El Niños are as “The anomalous appearance, every few years, of unusually warm ocean conditions along the tropical west coast of South America” (see here). Scientists have spent many years searching for the root cause of this very important climate event. To date the best answer they can come up with is… “Unknown natural forces.” Problem is they have been searching in the wrong place, the atmosphere. The correct place to look for the answer was in rock layers at the bottom of the ocean.


This article will show that increased geological activity arising from deep-seated magma chambers and associated earthquake swarms in the far-western Pacific occurred just before major El Niños formed.  Massive pulses of chemically charged and super-heated fluid flow from fractured rock layers above this activated magma chamber and is the root cause of all El Niños.

Evidence supporting a geological forces origin to the 2014-2016 El Niño is overwhelming. The majority of this evidence has been detailed in two previous Climate Change Dispatch articles (see here, see here). Two new pieces of information now push this contention into the verifiable category.

The first piece involves recent verification of a geological heat source for major El Niños. Increased geological activity caused by deep-seated magma chambers and associated earthquake swarms occurred in the far-western Pacific just before an El Niño formed. More simply, increased geological activity in a small geographic area in the tropical Pacific correlates with increased warming of SSTs, a key sign of an El Niño. Specifics of this analysis are shown below in two examples:

Example One  In February 2014 (Figure 1), there is no El Niño type of ocean warming in the Pacific Ocean, no bright red / super-heated ocean areas. Beginning in April 2014, a significant swarm of high magnitude earthquakes occurred in the Papua New Guinea / Solomon Island region. This swarm was related to a shift in the large deep-sea hot lava chamber beneath this region (see here). By June 2014, (Figure 2), an El Niño had formed. Note the bright red / super-heated ocean areas on the map.

Example Two  In February 2015, the emerging El Niño had diminished a small amount in response to diminished flow from the deep-earth hot lava chamber beneath the origin point as per Figure 3. Beginning in May 2015, a second, and as it turns out a more significant, swarm of high-magnitude earthquakes occurred in the Papua New Guinea / Solomon Island region. This swarm signified another, and larger movement in the deep-earth lava pocket.  This reactivation of the magma chamber initiated a stronger and longer-lasting, chemically charged, super-heated fluid flow pulse. By June 2015, as per Figure 4, the 2014-2016 El Niño was in full warming mode.

The second piece of new information is that the El Niño ocean warming process occurs in very short “eruptive” bursts (Figure 5) and not in a uniform constant fashion. These bursts all originate at the same limited and fixed non-moving geographical point in the far-western Pacific Ocean. Once a burst of warm ocean water forms it maintains its shape and intensity as it is progressively moved by normal ocean currents eastward toward Central America.

The bursts are interpreted as geologically induced fluid flow pulses from fractured rock layers above the magma chamber. Deep ocean magma chambers, like land volcanoes erupt in pulses. Eruptions of land volcanoes chemically charge and heat the atmosphere. Eruptions / activations of the Solomon Island / Papua New Guinea deep ocean magma chamber chemically charges and heats the overlying ocean thereby forming an El Niño.

The 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).

Figure 5  Geologically induced “Eruptive” warm burst that helps generate 2014-2015 El Niño


In summary, now knowing that the 2014-2016 El Niño was generated by geological forces, it is now possible to state that all major climate phenomenon associated with the 2014-2016 El Niño are either directly or indirectly driven by geological forces. These phenomena include the “warmest year ever,” the California drought, Pacific Ocean coral bleaching, ocean acidification, anomalous local sea-level changes, and disruption of numerous marine animal migration patterns. Blaming all these things on the trace gas carbon dioxide is proving to be a fruitless exercise that only occurs in computer models.

Continuing to fervently argue that El Niños are generated and driven exclusively by atmospheric forces (e.g., stalled trade winds) is clearly no longer tenable. The role geological forces play in generating these powerful Pacific Ocean warming events needs to be properly integrated into climate science principles.

In a broader sense, these are exciting times for climate science. This latest El Niño event has provided scientists with a wealth of information, much of it geological in nature. Ralph Walden Emerson once said, “We learn geology the morning after the earthquake.” Now we’re learning that applies to climate science.