ring_of_fire_crop_sharp_350px[Note:  In the January 19, 2022 NY Times Comments section, an incremental scientist chastised this writer for not submitting his speculative theory of the origin of the Pacific Basin to peer review. He termed it misinformation.  Dozens of scientists approved.  But then it emerged that they were proponents of a rival theory!  And that this writer’s theory threatened their funding!  Heaven forfend that we suspect them of wanting to use peer review to suppress this theory.]


There are good reasons to think that Earth and Mars originally formed a single planet outside the orbit of Jupiter.  Then, about 4.47 billion years ago, this planet was pulled by Jupiter’s powerful gravitational field past the gas giant.  As it neared Jupiter, tidal friction heated it to the melting point, and Jupiter tore Mars away from Earth, leaving the Pacific Basin.  Earth and Mars turned into comets that sped off into the inner solar system.

According to George Darwin’s old fission theory of the origin of the Earth-Moon system, the Pacific Basin was a scar left over from the separation of the Moon from a rapidly rotating Earth.  But according to the new theory, the geomagnetic field (modeled as if a bar magnet dipole were buried inside the Earth) is displaced 498 km off center in the direction of the Pacific Basin at 25º N, 153º E because Mars was separated from Earth there.  Not only the skew of the geomagnetic field but also the seismically active Ring of Fire surrounding the Pacific Basin and the Hawaiian and South Pacific hotspots are physical leftovers from the separation of Mars from Earth, as is the South Atlantic Magnetic Anomaly on the opposite side of the world whereby the Van Allen radiation belt comes close to Earth as a consequence of the skew in the geomagnetic field.

Given the long, tangled history of plate tectonics, continental drift, and other intervening phenomena, the present-day Pacific Basin has presumably changed considerably since its origin in the Mirovia Ocean, later Panthalassic Ocean.  According to this theory, none of the changes in configuration over billions of years significantly affected the underlying pattern of the Ring of Fire formed by the emergence of Mars.

Seismic anisotropy1 reveals a unique pancake-like pattern at 160 km depth, approximately centered on the island of Hawaii, consistent with an emergence of Mars, though this location would not necessarily have been the epicenter of the cataclysmic event since the South Pacific contains many features in keeping with an emergence. In fact, a Mars exit would have left a gaping wound in Earth; and Mars could have been ripped off in such a way that the gash was oval instead of circular and extended far to the south.

The geology of the Pacific Basin contains features suggesting an emergence of Mars.  In a list of hotspot/melting anomaly locations, Pacific plate hotspots score consistently much higher in terms of flow rate than Atlantic and Indian Ocean counterparts, and they are only matched by several at the near edges of the adjacent Nazca and Australian plates.2  The 1-km high Hawaiian swell and the 500-m high South Pacific Superswell also mark the Pacific Basin as idiosyncratic.  At least in some areas, if seismographic slowness is interpreted as evidence of higher heat, the South Pacific Superswell appears to stand over a hot area of the mantle that extends down to the core.3  Volcanism in various South Pacific hotspots also varies from the normal Mid-Ocean Ridge basalts of the Atlantic in having higher vesicularity, more blocky/tabular flows and hornitos made of silica-enriched lava, and extreme end-members of radiogenic isotopes (indeed, these are extreme versus any isotopes in their class worldwide).4  In some areas of the South Pacific, the lithosphere is significantly thinner than usual.  Regular or intermittent pulses of magma appear to move upward from the mantle rapidly through a weakened lithosphere to erupt undersea or above sea surface, sometimes spreading over wide areas.5  The trenches and troughs surrounding the Pacific are the deepest in the world.  In particular, the Mariana Trench appears to have been formed by an unusual cataclysm.

Two unique patterns encircle the Central Pacific.  The first is the anomalous Andesite Line, the boundary between the mafic mantle rock of the Central Pacific and the andesitic crustal rock that surrounds it.  Why should this distinction exist in the first place?  The pattern would clearly match a central zone of mafic rocks pulled from the mantle during the emergence of Mars, surrounded by an andesitic crust.  The second pattern is the Ring of Fire, the unique zone of dynamic seismic and volcanic activity around the Pacific rim.  The Andesite Line fits inside of the Ring of Fire, so in effect they form a double-ring pattern, again without an equivalent worldwide.   None of these unique patterns or anomalies is well-explained by plate tectonics.  It doesn’t explain why there is a double-ring pattern, why there are mafic and andesitic zones, and why the Ring of Fire is so egregiously shaped and active.

In contrast, the perception that Mars was torn out of the Pacific Basin by Jupiter’s gravity makes perfect sense of these three patterns.  The Andesite Line and the Ring of Fire form great ancient scars on the Earth’s surface.  Plate tectonics interacts with them (less with the Andesite Line), but they remain patterns that go back billions of years.  The dogmatic statement that plate tectonics erases the entire Pacific floor every 170 million years does not take account of the special characteristics of the Andesite Line and the Ring of Fire, with the anomalies beneath them extending deep into the mantle.

The Ring of Fire was reported in the 19th century and the Andesite Line in 1912, independently of the later theory of plate tectonics.  The inability of plate tectonics thus far to explain their unique natures has drawn little attention.  While the Andesite Line quietly demarcates an anomalous boundary not accounted for by plate tectonics and receives far less publicity than the Ring of Fire, it is actually more useful evidence of the emergence of Mars than the Ring of Fire because it is less susceptible to being misleadingly discussed in terms of plate tectonics.  These ancient scars represent an important limit of the theory of plate tectonics.

Unlike with the Moon, which has a 1:81 ratio of mass to that of the Earth, Mars has a mass of a 1:9.5 ratio to that of the Earth, which corresponds roughly to the size of the Pacific Basin.  Meanwhile, the reversed polarity magnetic stripes of the southern hemisphere of Mars bear a remarkable resemblance to the magnetic stripes of the Earth’s seabed divergence zones as determined by reversals in the polarity of the geomagnetic field.  In effect, the southern hemisphere of Mars is the original surface (now much battered by impacts) of the Pacific Basin.

Thus this theory provides fitting solutions for four otherwise poorly explained anomalies of the Pacific Basin:  the skew of the geomagnetic field; the uniquely hot and flowing tectonic regime beneath the Central and South Pacific; the size, shape, and unusually dynamic seismic and volcanic activity of the Ring of Fire; and the Andesite Line.  It also resolves three otherwise poorly explained anomalies of Mars:  reversed magnetic striping matching that of the Pacific Basin on a planet without a magnetic dynamo; a much lower mass than Earth and Venus; and the Great Dichotomy between north and south.

So George Darwin was right to perceive that the Pacific Basin was an ancient scar formed by a cataclysmic event, and that the resulting mass formed a nearby celestial body.  Rejected old theories sometimes contain precious nuggets of insight.

This Pacific-Mars theory is a component of the broader theory The Outer Solar System Origin of the Terrestrial Planets.


Kenneth J. Dillon is an historian who writes on science, medicine, and history.  See the biosketch at About Us.  For further detective work on Earth history, ancient history, and modern history, see his The Knowable Past, Second Edition (Washington, D.C.:  Scientia Press, 2019).  His novel Rosemarie contains a theme of planetary and Earth science, including an unanticipated resolution of the controversy over the Venus theory of Immanuel Velikovsky.

1. C. Gaboret, A.M. Forte, J.-P. Montager.  The unique dynamics of the Pacific Hemisphere mantle and its signature on seismic anisotropy.  Earth and Planetary Science Letters 208 (2003), 219-33.  See especially Figure 4, p. 227.
2. G.R. Foulger and D.M. Jurdy, eds.  Plates, Plumes, and Planetary Processes.  Boulder CO:  Geological Society of America, 2007, pp. 65-78, replicated in G.R. Foulger.  Plates vs Plumes:  A Geological Controversy.  Oxford:  Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, pp. 15-6
3. Roger Hekinian, Peter Stoffers, and Jean-Louis Cheminée, eds.  Ocean Hotspots:  Intraplate Submarine Magmatism and Tectonism.  Berlin:  Springer, 2004, p. 253
4. Hekinian, pp. 197, 253
5. Hekinian, p. 370
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