What is that pole shift thing? – Part II

What is it?

One of my previous article, “What is that pole shift thing?”, got a lot of attention and it explained what a magnetic pole reversal was. Why a part II if it’s been covered before? Well, there’s a lot of misunderstanding about what a pole shift really is. There’s two important concepts about pole shift: Magnetic reversal and change in the axis of rotation of the Earth. Magnetic reversal being covered, I will explain the possible change in the Earth’s rotational axis. We’ll start with Wikipedia’s definition of a pole shift:

The pole shift theory is a hypothesis that the axis of rotation of a planet has not always been at its present-day locations or that the axis will not persist there; in other words, that its physical poles had been or will be shifted. Pole shift theory is almost always discussed in the context of Earth, but other solar system bodies may have experienced axial reorientation during their existences.

How can the poles physically change location?

To really understand the way poles can physically change location, let’s take a look at the Earth’s different layers:

Earth layersAs you see on this picture, our planet has mainly 3 layers: Crust, mantle and core. The core is then actually divided in two: Solid inner core and liquid outer core. The crust is the layer we live on and it’s very thin compared to other layers. If the earth was an apple, the skin would be the crust, so you can see it’s really thin compared to the rest. This crust is divided into plates called tectonic plates and they sort of float on the mantle just below. These plates usually move along smoothly but sometimes they stick and build up pressure. When there’s too much pressure, the rock bends and we get an Earthquake. So now we all understand that the crust “float” on the mantle (The mantle flows so that’s why the crust can actually “float” on it).

We’re now getting to the real deal. The reason why the poles would shift is because of mass distribution. Mass distribution explains why the Earth rotate the way it does and I like to explain it with laundry: When you put clothes in your washing machine, you try to distribute them equally with the space you have. If you put everything on one side, when the washing machine starts it will make an awful noise and probably start shaking and moving around. You have to stop it, balance what’s in it correctly and start over. The Earth act the same way and it rotate smoothly because it’s well balanced. Of course it’s a little more complicated than that but for our needs we don’t need more. If an extra weight unbalance the Earth, it would tilt and rotate itself until the extra weight moves somewhere near the equator. The poles(physical poles as in top and bottom of Earth) would still be pointing the same direction, but the continents would be shifted completely due to the moving crust. That’s why knowing about the crust is important: Because it “float” on the surface, it can move freely and such a radical change in the Earth’s rotational axis would cause it to move a lot. Such a drastic change would cause the crust to slip and you very well imagine the disasters it can cause. This theory is called “True Polar Wander”.

Why and how would this happen?

There’s evidence it happened in the past and this theory could explain a lot of things that remained mysterious. There’s a couple of theories about how it could happen next:

  • Important mass building at the poles
  • Continents drift
  • An asteroid hitting Earth
  • A large object/Planet not from the Solar system approaching Earth
  • Something like a super sized volcano formed far from the equator

So as you can see once again, it’s all about a critical mass building up far from the equator. But Adam Maloof, professor in Geosciences at Princeton University has something really interesting to say:

If a true polar wander event has occurred in our planet’s history, it’s likely been when the continents formed a single mass on one side of the Earth. We don’t expect there to be another event in the foreseeable future, though. The Earth’s surface is pretty well balanced today.

So, as you can see, it’s not like the magnetic reversal which is mostly unpredictable and can happen anytime (Even though as I explained it’s not that much of a big deal). It’s a process that we can see happening. The only drastic way it could happen is with an asteroid striking Earth or a large object/planet getting near Earth. For the asteroid, NASA is monitoring near Earth objects and I’m sure they do a good job with that. For the planet approaching it’s clear people are making reference to Planet X/Nibiru. Once again, if you haven’t read my article Planet X – Why it doesn’t matter that much I encourage you to do so. This will give you some information on why it’s not really a possibility.

As I said in Part I, It happened in the past and it will happen again, we just don’t know when. I decided not to give to much historic informations on the pole shift theory as I know you can all find that fairly easily on Wikipedia and other places. In fact here’s a link to Pole Shift theories on Wikipedia. I don’t like repeating other’s website content and my goal was really to point out how the crust could move around the globe and expose the fact that it’s a mass distribution problem that cause the pole shift.

It’s a credible theory and I won’t try to kill it. In fact, Albert Einstein thought it was a credible theory. But that doesn’t mean we have to fear this! There’s no evidence pointing for that to happen any time soon. Like any other doomsday prophecy there’s a fear propaganda built around it and don’t get caught in that.

What’s the relation between this Pole Shift and 2012?

There’s no clear link between 2012 and that physical pole shift. It’s most likely linked with Planet X approaching Earth and then causing a pole shift due to the change in gravity which holds our Solar system the way it is. There’s also a possibility for an asteroid to hit Earth. TU24 just missed Earth a couple of days ago and I remember that I read about 2012 and TU24 hitting Earth. Anyway, there’s probably not much to fear about 2012.

Conclusion – Will a Pole shift put an end to our world anytime soon?

A pole shift probably won’t happen anytime soon as nothing is pointing toward that direction, but it will happen someday. I think it’s a really interesting and credible scientific possibility. I just don’t buy the option it will happen anytime soon. It’s something we can track and as Maloof said, the Earth’s surface is pretty well balanced at the moment. Of course something unpredictable can happen but we can say that everyday in life. Every time I drive my car there’s a possibility for me to die but I just don’t think about it maybe like 95% of the population. Well , there’s a slight possibility for a pole shift and a magnetic reversal everyday but life goes on.

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