How Major Oceanic and Continental Fault Boundaries Act to Control Much of Earth’s Climate

Figure 1.) Antarctic-averaged long-term (50 years) surface temperature map (credit Eric Steig (UW), NASA, and J.Kamis).

Another giant piece of the climate science puzzle just fell into place, specifically that geological heat flow is a primary force responsible for unusual bottom melting and break up of West Antarctic glaciers.

This new insight is the result of a just-released National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Antarctica geological research study (see here).

Results of this study have forever changed how consensus climate scientists and those advocating the theory of climate change/global warming view Antarctica’s anomalous climatic events.

In a broad theoretical sense, the NASA study shows that the climate influence of Earth’s major oceanic and continental fault boundaries is greatly underappreciated.

The NASA West Antarctic geological research study concluded that a large portion of West Antarctica, specifically the 620,000-square-mile, ice-covered Marie Byrd volcanic region, is underlain by an active, heat-flowing “Mantle Plume“. This plume was generated by and is still fueled by the West Antarctic Rift/Fault System.

The map atop this article illustrates several important geological features of Antarctica: location of West Antarctica’s Marie Byrd mantle plume, the location of the West Antarctic Rift/Fault System, and most importantly, color shading of Antarctica’s 50-year anomalous surface temperature heat flow regions (Figure 1).

This once controversial map has now been proven correct by several studies including a recent one by the British Antarctic Survey (see here).

The 5,300-mile-long West Antarctic Rift/fault system is an important part of Earth’s continental drift puzzle.

It is actively ripping the entire Antarctic Continent apart and is home to 149 erupting, active, and semi-active volcanoes.

Seven of these volcanoes are currently erupting, two sub-glacially. Additionally, this system extends a great distance into adjacent ocean waters. It is a very powerful geological feature (see here, here, here, and here).

Other Antarctic anomalous events caused by geological heat flow are as follows:

  • Generation of a huge interconnected sub-glacial liquid freshwater system of streams and lakes (see here, here, and here). This hydrologic system drains downhill into adjacent oceans acting to warm and chemically charge them.
  • Anomalous and rapid alteration of West and East Antarctica marine animal migration patterns is the result of geologically induced and chemically charged heated fluid flow. (see here, here, here, and here).
  • The occurrence of anomalous Antarctic ocean plankton blooms is caused by geologically induced chemically charged heated fluid flow (see here, here, and here).
  • The presence methyl-mercury in Antarctic glacial ice is the result of chemical discharge from ocean floor volcanic features (see here).
  • “Flash Draining” of West Antarctic sub-glacial liquid freshwater lakes is caused by dramatic changes in bedrock geothermal heat flow. (see here, and here).
  • Methane gas seeps in the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands area are caused by geological heat flow from the Mid-Arctic Rift /it is a world class size fault boundary that is an integral part of earth’s continental drift/plate tectonics puzzle. System (see here).
  • Generation of the giant Antarctic Maude “Polynya” (anomalous ice-free hole) is the result of increased heat and heated fluid flow from the ocean floor Maude Volcanic Plateau (see here).

Heat flow from two oceanic/continental fault boundaries, the Mid- Arctic Rift / Fault System and the Aleutian Island Convergent/Fault System,  are the root cause of anomalous sea ice melting in the Arctic Ocean.

The 4,300-mile-long Mid-Arctic Rift/Fault System lies on the eastern margin of the Arctic Sea Ice accumulation (Figure 2). New research by the Alfred Wegner Institute and others shows that this rift is very active. This rift experiences frequent small earthquakes, emits large amounts of geologically induced heat, and pulses massive amounts of heat-induced methane gas (see here, and here).

Other anomalous eastern Arctic Ocean events lend credence to the idea that the Mid-Arctic Rift/Fault System is a powerful heat flow engine:

  • Deep submarine and remote vehicle dives onto the seafloor expression of the Mid-Arctic Rift/Fault system have spotted hundreds hydrothermal vents and volcanoes. These features were seen to be flowing huge amounts of chemically charged super-heated fluid (see here, here, and, here).
  • A portion of Greenland’s anomalous bedrock heat flow is from a proven Deep Earth mantle plume (see here).
  • Bottom melting of several Greenland glaciers is associated with heat flow from Mid-Arctic Rift/Fault System (see here).
  • Iceland’s volcanism is fueled by the southern extent of the Mid-Arctic Rift/Fault System (see here, here, and here).
  • A melt hole punched in the Arctic Sea Ice lies directly above the Mid-Arctic Rift/Fault System (see here).

Figure 2.) Two massive seafloor methane gas releases/plumes (red hatched) associated with two oceanic rifts (credit NOAA) and J. Kamis).

Melting of the western margin of the Arctic Sea Ice is here contended to be caused by heat flow and chemically charged heated fluid flow from a major oceanic/continental fault boundary, the Aleutian Islands Oceanic/Continental Convergent Fault System.

When very active this fault system can geologically warm the entire Bering Sea. Ocean currents carry this warm seawater north and through the Bering Strait into the western Arctic Ocean. Here it melts the western margin of Arctic Sea Ice accumulation.

Support of this contention comes from three lines of evidence; sudden alteration of Bering Sea marine animal migration patterns/populations, recent and sudden changes in Bering Sea ocean temperatures, and the presence of numerous active Bering Sea volcanoes. (see here, here),  SST Map 9/8/2014 ).

Shifting to the Pacific Ocean, El Nino’s and La Nina’s are known to greatly affect earth’s climate and climate-related events.

These warm, then cool, ocean anomalous temperature events generate droughts, heat waves, cold snowy winters, high precipitation summers, alteration of crop harvests, alteration of fish and marine animal migration patterns, alteration major ocean currents, etc.

It is here contended, and as detailed in many previous Climate Change Dispatch articles, that these El Nino/La Nina cycles are geological in origin (see here, here, and here).


New research by NASA proves that a huge heat flowing, and ice melting mantle plume lies under much of West Antarctica.

This research has opened the proverbial floodgates concerning what force or forces control Earth’s climate. Clearly, global warming/climate change is no longer the singular or obvious cause of many anomalous climate and climate-related events.

It is now reasonable, if not necessary, to re-evaluate the role major geological features such as mantle plumes, continental fault boundaries, and oceanic fault boundaries play in influencing or controlling earth’s climate and climate-related events.

James Edward Kamis is a retired professional Geologist with 42 years of experience, a B.S. in Geology from Northern Illinois University (1973), and M.S. in geology from Idaho State University (1977) who has always been fascinated by the connection between Geology and Climate. More than 13 years of research/observation have convinced him that the Earth’s Heat Flow Engine, which drives the outer crustal plates, is an important driver of the Earth’s climate as per his Plate Climatology Theory.

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Comments (5)

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover


    The El Ninny Effect cuases certain people to act like total idiots to march in the Useful Idiots Climate Marches to go totaly vegan do realy stupid things like climb up in trees watch fake Documenties by Al Bore and Leonardo DiCaprio and join Greenpeace Sierra Club NRDC and EDF and run around dressed as Polar Bears the the Eco-Nuts do


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      I believe that Trump’s outspokenness has encouraged researchers to come forward . The truth was suppressed and there may be a flood of information on the way.


  • Avatar

    David Lewis


    This is bad news for the alarmists who have tried to blame everything on man made climate change. Their claims never did make sense. How is it that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet making up 10% of Antarctica would be impacted by climate change but the rest of the Antarctica was not? In another area there were about two years when the alarmists were claiming the earth wasn’t warming as expected because the heat was being concentrated in the area were El Nino’s are being generated. They never offered even a lame scientific as to how the heat was being concentrated.

    However, there is possible bad news for everyone, at least in future generations. If the continental fault activity causes the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to go into the ocean, the projection is sea level will rise 15 feet.


  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover


    Sun Spots,Solar Flares the Moon Volnano’s Whale Farts have more to do with our weather and climate then SUV’s and Backyard BBQ’s and the Little Ice Age and Medival Warm Period


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