Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Recycling the Earth


Glacial Reflections

The soft glow of Mt. Baker struck me as a Phantom, pouring its spell on my view from my living room window. This was a rare day- clouds and haze usually filtered this apparition from vision. Yet this mountain glacier persisted, in spite of the gradual creep upward of the Blue Planet’s temperature. What a stroke of serendipity it was that I had visited this island, before the debacle of continental dehydration created an increased movement to the northwest USA of people wanting habitation on islands which are cooled by northern Pacific waters.
Now it is difficult to find a plot where the trees remain and the area is un-congested. The coastline has been pre-empted, even though this is the less desirable location in terms of risk. Yearly, the western beaches are retreating, due to storm erosion, at about an average rate of nearly a foot. Those more prominent, which jut into the Puget Sound, may lose more than a foot yearly, and one should allow a foot for each remaining year of one’s projected life to ensure that there is sufficient real estate for dwelling.
But the flat-topped Mt. Baker says nothing of this- rather it reflects the annual snowfall which comes at it off the Pacific Ocean. It remains adamant, that it will show its stark profile to those who travel north of Seattle. In my younger days, I would have forthwith climbed to its peak of 10,775 feet elevation, but now I have to content myself with fixing my gaze on this giant ice cream sundae, through my front window.

Mt. Baker- a message from the Underworld

Inexorably, the torrid demons of the First Ring (line of contact of crust- where it is being forced into the next lower zone- and mantle) were making their way to the World of Life;
They had gathered all of the Energy from their Inner Hell to expel molten rock onto the Nest of the six great Kingdoms*. Volcanoes were active above the line of the abnormal contact of the First and Second shells, and this zone on the EARTH'S surface is known as Cascadia.
The nest had taken a long time for creation- over three billion years had expired since simple living cells had found a way to propagate.
First, the participants had tolerated the original atmosphere of methane and Carbon dioxide, gradually absorbing these and releasing the toxic oxygen for creation of a new atmosphere. Then, as the air became increasingly a gaseous oxygen regime, they found a way to use the new gas for burning the flimsy carbon to produce Carbon Dioxide back again.
Along the way, expelled basalt was attacked by this new life, taking some of its ingredients- Potassium, Nitrogen, ions, and Phosphorus, robbing it of items necessary to remain basalt. The next thermal-mechanical cycle of rotation of the resulting sedimentary rocks back into the earth partly produced a fraction of less heavy rock- granite. Life had begun to make a crust of the slag from the earth, which was more considerate of Life.
Life had worked a way of attaining its goal- that of propagating itself and slowing the destruction of the Earth. By making the Crust increasingly thick, with each sedimentary- melting cycle, as part of the crust was forced back into the deep mantle, Life was insulating itself from the demons below, who were determined to expel all those materials too light to remain.
The line of Cascades, which included Mt. Baker, was a result of the forcing of part of the earth’s crust (first shell) down into the depths, with the cycles created by the rotation of this shallow layer back into the second shell- the Mantle. Heat was driving the process, from processes of radioactive reactions and compression of basalt into a more dense form (releasing heat). This cycle required at least one hundred million years, but there now have been several decades of these cycles, in the time since Life first started lightening the rocks in the sedimentary realm. With each cycle of subduction-uplift, requiring 100million years or more, the lighter rocks of the crust became thicker. Granite mass increases with time, since it is a result of the melting of sedimentary rocks- predominantly quartz, shale, and limestones.
Which will win- the forcible expulsion of the heavy rock from the Cascades, to be transformed by Life, or the return to basalt due to loss of Life as Carbon Dioxide becomes more dominant with burning of the organic materials produced by Previous Life?

Mt. Baker continues- belching occasionally, bringing basalt for the new attack, adding acids to the local economy, and creating water in the process:
Acid + Base > Salt + Water, e.g. HCl + Na, oxides in rock > H2O + NaCl
So long as Life prevents the reverse of this relation, water is created, salt beds are brought for Life, and the light elements of the earth are re-cycled. Life is good! An excess of burning of previous deposits of organic compounds will return the atmosphere to one dominant in carbon dioxide, and the earth will revert to that of three billion years previous.
This might be interpreted as the eternal battle of good versus evil- the demons of the underworld clearly intending to minimize the formation of the crust, leaving it one of basalt composition.

*In order of formation, the Kingdoms now in effect (subject to Taxonomists’ reorganization) are:
1. Archaea,
2. Bacteria, both single-celled
3. Protista, such as diatoms,
4. Fauna,
5. Fungi, close to animals, and
6. Flora