What Lies Beneath

I’m unusually interested in the things man doesn’t yet know, so I feel pretty confident when I tell you that humanity still has a long way to go in the answer department.

The human body, space, even life itself is still a big mystery. And science is still arguing over how old the earth is.

One of my favorite cartoons is of a lobster at the bottom of the sea who has his buddies huddled around him as he describes to them a whole different world beyond the sea he discovered when he was temporarily captured. The lobsters are just incredulous over the tale because they had no idea there was a reality apart from their own.

Occasionally, I come across something truly interesting that I like to share, because I think we are a lot like lobsters on the ocean floor, waiting for word on what the world we live in is really like. Sometimes we get a glimpse of something important that helps to explain our reality.

The glimpse today was made possible by an earthquake. An earthquake in Bolivia to be exact. And this wasn’t just any earthquake. Quakes this big don’t come along everyday.

It was June 9, 1994 when the 8.2 magnitude tremor “rocked a sparsely populated region of the Amazon in the South American nation. Nothing this powerful had been seen in decades, with shocks being felt as far away as Canada,” according to a February 2019 Science Alert internet article.

Not only was it strong, it was also deep-about 400 miles deep, and lucky for us, it was the first earthquake ever to be measured on modern seismic equipment, so scientists could measure the waves of energy that were bouncing around our planet’s interior.

Now keep in mind that we really have no idea what the inside of the earth looks like. We have a good idea but it’s just an idea because obviously nobody has ever peered into the middle of the earth. And this has led to a lot of theories, and some of them are a bit outrageous.

Take, for example, the group that believes that there are people, or some kind of other beings perhaps, that live inside of the earth, which they claim is a beautiful garden of Eden. This idea is called “the hollow earth theory” and it all started because a Norwegian sailor named Olaf Jansen claimed to have sailed through an entrance into the earth at the North Pole in 1811. He even says he and his father lived there, in the middle of the earth, for two whole years with a race of giants who live there as well.

But that’s not the point of my column today-it’s just an entertaining aside. You can read all about it in Jansen’s book if you’re interested.

So, back in Bolivia, we have this huge earthquake that scientists measured back in 1994. It helped them look farther into the earth, beyond the crust, to determine what is down there. It was an incredible opportunity to look at something no one had ever looked at before.

A team led by Princeton University has been looking at that data again and they’re telling the world today that what they found is that there are actual mountains in the middle of the earth–as tall and even taller than the Himalayas.

That’s an incredible statement, really, that suddenly makes us laugh a little less at our Norwegian sailor.

“I can’t give you an estimated number,” one team member said, regarding the range’s altitude. “But the mountains on the 660-kilometer boundary could be bigger than Mount Everest.”

He also said that the the ruggedness of the range may be due to an accumulation of old chunks of seafloor that got sucked into the mantle and then drifted down inside the earth. These scientists also speculate that there could be ancient relics of Earth’s history inside the mantle which could shed light about the evolution of our planet and how it was formed.

We had always been told the inside of the earth was a “bubbling hot mess,” as described by the February Science Alert article, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, at least in its entirety.

“Based on those all-important waves coursing through the boundary, the researchers have concluded the meeting point between the mantle’s upper and lower parts is a zig-zagging mountain range that puts anything on the surface to shame,” the article claimed.

The takeaway from all of this is that scientists might be able to put together a better idea of how the earth formed in the first place. The earth way below our feet is starting to reveal itself thanks to modern technology.

As for giants living in a garden somewhere beneath us? It’s a great tale, but that’s not what science is after. I think they’d just like to know why the earth is here at all. And how it came to be.

And to feel a little less like a lobster.


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