The Origin of Earth and its Internal Heat
John David Best
Earth is the primary example referred to in this theory, since it is the planet we know the most about. However, the ideas expressed may apply equally as well to other planets.
We know from deep drill holes, caves, and mine shafts, that the earth has a large temperature gradient which becomes hotter with increasing depth. We know for a fact from volcanic eruptions that at some depth the temperature is so high that rock is molten. It may be even much hotter at the core of the earth.
There is little consensus on the source of earth’s internal heat. Here are five postulated explanations from people claiming to have some authority on the subject:
1. Radioactive decay
2. The Kelvin-Helmholtz mechanism
3. Primordial heat left over from the formation of the earth.
4. Friction of tides and movement of tectonic plates.
5. Heat generated by impacts from rocks and particles striking the earth due to its gravitational attraction, and accreting to the earth.
Let’s consider each of these ideas in sequence:
1; Radioactive decay – This idea would seem to have the advantage of providing a steady source of heat maintaining the earth’s crust at the observed constant temperature, because the half-lives of naturally-occurring radioactive substances are so long. However, precisely due to the long half-lives of these isotopes, they emit heat at a low temperature. This is because the amount of heat energy released per time of a given quantity of a radioactive isotope is inversely proportional to its half-life1. The low temperature of the heat emitted by these natural radioisotopes means that they are unable to produce the extremely high temperatures that are present underground as confirmed by volcanic eruptions consisting of almost white-hot molten rock. Even a very large quantity of heat emitted at a low temperature is incapable of raising anything to a higher temperature than itself, due to the second law of thermodynamics which as simply stated by Clausius is: “A body at a lower temperature is incapable of spontaneously transferring heat to a body at a higher temperature”2. While there are radioactive isotopes which decay at high temperatures, they do not occur in nature in any significant quantities and have half lives measured in hundreds of years or less.
2. The Kelvin-Helmholtz mechanism – According to this mechanism, the crust of the earth shrinks as it cools, applying pressure to the core of the earth and thereby increasing the temperature of the core. An objection to this idea is that cooling rock becomes brittle, and would therefore tend to relieve the stress of shrinkage by cracking rather than by applying uniform pressure to the core which would be required for the Kelvin-Helmholtz mechanism to operate.
3. Primordial heat left over from the formation of the earth – The question is why there is no evidence that the earth is cooling or has cooled significantly in millions of years if the heat in the interior of the earth is left over from long ago. Fossils of plant and animal life from millions of years ago suggest that the temperature of the earth then was not substantially different then than now. Then the question remains of how the primordial heat was produced.
4. Friction of tides and movement of tectonic plates – Questions about this mechanism include: How could friction of tides possibly produce a high enough temperature to melt rock deep under the ocean? Are gravitational forces with other celestial objects capable of shifting tectonic plates so that the friction is so great that it can maintain white-hot molten rock, and if so, why is there not more evidence on the surface of these tectonic shifts, beyond possibly the occasional earthquake? This means of production of heat affects the crust and would heat the crust. It is empirically clear that the temperature of the earth follows a gradient that gets hotter with depth. How could a cooler crust heat a core that is easily white-hot judging from volcanic eruptions?.
5. Heat generated by impacts from rocks and particles striking the earth due to its gravitational attraction, and accreting to the earth – There is simply no evidence that this produces an amount of heat significant to the amount that is contained in the earth. Certainly the extent to which this process is currently happening cannot account for the enormous temperature inside the earth, and there is no reason to think that this process occurred at any greater rate in the past than it is occurring now.
If the above explanations do not account for the heat inside the earth, then what does? Production of the white-hot temperatures that we know exist in the interior of the earth would seem to require an active nuclear reaction such as fission or fusion. According to the Universal Lattice theory3 , very energetic events, possibly supernovae create matter, maybe even entire galaxies, by blowing electric charges loose from the universal lattice structure. These charges have an enormous amount of kinetic energy at the moment they are separated from the lattice, but they are attracted toward each other and begin to condense or fuse into matter, losing some of this energy. Some of the matter that is created by this mechanism is in large masses, which have enough heat and internal pressure to maintain this fusion for a long period of time, and emit energy at visible wavelengths. These are what we know as stars. Smaller bodies do not have the mass to maintain fusion for a long period of time and become planets which may be able to maintain fusion in their interiors for a time but whose exteriors cool below a temperature that can support fusion and become ordinary matter. Earth is an example of this. Fusion may have already died out completely in some planets, leaving them with no internal heat source. Asteroids and smaller bodies quickly completed fusion into solid masses and became inert.
The earth in other words, is a small dying star. If “God” had a hammer and chipped away the solid outer crust of the earth so that its hot interior was exposed, it would look just like a small fiery star.
3. Universal Lattice Theory, http://www.vidainstitute.org/?page_id=32Click to view contributions to this theory