Another Example Of Pseudoscience

A number of inexplicable earthquakes occurred near Mineral, Virginia in the US that has researchers baffled, since earthquakes are not supposed to occur in the middle of tectonic plates away from subduction zones.

Rather than question the prevailing paradigm of plate tectonics, the researchers instead have proposed that pieces of the Earth’s mantle are breaking off and sinking into the planet.

The cause is from plate motion in which bits and pieces of the underside of the plate break off and sink down. It’s called piecemeal delamination.


There are problems with this explanation.

1. Tectonic plates are of lower density than the higher density mantle, therefore bits and pieces can’t ‘fall down into’ the mantle.
2. Earthquakes are caused by rock-slippage? Might be observed at the surface when brittle failure is observed, but at depth any movement is caused by plastic flow, and that can’t generate earthquakes.
3. Isn’t pressure supposed to increase with depth according to planetary self accretion? If so, less dense cannot fall into more dense.

In any case the scientific approach is to accept that intraplate earthquakes occur and then start questioning the theory of plate tectonics, and not make ad hoc adjustments to the prevailing theory to explain anomalies.

A similar geological event happened during the 1960’s in the Archaean craton of the Murchison province of Western Australia. Then an earthquake occurred and a large normal fault and subsidence was observed near Wooleen station. This is not supposed to happen to stable cratonic blocks well away from subduction zones.

It remains inexplicable.

Ya reckon the theory of plate tectonics might be the problem?

Update: (Tectonic plates slide over the mantle, so bits and pieces of the mantle can’t fall into the mantle since it’s underneath the plate from which the pieces are breaking off from)

About Louis Hissink

Retired diamond exploration geologist. I spent my professional life looking for mineral deposits, found some, and also located a number of kimberlites in NSW and Western Australia. Exploration geology is the closest one can get to practicing the scientific method, mineral exploration always being concerned with finding anomalous geophysical or geochemical data, framing a model and explanation for the anomaly and then testing it with drilling or excavation. All scientific theories are ultimately false since they invariably involved explaining something with incomplete extant knowledge. Since no one is omniscient or knows everything, so too scientific theories which are solely limited to existing knowledge. Because the future always yields new data, scientific theories must change to be compatible with the new data. Thus a true scientist is never in love with any particular theory, always knowing that when the facts change, so too must he/she change their minds.
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One Response to Another Example Of Pseudoscience

  1. mmacg says:

    When I read of these contrived solutions proposed to resolve challenges to established theories, two words come to mind: heliocentrism and epicycles.


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