Re: Geological destabilization

Michael S. Lorrey (
Mon, 25 Jan 1999 09:48:05 -0500

Alexander 'Sasha' Chislenko wrote:

> At 13:20 01/23/99 , Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> > All that is needed is for
> >sufficient force to crack the crust of the planet enough so that it breaks up
> >like an ice floe. The impacts are merely catalysts. Once this is done, the
> >crust
> >destabilizes and becomes inundated with fresh lava, eventually subducting
> >everything and a new crust forms. Grey goo gets gutted.
> >
> What can happen if someone knocks a bit of ice off Antarctica?
> If the continent lightens up just enough to start rising, the following
> sequence of earthquakes can melt and shake off more ice, which will
> lead to faster rising, etc. - until much of the ice falls off.
> I wonder how unstable Antarctica may be in this respect, and how much
> would it take to start the process.
> I've been asking this question since high school...
> Any geologists out there?

My cousin, Andrew Lorrey, is currently in Antarctica and working on problems like this. They (his team from U Maine - Orino) are in a valley where there is buried ice that is supposedly more than 8 million years old. They are hoping that the stratified layers of this ice can tell them about not only the weather patterns back then, but the durability of the Antarctic ice sheet to large world climatic variations (like global warming), as well as answers to your question. He gets back in a month, but I don't know how long it will take them to work through the data they've collected.

Mike Lorrey