Whole-Earth Decompression Dynamics

The weight of 300 Earth-masses of primordial gases gravitationally compressed the non-gases: the original rock-plus-alloy kernel that became Earth to some 64% of its present radius, sufficient compression for solid continental-rock crust to cover the entire planet, as Hilgenberg envisioned.

As the Sun ignited, its violent T-Tauri solar-wind stripped Earth of its Jupiter-like gas envelope, marking the beginning of the Hadean eon (Figure 5). When internal pressures built up later, sufficient to crack the rigid crust, the Earth began to decompress by expansion (Figure 7). Gravitational energy of compression that had been stored during Earth's gas-giant stage powers Earth dynamics.

Figure 7. Decompression of Earth (WEDD) from Hadean to present. From left to right, same scale: 1) Ottland, 64% of present Earth diameter, fully covered with continental-rock crust; 2), 3), and 4) Formation of primary and secondary decompression cracks that progressively fractured Ottland to open ocean basins. Timescale not precisely established; 5) Holocene Earth.

Whole-Earth decompression produced primary cracks in rigid crust. Identified as the oceanic ridge system, they persist. Here ends the similarity with Earth expansion theory. Whole-Earth decompression dynamics identifies secondary decompression cracks. Along continent margins they are identifiable as submarine trenches.

Primary decompression cracks, with their underlying heat sources, extrude basalt-rock, whereas secondary decompression cracks lack heat sources. They became ultimate repositories for extruded basalt-rock. Basalt-rock, extruded from oceanic ridges, traverses the ocean floor by gravitational creep. Ultimately, in a process of "subduction" that lacks any mantle convection, seafloor basalt, with its carbonate sediment, fills in secondary decompression cracks (Figure 8). Seismically imaged "down-plunging slabs", I submit, are in-filled secondary decompression cracks.

Figure 8. Ocean floor topography formed by whole-Earth decompression dynamics. As the Earth decompresses by WEDD, primary cracks with underlying heat sources and secondary cracks that lack heat sources are generated to accommodate decompression. Basalt-rock, extruded at mid-ocean ridges, creeps across the ocean basins (black arrows) to fill in secondary decompression cracks often located at continental margins. As the Earth decompresses by WEDD (vertical green arrows), crustal extension (lateral red arrows) forms secondary decompression cracks into which seafloor falls; the dynamic processes require no invocation of mantle convection, but their outcomes resemble "subducted tectonic plates".

Whole-Earth decompression dynamics extends plate tectonic concepts as it is responsible for Earth's well-documented features. Fold-mountain formation does not exclusively require plate collisions. Partially in-filled secondary decompression cracks uniquely explain oceanic troughs, inexplicable by plate tectonics. And, compression heating at the base of the rigid crust is a direct consequence of mantle decompression[24]. Plate tectonic meanings and terminology are to a great extent preserved in my new paradigm. For example, transform plate boundaries are identical; divergent plate boundaries are similar, but with a different driving mechanism; convergent plate boundaries likewise are similar, but down-plunging plates neither create oceanic trenches, which are secondary decompression cracks, nor are they recycled through the mantle by conveyer-like mantle convection; and Wadati-Benioff zones are quite similar, with the possible exception of why mantle melting occurs that is responsible for sometimes associated volcanic eruptions. Many of the observations taken to support plate tectonics support whole-Earth decompression dynamics as well.

At onset of the Hadean eon, one ancient supercontinent existed: the 100% closed contiguous shell of continental-rock I name Ottland, in honor of Ott Christoph Hilgenberg, who first conceived its existence. The successive fragmentation of Ottland to form new Earth surface area to accommodate decompression-increased planetary volume, even with competitive interactions between fragments such as the India-Asia collision, bears little resemblance to the popular, but hypothetical, breakup of Wegener's Pangaea, wherein the continents are assumed free to wander, breaking up and re-aggregating.