Plate Tectonics: A whole new way of looking at your planet
by Keyword

The Book  
Table of Contents
Introduction
In the Beginning
The Tectonic Plates
Mount St. Helen
How Plates Move
Plate Boundaries
A Changing Earth
Pangaea - All Lands
Mid-Ocean Ridges
An Ocean is Born
The Birth of an Island
Mountain Ranges
Subduction Zones
Island Arcs
The Ring of Fire
Faults
Earthquakes
Hot Spots
Mantle Plumes
Origin of Life Theories
Global Climate
Other Worlds
Welcome to Your World

Hot Vents and Global Climate

Every two to seven years a climatic disturbance brings floods to California, droughts to Australia, and famine to Africa . Known as El Nino, it is essentially a warming of surface waters in the eastern Pacific near the equator. Although scientists understand the mechanics of El Nino, its origins have yet to be determined. Most believe that the interaction between the atmosphere and the sea somehow generates this climatic disturbance that wreaks havoc upon those regions of the world that lie in its path.

But now a new theory on the origins of El Nino has been proposed and, surprisingly, it has very little to do with the atmosphere or the sea. The new theory suggests that the primary mover behind El Nino is hot magma welling up between tectonic plates on the Pacific sea-floor. The upwelling magma heats the overlying waters enough to affect the ocean surface, initiating the cascade of events that brings on the wrath of El Nino.
   
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