Figure 1  One of the hundreds just discovered (May 1, 2016) deep-sea hydrothermal vents located along the Marianas Trench, a “deep-sea trenc
 in the floor of the western North Pacific Ocean.” These specific deep-sea floor vents and others in western North Pacific emit huge
amounts of chemically charged and super-heated water (700 degrees Fahrenheit) into the overlying ocean column. (credit NOAA)

 

The 2014-2017 El Niño “warm blob” was likely created, maintained, and partially recharged on two separate occasions by massive pulses of super-heated and chemically charged seawater from deep-sea geological features in the western North Pacific Ocean. This strongly supports the theory all El Niños are naturally occurring and geological in origin. Climate change / global warming had nothing to do with generating, rewarming, intensifying, or increasing the frequency of the 2014-2017 El Niño or any previous El Niño.

If proven correct, this would revolutionize climatology and key aspects of many interrelated sciences such as oceanography, marine biology, glaciology, biogeochemistry, and most importantly meteorology. Information supporting a geological origin of El Niños is diverse, reliable, and can be placed into five general categories as follows:

  • “Smoking Gun” Earthquake Swarms and Associated Heat Flow
  • “Eruptive” Nature of El Niño Ocean Warming
  • Unique Shape and Non-Moving Character of El Niño Warm Blobs
  • Consistent Failure of Atmospherically Based Climate Models
  • Atmospheric Bias of Consensus Climate Scientists

First up is a discussion of data, research and general geological observations that explain the relevance of, and provide substance to the “Smoking Gun” Earthquake Swarms and Associated Heat Flow category. This is the most important category because it demonstrates just-released earthquake research results and several Solomon Island geological observations strongly support a geological origin to all El Niños. Here are the details:

A cross plot/comparison of very high-magnitude, far-western Pacific seafloor earthquake swarms versus onset of El Niño ocean warming was generated. Historical and modern earthquake data from the greater Solomon Island Area was utilized because it is the known origin point of all El Niños (see here).

El Niño intensity and date of initial ocean warming data was gathered from several reliable published data sources. This cross plot/comparison process yielded an excellent correlation, specifically that all historical and modern data confirm the onset of El Niño ocean warming occurs a few months after the beginning of very high magnitude earthquake swarms located in the greater Solomon Island area.

This proven correlation supports the idea, as per the Plate Climatology Theory, that these earthquake swarms are an excellent proxy for the beginning of massive pulses of geological heat and heated fluid flow from deep-sea geological features located in the Solomon Island area. These anomalous heat flow pulses act to warm the overlying ocean, thereby generating an El Niño.

Two recently published and groundbreaking research studies support the earthquake swarm heat-flow proxy idea. These studies demonstrate that the studied, major, deep-reaching fault zones and associated ocean seafloor earthquake swarms did, in fact, generate significant pulses of heat and heated-fluid flow (see here and here).

One of these research studies went a bit further and proved that certain major deep-sea fault zones can act as longer term giant seawater heating and circulating systems. The concept that giant seawater circulating systems exist and could be the driving force behind warming oceans was the focus of a previous Climate Change Dispatch article entitled Why El Niño and La Nina are One Continuous Event. (see quote below).

“Geological forces generate Lyra’s as follows.  Large magma chambers (lava pockets) underlay all of the major fault zones in the offshore New Guinea / Solomon Island region. A sudden shift in one of these magma chambers infuses the chamber with much hotter and more mobile lava. This now super-heated and shifted magma chamber activates a large seawater circulating system in rock layers adjacent to the fault by; fracturing and faulting the rock layers, filling them with pressurized and super-heated seawater, and finally imitating the upward movement of the seawater into the overlying ocean.  Given time, typically 12 to 14 months, super-heated and chemically charged seawater from this circulating system warms a significant portion of the western Pacific Ocean, thereby generating an El Niño.” (credit J. E. Kamis 2-4-2016)

Additional information supporting the cause-and-effect relationship between high-magnitude Solomon Island area earthquake swarms to El Niño onset comes from three separate, and well documented, rewarming events that occurred during 2014-2017 El Niño.

Rewarming event one occurred in the April 2014 to June 2014-time frame, event two happened from February 2015 to May 2015, and event three just occurred in the December 2016 to January 2017-time frame. Each of these events is substantiated by National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Shallow Sea Surface Temperature Maps (SST Maps). The first two rewarms are detailed in a previous Climate Change Dispatch article (see here).

The last event is still ongoing and has unfolded to date as follows. The 2014-2017 El Niño was progressively cooling down and had according to NOAA and many climate scientists shifted into the La Nina / cooler phase as shown on the upper-SST Map of December 5, 2017, in Figure 2. Then on December 8, 2016, a high-magnitude Solomon Island Area earthquake swarm was kicked off by a very strong 7.8 earthquake.

The swarm persisted till January 16, 2017, and may not be finished yet. Soon after initiation of this swarm, the Pacific Ocean began to rewarm to El Niño-like conditions as illustrated on the lower SST Map of January 26, 2017, of Figure 2. This is here considered to be very compelling evidence of a cause and effect connection between geological forces and El Niño generation.

Figure 2  Two Shallow Sea Surface Temperature Maps (SST Maps) that illustrate the ongoing geological
heat flow-induced El Niño rewarming event beginning in December 2016 in response to a high-magnitude
earthquake swarm in the Solomon Island area. (red / yellow colors equate to warmer ocean water
“warm blobs”, blue colors equate to cooler ocean water “cool blobs”, red dot equals Solomon Island
Area deep-sea geological heating source point, and anomalous El Niño “rewarming” shown as a red outline).

 

The “eruptive” nature of El Niño ocean warming is interpreted as direct evidence that geological, and not atmospheric forces, generate El Niños. That’s because El Niño ocean warming does not occur in a uniform fashion, instead, it occurs in very distinct bursts/pulses that can best be characterized as “eruptions.” These intense heat pulses all originate at the same limited fixed non-moving geographical point in the far-western Pacific Ocean, occur at irregular intervals, and are powerful enough to maintain their shape as they are progressively moved by normal ocean currents eastward toward Central America. Fixed non-moving heat pulses are associated with fixed geological source points. Two good examples are eruptions from land volcanoes and hydrothermal seafloor vents.

Based on this information, it is most likely these eruptive El Niño heat pulses are the result of flow from the various individual components of a giant Solomon Island Area seafloor circulating system. Individual geological components include fractured rock layers, hydrothermal vents, seafloor volcanoes, and open faults. The circulating system is activated by upward movement of deep magma chambers located beneath the Solomon Island area. This movement triggers a high-magnitude earthquake swarm, which in turn activates the seafloor circulating system.

These eruptive heat pulses can be viewed on a time-lapse video of all Pacific Ocean 2015 SST maps generated by the Computational Information Systems Lab (see here) and as a captured single frame of this video shown below in Figure 3.

Figure 3  Geologically induced “Eruptive” warm burst that helps generate 2014-2015 El Niño.

 

A significant portion of the proof supporting a geological forces origin to El Niños appears in previous Climate Change Dispatch articles that discuss the unique shape and non-moving character of El Niño warm blobs. The reader is directed here, here, and here to access these articles or to the Addendum 1 at the bottom of this article for a shorter and more concise summary of the salient facts and observations.

The consistent failure of atmospherically based climate models has been plain to see for all scientists. The models have failed to properly predict the timing and intensity of El Niño warming, La Nina cooling, and of late El Niño partial rewarming. Why? The basic reason is that climate scientists have for years been computer modeling changes in atmospheric and oceanic data incorrectly assuming this data was directly related to the root cause of El Niños. This assumption is incorrect. Variations in the atmosphere and oceanic data during geologically induced ocean warming are indirect side effects. How?

Deep-ocean geological seafloor forces act to alter overlying ocean currents, temperatures, and chemistry (iron content, acidity, etc.) in a complex and constantly changing fashion. This changed/changing overlying ocean water then acts to change the overlying atmosphere (alters Trade Winds, rain patterns, storm tracks, etc.). Computer climate models that ignore these side effects of atmospheric and oceanic data are doomed to fail. In the vernacular, climate scientists are chasing their tails. Resulting climate models are constantly changing and always a dollar short and a day late. The latest sanctioned model utilizes Trade Wind data. The ongoing rewarming events of the 2014-2017 El Niño will prove to be a death blow to this latest forward-looking model.

A more vivid illustration of consensus computer climate model failures during the last two years can be paraphrased as follows; “the 2014 El Niño has not started…oops it actually has started, the El Niño will last 12 months…oops 14 months, when El Niño ends it will be followed by a strong La Nina…oops a weak La Nina…oops a weak La Nina just or maybe neutral conditions”, not sure what is happening will get back to you”, and finally “oops we may be seeing an El Niño warming or two.” Clearly, something is very wrong with the basic approach to forward-looking computer climate modeling.

The atmospheric bias of consensus climate scientists is another very broad reason why obvious geological observations have been overlooked or just plain ignored by many, not all, but many climate scientists study El Niño generation. These well-intentioned folks were trained by “atmospheric” climate professors, have abundant atmospheric data at their disposal, and most importantly, very little deep-sea geological data at their disposal.

Most consensus climate scientists and organizations have now begrudgingly admitted / accepted that all El Niños are “naturally occurring events of unknown origin,” however they have all hedged their bet by stating that global warming / climate change has acted to dramatically increase the frequency and intensity of El Niños, thereby generating a whole new class of Super-El Niños (see here, here, and here).

Well, it’s time to change this atmospherically biased line of thinking for many reasons as documented above, but also because our planet is 70% water and 90% of all active volcanoes are present on the floor of Earth’s oceans. Quite amazingly only 3 to 5% of the ocean floors have been explored by human eyes, and virtually none of this area is monitored. It just makes sense that if major rift/fault zones that from the boundary of Earth’s outer crustal plates have the power to move entire continents 1-2 inches per year, they certainly have the power to warm oceans.

In summary, the 2014-2017 El Niño “warm blob” was created, maintained, and is now being partially recharged by massive pulses of super-heated and chemically charged seawater from deep-sea geological features. Man-made atmospheric global warming had nothing to do with this El Niño, nor any previous El Niño.

This contention is backed by substantial information and acts to strengthen the Plate Climatology Theory, which states that geological forces are a greatly underestimated driver of Earth’s climate and many climate-related events. Visual representation of the “smoking gun” evidence substantiating this contention is shown in the photo (Figure 1) atop this article of a smoking-hot hydrothermal vent.

James Edward Kamis is a Geologist and AAPG member of 42 years with a B.S. and M.S. in geology who has always been fascinated by the connection between Geology and Climate. More than 11 years of research/observation have convinced him that the Earth’s Heat Flow Engine, which drives the outer crustal plates, is also an important driver of the Earth’s climate. The Plate Climatology Theory (plateclimatology.com) was recently presented at the annual 2016 American Meteorological Society Conference in New Orleans, LA. (see here)

ADDENDUM 1

  • All El Niños originate at the same fixed “Point Source” located east of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Fixed point sources are typical of geological features, and not typical of ever moving atmospheric or ocean current energy sources.
  • The Papua New Guinea / Solomon Island area is the most geologically active (volcanic eruptions and earthquakes), and complex deep-ocean regions on earth.
  • The shape/map pattern of El Niño sea surface temperature anomalies are unique / one of a kind. These shapes do not match every changing atmospheric or ocean current shapes/map patterns.
  • The El Niño sea surface temperature anomalies have “linear” and “intense” boundaries inferring that the energy source is fixed at one point, and is very powerful.
  • The shape/distribution pattern of super-heated and chemically charged fluid flow from fixed point source deep-ocean hydrothermal vents is a very good mini-analogy of the larger El Niño ocean warming shapes/distribution patterns.
  • The shape/distribution pattern of super-heated and chemically charged fluid flow from fixed point source large continental/dry land volcanic eruptions is a fair analogy of El Niño ocean warming patterns.
  • The amount of energy needed to generate an El Niño can be mathematically modeled using a 20-by-30-mile volcanically/earthquake-active deep-sea area (“point source”). The measured energy released from the Yellowstone Plateau, a 20-by-30-mile area, is a good mathematical analogy.
  • El Niños do not occur in a predictable historical pattern, rather they occur randomly. This is indicative of a geological forces origin such as volcanic eruptions which are not predictable.
  • El Niño-like events do not occur elsewhere in Pacific. Why? If they are atmospheric in origin, there should at least be other mini-El Niños elsewhere. There are none.
  • La Niñas originate from the same fixed point source as El Niños. This implies both are geological in nature. La Niñas represents the cooling fluid flow phase from a geological feature.
  • Atmospherically based El Niño computer prediction models consistently fail, likely because they are modeling the “effects” of geologically heated oceans and not the root “cause” of the El Niños.
  • Historical records indicate that the first “recorded” El Niño occurred in 1525 observed by Spanish explorers. Other studies suggest strong ancient El Niños ended Peruvian civilizations. The main point here is that strong El Niños are natural, and not increasing in relationship to global warming as contended by many activist climate scientists.

References