Thursday, July 31, 2014

Stabbing Rocks with A Knife ~ Geology Questions Answered

Saw these questions and I was bored. Nobody seems to ask me questions anymore.

    •    How did Earth and other planets form? Were planets formed in situ? Or are orbital changes relatively frequent? What determined the different deep layering of the solar planets? [1]

The sun formed before the planets, the sun provided the gravity for orbit, mass gets caught in the orbit of the sun, mass is also effected by the gravity of other mass. The location and entry point of the extrasolar mass would effect where it would lay in orbit.

More massive objects being more attracted to gravity would retain closer to the star, less massive objects drift farther away. The mass accumulates in orbit by density and is attracted by larger satellites.  This would explain mercury being more dense than venus, and mars being less dense than the earth, mercury, and venus. As the earth is larger, its founding satellites would have attracted more matter.

The weak pull of gravity on gaseous and light elements explain why the gas giant planets formed in the outer reaches of the solar system, eventually becoming more dense due to the temperature, allowing them to coalesce with themselves and be attracted by the gravity of any founding solid planetoid in a similar orbit.

So the planets were formed in situ, as explained by the statements above. Small planets that orbit well outside of the solar system are easily captured extrasolar bodies that crossed into the suns gravity near its extremities.

The different layering of the solar planets would largely be affected by the density of the elements that found them, the more dense elements being more so effected by gravity would sift towards the core of the planet, as well as be more so inclined in the beginning of formation to settle in an orbit within the effect of a founding satellites established gravity.

The circular rotation of planets would rid them of their lighter elements were there not as much gravity, the lack of impact imparted by gravity on the lighter elements would explain why they will consist much more so near the outer limits of a planet. Rocks move just as water does, simply very slowly. In water, the denser objects sink more so readily than less dense objects. This would apply to the elements allowing the dense elements to sink with more fervor than the lighter elements that surround them.  The impact of the planets tectonics of equivocal would also hasten the process of sinking the denser elements.

    •    Was there ever a collision of the Earth with another planet Theia, giving birth to our satellite? [2] There is compelling evidence, such as measures of a shorter duration of the Earth's rotation and lunar month in the past, pointing to a Moon much closer to Earth during the early stages of the Solar System.

Given that there was another planet, this would differ from the usual notion that a large asteroid body such as an had created the moon. In order for this to be determined, one would use geologic aging to view rocks that were around at exactly the time the moon was formed. This would tell the size of the impacting body that created the moon by the levels of disturbed material.  This may not exist as the layers that had recorded such events may have slipped into unreachable depths or been erased entirely by the heat of the core.

    •    What is the long-term heat balance of Earth? How did its internal temperature decay since it formed by accretion of chondrites? How abundant are radiogenic elements in the interior? Did a "faint young sun" ever warm a "snowball Earth"?

To see the change in direct input of the sun one would lineate the rate of the expansion of the sun and correlate that to an output of energy. This would state the amount of light received by the Earth, how much this has changed. The temperature correlates with the amount of light emitted by the sun, and given that the temperature was below freezing with the amount of light an early sun put out, then the Earth could have been partially or completely frozen at the time.

Highly radioactive elements are abundant at a rate determined by the age of the elements. Highly radioactive elements slowly lose their radioactivity over time, and eventually become inert lead. The amount of radioactive material will correlate inversely with the age of the planet. Accessible parts per million measurements of radioactive elements have been determined, being the heavier elements, a guess of a solution is.

((p%done)-(89/90))(percent of crust))

where p%done = percentile density of natural element

 e.g. U = 100th percentile= 1-(89/90)=1/90th,or perhaps

((1/90th) ( percent abundance)) = an estimate for total abundance in the planet

    •    What made plate tectonics a dominant process only on Earth? [6] How did the planet cool down before plate tectonics?[7] Was the Earth's crust formed during the early stages of its evolution or is it the result of a gradual distillation of the mantle that continues today along with crustal recycling? Is the crust still growing or does its recycling compensate for crust formation at mid-ocean ridges and other volcanic areas?

Plate tectonics is a sensitive process. Things that could easily impact plate tectonics are the density of the Earth (higher than other planets), the pressure from the ocean, and the length of the day on earth (the amount of rotation).

The density would add to the equation, as density, temperature, and pressure correlate, this would accelerate the rates at which the materials inside of the earth become molten. Molten rocks are essentially the butter of rocks, allowing rock faces to slip more easily.  The pressure from the ocean could easily apply high water pressure into volcanic vents and volcanoes beneath the sea. This would halt some of the expulsion of molten material from the vents, and effectively working as a lid to keep pressure inside of the cauldron.

The rotation of the day easily could effect the plates just as spinning a bottle, the rotating motion creates little whirlpool currents inside of the bottle, this effect could be adding to the equation by creating molten volcanic currents.  Mars has a day of the same length, however it lacks the density of Earth, which was a major impacting figure in the Plate tectonics.


Many things such as vents could easily form in any area where there is relatively low density or areas where the constituents have a low melting point, this could allow any exceptionally hot magma to boil to the surface in the event there were no volcanoes to eschew the substance from the deeps.


The crust is made up of many elements. The layers of the crust have been identified and demonstrate the major constituents of the planet. Due to subduction, much of the crust has likely been recycled and forms itself over and over again. The crust is formed by many things, however before the was very much if any organic life, the majority of the crust would have been contributed by the expulsion of magma, rather than the intake of crustal elements by life-forces.

Subduction likely counters any effect of crust growth, given that the crust grew at any rate, the crust would not coat the earth so fittingly and uniformly as crust would pile up faster than subduction would return it to the magma.

Can the now widely available topographic data be used to derive past tectonic and climatic conditions (in the multi-million year scale)? Do we know enough about the erosion and transport processes? Does the stocasticity of meteorological and tectonic events reflect in the landscape? How much has life contributed to shape the Earth's surface?


The topographic data in terms of altitude cannot, as topographic data only shows new and current growth; however geologic data does confer much information about the past. This is limited by the technology that would provide information from deep layers of the crust, as well as the amount that the crust has been effected by the heat of the earth.

    Erosion is predictable and can be demonstrated in a laboratory to provide rates at which certain substances and mixtures will erode. Knowing enough is different from having the data on current climate problems such as desiccation, agriculture, mining and deforestation. These impact both erosion and the transportation of soil. These are much different impacting forces than simple erosion and transportation of soil, as these forces greatly accelerate both erosion and transportation.

    Yes, the consistent metrological and tectonic events do reflect in the landscape, think the San Fransico Earthquake in 1906 or the flood from Hurricane Katrina. The natural events that are not disasters are prevalent in formations such as the San Andreas Fault, however these are quite subtle. In terms of stocasticity, one could use a distribution of probability to attempt to notice a trend, however the randomness of such things makes them very difficult if not impossible to predict, one will notice that Mt. Saint Helens effected the landscape after it erupted, however using this data to predict a future explosion is relatively inaccurate.

    Life contributes to the shape of the Earths surface very subtly in some ways such as the Pyramids, or the mounds of the Mississippi Mound Builders. In other ways man made devices such as canals and strip mines impact the surface. These things are subtle and quite small, so the impact on the shape of the surface is quite minimal. The impact on the biological aspects of the surface and very well known and proven to be harmful.


Can classical geomorphological concepts such as 'peneplanation' or 'retrogressive erosion' be quantitatively understood? Old mountain ranges such as the Appalachian or the Urals seem to retain relief for >10^8 years, while fluvial valleys under the Antarctica are preserved under moving ice of kilometric thickness since the Neogene. What controls the time-scale of topographic decay? [Egholm, 2013, Nature]


    For anything to be quantitatively understood there must be sufficient data. Given there is no way to collect the data, then no, the forces cannot be quantitatively understood. One would have to collect data by finding a current area where peneplanation is occurring to attempt to formulate an equation that would quantify a rate at which this occurs, in a geological time frame this could take a very long time.

In Antarctica there is simply nowhere for the eroded dirt to go, the erosion is trapped under the ice. This means the erosion will erode, however it will not escape, the lack of running water in Antarctica would explain much of the lack of erosion, as the snow protects the dirt from the majority of the erosion from wind and desiccation.

Many factors control the time-scale of topographic decay, everything from sunlight, water, wind, flora, fauna, geologic activity, and man-made interaction.


What are the erosion and transport laws governing the evolution of the Earth’s Surface?[Willenbring et al., Geology, 2013] Rivers transport sediment particles that are at the same time the tools for erosion but also the shield protecting the bedrock. How important is this double role of sediment for the evolution of landscapes?


Erosion and transport laws would be predictable using physics to create a general normalized trend, however this would be quite difficult as it is a particulate mixture with many impacting forces.


The double role of sediment allows for deeper layers of the crust to remain unfettered by erosion. This means mountains and hills will retain their shape longer as the sediments protects their founding layers.  Sediment in rivers also focuses erosion into the rivers, sculpting river valleys and such things.


How resilient is the ocean to chemical perturbations?


The ocean is as resilient to any other water mixture. The ocean becomes polluted or dangerous at the same rate that a bottle will. Chemicals will disperse evenly eventually, however they will likely remain and accumulate in a parts per million reading. If a fish tank with a PPM of a dangerous chemical kills the fish, given the ocean reaches that PPM of the dangerous chemical, it will likely kill the same fish.

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