Geophysics

   

Electronic Tectonics

Authors: Charles L. Chandler

The Earth's crust is sub-divided into plates, whose relative motions are well known. But the energy driving those motions remains enigmatic. Convective potential (as gauged by radiative heat loss) is insufficient, amounting to merely 4% of the total crustal energy expenditure. Furthermore, it is going in the wrong direction, since temperatures in subduction zones are higher than in the mid-ocean ridges, and therefore the buoyancy should send the oceanic plates upward and outward from the "subduction" zones, and downward at the mid-oceanic ridges, if convective potential was powerful enough to be the driving force anyway. Deformation from tidal forces is another source of energy, but it supplies only 0.01% of the energy consumed in tectonic friction. Recent research has found a wide variety of evidence of electric and magnetic fields associated with tidal and seismic deformation, though the origin of those fields is unknown. The present work explores the possibility that the mantle below the Mohorovičić discontinuity is positively charged by electron degeneracy pressure. If so, there is an electric field between the positive ions below the Moho, and the expelled electrons above it. If the pressure remained constant, the charge separation would be static, establishing current-free double-layers. But tidal and seismic deformation alters the pressure at depth, meaning that the threshold for ionization is constantly shifting. The significance is that a shifting boundary will drive telluric currents, with electrons flowing upward (or downward) when the pressure is increased (or decreased). Thus the energy generated by crustal deformation has been underestimated, since only plastic and inelastic thermalization was considered, and not ohmic heating from telluric currents. The general form of the EM data matches the expectations of this hypothesis.

Comments: 15 Pages.

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Submission history

[v1] 2014-01-22 23:48:12

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