Why El Niño and La Niña are one continuous geological event

Every wonder why the Sea Surface Temperature (SST) map patterns of all El Niños look strikingly similar to the Sea Surface Temperature map patterns of all La Niñas? Or why 11 of the last 15 strong El Niños are immediately followed by equally strong La Niñas?

Figure 1.)  SST Maps of the 1998 El Niño and La Niña events (credit NASA).Figure 1.) SST Maps of the 1998 El Niño and La Niña events (credit NASA).

The reason these two very famous and supposedly different climate events look and act so similar is that they are actually not separate events, rather they are one geologically induced and continuous event. An event that is generated by a massive pulse of fluid flow from a major deep ocean fault zone located east of the Papua New Guinea / Solomon Island region.

A single name, Lyra, is here proposed as a replacement for the two climate events previously referred to as El Niño and La Niña.

The name Lyra is taken from a far western Pacific Ocean major fault zone called the Lyra Trough (see here). This major fault zone is the juncture of two large and actively moving pieces of earth’s upper crust. It is one of several major and active fault zones located in the offshore New Guinea / Solomon Island region.

Geological forces generate Lyra’s as follows.  Large magma chambers (lava pockets) underlay all of the major fault zones in the offshore New Guinea / Solomon Island region. A sudden shift in one of these magma chambers infuses the chamber with much hotter and more mobile lava. This now super-heated and shifted magma chamber activates a large seawater circulating system in rock layers adjacent to the fault by; fracturing the rock layers, filling them with pressurized and super-heated seawater, and finally imitating upward movement of the seawater into the overlying ocean.  Given time, typically 12 to 14 months, super-heated and chemically charged seawater from this circulating system warms a significant portion of the western Pacific Ocean, thereby generating an El Ni√±o.

As the shifted magma chamber exhausts its heat store, seawater expulsed from the circulating system progressively becomes less and less hot. Eventually, only slightly warmed or cooler seawater is expulsed into the deep ocean region above the fault. This “cooling” process has in past been termed La Ni√±a. For a more complete discussion of how geologically induced circulating systems work the reader is directed to a previous Climate Change Dispatch (CCD) posting (here).

A review of pertinent data and observations used in formulation of the Lyra theory, and descriptions of Lyra analog geological processes such as deep ocean cold seeps and failing hydrothermal vent areas is as follows.

Let’s start by reviewing the historical Pacific Ocean SST temperature anomaly graph, specifically the 1998 Lyra event portion of the graph (Figure 2). This portion of the graph clearly illustrates the continuous / straight-line connection between the so-called El Ni√±o warm phase and so-called La Ni√±a cool phase. Importantly there is no flattening of the curve between the initial warming phase and subsequent cooling. This type of straight-line SST temperature curve relationship is characteristic of almost all strong Lyra events.

Another interesting but admittedly less proven implication of the 1998 portion of the Figure 2 graph is the very sudden onset and dramatic increase in temperature during the warming phase. This pattern is very similar to those observed in geological events such as land-based volcanic eruptions and deep ocean sea mount eruptions. Conversely, this pattern is not similar to the slow onset and constant rate increases of atmospheric temperatures (last 19 years) or atmospheric CO2 content (last 50 years).

Figure 2.)  Graph of the 1998 El Niño warm phase and 1998 La Niña cool phase.Figure 2.) Graph of the 1998 El Niño warm phase and 1998 La Niña cool phase.

Now let’s review temperature variations for the 1998 so-called El Ni√±o and so-called La Ni√±a events in map view (Figure 1). These events have striking similar overall map pattern shapes, especially the long, linear, wedge-shaped pattern that dominates the center of both images. Both wedges have a narrow-pointed western shape and a more fanned-out eastern edge. Additionally the wedges are in the same exact non-moving geographic location. Other very similar map pattern shapes include: the coastal Alaska region, the coastal Central America region, and the Antarctic region.

These pattern similarities are strong evidence that both the 1998 so-called El Ni√±o and so-called La Ni√±a originated from the same limited geographical area and non-moving “Point Source” located east of the Papua New Guinea / Solomon Island area. Fixed / non-moving energy point sources are almost always associated with geological features, and typically not associated with ever-changing and swirling atmospheric energy sources. Even more telling, all historical Lyras have the exact same SST map patterns and point source.

Yes the two maps in Figure 1 have different color schemes, warmer red colors on the 1998 El Niño map and cooler blues on the La Niña map, however this is just a relic of a cooling magma chamber. The key is matching and interpreting the meaning of the map patterns shapes.

Next let’s discuss the very obvious differences between geologically induced Lyra map patterns and atmospherically induced major storm map patterns. With confidence we can state that the map patterns of all Lyras are significantly different than the map patterns of major atmospheric storm events such as hurricanes. Hurricane map patterns never quite look the same from year to year or storm to storm. They have ever changing swirling pressure patterns, differing origin points, and very unpredictable land fall points.

Now let’s discuss Lyra geological analogs.

British researchers from the National Oceanography Center in Southampton have discovered deep ocean hydrothermal vents off the coast of Antarctica near the South Shetland Islands that have a very telling history (see here). These deep ocean vents are part of a seawater circulating system that has been proven to have historically pulsed significant amounts of super-heated and chemically charged seawater upward from a known fault zone into the overlying ocean (Figure 3). This historical warm phase fluid flow has since cooled down and the vents are currently emitting cool water into the overlying ocean.

Figure 3.) Location map of the Axe / Three Sisters / Hook Ridge deep ocean fluid pulsing vent region.Figure 3.) Location map of the Axe / Three Sisters / Hook Ridge deep ocean fluid pulsing vent region.

The other significant Lyra geological analogs are “Cold Seeps“. These well documented seafloor vents emit large amounts of chemically charged and relatively cool seawater from geologically active fault zones. To date, mainstream scientists have struggled to understand exactly how cold seeps are formed. It is here contended that cold seeps represent the ending / last gasp and cooler phase of a previously active super hot hydrothermal vent system.

Invoking a geological explanation / cause for Lyras also helps explain why computer climate models generated by mainstream scientists have consistently failed to predict or explain so-called El Niños and La Niñas. Many of these models utilize data from a wide variety of atmospheric factors recorded during El Niño / La Niña time periods: trade wind variations, atmospheric storm intensities, and historical atmospheric temperature trends to name a few.

It is more likely that variations in this atmospheric data are actually side effects of the geological forces which drive Lyras. As Lyra geological forces alter the temperature and chemistry of the overlying ocean they also alter trade winds and other atmospheric factors in a very complex, interactive, and varying fashion. Every single computer climate model that has utilized these atmospheric side effects as their primary input data has failed to properly predict the timing and intensity of Lyras.

A geological forces origin for the Lyra climate event fits well into the basic tenets of the Plate Climatology Theory, geological forces drive many natural variations in climate trends and climate related events. Additionally a strong case can be made that Lyras have geologically looking SST graphs and map patterns, and well documented geological analogs.

It’s way past time to consider the very real possibility that El Ni√±os and La Ni√±as are not separate events, rather they are one continuous geologically induced climate event… Lyra.

James Edward Kamis is a Geologist with a MS in Geology and AAPG member of 42 years who has always been fascinated by the connection between Geology and Climate. Years of research / observation have convinced him that the Earth’s Heat Flow Engine, which drives the outer crustal plates, is also an important driver of the Earth’s climate.