billion-year period, that “Earth’s obliquity may have been greater than 54 degrees during most of its history, which would have made the Equator the coldest part of the planet”?
STEINBERGER: Yes, I suppose it is possible that the obliquity has changed, and I presume they have done their math right to infer that the equator would be coldest with a 54-degree obliquity.
These changes in obliquity are concerned with changes of the Earth’s rotation axis in space, whereas True Polar Wander is a change of the rotation axis relative to the Earth, so those two mechanisms can operate independently. However, as the paper you cite points out, there can be feedbacks between changes in obliquity and the internal dynamics of the Earth, which can change its oblateness and also can cause True Polar Wander.
(I would like to thank Dr. Berhard Steinberger for the time and care he put into his responses).
PLATE TECTONICS: BUSTING THE MYTH OF ABRUPT CRUSTAL SHIFT?
Hewing to the uniformitarianist line, Steinberger busts the myth of abrupt crustal shift. Not only is the Earth Crust Displacement Theory incongruent with the accepted geological timeline, with its claims of massive cataclysmic movements of the Earth’s crust occurring 12,000 years ago, it also assumes the Earth’s asthenosphere, which is directly beneath the Earth’s crust, to be much more liquid than it actually is. The idea that the asthenosphere would allow for the movement of the entire “shell” of the Earth’s entire crust to spin around the Earth’s mantle as a single unit, at neck-breaking, tree-snapping speeds – is “not even wrong,” according to Plate Tectonics, which holds that the asthenosphere is essentially solid rock, albeit viscous enough to behave as a liquid over geological time scales, allowing for Continental Drift and subduction.
Evidence of Continental Drift are readily apparent at two “hotspot” locations of the planet, the Yellowstone caldera and the Hawaiian Islands.
At Yellowstone, the North American plate has moved over 400 miles in a Southwesterly direction from the caldera’s hotspot over the past 15 million years and in Hawaii, the Pacific plate is drifting in a Northwesterly direction with respect to its hotspot, forming a chain of islands, at a rate of about 32 mi (51 km) per million years.
(c) 2010 by The Disinformation Company Ltd.
Published by Earthweareone
September 7, 2012
There is much debate among scientists whether we are headed for a pole shift. And if this were true, do you think they would tell the public? . . . There would be chaos all over the planet. But these scientists have found solid evidence that the pole’s shift from North to South and back again, and that we are already overdue for another . . .