Saturday, March 05, 2011

Antarctica: The Pacific Ring of Fire

At GENI [Global Energy Network Institute] you will find an interesting map of the hottest geothermal regions on the planet... Those countries (coastal regions) sitting on the continental edge of the 'Ring of Fire' could perhaps experience the largest stress should tectonic pressure zones erupt in response to magnetic fluctuations around the Earth's crust.

The powerful earthquakes that shook Chile and New Zealand in 2010 and January/February 2011 appeared to move back and forward between these most Southerly regions of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

However, one vitally important landmass is surprisingly left out of all the 'Ring of Fire' tectonic plate and subduction zone maps: Antarctica! This massive continental landmass at the Southern pole of the Earth, covered in ice, this bleak and barren frozen wasteland needs to be brought back into the understanding of tectonic plate pressure, change and continental crust movement.

What undersea plate tectonic relationship does New Zealand and the most Southerly tip of South America have to Antarctica? I wonder if the Earth's spin slowly twists the whole landmass of Antarctica - I don't know why? But I imagine that imperceptible movements to us surface dwellers could result in crustal stress and - who knows - maybe earthquakes.

If I were a Geologist I would wonder what effect the Antarctic plate has on all the other plates joined to it (touching its boundaries). For example, if I looked at a tectonic plate map that appeared to show the Antarctic plate interacts with the Pacific plate, the Nazca plate, Scotia, the South American plate, the African plate, the Australian plate... that would interest me.

Continental crusts are mostly made of thick granite and the gap between the crusts is apparently filled with a thin crust made of basalt. The Earth's continental crusts are surrounded by Oceanic crusts [plate boundaries].. So, I imagine that stress or movement around the Antarctic crustal plate boundaries may translate into changes in those Northerly plate boundaries affected by any movement in the Antarctic plate. [I have a good imagination]

Below the wintery covering of ice Antarctica's landmass is larger than Europe. From my research its plate boundaries connect to the plate boundaries of the rest of the Earth. I would imagine this landmass is a major player in affecting what takes place North of its location.

Obviously, the plate boundaries all hold each other together, similar to the bone structure of the human skull. In my view the cranial plates of the skull are fitted together in a similar way to the crustal plates of the Earth.

The human skull is composed of the connections between eight major cranial plates. The Earth is said to have seven primary plates: Antarctic plate, North American plate, South American plate, African plate, Eurasian plate, Indo-Australian plate and the Pacific plate, as well as many more secondary and tertiary plates.

I wonder how much the Antarctic plate influences the Pacific Ring of Fire?

In my research it seems we always imagine the pressure of the tectonic plate boundaries pushing from East to West or from West to East. What about up? What if twists in the Antarctic plate is part of the movement? What if this is a major part of the movement? How much stress do the North and South poles alleviate in the Earth's orbit around the Sun?

I imagine in the next 100 years, with the help of satellites, we will come to understand the geometric science of the Antarctic plate and its influence on the release of crustal stress and tectonic movement. The way I see it, as the Earth hurtles through space the crustal plates of the continents are 'sitting on' the Antarctic plate. Does that mean Antarctica is the 'sacrum' of the planet?