Is Kilauea Warning of a Pole Shift?
Magnetic Poles Reverse
The enormous recent eruption of the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s large island has transfixed the world with spectacular images of towering lava fountains, and vast flows of molten rock, rendering much of the famed tropical paradise uninhabitable. Going almost unnoticed, however, is a related effect, which may portend consequences even more dire. As visitors approach the volcano, their magnetic compasses suddenly switch north and south poles, spinning uncontrollably.
Today, many worry about the possibility of catastrophic global warming, and others about the possibility that Earth could be hit from space by an immense bolide, like an asteroid or comet. Still others are on the watch for a ‘pole shift.’ Scientist Charles Hapgood wrote in the 1950s that an advanced prediluvian civilization, possibly Atlantis, was destroyed by a relatively sudden shift in the angle of Earth’s polar axis. Many fear we may be approaching a recurrence of that event—if not the full physical axial kind, at least a magnetic polar swap, of the type now occurring near Kilauea. All those possibilities, however, could be catastrophic, and all have precedent in relatively recent natural history.
In our May/June, 2018, issue (A.R. #129) we reported on a major new study in the Journal of Geology that blames a comet impact for ending the Younger Dryas (“Comet Impact Caused Mini Ice Age, Says Major New Study”). Any possible civilization then existing on Earth would certainly have been destroyed. Some argue an ancient pole shift might also have resulted. In 2009 researchers at the University of Toronto made the case that global warming, itself, could actually cause a pole shift, suggesting that sudden warming and the consequent melting of the polar ice caps could shift the poles by as much as 500 meters. Whether that may be imminent, or not, there is considerable evidence locked in volcanic rocks from around the world that the magnetic poles of Earth have indeed shifted many times, and could be overdue for a replay. The last one occurred, say scientists, about 780,000 years ago.
According to a 2008 study in the journal Science, massive swirls in volcanic rocks far beneath the surface can cause Earth’s magnetic poles to shift; and, sure enough, recent satellite studies by the European Space Agency confirm that the planet’s magnetic poles are indeed shifting and, moreover, that the shift is speeding up. While such events may not have mattered much in pre-industrial times, our modern world with its heavy reliance on satellite communications, electrical grids, etc., has plenty of reason for concern.
Ancient Life on Mars New Evidence
Those who think Mars may once have hosted advanced life, and even civilization, have not been proved right, but they have not yet been proved wrong either. And now, despite considerable disdain from the establishment, new discoveries continue to leave the door wide open to such exciting possibilities and more.
In June, NASA announced discovery of large organic molecules on Mars. “Building Blocks of Life Found on Mars” raved the National Geographic headline. “Two landmark discoveries reveal organic carbon on the red planet, shaping the future hunt for life on Mars,” NationalGeographic.com declared in June. In a study published in the journal Science, NASA scientists present conclusive evidence collected by the Mars Curiosity rover that carbon-based compounds, the key ingredients to life as we know it, have been identified in small drilling samples taken in the Gale crater region. NASA does not believe, however, that the life that may once have existed there was in any way recent. Indeed, say the scientists, any such life has been dead for about 3.5 billion years.
The case for more recent life, though, has not been closed either. Curiosity has also detected methane, another form of organic molecule, in the Martian atmosphere. NASA concedes being puzzled by the methane, which can survive for only a few centuries, at the most, yet somehow the planet continues to replenish it. “It’s a gas in the atmosphere of Mars that really shouldn’t be there,” says NASA Jet Propulsion Lab scientist Chris Webster. It may come from volcanic sources, but it might come from life. No one knows yet.
Future explorations may answer such questions and, in doing so, may be helped by the first-ever Martian helicopter. Unveiled in Spring of 2018, a tiny autonomous robot, billed as the first heavier-than-air flying machine on Mars, will be included in the newly scheduled rover mission set for July, 2020 (‘Mars 2020’). Powered by lithium ion batteries, the less-than-4-pound device will fly up to a few hundred meters at an altitude of about 10 feet and might, we can only hope, help NASA obtain a more elevated perspective regarding life on the red planet.
CAPTIONS: Curiosity Rover’s drill hole in search of ancient organic molecules. Computer rendered image of a proposed Mars helicopter.