Isostatic rebound and our rocky future

“One example of where relatively small changes to geological stress can have a big impact on volcanic activity is the Pavlov volcano in Alaska. As McGuire describes, this volcano only erupts during Autumn and Winter. At that time storms ride up into a nearby ocean zone, pushing an average 10cm or 15cm rise in sea level. The added weight of the water is enough to torque the crust and push magma out. Now imagine the kind of extra volcanic activity that could result from 1, 6, or 250 feet of global sea level rise under the raging rate of human-caused warming and you begin to understand the concern.”We have let the Genie out of the bottle, It will never be the same again. 6C will melt most if not the entire ice caps. imagine how much ‘Torgue’ that will put on the plates?
Another great link from Robertscribbler

“Between about 20,000 and 5,000 years ago, our planet underwent an astonishing climatic transformation. Over the course of this period, it flipped from the frigid wasteland of deepest and darkest ice age to the – broadly speaking – balmy, temperate world upon which our civilisation has developed and thrived. During this extraordinarily dynamic episode, as the immense ice sheets melted and colossal volumes of water were decanted back into the oceans, the pressures acting on the solid Earth also underwent massive change. In response, the crust bounced and bent, rocking our planet with a resurgence in volcanic activity, a proliferation of seismic shocks and burgeoning giant landslides.
Climate Change will shake the Earth

“The disappearing ice, sea-level rise and floods already forecast for the 21st century are inevitable as the earth warms and weather patterns change – and they will shift the weight on the planet. Professor McGuire calls this process “waking the giant” – Something that can be done with just a few gigatonnes of water in the right – or wrong – place.The untold – and terrifying – story behind the earthquake that devastated Nepal last Saturday morning begins with something that sounds quite benign. It’s the ebb and flow of rainwater in the great river deltas of India and Bangladesh, and the pressure that puts on the grinding plates that make up the surface of the planet.Recently discovered, that causal factor is seen by a growing body of scientists as further proof that climate change can affect the underlying structure of the Earth.”

Our planet is always on the move, but sometimes it is more restless than usual. As the last ice age came to an end, around 10,000 years ago, there was a surge in volcanic activity as ice caps melted, decreasing pressure on the Earth’s crust.

Since then our planet has reached a steady state, with around 50 volcanoes erupting each year and around 150 earthquakes greater than magnitude six. But geo-hazards expert Bill McGuire is concerned that human-induced climate change may bring a resurgence in activity in the coming centuries. “In areas of major ice loss, such as Alaska, Iceland, the Andes and Himalayas we may see a rise in earthquakes, volcanism and landslides” says McGuire, who describes this scenario in Waking the Giant. “It only takes the pressure of a handshake to trigger a quake or volcanic blast in a primed system.”
Releasing the pressure on a restless earth
This blog has been edited on the 17 May 2018 to include this interview on Radio Ecoshock titled:  Earth Quake Time Bombs.


I'm an anti-imperialist, environmental activist and blue ocean sailor, who is passionate about the earth and all it's inhabitants without favour. Brace for imminent impact as we bare witness to the non-linear unraveling of the biosphere and habitability disappearing for most if not all complex life on the only habitable planet we know of. To quote President Niinistö in North Russia: ‘If We Lose the Arctic, We Lose the World’. Folks we have lost the Arctic.

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47 comments on “Isostatic rebound and our rocky future
  1. Kevin Hester says:

    “Tides, winds and ocean currents play a role in these regional differences, but an increasingly important mover and shaker is the solid Earth itself. Global warming is not just affecting the surface of our world; it’s making the Earth move under our feet.”

    “NASA Discusses rising sea levels
    Unless a volcano or earthquake are in the news, we tend to think of our home planet as solid rock. But 50 miles below our feet, there’s a layer thousands of miles thick that can flow like a liquid over thousands of years. The tectonic plates of Earth’s crust float on this viscous layer, called the mantle, like a vanilla wafer on a very thick pudding.”


  2. Kevin Hester says:

    “During the last ice age, Greenland’s ice sheet was much larger than now, and its enormous weight caused Greenland’s crust to slowly sink into the softened mantle rock below. When large parts of the ice sheet melted at the end of the ice age, the weight of the ice sheet decreased, and the crust began to rebound. It is still rising, as mantle rock continues to flow inwards and upwards beneath Greenland.”


  3. Kevin Hester says:

    “As the Greenland ice sheet creaks and cracks, scientists are listening.
    Since the 1990s, researchers have seen a rise in the number of glacial earthquakes emanating from Greenland’s glaciers—earthquakes that stem from massive blocks of ice calving from glacier fronts. Nearly half of the glacial earthquakes in the past quarter century occurred between 2011 and 2013, a team of researchers has now found after digging through seismic data. These earthquakes could be a signal of a warming climate’s effect on the stability of the ice sheet itself.”


  4. Kevin Hester says:

    We are in for a very, very rocky future.


  5. chura87 says:

    Reblogged this on Chura Writer and commented:
    One of the minor threads in my novel, Katsuren, concerns the discovery of a rocky structure submerged a few meters off the coast of Yonaguni, in Okinawa. It is darkly fascinating to think about something that once was above the waterline now being submerged. One always asks, Why? How? Isostatic rebound is one answer. Here is what Kevin Hester has to say about isostatic rebound.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kevin Hester says:

    “A leading theory, presented by Dr. Bill McGuire, Hugh Tuffin, J. Maclennan, Peter Huybers and many others is that changes in stress to the Earth’s crust caused by the loss of billions of tons of mass by ice sheets and the displacement of those billions of tons into the world’s ocean system spurred previously stable magma systems into a chaotic displacement.”Chaotic displacement!!
    Think about that for a second or two.
    Critically we must consider that we are in the early stages of this ‘event’ and there is a 10 to 30 year lag in cause and effect of warming from our emissions.
    It is logical to think that as the catastrophe progresses we will see more and more severe seismic, thermal, volcanic and weather events ramping up in a non-linear manner.


  7. Kevin Hester says:

    “A leading theory, presented by Dr. Bill McGuire, Hugh Tuffin, J. Maclennan, Peter Huybers and many others is that changes in stress to the Earth’s crust caused by the loss of billions of tons of mass by ice sheets and the displacement of those billions of tons into the world’s ocean system spurred previously stable magma systems into a chaotic displacement. In addition, direct melting of glaciers on slope systems, rising seas and even changes in flood frequency at individual volcanoes, faults and zones of steep topography can result in heightened rates of eruption, earthquakes and instances of slope collapse.
    This evidence is causing scientists to investigate feedbacks between warming and potential increases in volcanic activity, earthquakes and tsunamis. A set of events that may also risk the destabilization of undersea methane hydrate stores through the slope collapse and enhanced magma heating mechanisms as well.”


  8. Kevin Hester says:

    “If you look at the geological record of the end of the last ice age, there’s something that crops up that’s more than a little bit disturbing. The approximate 10,000 year period in which 4 degrees Celsius of warming took place was also punctuated by a rash of intense volcanic activity, earthquakes and tsunamis.”


  9. Kevin Hester says:

    “Here’s how climate change can lead to more earthquakes, according to scientist emeritus at the US Geological Survey and CEO of earthquake app Temblor Ross Stein:”


  10. Kevin Hester says:

    “The most spectacular geological effects were reserved for high latitudes. Here, the crust across much of northern Europe and North America had been forced down by hundreds of metres and held at bay for tens of thousands of years beneath the weight of sheets of ice 20 times thicker than the height of the London Eye. As the ice dissipated in soaring temperatures, the crust popped back up like a coiled spring released, at the same time tearing open major faults and triggering great earthquakes in places where they are unheard of today.”


  11. Kevin Hester says:

    “Although we have been aware of the impact of volcanism on the climate for quite some time, the results presented in the study have disclosed that the opposite is also possible. “This pioneering work opens up new perspectives for interdisciplinary studies about the coupling between the solid Earth and the fluid Earth, and — for example — involving volcanologists, geomorphologists and climatologists,” concludes Sternai”


  12. Kevin Hester says:

    “Rampino said that explosive interactions of magma with coal deposits may also have released massive amounts of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere which, in turn, triggered intense warming of the oceans.”
    Ouch, thats gonna hurt considering that isostatic rebound and a multitude of feedback loops mean we will see more earthquakes and volcanic activity!


  13. Kevin Hester says:

    “Why does the crust “bounce back”?
    “The earth comprises the crust, which is brittle, and the mantle, which is very thick. In between the mantle and the crust is a thin layer of about 80-200km called the asthenosphere, and it is quite plastic. So if you push down a rubber duck in water, it will sink. If you remove the force, it will bounce back. The crust does the same thing.”


  14. Kevin Hester says:

    Radio Ecoshock coverage of this aspect of the unraveling;


  15. Kevin Hester says:

    “Get Ready for More Volcanic Eruptions as the Planet Warms”.
    “A new study shows that even relatively small-scale climatic changes affect volcanic activity”


  16. Kevin Hester says:

    “He said other studies have shown that melting caused by climate change is reducing the size and weight of the glacier, which reduces the pressure on the mantle, allowing greater heat from the volcanic source to escape and then warm the ocean water.” Follow us: @GeologyTime on Twitter


  17. Kevin Hester says:

    Stuart Scott and Paul Beckwith explain the links between climate change and additional seismic activity;


  18. Kevin Hester says:

    :Underground magma triggered Earth’s worst mass extinction with greenhouse gases
    There are parallels between today’s and past greenhouse gas-driven climate changes.”


  19. Kevin Hester says:

    “The new study is “looking at maybe the smallest-magnitude climate change yet to show it has influence on volcanic activity,” says Ben Edwards, an associate professor of geology at Dickinson College. “To see this change in an interglacial period indicates that there’s an even more subtle relationship between climate change and volcanism” than scientists previously thought.”


  20. Joihn Berbatis says:

    I believe iso-static rebound and the hotter waters running beneath the Western Antarctic are contributing to the extra volume of earthquakes.


    Biosphere Collapse – how & why.

    The result of the Western Antarctic ice sheet dislodging would exacerbate the Earth’s rotational wobble (Chandler’s Wobble). The Crust presents the earth with an unbalanced distribution of weight, even a small (10 centimeters) displacement of the crust would cause the earth to wobble more (which ironically could induce more crustal displacement, thus causing more wobble, thus causing more displacement, etc.) Severe seismic activity on or near Antarctica would precipitate crust instability. Added bulges from the expansion beneath the crust would worsen the imbalance. The diameter at the equator is 43 kilometres more than the rest of the Earth’s surface, due to centrifugal forces.

    “In a polar region, there is a continual deposition of ice, which is not symmetrically distributed about the pole. The earth’s rotation acts on these asymmetrically deposited masses [of ice], and produces centrifugal momentum that is transmitted to the rigid crust of the earth. The constantly increasing centrifugal momentum produced in this way will, when it has reached a certain point, produce a movement of the earth’s crust over the rest of the earth’s body, and this will displace the

    polar regions toward the equator.” A foreword by Prof. Albert Einstein in The Earth’s Shifting Crust by Prof. Charles Hapgood.


    Pole Shift by John White

    What will happen during a pole shift? “The ultimate disaster! Enormous tidal waves will roll across the continents as oceans become displaced from their basins. Hurricane winds of hundreds of miles per hour will scour the planet. Earthquakes greater than any ever measured will change the shape of the continents. Volcanoes will pour out huge lava flows, along with poisonous gasses and choking ash. Climates will change instantly, and the geography of the globe will be radically altered. If the pole shift is less than a full 180 degrees, the polar ice caps will melt rapidly, rising sea levels, while new ice caps will begin to build. And large numbers of organisms, including the human race, will be decimated or even become extinct, with signs of their existence hidden under thick layers of sediment and debris or at the bottom of newly established seas…”


    Biosphere Collapse by John Berbatis

    In the past ten years, there has been an exponential melting of the ice sheets and a noticeable disintegration of the ice shelves owing to ‘global warming’. The loss of mass from the underlying Tectonics Plates causes them to ascend (isostatic rebound), and this results in an increase in the intensification and frequency of global seismological activity. The seismic data of the past ten years confirm this conjecture.

    Furthermore, the ice shelves impede the flow of glaciers and ice sheets into the oceans; and when the ‘polar regions’ are subjected to unprecedented seismic upheavals, these events will then cause the ice sheets and glaciers to be dislodged en masse into the ocean. This occurrence will then instantly destabilize the earth’s crust weight distribution (isostasy), and so precipitate a ‘crust displacement’ (Mag. 10+), that is, an axis change. The previous subterranean extraction of fossil fuels and water will greatly amplify this impending Apocalypse. Currently, the excessive amount of carbon and methane gasses in the atmosphere is causing catastrophic weather conditions, globally – and this situation will rapidly deteriorate into ‘a runaway climate’.

    17 December 2020
    Why is Antarctica shaking like crazy? More than 50,000 earthquakes in 3 months baffle scientists
    While enigmatic deep space signals are hitting the surface of the continent, more than 50,000 tremors have rocked Antarctica since the end of August. Such an impressive spike in seismic activity has never been witnessed by scientists.

    A major M6.0, as well as thousands of other small quakes, were all detected in the Bransfield Strait, a 60-mile wide (96-km) ocean channel between the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula.

    Although several tectonic plates and microplates meet near the strait (and thus frequent rumbling), the past three months have been unusual, according to the University of Chile.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Kevin Hester says:

    “In 1958, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake triggered a rockslide into Southeast Alaska’s Lituya Bay, creating a tsunami that ran 1,700 feet up a mountainside before racing out to sea.”
    That nasty old Isostatic rebound. Lucky that Alaska’s coastlines aren’t peppered with nuclear plants !!!


  22. Kevin Hester says:

    John Foster
    Isostatic rebound is occurring in Alaska.
    “Observations of enhanced volcanic frequency during the last deglaciation have led to the hypothesis that
    ice unloading in glaciated volcanic terrains can promote volcanism through decompression melting in the
    shallow mantle or a reduction in crustal magma storage time. However, a direct link between regional
    climate change, isostatic adjustment, and the initiation of volcanism remains to be demonstrated due to
    the difficulty of obtaining high-resolution well-dated records that capture short-term climate and volcanic
    variability traced to a particular source region. Here we present an exceptionally resolved record of 19
    tephra layers paired with foraminiferal oxygen isotopes and alkenone paleotemperatures from marine
    sediment cores along the Southeast Alaska margin spanning the last deglacial transition. Major element
    compositions of the tephras indicate a predominant source from the nearby Mt. Edgecumbe Volcanic
    Field (MEVF). We constrain the timing of this regional eruptive sequence to 14.6–13.1 ka. The sudden
    increase in volcanic activity from the MEVF coincides with the onset of Bølling–Allerød interstadial
    warmth, the disappearance of ice-rafted detritus, and rapid vertical land motion associated with modeled
    regional isostatic rebound in response to glacier retreat. These data support the hypothesis that regional
    deglaciation can rapidly trigger volcanic activity. Rapid sea surface temperature fluctuations and an
    increase in local salinity (i.e., δ18Osw ) variability are associated with the interval of intense volcanic
    activity, consistent with a two-way interaction between climate and volcanism in which rapid volcanic
    response to ice unloading may in turn enhance short-term melting of the glaciers, plausibly via albedo
    effects on glacier ablation zones.”
    Sea level rise can also add to increased frequency of volcanic activity.
    “How could the current warming climate of the planet produce much additional volcanism?
    Well, it actually has a surprisingly elegant answer. Kutterolf and others looked at ash deposits in ocean sediment that recorded upward of 1 million years of sedimentation in the oceans. These drillcores they examined were from offshore volcanically active regions like Central America, the Philippines and Japan. By dating the ash layers using a variety of methods, they could look to see if the number of VEI 5 or greater eruptions that would send ash over the ocean to be deposited varies with any type of cycle. Interestingly, they found that there does appear to be a correlation between amount of VEI 5+ eruptions and the 41 k.y. Milkankovich obliquity frequency for the most recent sediment. (The dating can become more problematic with older sediment.) This 41 k.y. obliquity is a cycle based on the tilt of the Earth’s poles from 22.5 to 24.5 degrees, and as the obliquity changes, the climate also changes, so that ice volume decreases and sea level increases as climate warms. However, the peak volcanism trailed behind the highest rates of sea level change by around 4,000 years. Why might that be?”…/306418361_Interaction……/rising-sea-levels-volcanoes…/


  23. Kevin Hester says:

    Glacier melt is causing Earth’s crust to warp slightly, say scientists
    As ice sheets and glaciers melt across the globe, the Earth’s crust is liberated from the overlying weight and lifts up, say scientists.


  24. Kevin Hester says:

    Raising the Estimate of Sea-Level Rise
    The effect of post-glacial rebound was overlooked in the West Antarctic


  25. Kevin Hester says:

    Get Ready for More Volcanic Eruptions as the Planet Warms
    A new study shows that even relatively small-scale climatic changes affect volcanic activity

    By Annie Sneed on December 21, 2017


  26. Kevin Hester says:

    Climate change will shake the Earth
    A changing climate isn’t just about floods, droughts and heatwaves. It brings erupting volcanoes and catastrophic earthquakes too


  27. Kevin Hester says:

    “About 183 million years ago, Earth was rocked by apocalyptic volcanic eruptions that belched greenhouse gasses into the skies and triggered widespread extinctions around the world.”


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Kevin Hester

Kevin Hester is currently living on Rakino Island, a small island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland, New Zealand, monitoring the unravelling of the biosphere and volunteering at the Rakino Island Nursery is currently developing a proposal to create a marine reserve near by. The Island has no grid tied electricity or reticulated water.  I catch my own water from the roof and generate my electricity from the ample solar radiation on the island.

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