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Expanding earth theory

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Age of the seacrust, inferred from magnetic polarity. Red areas are youngest, caused by mid-ocean ridges creating new seacrust.

Expanding earth theory is the position that the Earth is physically expanding in diameter, mass, or both. Most geologists reject it since there is no mechanism for it, although some geologists such as James Maxlow [1] accept it because the continent boundaries have a better than 99% fit together.[2]

Evidence used in support of expanding Earth theory

Three lines of evidence are used to support expanding Earth theory: geological, biological, and historical.

Geological evidence

  • As is well-known, the continents adjacent to the Atlantic fit together, that the Mid-Atlantic ridge traces their breaking point, new crust is continually being created at the Mid-Atlantic ridge, and the oceanic crust gets progressively older the further one gets from the Ridge.
  • What's not so commonly known as that the Pacific is also expanding, at an even faster rate than the Atlantic. As shown by the seafloor age map, the East Pacific rise is an area of ocean crust expansion. And just as the continents on either side of the mid-Atlantic Ridge fit each other and the ridge, the continents on either side of the East-Pacific rise fit each other and the ridge. Specifically, the bulge of the East Coast of Australia fits into the nook in the West Coast of South America. The East Pacific Rise traces the two. Also, the trench system off the coast of China traces the West Coast of north America from Alaska.
  • Also interestingly, the sea crust is substantially younger than the continental crust. According to the mainstream dating methods, the oldest sea crust is approximately 250M years old, while the continental crust is approximately 4B years old. While those dates are based on highly questionable methods, they do provide strong evidence that the Atlantic and Pacific (at least the Pacific East of the trenches) formed at the same time -- a conclusion that is inconsistent with the plate tectonics model. Standard theory, of course, has it that all the continents were bound in Pangaea, and then split, floating their way back into the Pacific, which is (presumably) growing ever smaller. In that scenario, of course, we would expect the Pacific to be older than the Atlantic -- after all, the Pacific was already there when Pangaea broke up. But interestingly, it's not. Both oceans are the same age, and much younger than the continents.
  • The trenches in the Pacific experience extremely frequent earthquakes. But a little known fact about those earthquakes is that the earthquakes less than 300km from the surface at tensional, rather than compressional earthquakes. In other words, the wave characteristics of the earthquake indicate that it was caused by crust pulling apart, rather than being pushed together. That fact is consistent with an expanding earth, but not with plate tectonics.
  • An oceanic ridge surrounds the entire continent of Antarctica. The necessary implication is that there is expansion southward. In order to absorb that new crust (and keep the size of the Earth static), there would need to be be a subduction zone going East to West around the Earth. But there is no such subduction zone. There is new crust, with no zone to absorb the old crust. That strongly implies expansion.
  • No feasible physical mechanism has yet explained how subduction of crust occurs, and it has not been directly observed to occur. Expansion, however, has been directly observed. Expansion without subduction necessitates an increase in surface area.

Biological evidence

  • Present-day marsupials are found only in Australia and the Americas, implying close biological links between those areas not shared with the other continents.
  • The fossil record is full of animals that could not survive in today's gravity: Arthropods bigger than humans (3-ft long dragonflies, 2m millipedes, 2.5m-long sea scorpion[3], and so on) and the dinosaurs (350lb flying creatures, enormous sauropods, etc.). It does not seem possible they could make it in today's world. Yet somehow, they used to. A smaller Earth would explain reduced gravity.

Historical evidence

Finally, some historical references:

  • Genesis 1:2: "Now the earth was [a] formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters ... And God said, 'Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.' ..." If the Earth was initially smaller, it would have been completely covered in water, as reported by Genesis 1:2. If the Earth then expanded by an increase in ocean crust, the water would have flowed into the new areas of ocean crust, leaving the original crust (now continental crust) as dry land, as reported by Genesis 1:9.
  • Plato wrote in the Timaeus: "For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to which your city put an end. This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles; the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbour, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the surrounding land may be most truly called a boundless continent."
  • Gen 2:5: "For the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground."
  • Gen 6:11: In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up.
  • Gen 10:25: And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided.
The Hebrew meaning of the word Peleg and its associated derivatives varies from Divisions, Split, Half, Divided, Cleft, Sections, Streams, Channel, Canal and River [4] which is consistent with the origin and ongoing process involved with the separation of the continents.

The combined effect of these historical references is to imply that most of the expansion of the Earth took place within recorded history -- originating specifically during the great global flood.

Brief history

The first scientist credited with proposing that the diameter of the earth is not constant was Mr. I. O. Yarkovskii in 1888. Later scientists, such as Professor S. Warren Carey, built upon his work and tried to find evidence of a non-constant earth diameter. Mr. Carey's doctoral dissertation at the University of Sydney in 1938 was on this topic, but he removed it from consideration at the last minute after realizing it would cost him his doctorate.

Unfortunately, Carey's prescient and insightful hypothesis failed to gain acceptance because of this lack of a plausible causative mechanism.- Mr. Myers

The main problem with Carey's work is simply that he doesn't have a mechanism for expansion. He admitted this in his book "The Expanding Earth", but in recent years the mechanism called "accretion" has come onto the stage.[5]

Evidence for expansion?

One argument for expanding earth theory is the Grand Canyon. To quote Mr. Myer:

The fallacy of the nebular hypothesis is shown very clearly in the physiographic cross-section of the Grand Canyon cliffs in Northern Arizona and the photo shown below. These layers were laid down (accreted) as solid matter, and none show signs of having been melted at any time. These layers are positive evidence the Earth has grown steadily over time.

Mr. Myer is clearly assuming a constant rate of soil formation which is useless against a young earth creationist. This is a common mistake made by old earthers and evolutionists.

If expanding earth theory is correct, then the nebula hypothesis is wrong. The old earthers would be without a model for planet formation that works. In order to sidestep this, they would need to debunk this piece of evidence. The Nebular hypothesis says that planets were created by the "rapid" formation of molten bodies, but the expanding earth theory is far slower and creates a paradox.

The answer is very simple really. Just admit that the layers were laid down quickly, but who is willing to do that?[6]

Another argument for an expanding earth is the theoretical modeling of plate movement. Asian/Australian trenches seem to match, thus suggesting they were once together, however this would require the earth to have been a single landmass.

Calculations of material from space

Mr. Meyer cites material from space as one of the mechanisms for global expansion. He cites a 1967 NASA report for the figure of 55,000-274,000 tons per day.[7] We will assume this figure as accurate and average the two extremes so as to not favor any side.

55,000 tons + 274,000 = 329,000

329,000 divided by 2 is 164,500 tons per day. This is the average.

There are 365 days a year.

365 x 164,500 = 60,042,500 tons per year

This is the amount per year.

The standard secular model for the earth dates it around 4.6 billion year old, but the expanding earth model would allow for a much older earth. However, for the sake of convenience, we will use the 4.6 billion year figure.

4,600,000,000 years x 60,042,500 ton/year = 276,195,500,000,000,000 ton of material.

Let us compare this to the mass of the earth. The earth is 5.9736x1024kg.[8]

A ton is 907.18474 kg.

276,195,500,000,000,000 ton x 907.18474 kg/ton = 250,560,342,856,670,000,000 kg

250,560,342,856,670,000,000 kg divided by 5,973,600,000,000,000,000,000,000 = 4.2-5 = 0.0042%

Thus material from space could expand the size of the earth, in 4.6 billion years, assuming the figures cited are correct and the math is sound, by 0.0042% of the earth's present size. So 4.6 billion years from now, the earth will be 0.0042% larger than it is now. This percentage increase is the same as an increase in radius from 6,344 km to 6,371 km (present mean value). A 27 kilometer increase in this time cannot explain the expansion of the earth, either time must be much greater or the infall was much greater than today's estimates.

Expanding earth theory and creationism

Is it possible to combine Flood geology and expanding earth geology? Is it logical? Is it reasonable? Many would say not. There are five reasons for this.

  • The process of accretion is far too slow to have the planet only 6,000 years old. According to Mr. Meyer, the man who proposed the process.
The dominant factor in global expansion today is the expanding molten core--melting its way upward towards the crust and creating new ocean floor when extruded from the ~65,000 km (~40,000 miles) of mid-ocean ridges. In the last ~200 Ma these ridges have added more than 71% of new ocean surface area to the planet, increasing Earth's diameter by 40%.

It might be possible to rework the concept of the core, in order to find a fast mechanism, but this seems unlikely.

  • Where did the water for the Flood come from? In an expanding earth model, the earth's original shape had no oceans (which clearly contradicts the Bible). In a YEC expanding earth model, the earth would have to have to produce enough water to cover an expanding earth in only a few thousands years. Is that possible?
  • Also, how would this alter the state of the springs of the great deep? If the mantle is expanding, then how can it hold in the water? One might sidestep this by claiming the expansion was only during the Flood.
  • There are several reasons in general why expanding earth theories don't work. For example, its mechanism for the creation of mountains is highly unrealistic and there is no evidence for it whatsoever. [9]
  • If the different strata were laid down during the Flood, then there is no reason to believe that the earth is expanding. There just isn't any evidence for gradual expansion, if the strata resulted from catastrophic conditions.


  1. "Terra non Firma Earth: Plate Tectonics is a Myth", by James Maxlow
  2. "Abstract: half way down first paragraph", by James Maxlow
  3. "Giant claw reveals the largest ever arthropod" Biol Lett. 2008 February 23; 4(1): 106–109.
  4. "Reference 6388 refer also to numbers 6385 to 6392", Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
  5. EARTH EXPANSION: ITS HISTORY, by Lawrence S. Myers
  7. Newkirk in Meteor Orbits and Dust, NASA, 1967
  8. Earth, by Wikipedia
  9. EXPANDING EARTH?, by Bill Mundy, Origins 15(2):53-69 (1988), Geoscience Research Institute

See Also