How Did Plate Tectonics Get Started on Earth?

It has long been a puzzle to secular geologists as to how conventional slow-and-gradual plate tectonics got started. But recently a multi-national research team, led by geophysicist Taras Gerya at ETH-Zurich in Switzerland, has claimed to finally have a solution. Their co-authored paper was published on November 12, 2015, in one of the leading weekly science journals.

Solving a Problem

It is currently widely believed among secular geologists that early in the earth's history the earth's entire surface was covered by a thick, cold, and buoyant layer of basaltic crust that acted to keep the earth's surface rigid and motionless. It has therefore been a puzzle how plate tectonics might have gotten started under these unfavorable, early conditions. By contrast, in today's world, new subduction zones seem to be explainable through existing plate forces and existing zones of lithospheric (crustal) weakness. But in the scenario secular geologists imagine for the early earth, there are no zones of lithospheric weakness or any plate-driving forces.

So how do these scientists believe their research has solved this perceived problem? They concluded that subduction initiation processes must have been markedly different in the past! In other words, the present is not the key to the past! Flood geologists have been saying this for almost two hundred years, ever since Charles Lyell started his crusade to rid geology of Moses, that is, the biblical account of the Flood in Genesis 6–9. After all, God was there in the past as a reliable eyewitness to tell us in writing what happened, unlike Lyell and his adherents who were not.

What did these scientists discover? They found that a mantle plume, a rising blob of hot rock originating deep in the earth, could have caused the first crack in the "lid," which in turn could have started the first subduction zone and thus could have started plate tectonics!

They came to this discovery and conclusion by first recognizing that the Caribbean Large Igneous Province, a hot, buoyant plateau of oceanic crust created by vast rapid outpourings of humungous quantities of lavas unlike anything we experience today, formed due to the arrival of a large mantle plume head beneath the oceanic crust in the Caribbean. The molten rock being injected up through that plateau weakened it, eventually causing it to collapse. That then induced its edges to override the surrounding oceanic crust, pushing it down, deforming and weakening it until it ripped, thus producing several independent downwarped slabs. These cold, dense slabs immediately started to sink into the mantle, and so subduction zones were off and running. Today in the same region, slow plate movements are still causing deadly earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

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