There was a much more certain threat that might overwhelm our ancestral civilisation.The world was about to turn over again.
The mass of the earth is a spinning ball of molten iron. Nothing is going to disturb it. Like a well balanced heavy metal top, it will spin for ever.
But the earth’s crust can slide over the layers below. At the moment the continental plates push uneasily against each other. Occasionally the pressures overcome the friction and inertia and part of a plate surges a few metres.
Fifteen thousand years ago northern Canada sat over the South pole (that’s right – South pole!) and a two mile thick mountain of ice had accumulated on the continental side of the pole, but not over the ocean alongside. Antarctica sat over the North pole, but not central, and again the ice had accumulated to one side. These eccentric mountains of ice exerted huge forceson the crustal plates. These plates were locked in place by the frictionwith the layers below, and where the plates were pushed towards the equator,the larger diameter of the earth – the equatorial bulge – meant that theplates could not move without being rifted apart. However the forces pushingthe ice towards the equator was about to overcome the friction that waslocking the continents in place. Once the crustal plates started to movethe friction would melt the layer beneath the crust, and the crust wouldturn on a lubricating layer of liquid magma. It would turn rather like awheel over the huge hub of the earth beneath, largely intact, with all thecontinents and oceans turning together as a whole. Like a pendulumswinging , the mountains of ice would ride on the turning wheel of the crust,crossing the equator, slowing and stopping before the opposite pole was reached.As it stops some way from the opposite pole, it may lock in this new position,but now with a lubricating layer of hot magma beneath it is more likely toswing back, just like a pendulum, until within a few days the crust comesto rest with the mountains of ice starting to melt under the equatorial sun.
With all the ice in both poles rapidly melting, sea levels would rise rapidly until only the mountain chains remained as dry land. The rich agricultural soils would all be submerged, along with most of the coal, oil, and muchof the earth’s mineral resources. Much of the Earth’s natural resources would also be destroyed.
Our technological ancestors had to find a way of controlling the Earth,s overturn, to ensure that the ice didn’t end up on the equator. They could have tried simply to melt the ice, and prevent it building up, but thatwould have been a constant drain on resources, and a huge engineering projectthat would have to run forever. Their solution was to use nuclear bombsto blow up the ice mountain over Canada, and kick start the Earth’s overturn.At the end of the first swing of the pendulum, the Earth’s crust would stopwith the continent of Antarctica now central over the South pole, and theArctic Ocean, now central over the North Pole. With a huge mass of Canadianice now turned to water vapour, or crashing back to form craters right downthrough North America, the crust should (might) balance in this new positionand as the magma layers cooled, would lock back into place.
The Antarctic ice mass would be sufficiently close to the South pole as not to melt, and the Greenland ice cap should also stay frozen. Melting the Canadian ice would still cause a rapid rise in sea level, but not as disastrously as if both ice caps ended up on the equator.
This is what the technologists resolved to do, but to their credit, they sent out messengers to many of the small farming and hunting communitiesinstructing them to move with all their livestock and possessions to higherground. Communities on low lying islands and coastal plains were instructedto build boats and rafts that would float free as the melting ice floodedthe low ground.
The technologists must also have made preparations for their own safety, but it is not so clear what these were, and may not have been entirely successful. There were two regions on the Earth’s surface where the effects of the overturn would be minimal – where the axis of rotation comes through the surface– the centre of the hub of the wheel. This was on the equator at 10degrees East, some 400 miles south of the coast of Liberia in Western Africa,and 170 degrees West, close to the Phoenix Islands in the centre ofthe Pacific Ocean.
The maximum damage would be where the turning effect was greatest – the outer centre of the tyre of the wheel. This was on 80 degrees west, 100 degrees east.
The explosions to remove the Canadian ice cap was a resounding success, and the Earth’s crust, kick started, slid round and stopped, as predicted, with Antarctica now firmly over the South Pole and the Arctic Ocean centred over the North Pole.
For the mammoths it was a disaster. One day they were grazing temperate grasslands in summer, the next day they were plunged into an Arctic winter.
Bewildered communities watched the sun trace the weirdest of paths, and the stars wheeled in the night sky. The ground shook violently and thundered for a day and a night. Volcanoes erupted and fissures opened in the earth and magma flooded out.
But for some of the more advanced regions of civilisation the controlled overturn proved an unmitigated disaster. It may be that their technologists didn’t have any knowledge of the crustal plates, and how they would behave as they moved over the equator. As the plates approach the equator theyare stretched over the equatorial bulge. The plates will pull apart, producing huge rift valleys between them, or deep chasms in the ocean floor. Sometimes the plate will sink rapidly between the rift valleys. A stretchedplate will also sink down to form huge inland basins, and rivers will changedirection, flowing into the hollows, later to form an inland sea.
As the crustal plate continues towards the opposite pole, it is sliding off the equatorial bulge, now compressed between the plates on each side. In this region of the greatest compression one crustal plate was forced beneath another, and overnight a coastal plain was thrust up into a high mountain plateau.
A coastal lagoon was thrust up as well, and now forms a high altitude salt lake, still with some of its marine creatures. This high mountain area is still known today as Atl Andes.
A second area that suffered the same fate, being rapidly thrust upwards as it came over the equatorial bulge, now forms the high plateau of Tibet.
The next day, the sun which had previously risen in the western sky and set in the east, now rose in the eastern sky and set in the west. The next night an unfamiliar constellation of stars filled the night sky.
In many places the ground had tilted and rivers flowed back along their tracks, or started to spill out into lakes to fill the hollows.
The volcanoes, quiescent for centuries continued to erupt for years and numerous aftershocks shook all regions of the planet.
Then the sea level started to rise – rapidly. All the agriculture on the coastal plains, the cities on the estuaries – those that had survived the day of continuous earthquakes – had to be abandoned, and their populations moved to higher ground. New cities were laid out on a grid pattern. Newirrigation schemes planned and built to irrigate new fields.
Another effect of the overturn that may not have been immediately apparent was a miniscule change in the length of the day. If there had been a slight redistribution of mass from the poles to the equator, then the earth would have slowed down, from the equator to the poles, and the earth would have speeded up. This change in rotational velocity would not make a noticeable difference to the length of the day (unless you have accurate clocks) but it would change the number of days in the year.
The year stays exactly the same as this is the orbit of the earth round the sun and is not affected by how fast the earth is spinning.
Our ancestral civilisation seems not to have recovered from thisupheaval. Once the new cities had been built and an irrigated agriculturere-established, it seems to have stagnated. Knowledge of many things, andScience in particular became regarded as too dangerous for the people,and it was concentrated in the hands of a few. Warlords were fearful thatscience would overthrow them, and prevented its study and teaching. Ancient records were destroyed or hidden, and became forgotten.
Even the verbal histories of the past were suppressed if the ruler thought that they conveyed information that could be used to reconstruct the ancient science. But some histories persisted as legends, and contain fragmentsof science that generations have assumed were too fanciful or improbableto be real, and so have been retold down the generations.
The detail that survives in these stories is astonishing, but it will only astound you when you understand the science that has been suppressed forthe last 10,000 years.
This information is copyright Peter Thomson 2001-2004