Origin of Tectonic Plates Best Explained by the Flood | The Institute for Creation Research
Origin of Tectonic Plates Best Explained by the Flood
A new study published in Nature Communications claims to have figured out how the tectonic plates may have originated.1 It’s been over 50 years since the theory of plate tectonics became an accepted idea in the scientific community. But, secular scientists are still struggling to explain both the origin of the continental crust and the tectonic plates.2

Earth is unique in our solar system because it is the only planet with tectonic plates. As far as we know, it may be the only planet in the universe to possess these features. This creates another conundrum that secular scientists also cannot explain: why is Earth so unusual?

Chunan Tang, from the State Key Laboratory of Coastal and Offshore Engineering, Dalian University of Technology, China, and a group of multinational geoscientists, admitted:

Fifty years after the foundational works establishing the geometries, kinematics, and mechanics of plate tectonics, we still lack a consensus understanding of how the plate tectonic system initiated.1

Tang and his coauthors created a 3-D spherical model that shows the development of massive rifts in the crust due to thermal expansion. They believe these rifts originated about a billion years after Earth formed through the heating of the lithosphere (the tectonic plate) by the hotter mantle below. In their model, this thermal expansion caused rifting into separate plates.1

Space.com reported study coauthor Alexander Webb as saying that the answer "lies in consideration of major heat-loss mechanisms that could have occurred during Earth's early periods. If volcanic advection, carrying hot material from depth to the surface [similar to a lava lamp], was the major mode of early heat-loss, that changes everything."3 The authors concluded that multi-plate tectonics—and all of the conditions leading up to them—can be sufficiently explained by the warming of the early lithosphere.1

But did they really solve the origin of the tectonic plates? Their model merely showed that cracks could develop under the conditions that they established. It is highly unlikely this was the way Earth’s plates originated. If so, why didn’t similar-sized planets, like Venus and Mars, develop massive rifts—and eventually plates—as well?

And their model also fails to explain how the subduction process—when one tectonic plate is pulled under another—began and even how plate motion was initiated. Tang and his colleagues wrote:

The initiation of a global network of rifts, as modeled here, is distinct from plate tectonics because plate tectonics includes creation of new lithosphere at rifts and destruction of old lithosphere at subduction zones. Absent an expanding Earth hypothesis, a global rift network is unsustainable: Earth’s surface cannot extend without balancing contraction [subduction].1

It all comes down to worldview. Most of the secular community denies the account of the global Flood as described in Genesis. They have had to create a narrative—a fictional story—to try and explain the tectonic plates we observe today.

In contrast, God has told us that the Flood began with the bursting of the fountains of the great deep in Genesis 7:11. It seems most likely that this initiated the plates on Earth. Movement of these newly formed plates destroyed the original ocean crust through subduction and created an entirely new seafloor. This new, hot and lower-density ocean crust pushed the water of the ocean higher and higher until the entire earth was covered with water.4 Today, we merely see the residual effects of this rapid and catastrophic activity.

The Bible is historically accurate. It also gives us insight into the origin of the tectonic plates. No computer model can compete with the truth of God’s Word.

Stage image: Image from Earth plate tectonics origin model.
Stage image credit: The University of Hong Kong. Copyright © 2020. Adapted for use in accordance with federal copyright (fair use doctrine) law. Usage by ICR does not imply endorsement of copyright holders.


References
1. C.A. Tang et al., “Breaking Earth’s shell into a global plate network,” Nature Communications 11 (2020): 3621.
2. Clarey, T. Plate Tectonics After Fifty Years. Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org March 1, 2018, accessed July 31, 2020.
3. Gohd, C. How did Earth crack? New study may explain origins of plate tectonics on our planet. Posted on Space.com July 22, 2020, accessed July 31, 2020.
4. Clarey, T. 2020. Carved in Stone: Geological Evidence of the Worldwide Flood. Dallas, TX: Institute for Creation Research: 172-193.

*Dr. Clarey is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his doctorate in geology from Western Michigan University.
The Latest
NEWS
Does Oddball Platypus Genome Reveal Its Origins?
How in the world did a creature as odd as the duck-billed platypus originate? This creature lays eggs like a reptile, has venom like a reptile, spurs like...

NEWS
Is Evolution ‘Fake Science’?
The organization BioLogos, which advocates that Christians accept secular evolutionary claims, recently published an online essay entitled “How to...

NEWS
Cambrian Explosion Alive and Well
A new editorial in GSA Today is claiming that secular scientists should cease using the term “Cambrian Explosion.”1 It’s not...

NEWS
Abraham Ate Bananas?
Since the word banana does not occur in Scripture, any evidence of bananas in ancient Middle Eastern diets would have to come from the ground. New research...

NEWS
3-D Human Genome Radically Different from Chimp
All plant and animal genomes studied so far exhibit complex and distinct three-dimensional (3-D) structures in their chromosome configurations depending...

NEWS
Amazonian Artwork and the Post-Flood Ice Age
An extensive series of South American Ice Age artwork may be of interest to biblical creationists. In 2017 and 2018, scientists discovered a nearly eight-mile-long...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Dinosaurs
You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with ICR’s special Creation Kids learning...

NEWS
Inside January 2021 Acts & Facts
How is ICR winning science and scientists back to Christ? What is the significance of fossil bone collagen discoveries? Did pterosaurs have feathers?...

ACTS & FACTS
Savvy Sons of Light
Many Christians grow uncomfortable when their pastor teaches about money. If it’s any consolation, I know many pastors who feel the same way....

ACTS & FACTS
Did God Make Harmful Parasites in the Beginning?
Parasites are a unique form of life in today’s world. These invertebrates come in all shapes and sizes, from single-cell animals (e.g., Plasmodium...