CHAPTER 1.3
BEN'S ANTIPODAL IMPACT THEORY: A THEORY OF ANTIPODAL IMPACT EFFECTS

   
CHAPTER 1.3
BEN'S ANTIPODAL IMPACT THEORY:
A THEORY OF ANTIPODAL IMPACT EFFECTS


Now that we have reviewed some of the relevant features of the Standard Theory, it is time to take a look at Ben's Antipodal Impact Theory, a new theory of antipodal impact effects. In section I of this book, we will consider only the "safe, conservative" version of Ben's Antipodal Impact Theory.

This new theory views the basic structure of the Earth in the same way as the Standard Theory. This new theory also agrees with the basic designation of the four major layers of the earth — the crust, the mantle, the outer core and the inner core.

However, Ben's Antipodal Impact Theory disagrees with the Standard Theory about some aspects of ALL of the other features discussed in the previous chapter. This new theory especially disagrees with the Standard Theory about the effects of a large impact at the antipode of the impact site. The Standard Theory says that the effects at the antipode would be minimal, as long as the lithosphere is not breached at the impact site. Ben's Antipodal Impact Theory says that the effects at the antipode can vary from significant to catastrophic.

Let's look at how Ben's Antipodal Impact Theory views the results of a major cosmic impact.

The key ingredient to Ben's Antipodal Impact Theory is the idea that big cosmic impacts produce profound effects at the antipode of the initial impact site.

Specifically, I propose that a large enough impact will produce a volcanic hotspot at or near the site of the antipode of that impact. Furthermore, I propose that this hotspot will move in a specific direction, related to the angle of its off-center impact.

Very few impacts are absolutely straight on. Most big impacts are in the range of 30 degrees to 45 degrees to vertical (beyond 45 degrees, there is much more chance of the impact object glancing off as it hits the atmosphere). The off-center nature of an impact will determine how the directional energy is imparted to the hotspot. Because the impact is usually off-center, the energy antipode of an impact is usually not exactly at the site of the physical antipode ... close, but not exactly at the same location.

The mechanism that allows pressure energy to form a mantle plume is based primarily upon the changes in the behavior of materials when they are subjected to extreme vibration. I believe that there is a certain threshhold level of extreme vibration and duration of that extreme vibration that allows, on a temporary basis, for the virtual elimination of the power of friction.

Once this frictional release threshold has been reached, then a mostly impermeable region, such as the Earth's mantle, can be breached and rapidly penetrated by hot liquid olivine under great pressure.


LARGE IMPACTS & CONTEMPORANEOUS ANTIPODAL MANTLE PLUMES --
A MECHANISM FOR CAUSE AND EFFECT


Current mantle plume theory claims that pockets of liquid rock at the core boundary rise towards the surface in the form of a mantle plume. Because the mantle is resistant to movement, this plume can only rise at a rate of approximately one inch per year. At this rate, it would take over 100 million years for a mantle plume to reach the underside of the lithosphere.

Therefore, according to current mantle plume theory, there is no possibility of a large impact causing a contemporaneous mantle plume that would reach the underside of the lithosphere.

So, if the mantle is so resistant to penetration, how do I propose that a mantle plume could penetrate it in such short order? The answer is something that I call the Frictional Release Threshold (FRT).

What I am saying is that under any normal circumstances, a plume or anything else will not move through the mantle at a speed that is faster than about one inch per year. However, when extreme vibration is involved, things can change dramatically. And extreme vibration is exactly what a very large impact brings to the table.

During my years in the cold formed fastener business, I saw the effects of vibration in dramatic ways. The company that I worked for, Rockford Products, had an applications engineering lab with many different types of test equipment, including a vibration test machine.

Vibration is important in the study of screw and bolt applications because, unless some kind of locking device is used, the only reason that a joint will retain its clamp load is friction.

As a rule of thumb, when a bolt is tightened in a joint, 50% of the torque is used to overcome the friction between the head of the bolt and the joint surface, 40% of the torque is used to overcome the friction in the threads and only 10% of the torque is actually used to increase the clamp load.

Vibration can cause momentary loss of friction. Extreme vibration can cause the friction to virtually vanish.

The vibration test machine at Rockford Products showed how vibration could reduce the effects of friction dramatically. It was kind of fun to torque up a bolt to full clamp load and then turn the vibration tester on to the maximum setting. The bolt would unscrew itself at a speed that was easily visible to the naked eye. Most vibrational loss of clamp load in real life happens much more gradually.

The vibration test machine was extreme enough that it had to be mounted on rubber blocks so that it didn't shake the lab apart. But, even though the vibration test machine created an extreme vibrational environment for industrial testing, it would pale in comparison to the vibration felt by the Earth's mantle immediately after a very large impact. A significant portion of two million H-bombs of energy (in the case of the Chicxulub impact) would be converted to shear waves that would ping pong between the Earth's lithosphere and the Earth's outer core (shear waves can't penetrate either the outer core or the inner core). The mantle would be continuously subjected to the most extreme shear imaginable, until the waves dissipated.

This vibration effect is particularly important because the Earth's mantle is held in place (and slows the movement of anything through it) by friction and friction alone.

Friction can be a powerful force. We depend upon it to hold many things together. But vibration can make a huge difference. A small amount of vibration may not do much, but once once the vibration reaches a certain threshold, the FRT, it can reduce or even eliminate the effects of friction. Later, when vibration later falls back below the FRT, friction takes back its power and everything returns to the status quo.

I am proposing that very large impacts, those that create impact craters of 85 km in diameter or larger, can produce shear waves in the mantle that are powerful enough that they will cause the vibration in the mantle to rise above the FRT for long enough for the pressure waves to push a mantle plume through the mantle to the underside of the Earth's lithosphere.

I also propose that there is a layer of liquid rock between the liquid core and the mantle. I propose that this liquid rock has a relatively high concentration of olivine. I will call this layer the liquid olivine layer. The Standard Theory proposes that there is liquid olivine here, also, but maybe just pockets of liquid olivine.134 In my model, the intense pressure waves compress and move this liquid olivine layer around the Earth's core towards the interior physical antipode of the impact. The off-center pressure waves would meet at the physical antipode, with the stronger forward pressure waves over-topping the backward pressure waves, causing the plume to center slightly beyond and to the side of the physical antipode (at the energy antipode).


IT'S HOTTER THAN YOU THINK


According to an article in the January/February, 2014 issue of Discover Magazine, a European research team has determined that the core of the Earth has a temperature of approximately 11,000°F (6000°C), instead of 9,000°F, as previously believed. The liquid outer core of the Earth is now estimated to have a temperature of 3800°C, while the lower mantle checks in at 3000°C. It is reasonable to assume that the area of the mantle that is right next to the outer core would pick up at least some of this 800°C heat difference, enough to liquify a small layer of mantle.

If this liquid mantle layer were only one mile thick, then, using the formula for the volume of a sphere (4/3 Pi [r cubed]), we can calculate the material volume of this liquid layer. The calculation would be (4/3 Pi [2171 cubed]) minus (4/3 Pi [2170 cubed]). This reduces to (42,861,561,540) minus (42,802,360,500). This equals 59,201,040 cubic miles of material found in a one mile layer surrounding the Earth's liquid outer core.

The total amount of volcanic material expelled from the Deccan traps has been calculated to be 27,000 cubic miles of material. While 27,000 cubic miles of material is a huge amount of material, it is less than 1/20 of one percent of the amount contained in a one mile layer that surrounds the Earth's outer liquid core. In other words, even a relatively small band of liquid mantle surrounding the outer core would contain more than 2000 times as much material as would be needed to create all of the Deccan traps.

THE LIQUID CORE GETS INVOLVED


But this is just the beginning of the story. When I first examined the possibilities of liquid from the interior shooting up to the underside of the lithosphere, I thought in terms of liquid mantle material only. My reading had described olivine material from deep in the mantle as being the volcanic result. Therefore, I thought only in those terms.

However, I now realize that the liquid core, containing a much, much larger amount of material than just a narrow layer of liquid mantle, is a big player, as well. The liquid material in the liquid core would be affected by the intense pressure waves of a large impact, too.

As both the liquid core and the much smaller layer of liquid mantle are pushed by the pressure waves in the direction of the energy antipode, the lighter material (the mantle) will rise first.

The pressure waves will penetrate the liquid core, whereas the shear waves will not. This means that the liquid core will be impacted by the pressure waves and will distend towards the energy antipode, just as the small layer of liquid mantle will do. This also means that, in the case of a really large impact, there would be so much material moving upward that some of liquid core would be included in the mantle plume that rises to the surface. In this case, we would expect to see nickel and even iron in the volcanic material ... which we do see in the Deccan traps, the Siberian traps and other Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs). One would expect that the lightest material (the mantle) would dominate the first eruptions (and in the case of small plumes, almost all of the material might be mantle material). However, in the case of large plumes, subsequent material might be a mix of both mantle and outer core.

The evidence supports this theory. Wikipedia and several other sources note that LIPs are associated with economic concentrations of copper-nickel and iron. The Siberian traps are listed as the largest source of volcanic nickel on the planet.


CREATING A SEMI-PERMANENT SPINEL LAVA TUBE


An interesting sidelight involves the longevity of these mantle plumes. A person might wonder why the plume tubes wouldn't collapse rather quickly, instead of leading to hotspots that last for tens and even hundreds of millions of years.

A livescience article by Tia Ghose entitled "Earth's Biggest Deep Earthquake Still a Mystery," notes that olivine, under great pressure, can transform into spinel, and that this transformation is irreversible. Spinel is a hard, tough substance that might well be acting as a sheath around the liquid olivine that escaped the extreme pressure waves by fleeing to the surface. The olivine that couldn't escape along the walls may have been transformed into a sheath of spinel. 127


SUMMARIZING THE THEORIES


The Standard Theory hypothesizes pockets of molten olivine next to the core that gradually make their way to the surface in the form of mantle plumes at a rate of about one inch per year. The Standard Theory sees no relationship between very large impacts and the creation of mantle plumes.

My theory hypothesizes a layer of molten olivine next to the core. A very large impact will cause pressure waves that will then cause the liquid olivine to converge at the interior physical antipode at the mantle/core boundary. If the shear waves are strong enough for long enough, they will cause shaking in the mantle that will reach levels beyond the FRT. Once the material in the mantle is shaken beyond the FRT, the directionally pressured liquid olivine will be forced upward to the underside of the Earth's lithosphere in the form of a mantle plume. The forward over-topping energy transferred from the off-center impact will result in an energy antipode at the surface that is slightly beyond and to the side of the physical antipode.


THREE ANALOGOUS EXAMPLES


Although I do not know of any example in geology that is completely analogous to the method of mantle plume creation that I propose, there are three examples in nature and industry that share significant similarities. These examples may be helpful in picturing the process and understanding that this type of situation is not unprecedented.

The key to understanding the mechanism is to realize that friction is the only thing that restricts normal movement in the Earth's mantle to about one inch per year. Once the the friction has been released, there is nothing to stop the pressurized olivine from shooting upwards to the bottom of the Earth's lithsphere. Since friction is the only retarding force at work here, it is only a question of how much extreme vibration it will take to cause the friction to be completely compromised. And, in the case of very large impacts, we can invoke the words of that eminent musical geologist, Elvis Presley, who said, "There's a whole lotta shakin' goin' on ... woooo!" (It's always good to bring in the King of Rock when analyzing things of a geological nature.)


WET CEMENT


The first example of a roughly analogous situation is that of wet cement. The consistency of the Earth's mantle is often compared to wet cement. It is difficult to move an object through wet cement, just as it is hard to move an object through the Earth's mantle.

However, vibration changes everything. In construction, vibrating rods (mostly used to vibrate air bubbles out of wet cement) are used to easily pierce wet cement. An article entitled "Vibration & Re-vibration" by Amr Mohamed Ismail states:

"Vibration of fresh concrete reduces its internal shear strength and enables the concrete to temporarily liquify. facilitating the consolidation process. Once the vibration stops, its liquid flow subsides. 137pg4


Another variation of this theme involves earthquakes in saturated soils. The earthquake vibrations can cause soil liquifaction, allowing buildings to actually sink into the soil. Extreme vibration would allow nearly complete release of friction.

The wet cement analogy is almost completely analogous, except for the the fact that a significant amount of water is involved in the wet cement and saturated soil, whereas there is likely to be much less water in the mantle. Therefore the FRT would likely be much higher in the mantle.


GLASS


Another near analogy is that of glass. Like Earth's mantle, glass is frictionally bound together, not chemically bound together.

In this case, I will use temperature as a stand-in for vibration when looking at glass. I could even argue that, on an atomic scale, temperature and vibration are two sides of the same coin. But, clearly, temperature is not actually the same as vibration and that is where the analogy separates.

However, the glass analogy allows us to visualize a substance that is rigid at temperatures up to 850 degrees (depending upon the type of glass). As the temperature rises, the glass undergoes reversible changes from slumping to viscous to liquid as the temperature exceeds 2400 degrees. Above 2400 degrees (again, depending upon the type of glass) there is virtually no resistance to penetration.

As the temperature is brought back down to below 800 degrees, the glass goes through these same stages in reverse, ending up as a solid, unmoveable slab.


SPRITES


A third near analogy is that of sprites, which are a recently discovered and photographed phenomenon in the upper atmosphere. During particularly intense thunderstorms, lightning not only occurs from cloud-to-cloud and from cloud-to-ground, but also upwards from cloud-to-ionosphere. A bolt (actually more of a spray) of cloud-to-ionosphere lightning is called a sprite.

Of particular interest is the fact that sprites only occur during very, very intense thunderstorms, and since they only occur between the tops of clouds and the ionosphere, they are very hard to photograph. If you photograph only the tops of normal thunderstorms, you would likely never see a sprite.

I would argue that the very high threshold of energy required to produce a sprite is directly analogous to the high level of intense pressure waves and shear waves required to produce a mantle plume during an impact. Smaller impacts just won't reach the threshold, just as normal thunderstorms won't produce sprites. However, statistical analysis (see next chapter) reveals that, in the last 100 million years, all four impacts that produced craters of 85 km in diameter or more did reach the threshold and did produce mantle plumes.

This sprite analogy is quite comparable to the mechanism for producing mantle plumes, except for the fact that sprites are electrical phenomena, whereas mantle plumes are physical phenomena. One other interesting point about sprites is the fact that some of the largest sprites spread out along the bottom of the ionosphere in almost the same shape as a mantle plume head when it is forced up against the bottom of the Earth's lithosphere.


RESONANT SONIC DRILLING


There is also the fact that industrial drilling has already developed a drilling method that uses vibration to do the job. An article entitled "the Resonant Sonic Drilling Method: An Innovative Technology for Environmental Restoration Programs" by Jeffrey C. Barrow shows a picture of a rock with a hole in it, with the following caption: "Four-inch diameter sonic core hole drilled through a large granite boulder." 135pg157

The article describes the process of resonant sonic drilling as follows:

"The method uses the natural elasticity and inertial properties of a steel pipe to allow wave propagation that will make the drill pipe expand and contract due to these waves. These characteristics, coupled with the effects of bringing the pipe into resonance, are what allows the drill pipe to penetrate through virgin earth formations with little resistance, often like a knife through soft butter." 135pg155


An information sheet from Terrasonic International describes the key to the sonic drilling process as follows:
"This intense vibration causes a very thin layer of soil directly around the drill rods to fluidize." 136


Although resonant sonic drilling employs a very precise mechanism (which would not be the case in the massive vibrations from a very large impact), the fact that the vibrations from a very large impact would be hugely more massive would likely make up for the lack of precise focus. Also important would be the intense pressure waves pushing the liquid olivine layer towards the surface.


HIGH PRESSURE SHOCK WAVES


The purpose of this section is to offer further explanation of how the shock impact of a large cosmic object can cause directed pressure in the liquid inner core and the small liquid band in the lower mantle of the Earth, leading to a mantle plume with directed motion.

Some readers might well wonder why the pressure felt in a liquid would not end up equally distributed tom all points, as might occur in a hydraulic cylinder. Well, in the long run, all the pressure would distribute equally. However, we are not looking at the long run. We are looking at what would happen in the early stages, just after the impact, when the mantle would be permeable, due to extreme vibration.

When a large cosmic object impacts the Earth in a non-deep ocean area of the planet, the impact will cause more than just pressure waves. It will also cause high pressure shock waves.

Most of us have seen these high pressure shock waves illustrated as part of the result of an atomic blast. The blast blows trees over and it blows houses apart. High pressure shock waves can be significantly more powerful and penetrating than ordinary pressure waves.

The key to a powerful high pressure shock wave is the speed of the impact object that is hitting the target. A very high speed makes a very big difference. If the speed is below a certain threshold level, the impact object will not produce a meaningful shock wave. If the speed is well below a certain threshold level, the impact object will not produce a shock wave at all.


SHAPED CHARGES


One way to understand the effect of high pressure shock waves is to look at similar events that occur in the military. The military uses something called a "shaped charge" to direct an explosive blast in a focused direction, in order to create a useful shock wave.

These shaped charges usually consist of a cone shaped explosive charge with an interior cone shaped jacket. When the explosive is set off, the explosive cone focuses the explosion on the metal interior cone shaped jacket, forcing it to reshape itself into a semi-liquid jet that is propelled with great force and high speed.

When this type of shaped charge is used in a high explosive anti tank (HEAT) shell, it can be very effective in piercing even heavy armor. As noted in an article on the GlobalSecurity.org website, "Even a small 440 gram shaped charge explosive is extremely destructive, and can penetrate 14 inches (35.6 cm) of armor."

The key to the destructive power of the shaped charge is the high speed that it imparts to the penetrating object. The GlobalSecurity.org website explains: "Full hydrodynamic behavior does not occur until the strike velocity reaches several kilometers per second, such as occurs with shaped charge munitions. At strike velocities less than about 1,150m/s penetration of metal armor occurs mainly through the mechanism of plastic deformation. A typical penetrator achieves a strike velocity around 1,500m/s to 1,700m/s, depending on range, and therefore target effects generally exhibit both hydrodynamic behavior and plastic deformation."

When the GlobalSecurity.org website speaks of a typical strike velocity of 1,500m/s to 1,700m/s, this translates to about 3,600 mph. Most cosmic impacts occur at speeds of 20,000 to 40,000 mph. In other words, cosmic impacts have an order of magnitude more speed than is needed to reach the high pressure shock wave threshold.

While a cosmic impact is not a shaped charge explosion, it does contain the two primary characteristics that are important to the shock wave effect. These two characteristics are:

1. High Speed - The impact of a cosmic object will easily reach the threshold needed to produce a punishing shock wave. Another factor to consider in all of this is the fact that shock waves dissipate relatively quickly.

2. Directed Motion - Although the impact will "waste" considerable pressure energy off to the sides of the impact, there will still be plenty of energy applied directly in front of the impact object. In effect, a high speed cosmic impact can be viewed as a sloppy and inefficient shaped charge, with the directed impact acting as a substitute for the focusing device.

One other observation from GlobalSecurity.org is useful in our understanding of this idea of high pressure shock waves, as exemplified by shaped charges. The website says: "Shaped charge is indeed an extraordinary phenomenon that is beyond the scale of normal physics, which explains why its fundamental theoretical mechanism is by no means fully understood."

The academic reader might wonder why I have chosen shaped charges as the closest analogy to the high pressure shock wave caused by a cosmic impact. Why didn't I merely rely on theoretical models of the physics of shock waves?

I have chosen the shaped charge as the best analogy because it covers the primary characteristics and because there is a long history of indisputable, actual results in the real world. Furthermore, as noted in the previous quote from GlobalSecurity.org, there are still questions as to the true nature of theoretical shock wave models.

I will attempt to illustrate the nature of this high pressure shock wave as it relates to the Chicxulub impact 65 MYA in a series of illustrations at the end of this chapter.


CONCLUSION


Ben's Antipodal impact Theory establishes reasons to believe that contemporaneous mantle plumes can result from very large impacts by cosmic objects as they collide with the Earth. The mantle plumes are created by the extreme pressure brought to bear at the liquid olivine layer next to the Earth's core, combined with the lack of frictional resistance in the Earth's mantle as the shear forces pass beyond the Frictional Release Threshold. This chapter explains a mechanism by which the four very large impacts of the past 100 million years could have caused mantle plumes at or near the antipode, as well as illustrating a threshold principle by which smaller impacts may not be able to produce mantle plumes.

The Next Chapter, entitled "The Statistical Justification for Contemporaneous Impacts and Mantle Plumes" establishes the statistical and geological evidence that mantle plumes contemporaneous with very large impacts have occurred in all four of the largest impacts of the last 100 million years.

IMPACT #A
IMPACT #B
IMPACT #C
IMPACT #D
IMPACT #E
IMPACT #F
IMPACT #G