Natural Disasters – no freaks of nature

     According to the Tectonic Theory, the earth’s surface is not fixed & eternal.  It  consists of many moving plates (  Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions seem random and chaotic; a freakish occurrence in nature.  Tectonic theory explains the inaccuracy of this perception.   What happens behind the scenes (in submarine ridges in the middle of the ocean) occurs in a very orderly manner.  The boundaries between the plates actively spread submarine ridges in the middle of the ocean.  Most earthquakes happen at plate boundaries.  In fact, all natural disasters are some way caused by plate tectonics.  

     In essence, tectonics explains the “layout of the land” and how it all works.   As explained by the Monterey’s institute website, the earth is divided into three layers:  the central, the mantle and a thin outer crust.  The upper mantle and the crust are fused together into a layer called the lithosphere, which covers the entire earth.  It is broken into pieces or plates that butt up against one another.  Tectonic activity happens in the upper 700 kilometers of the planet; in the upper mantle and crust.   The asthenosphere is solid, but soft part of the upper mantle. 

      There are no spaces in the earth’s plates.  They inter-act with one another.  Plate motion is very slow; as slow as growing fingernails.  When plates touch, the stress causes violent activity.  Where plates pull apart, collide and slide past one another is known as boundaries.  In divergent boundaries, plates pull apart.   In convergent boundaries, plates collide.  The impact of the collisions causes volcanoes and earthquakes.

 Tectonic Theory – practical implication

    Upon reading about tectonic theory, my first reaction was “does this mean that we can predict earthquakes”?   According to the information provided by the Monterey Institute, earthquakes cannot be predicted.  All the factors cannot be linked consistently enough to use as predictors.  There are no useful tools to help forecast earthquakes. 

     The patterns of the earth’s movements are good clues to point to where earthquakes are most likely to happen.  By being able to identify the regions that are earthquake prone (such as California), preparations can be made to help decrease some of the damage.   Buildings and bridges that can better withstand tremors can be built, hospitals can put in place a “catastrophe plan” for the staff (such as how to handle a high number of incoming trauma patients), and residents can be educated on what to do in the event of an earthquake.

   Religious implication

     As mentioned earlier, tectonic explains that the earth is not fixed and eternal.  The face of the earth changes as a result of the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions caused by the plate activity.  I recently watched a special about the Galapagos Islands on National Geographic that explains how the islands emerged as a result of volcanic activity.  The special also explained how some species gradually changed to adapt to the ecological changes and how some species became extinct.

     Tectonic theory seems to contradict the biblical account of creation.   The book of Genesis indicates:   “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was a formless mass cloaked in darkness.  Then God said, “Let there be space to separate the waters above from the waters below and God called the space sky”… and God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky be gathered into one place so dry ground may appear”.  And so it was and God named the dry ground “land” and the water “seas” (Genesis 1: 1-11).  The account goes on to explain how God called forth into existence all forms of life (birds, plants, animals, fish) and how he created man.  The entire creation process took seven days.