On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH330 disappeared with all 239 people on board somewhere over the southern Indian Ocean. So far, no pieces of the plane have ever been found on the ocean floor.
From 2014 to 2016, three vessels collected detailed sonar images over a large piece of the Indian Ocean while searching for the missing plane.1 However, sometimes scientists stumble upon a new discovery while looking for something that is totally unrelated to their original goal. This has happened once again. After analyzing the data, scientists found something never observed anywhere else before. The ocean crust had waves.
A team of scientists, led by Ross Parnell-Turner of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, recently published their findings in Geophysical Research Letters.2 Their data was collected using multibeam bathymetry data that was 15 times sharper than previous bathymetric data.1 They were able to make maps that covered an area of the seafloor spanning about 34,000 square miles near the Southeast Indian Ridge west of Australia.1
Ocean crust is still being made at the Indian Ridge at the rate of 3.5 centimeters per year. It forms from mantle material and spreads about equally in both directions from the ocean ridge. In this case, the scientists studied an area northeast of the ridge. They found that the ocean crust in this area had waves that were about 60 miles long and repeated every 6-8 miles.1
Lead author Parnell-Turner said,
You might expect that oceanic crust is formed in this constant process, so you might have a uniform thickness, for example, of oceanic crust being formed. What we found, actually, is that the pace at which new crust is formed varies on this…characteristic timescale of 300,000–400,000 years.1
Of course, these ages assume an evolutionary worldview and deep time which creation scientists disagree with.3 Nonetheless, the ocean crust waves are real.
Indeed, these waves seem to create more problems for uniformitarian scientists. Many secular scientists have suggested that ocean crust formation should follow orbital cycles.1 This would indicate pulses in the crust formation that matches the tilt, wobble, and eccentricity cycles of the Earth (Milankovitch cycles). Science writer Kimberly Cartier explained,
What is odd about these waves, however, is that the characteristic timescale doesn’t match up with glacial cycles that are governed by changes in Earth’s orbit around the Sun and its axis of rotation. So-called Milankovitch cycles regulate ice coverage and sea level on timescales of 23,000, 41,000, and 100,000 years.1
It is unclear why the production of ocean crust would, or should, follow these cycles anyway, but the cycles they use have been shown to be incorrect.4-6 So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the ocean crust waves do not fit the ‘expected’ Milankovitch cycles. Parnell-Turner concluded,
We have a very long record of crustal accretion over a very large area. We did not find any evidence for cycles of crustal accretion on those Milankovitch timescales.1
Instead, the authors of the paper speculate that the waves may be a consequence of periodic shifts in the melting of the mantle, concluding,
Spectra calculated from the data show a characteristic timescale of 300–400 kyr, and no evidence for periodicity coinciding with glacial cycles. This characteristic timescale could be explained by fluctuations in melt supply and the amount of faulting, leading to variations in crustal thickness.2
Again, creation scientists disagree with these great ages,3 but find the waves in the ocean crust intriguing. Many Flood geologists think that much of the ocean crust formed rapidly in the Flood year.7 This part of the Indian Ocean is no exception. It will be fascinating to see if similar data identifies more crustal waves elsewhere.
“These kinds of studies drive home the point that exploration-driven science is as valuable as hypothesis-driven science,” said John Goff, a senior research scientist in seafloor mapping at the University of Texas at Austin.1
We couldn’t agree more. All science should be data driven.
Stage image: The M/V Fugro Equator.
Stage image credit: Justin Baulch, Australian Transport Safety Bureau, CC BY 4.0. Copyright © 2020. Adapted for use in accordance with federal copyright (fair use doctrine) law. Usage by ICR does not imply endorsement of copyright holders.
1. Cartier, K.M.S. 2020. Search for MH370 revealed ocean crust waves. Posted on EOS June 8, 2020, accessed June 14, 2020.
2. Parnell-Turner, R., et al. 2020. Time‐dependent crustal accretion on the Southeast Indian Ridge revealed by Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 search. Geophysical Research Letters.
3. Cupps, V. 2019. Rethinking Radiometric Dating. Dallas, TX: Institute for Creation Research.
4. Hebert, J. 2016. Should the “Pacemaker of the Ice Ages” Paper Be Retracted? Revisiting an Iconic Argument for Milankovitch Climate Forcing, Part 1. Answers Research Journal. 9: 25–56.
5. Hebert, J. 2016. Revisiting an Iconic Argument for Milankovitch Climate Forcing: Should the ‘Pacemaker of the Ice Ages’ Paper Be Retracted? Part 2. Answers Research Journal. 9: 131-147.
6. Hebert, J. 2016. Revisiting an Iconic Argument for Milankovitch Climate Forcing: Should the ‘Pacemaker of the Ice Ages’ Paper Be Retracted? Part 3. Answers Research Journal. 9: 229-255.
7. Clarey, T. 2020. Carved in Stone. Dallas, TX: Institute for Creation Research.
*Dr. Clarey is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his doctorate in geology from Western Michigan University.