Sam Carey and His Medal – Published in The Australian Geologist, Newsletter #173, p.8, December 2014

In establishing the SW Carey Medal, the GSA has acknowledged the stature of a great Australian geologist though it is a pity that it dispenses such an honor without paying much attention to – or lending any credence to – the work for which he is famous. Remarkably, “The Expanding Earth” was first published in 1976, a full decade before the oceanographic magnetic data release by the US National Geophysical data Center. In his work Sam Carey wrote that the continental drift theory was wrong and he maintained that view for the remainder of his life. He was before his time, because there remain fundamental observations on global tectonics that need to be addressed, among them:

  • Why is there no oceanic crust older than ~200 my?
  • Given that oceanic crust is ~5 km thick and continental crust is mostly ~40 km thick, what has happened to the huge amount of rock supposedly subducted over the remaining 95% of Earth’s 4.3 billion year history?
  • With the model of oceanic crust being subducted beneath continental crust, it would be expected that the loose pelagic sediment and erosional rubble riding on top of that crust would be scraped off and hence accumulate as mountains of sediment along the edges of continents. There is no evidence whatsoever of such accumulation.
  • Why is the “Ring of Fire” uniquely located along the periphery of the Pacific Ocean?
  • The subduction model cannot explain why the spreading from the mid-Atlantic ridge does not produce any evidence of subduction along the eastern edge of the North American continent or the eastern edge of the South American continent, or the western edge of the Eurasian continent or the western edge of the African continent.
  • The subduction model cannot explain why the spreading from the mid-Indian Ocean ridge does not produce any evidence of subduction along the western edge of the Australian continent or the eastern coast of the African continent, where the African rift valley is suggestive of spreading rather than compression.
  • The subduction model cannot explain why the spreading from the mid-Arctic Ocean does not produce any evidence of subduction along the entire coast of the Arctic Ocean.
  • Why is there no mid-ocean ridge in the northern half of the Pacific Ocean?
  • How does continental drift explain deep crustal depressions such as the Mediterranean, Black, Caspian and Aral Seas, the Tarim Basin and Lake Baikal? Simple physics would suggest that holes in continental crust are more likely to be made by pulling things apart as opposed to pushing things together.
  • The bone densities of dinosaurs were akin to those of present-day land animals, the largest of which (the elephant) cannot run or jump because of the limitation of gravity. This implies that terrestrial dinosaur giants could exist only because lower gravity made the mechanics of their movement viable. A lower gravity implies a much smaller, less-dense globe.
  • The fossil record contains abundant evidence of giant insects and plants, their absence nowadays suggesting that they developed at a time of lower gravity. As the earth expanded and attained more mass, their descendants shrank in order to accommodate the increase in Earth’s gravity.

If Carey could not explain why the earth is expanding, we might pause and reflect that Newton could not explain the cause of gravity. It is well documented that Sam Carey took a lot of shtick for his research into the topic of the expanding earth – the fact that mountains of scorn were heaped upon him during his lifetime is at odds with the reverence now displayed by the GSA, and yet the GSA awards his medal to a geologist whose citation in the September 2014 TAG Newsletter #172 included ” … has illustrated the role of dynamic topography associated with the northward drift of the Australian continent”. Really? Even though Carey disagreed most emphatically about continental drift?

It is a matter of record that Sam Carey spoke on the 20th January 1992 at the GSA’s 11th Australian Geological Conference held at Ballarat University. Was I the only one listening when he expressed disappointment in his former students and lambasted them for nestling comfortably in their academic sinecures, all the while eschewing any vestige of original thought?

So why did the GSA institute the Sam Carey Medal in the first place? Surely not to laud his heresy, but perhaps to celebrate his seemingly quixotic quest regarding his work on the expanding earth? In this age of oxymoronic ‘consensus science’ the GSA might seriously consider adopting a new motto – non silex navicula – to reflect its’ stance on scientific method and discourse.

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