The title of James Maxlow’s latest book clearly indicates its subject matter. “Beyond plate tectonics” signposts that this is something more advanced than basic academic courses might cover, while the subtitle of “unsettling settled science” confirms our suspicions. The whole book is all revolutionary and new, unsettling to anyone who thinks there will be no more major revisions in the Earth sciences. It is just as stimulating to those people who understand that scientific discovery will never be finished. Dr James Maxlow is an Australian geologist who is well-known for his theory about expansion tectonics with two previous books, science articles, presentations and radio interview (some available on YouTube). His expansion tectonics articles tend to be published in geological publications like the Australian Institute of Geoscientists where he has a number of supporters, he was a lead presenter at the 2011 conference on Earth expansion in Italy and has a web site exploring the scientific case for expansion tectonics. His two previous books about Earth expansion were regularly in the top best sellers in geophysics. In his home country of Australia, Maxlow’s first book, Terra Non Firma Earth, became a No 1 Best Seller in Amazon’s Geophysics section, while his other book, On the Origin of Continents and Oceans, is regularly in the top ten. He has been writing his new book, Beyond Plate Tectonics, for the last few years, so it was great news to hear that the academic publisher Aracne editrice has published his new book in November 2018. It is available either directly from the publisher or any good bookshop. Maxlow’s latest book is a more refined version of his previous works complete with all his latest research. While the conventional wisdom is that the Earth has remained the same size for billions of years Maxlow explores what happens if it increased in size. The key to good science is that it should predict events that can be confirmed by observation. Maxlow highlights how there are are many startling predicts of expansion tectonics that are all confirmed by observation. Just one prediction (on page 372) shows us how Australia lay close to North America in the Permian. Ocean floor spreading in the Pacific Ocean split the two apart over time, so copper deposits are distributed on either side of the Pacific.
Maxlow explains how expansion tectonics predicts that Australia naturally joins North America on an ancient earth. As we look at the globes going progressively further back in time we can plainly see how Australia gradually joins up with North America. In the end the most ancient reconstructions predict that Australia was snuggling up to North America. The new expansion tectonics explains it precisely. In complete contrast, according to the predictions of orthodox plate tectonic theory, Australia and North America weren’t joined. They are predicted to be far apart with a large Pacific Ocean separating them. So it was something of a shock to geologists who recently discovered evidence in 2018 that they were in fact joined together. As an article, “G'day mate: 1.7-billion-year-old chunk of North America found in Australia” published in USA Today explained, “Rocks recently discovered in Australia bear striking similarities to those found in North America”. I’d recommend reading Maxlow’s book to discover why. Another mystery with orthodox plate tectonics is the obscure dinosaur migration routes across the ancient world. It is often difficult to imagine how dinosaurs could migrate at all on orthodox plate tectonic reconstructions since they sometimes disappear at the edge of a continental plate, only to reappear on another continental plate supposedly separated by a vast ancient ocean. Plate tectonic reconstructions introduce increasingly wider ancient oceans to separate the continental plates as we look further back in time so the problem becomes even more pronounced for early dinosaurs. The problem disappears with Maxlow’s reconstructions. Since ancient plates are joined together the dinosaurs can migrate directly from one ancient continental plate to another. In fact Maxlow had already explored this in 2016 in his paper, Dinosaurs on an Expanding Earth. In his new book he extends the argument to include all plant and animal species. The whole book is full of comparable startling predictions using Maxlow’s reconstructions. Firstly, all diametrically opposed ancient magnetic north and south poles are precisely located using published palaeopole data. Secondly, ancient poles and equator coincide fully with observed climate zonation and plant and animal species development. Thirdly, plant and animal species evolution is intimately related to the development of supercontinents, the distribution of ancient continental seas, and changes to climate zonation. Fourthly, the spatial and temporal distribution of metals across adjoining continents and crustal regimes enables mineral search and genetic relationships to be accurately predicted (as in the example just mentioned). Fifthly, the presence of fossil fuels highlights the global interrelationships of resources coinciding with the distribution of a network of Palaeozoic continental seas and low-lying terrestrial environments. The formation of the ancient supercontinents and breakup to form the modern continents as well as sympathetic opening of each of the modern oceans is shown to be predictive, progressive, and evolutionary. Maxlow starts the first chapter by discussing controversial ideas. He quotes the words of Alfred Wegener, “…all earth sciences must contribute evidence towards unveiling the state of our planet in earlier times, and that the truth of the matter can only be reached by combining all this evidence…” As we all know, it still took another 50 years for his idea of continental drift to be accepted and rebranded as plate tectonics. Some people just take a long time to accept what most consider obvious today. The second chapter discusses the new discoveries that enabled Maxlow to begin his new vision of tectonics. Modelling the creation of new ocean floor was probably one of the biggest areas that allowed the development of the new theories presented. It revealed discrepancies that had not been apparent to previous researchers. Visualising how the crust grows is difficult to imagine on the whole earth. It grows in three dimensions and Maxlow has produced numerous globes to illustrate how this is occurring. The models form the backbone of the whole book, all presented in glorious colour. The different colours are used to illustrate the different rock types on the continents and the age of the ocean floor. One subject you won’t see in plate tectonic books is the development of the continental crust. But Maxlow devotes a whole chapter to the continents. This all fits in with this new tectonics. The new tectonics illustrates that there are much better ways to describe the development of the continents. The new model is so precise that he can explain details that were previously poorly understood. It is immensely superior to the standard model of plate tectonics. Maxlow presents a proposed causal mechanism to explain why the earth is gaining mass. Having discussed a number of possible causes he presents the one he thinks most likely in greater detail. The proposed mechanism causing the Earth to increase in size is based on plasma particles from the Sun, a suggestion originally put forward by John Eichler in 2011. Maxlow points out that it is only in the last few decades that a considerable amount of new evidence has become available indicating the huge amount of charged particles in the solar wind. A large number of these electron and proton particles must enter the Earth. Normal atoms are too large to pass into the Earth but a single electron or proton is so small it can flow into the Earth to increase its mass, possibly increasing the temperature of the upper mantle. A lack of causal mechanism is one of the main arguments put forward to reject Earth expansion, but plasma particles from the Sun must increase the mass of the Earth. To suggest otherwise is simply unscientific. I would also note that there are at least half a dozen proposed mechanisms for mass increase of the Earth and some of these also definitely add mass. We know for example that a massive comet at the end of the last Ice Age added the mass equivalent to 18.5 years of Earth expansion. So it would be easy to believe that these different mechanisms might well combine to produce the overall mass increase to cause Earth expansion. Are plasma particles the main cause of mass increase? I don’t know but I do know that further research in the next few decades should begin to quantify the amount of Earth expansion caused by the plasma mechanism. There are going to be some exciting times ahead as these mysteries begin to reveal themselves. Maxlow isn’t the only geologist who sees evidence that the Earth is expanding and he references many other researchers throughout his book. He dedicated the book to Klaus Vogel and includes a picture of himself with Klaus Vogel and Jan Koziar, taken when they all attended the 2011 Earth expansion conference in Italy. Every chapter starts with a relevant statement from a different researcher and at the end of the book there is a useful reference list of numerous scientific papers to further explore this fascinating new science. Maxlow’s book updates us with the latest evidence for Earth expansion to take us all well beyond plate tectonics. The evidence for expansion seems overwhelming and he presents a viable mechanism for the observed mass increase. I’d recommend it to every student of geology who would like to discover the next major scientific revolution.