THE CAUSE OF OCEAN RIDGES (Thin Plate Tectonic Hypothesis)

by Charles E. Weber, MS

The magnetic stripes that accompany many of the ocean ridges, can be explained by a thin plate thrust out over the former sea floor. The force moving the plate is suggested to be created by a wide upward pointing wedge of solidified basalt moved upward by a 60 km deep column of hot, and therefore light, magma and plastic rock. That hydraulic pressure is translated into lateral pressure by the wedge. Periodically the wedge fails at the centerline and, upon sinking into the magma near the surface, is widened. Thus it is renewed for the next cycle when the magma which flows into the opened faults freezes.


It is necessary to advance a hypothesis which avoids a thick plate to explain the fairly symmetrical magnetic stripes on either side of ocean ridges.


A thick plate requires a sink for the crust generated. Ocean trenches have been proposed for this purpose. However, they are not at all possible for this purpose. Some of them are inactive (Hawkins and Batiza, 1977) indeed do not exist at all in some crucial sections such as west of California, off the Canadian coast, and in a small section just south of Panama. Indeed the trench off Columbia is oriented almost 45 degrees or so to the proposed direction of motion. Off New Zealand a trench Benioff zone descends at a very low angle and the faults move perpendicular to direction of presumed subduction [Rodgers]. In some places the trench is far removed from the Benioff zone (Reyners, 1980), the sediments at their bottom are usually undisturbed. There are no transform faults going out to sea where they change direction as in the Northwest Pacific, Indeed, the Aleution trench itself has been proposed as a transform fault in order to attempt to explain the discordant plate motions in the Pacific Ocean [Shimamura]. There are no extensive surface cracks where the alleged plate bends on the shoulder of the trench, only graben and horst terrain. There are no sea mounts in the Pacific trench bottoms (statistically virtually impossible, since there should be many of these piles of ashes scraped off by this time). Sea mounts on the trench shoulder are not perpendicular to the dip of the diving plate (Bodine, 1979). The whole ocean floor does not move simultaneously during local earthquakes and the earth movement under the alleged diving plate can be varied in amount and discordant in shape [Ammon]. Indeed, the motion of the terrain on land moved in many different directions during the recent Japanese earthquake [Heki] [Simons], which is more consistent with magma moving up than a cold plate moving down. There is no active trench at all in North America to take the Atlantic ridge. The tectonic activity in eastern Canada was 15 million years or so later than the activity in southeastern USA that was alleged to mark the beginning of separation of North America from Africa in early Jurassic [Withjack] but with no sign of a dramatic transform fault. Nor is there any trench on either side of Africa to take the Indian Ocean ridges, which are not parallel to anything, indeed the south west Indian ridge should be moving Africa north. The Jurassic vegetation of India are similar to Jurassic Antarctica vegetation, which makes it very unlikely that India was isolated in the middle of the Indian ocean then [Vakhrameev]. The ridges in the southwest Pacific are very discordant as are the trenches there (See this site for eastern Pacific Ocean topography). The saddlebacks on the trench bottom (periodic rise and fall along the trench bottom) [Schweller] all but defy explanation. The anisotropy along the length of the trench sparks complicated models in an attempt to explain it, such as a simultaneous up and down motion by Behn, et al [Behn]. The volcanoes landward of the trenches are impossible arising from a cold plate. The high mountains behind many of the trenches would seem to require a light or hot crust such as a batholith (Vlasov 1976) like that under the Himalayas (Nelson 1996)(Qwens 1997) or under the Andes (Yuan), not a heavy basalt or cold plate. When a major earthquake occurred in Chile the land on the continent rose and to the greatest extent near the trench (Farias 2010). The strange movement of the crust in New Zealand, with odd rotations having no relations to an alleged subduction, defy explanation if the ocean plate dives under the island. The reversed stripes diving UP out of the trench in one spot along the Aleutians are inexplicable (Heirtzler, 1968) given a diving plate. The movement of the Indian Ocean floor is at an angle to the Sumatra-Andaman trench near the center of the recent tsunami, parallel to the trench further north, and actually moving away from the trench toward East Pakistan at the furthest north segment. Furthermore, the land on the landward side of the trench is moving in different directions [Subarya]. The contorted, short and duplicated trenches in the Philippines Sea are awkward to explain. The sudden and narrow changes in gravity and heat transfer over the trench bottom (Weber, 1959), have not been addressed. That is to say, a 60 kilometer thick slab could not possibly suddenly cool down at the trench bottom and as suddenly warm up again on the land side. If insulation from sediments is invoked, explaining such thickened, undisturbed, sediments is impossible given a diving slab. In addition the cross section of the earthquake pattern does not look at all like a flat, bent, simple plate off northeastern Japan (Hasegawa, et al, 1978), especially under the trench. The terrain seaward of the trench resembles graben and horst terrain with the strike of the faults seldom parallel to the trench (Hilde 1983). Graben and horst implies sagging caused by flow of material from UNDER the plate. The Yap trench seems far too contorted to represent a whole Pacific Ocean floor diving under.

Ocean Plates and ridges

In addition, the ridges themselves give no clues to formation of a thick plate at their edge and a very thin plate at the centerline, only 15 kilometers thick away from the ridge and 3 kilometers thick at the centerline (Anderson). The longest ridge-ridge transforms all have shallow earthquakes, which are much too deep at the centerline [Scholz, 1990 p300]] and much, much too shallow at a distance (usually 10 kilometers or less in depth). See this map for the world’s shallow quake distribution and this one for the California faults. Furthermore, different ridges have different depths of quakes, which makes it impossible to argue that quakes can not be produced below a critical depth, especially given that there are very deep quakes near trenches. There would not be different critical depths under different ridges. The earthquakes near the center line (but not at) are compression quakes (Vlasov, 1976), which argues against passive rafting. The terrain near the ridge center is much too rough to have any chance of being underlain by 60 km deep of wide, hot molten asthenosphere. There is no plausible heat transfer equivalent to what otherwise would have to have taken millions of years.


Some have proposed that the eastern half of the north American continent moves west by crumpling the Rocky Mountains. However this did not happen until the middle of the Tertiary. Also Mexico did not crumple up nearly as much, but with no transform fault. Neither is there any transform fault north of North America or south of South America to account for their motion through the crust.

The situation is much worse in South America. The Andes did not begin to rise until 10 million years ago and did not really get going until 7 milion years ago. Worse yet, the southern sections rose before the northern [Hoorn]. All this even though the trench earthquakes show no signs of letting up and no major transform faults to separate the different motions

Some geologists envision a series of vast plates with hopelessly jagged edges and having no relation at all to the mid Atlantic ridge. There is no possibility at all of this being valid. It is therefore very desirable that a mechanism be proposed which enables a thin plate to move apart while generating magnetic stripes. You may see an extensive history of the development of plate tectonic theory here.


The mechanism that I propose requires a long crack to open in the sea floor deep enough to allow molten rock from the asthenosphere to rise to the surface. I am not certain as to the most likely mechanism for creating this crack. However all hypotheses require such a crack. I suspect that thermal shock from cold bottom water suddenly moving across the sea floor may have done it, parting it in previous zones of weakness (Weber, 1959). It is not necessary for a crack to have propagated all the way to the asthenosphere. If the high lateral compressive forces resulting from the weight of the overlying rock were merely relieved somewhat, it could have permitted the enormous upward forces implied in the potential instability of the hotter and therefore lighter rocks at depth to have ruptured the crust by bending it up. Such a mechanism may have operated under the eventual location of trenches at first also. They would then have bulged upward some at first.

In order to appreciate the potential of the forces involved, in a seat of the pants kind of way, picture a pontoon bridge 60 kilometers thick on a deep ocean, an ocean 2,000 kilometers wide, the same weight as water, and held rigidly on the shores. Now if the material in the mantle were to be sufficiently warmer for a thickness of, say, 40 kilometers, to be 5% lighter, this would be equivalent to the weight of something of the order of a little over 4 kilometers of gravel. So the forces involved would be similar to bringing truck load after truckload of gravel out onto that bridge until it is piled 4 kilometers high. Would such a bridge sag down? Indeed it would. As it sags, picture more gravel trucked in to keep the gravel level. Now on top of all that, imagine suddenly contracting it by lowering the temperature of the water under the bridge 20 or 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Would the bridge rupture? It is quite possible, for keep in mind that this is not a ductile bridge with 60,000 psi strength of steel, but a brittle 3,000 psi or less bridge. The above example was made deliberately extreme, but study has shown that even fairly small changes in density shows up shortly as isostatic adjustment.

It is also conceivable that some kind of subcrustal current initiated the event as thick plate proponents suggest, although such an initiation seems unlikely. What force would suddenly force such a sudden current at such a great depth in only a few millions or tens of millions of years after billions of years of quiescence? In any case, after a crack appeared, lava would flow across the floor at first, piling up high. As this plate piled up and cooled off it would eventually reach a point at which a different mechanism would commence. Instead of lava flowing across the top of the plate, the surface vent would seal off and a lopolith (miniature batholith) would form at the bottom of the basalt plate. The column of molten and plastic rock under the lopolith would be lighter than the adjacent cool rocks. Not only is the hot plastic rock lighter than cool rock (Eaton and Muriata, 1960) but there is an additional 9% expansion in rock as it melts upon approaching the surface (Skinner, 1966). As a result, there is considerable upward pressure. When faults are created in the overlying plate the direction of the faults is such as to convert part of the plate into an upward pointing wedge (Mac Donald and Atwater, 1978)(Zverev, et al, 1980). This can be confirmed by locking a brick in a vise and breaking it with a hammer at one end [see (Heard, et al, 1972, p18) for a partial experiment], or see [Scholz 1990, p18] for a diagram of an experiment of a test block broken while held in compression from the sides). The resulting plate becomes a giant hydraulic piston which shoulders the plates on its sides away from the crack formed lopolith. When the wedge rises too high it fails at its center probably usually by plastic flow downwards of underneath rock near the center, while simultaneously cracking near the surface at the center of the slab. Indeed, cracks near the surface in Iceland are tension cracks [Folger 1984]. As a result the lock at the side is defeated and the plate can sink down into the molten and plastic rock. Indeed this sudden sinking has been observed [Tolstoy]. The molten rock then fills the cracks, freezes, and permits the whole process to start over again. The sketch in Figure 1 shows in simplified form what I Think this looks like in cross section. The figure shows the plate as it is about to rupture. There is not necessarily a single inclined fault on each side as shown and they are usually multiple. Note that the faults over the center line slope in the opposite direction to the faults on the outer edge of the center valley and the center ine cracks are surface cracks just before the lock is defeated. For purposes of providing long term pressure, the metamorphic rocks on either side can also help provide upward hydraulic pressure by slow plastic flow, assisted by water content reduction in viscosity.

A 5 km thick by 40 km wide wedge acting on 70 degree faults moved upward by a pressure differential equivalent to a column of rock 3 km high would exert a force in the vicinity of 5 billion kg per running cm, or 50,000 kg/square cm of pressure exerted laterally. These are figures which bear a reasonable approximation of amounts which could actually exist at the ridge judging by seismic evidence, width of grabens, and observations of fault directions. This is more than enough pressure to move the plate over a clay covered sea floor a considerable distance. It is also enough to create plastic flow to account for the sinuous nature of the stripes. These contortions are difficult to explain with a thick plate or by passive rafting. The reason that I propose that the failure usually takes the form of plastic flow downwards at the centerline when the plate fails is that the plate is thinnest and hottest there. Basalt is ten times less strong at 800 degrees C than it is at ocean temperature (Skinner, 1966). This defeats the lock at each side by rotating somewhat around an axis parallel to the ridge and near the surface. The tensional forces that exist at the surface over the centerline create even greater compressive pressures at the bottom than exist at the edges of the plate. They also account for the cracks dipping toward the center close to the center, which is opposite to the direction at the edges of the center valley. This movement down of the lower material would not necessarily disturb the sheeted dikes because it would take place largely in the rock created by magma freezing against the roof of the magma chamber especially when the ridge is young. When the lock is defeated the plate can sink down and magma can well up into the voids which result. These voids are usually probably most prominent at the center line because this is where high temperature permits the easiest movement of magma. It is this sagging which probably creates the rift valley which exists on many fast moving ridges. When the dike is actually created , it is thought to rise at the rate of 1.4 kilometers per hour in fast spreading ridges [Tolstoy (description of an event) ].

While the forces are sufficient to move the plate quite a large distance opposed only by the friction of the clays on the ocean bottom, some ridges would seem to be too wide for that. Riding on a film of water (Voight, 1976, p144) squeezed out of the sediments would help explain the problem. Also the motion probably does not happen instantly across the whole plate, but could proceed out in a shock wave (Kazimirov, 1974) similar to a string of railroad cars nudged by a locomotive. There is even another possibility, a film of hydrogen gas generated when siliceous materials grind past each other (Wakita et al, 1978). There is also the possibility of some methane generated by organic material in the underlying sediments (Moore). The last two would lower the friction to virtually zero where they obtain. There is methane and ethane in hydrothermal fluids and ophiolite springs. The authors believe the 9carbon isotope ratio evidence favors an abiotic reduced mantle derived carbon dioxide source [Proskurowski]. This is possible near the ridge center line. However. A biotic source deep down is still possible under a basalt slab further out. DiToro, et al, suggest that the zero friction that quartz displays when it moves faster than one millimeter per second may be due to a thixotropic gel generated on the surface [DiToro 2004] [Goldsby]. Some of the loss of friction during motion on the walls of the transform faults could possibly be explained by an instantaneous melting of the rock adjacent to the crack (Di Toro, 2006). Also it has been proposed that a thin layer of powdered rock is created by the motion [Reches]. A deep core at one section of the San Andreas fault has disclosed a magnesium rich smectite clay mineral saponite, which is one of the weakest phyllosilicates known. It is the low-temperature product of metasomatic reactions between the quartzofeldspathic wall rocks and serpentinite blocks at the fault surface. It gives the fault a coefficient of friction of 0.15 [Lockner]. Whatever reduces the frition operates on all rock types [Di Toro 2011].

Thick plates could be pushed aside by the same mechanism proposed here from subcrustal up welling currents to give a picture of deep, inclined faults angled in the same direction as a thin plate as portrayed by Vinogradov and Udentsev [Vinogradov]. The problem is accounting for the origin of these currents. While such a model could account for the contorted nature of the stripes after a fashion, It would founder badly on the rotations. Of course the heat transfer problems would be hopeless as already pointed out. A 5 or 10 km plate is on the border line of possible, riding out over a cool ocean floor. A 60 km plate riding on a hot asthenosphere is impossible to cool enough at the ridge crest by at least an order of magnitude to account for the thickness of the plate near the ridge center.

A thick plate hypothesis requires the whole ocean floor to move simultaneously. The long transform faults with their shallow earthquakes would seem to deny this. The similar age of the basalts in the Hawaii Island chain (Il’in, 1978) are also damaging. Of course the thick plate hypothesis does not rely on a hot spot hypothesis, but it is helpful. There are obviously many volcanoes all over the Pacific, more or less randomly distributed, so a hot spot is hardly crucial in regard to either hypothesis. The fact that the Hawaii hot spot seems to be moving [Tarduno 2003] and the northern volcanic islands are deficient in warm water fossil corals [Tarduno 2008] would seem to be evidence for migration along a deep crack in the crust rather than a moving hot spot or a moving plate over vast areas. Besides, the Hawaiin chain of volcanoes, which are supposed to be generated by a hot spot are at an angle to the motion of the plates as delineated by the magnetic stripes [Sharp]. I suspect that the Hawaiin islands were actually created by a disruption of the crust from a huge meteorite or comet impact at the antipode (opposite side of a sphere) site in Africa. Also the plate motion changing at different times in the case of two of the Pacific ocean tracks (Koppers) is difficult to explain. Currently 2 whole continents are proposed as moving (North and South America) and ancient magnetic pole directions are advanced as proof. However, we know of no reason why there could not have been more than one pole [Hecht]. Indeed, there are large variations in Antarctic ancient magnetic fields. It would be a lot easier to believe in moving an ethereal magnetic line of force and a few hundred meters of ocean bottom vertically than a whole continent. Brachiopod diversity seems to indicate that paleomagnetism is wrong [Stehli]. The geologists say “I would na seen it if I had na believed it”.

If the satellite ranging devices consistently show the continents moving in the correct direction, it would be necessary to abandon a thin plate hypothesis. According to the satellite laser ranging maps the directions in eastern North America are not parallel. This is mysterious in an area which has been tectonically fairly quiet for as much as 200 million years. South America is shown as moving in the wrong direction. This would seem to negate a hypothesis which insists on a uniform Atlantic opening. What is needed is a steel cable stretched across one of the trenches to establish the matter mechanically,

However, if plastic material is welling up under the ridge of a thick plate, there still should be forces on the rock for a thick plate which would be similar to those I have proposed for a thin plate. In that case some of the forces moving the thick plate could be from such a mechanism. Where the others could be coming from I can not imagine, nor can I imagine what is causing the anomalous behavior of the satellite data in many parts of the world. Perhaps someone can figure it out some day, but I doubt it.


If my hypothesis is valid it may be possible to demonstrate some of the following phenomena in the future:
1. - There should be a layer of sediments of Pleistocene age under much older basalt at the edge of the ridges. The basalt should be largely horizontal layers and pillow lava as opposed to sheeted dikes there. The basalt should be fairly thin, perhaps less than two km. If the above Pleistocene sediments do not exist, this thin plate hypothesis would become virtually untenable.
2. - If any of the metamorphic rocks stick to the basalt slab on its way out, the metamorphic rocks also could be slightly younger than the overlying basalt at this point. Indeed, rocks such as this have been discovered under the basalts of ancient ophiolites, 3-5 million years younger than the overlying ophiolite, thrust up onto Arabia in middle Cretaceous (Searle and Malpas, 1980). This is fatal to a thick plate hypothesis if ophiolites are ancient ridges as is suspected (Gass, 1982). It has also been proposed that the ophiolites in California, which came ashore in the Jurassic from an ancient Pacific ocean ridge (Hopson), were only 3 to 5 kilometers thick. Rocks have been found that are thought to be ophiolites, which are 3.8 billion years old in southeast Greenland [Furnes]. This would seem to indicate an extremely old Atlantic Ocean.
2. - Lateral motion of the plate should always be accompanied by a rise in the ridge crest. Conversely, a drop in the crest should never create lateral motion, nor should there be much lateral motion when lava is erupting.
3. - There should be a zone of metamorphosed sediments about 20 km out from the centerline about 8 km or so down. There is evidence of explosive volcanoes giving off pyroclastic material on the Gakkel ridge under the arctic ocean (Solin 2008). This a hint that maybe sediments underlie those volcanoes.
4. - There may be a line of recently disturbed sediments at the edges of the ridge. The sediments do suddenly thicken at anomaly 32 [late Cretaceous] (Wyllie, 1971), which would be expected if some of the sediments were being thrust up over the plate.
5. - Active volcanoes near the ridge crest with adequate flow should slow down the rate of plate speed.
6. - It may be possible to demonstrate horizontal pipes feeding active volcanoes 30 or 40 km out from the centerline. Horizontal pipes are necessary for a thin plate hypothesis.
7. - Younger sediments should also exist under the basalt of the reversed Aleutian stripes (Heirtzler, 1968) if they are an ancient ridge which later became a trench via a mechanism I previously proposed (Weber, 1959).
8. - It may be possible to show that the wider average width of the stripes at the outer region of the ridges are due to a more rapid movement of the plates when the ridge was younger and narrower and the plate thinner.
9. - If a plastic coated steel cable is stretched across the ridge or two intersecting lines of sight to an anchored buoy, it may be possible to demonstrate that the movement is episodic. If another cable is stretched across an adjacent segment, it may be possible to show that the whole plate does not move simultaneously. This also would furnish a check for the satellite ranging devices.
10. - If it were possible to drill a deep hole near the ridge center line in Baja California, it might be possible to release the gas or liquid lubricating the plate and thus prevent California earthquakes.
11. – It has been proposed that the large lava flows were caused by violent movement of the crust in the antipode (opposite side of a sphere) opposite to meteorite or comet impacts. There are too many lava flows opposite large meteorite impacts taking place at the same time on Earth for it to be coincidence. On Mars the coincidence explanation is impossible. This is strong evidence against continental drift.
12. – It may be possible to show that the different pattern of Iceland is a result of the ridge plate colliding with the Greenland continental shelf on one side and the Faroe Island shelf on the other side as White, et al show in their map [White]. Alternately Iceland may have been formed by disruption from an ancient meteorite impact at its antipode (opposite side of a sphere), and then split by the more recent ridge formation.

”It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble,'s what we know for sure,... that ain't so.” Will Rogers

All truth passes through three stages:
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
Arthur Schopenhauer

“With their four-dimensional minds, and in their interdisciplinary ultra verbal way, geologists can wiggle out of almost anything.”
- John Mcphee

REFERENCES ---- see below

---- This is a review by Marcia McNutt about current problems and thrusts of geology research
---- A Link you may find useful to a site with geological abstracts.
---- Professional geology organizations.
---- Miscellaneous geology resources on the world wide web.
---- Here is a map showing the most violent recent world wide earthquakes.

---- Most of the damage to buildings in an earthquake is from side to side motion, because buildings are very strong against vertical forces. This is currently solved with isolator bearings successfully. I suspect that creating a concrete slab and then pouring a thick reinforced slab over it but isolating the two slabs with a layer of grease would be an inexpensive and fail safe alternative. A building built onto the second slab and made an integral part of its structure should, I suspect, have very little earthquake damage. That procedure probably would prove to be a practical way to retrofit existing buildings as well since the building could probably be isolated a hundred square feet at a time.. A similar procedure involving single column sliding bearings has been developed.

---- The Canyons and gullies of Mars as Erosion by Rivers of Silicone Dust
----For a hypothesis that explains the large volcanoes of Mars and the bulges associated with them as the disruption from the antipode (opposite side of a sphere) of a huge meteorite or comet impact, see this site.

Climate warming as caused by denudation of soil.

The Cause of the Characteristics of Quasars
The Cause of the Cosmological Red Shift

For some dramatic views of a a virtual travel to Mars and then to outer space, a trip which would take thousands of years even inside our own galaxy, but compressed into 12 minutes, see this site.


Glaze Ice Cause of Deciduous Forests
Evolution of forests as effected by glaze ice.
Origin of Angiosperm Vegetation.
Angiosperms are proposed to have arisen on the Ontong-Java Plateau.
>Effect of Insects on Geological Processes
Wood Roaches, dragonflies, and termites effect ancient soils and oceans.
Did the Alkaline Gut of Termites Create Latisols (Ultisols) and Laterites?
Laterites and bauxites are proposed as reulting from the alkaline guts of humus eating termites.
The Eve Controversy:
A proposal as to why the human species seems to be derived from a single couple.


---- There is information about how to obtain a very comprehensive book called “POTASSIUM NUTRITION” and thus cure or prevent rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, gout, and high blood pressure and ameliorate diabetes, As well as the introduction and table of contents.

When Blood Potassium is too High Some techniques to cope with high blood potassium. Also see book above.
Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, some helps.
Potassium Content of Food, a table: Potassium expressed in milligrams per Calorie.
Copper Response in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Nutrition and physiology of copper, especially relating to hemorrhoids, aneurysm, herniated discs, anemia, emphysema, and gray hair.
The Purpose of Cortisol: Cortisol is presented as an immune hormone used to defend against diarrhea
Cashew Nuts to Cure Tooth Abscess: Anacardic acids in raw cashew nuts may cure tooth abscesses and possibly gram positive diseases such as acne and leprosy.
Observations on Diabetes: Diabetes may be caused by a poison in food.

Fluoride in city water will cause fluorosis discoloration of teeth, weakened bones, damage to the kidneys and immune system, bone cancer and, worst of all, damage to the nerves resembling Alzheimer’s disease.
There is evidence that cell phones can produce tumors. Using remote ear phones would seem to be a good idea.

The Eve Controversy: A proposal as to why the human species seems to be derived from a single couple.

There is a free browser called Firefox, which is said to be less susceptible to viruses or crashes, has many interesting features, imports information from Iexplore while leaving Iexplore intact. You can also install their emailer. A feature that lists all the URLs on a viewed site can be useful when working on your own site.

There is a free program available which tells on your site what web site accessed your site, which search engine, statistics about which country, statistics of search engine access, keywords used and their frequency. It can be very useful.

Mail to Charles Weber; isoptera at or 828 692 5816


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