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When strain on a rock system comes to an end, a process of crystallization may take place from silica units fragmented during the strain regime. Garnet is an example of this and can be found in the areas which were once under maximum tension. Continuing with the toffee analogy, this would mean crystals of sucrose subsequently forming in the stretched margins of the two toffee pieces.


Spaces between chains or rings (interstitial spaces) are usually filled with cations such as sodium - which are weakly bonded with the oxygen atoms. Glass is described as a solid electrolyte (Boolchand P, and Bresser M.J.) and these ions can be pulled through them when a magnetic field is applied. T Kaneko of the Nippon Kogaku KK Research Laboratory, described the dilation of glass by field assisted ion exchange. Silver ions can displace sodium ions and because of their greater ionic radius (30% larger), there is a resultant increase in the volume of the material.


So it appears that silica chain structures can ‘relax away’ from each other to accommodate ions of greater radius. The interstitial spaces become more open with increasing temperature and so larger cations are then able to diffuse through them, displacing smaller ones.


In this way we should expect that rocks formed from alkaline ultramafic lavas, more than a billion years ago, will have had their sodium ions replaced by larger and heavier elements and these, in turn, may have been later substituted for even larger elements. The heaviest element uranium may be the most recent in a long series of displacements within some rocks. Each displacement sequence would bring about considerable volume change and this will have caused temperatures and pressures to rise in confined rock systems, enough to cause distortion of overlying rocks and often their folding into mountain ranges.


It is easy to see how sodium ions displaced could have been shunted into aqueous solutions and would eventually find their way to oceans and cause them to become saline.


Planetary Core Growth


It is likely that some metals are differentiated at the core. This means that the core of rocky planetesimals may comprise of light metals such as lithium - but increasingly heavier metals will differentiate at the core as the planet migrates towards the Sun. These heavier metals will displace the lighter ones in radial fractionation. The Earth’s core now comprises mainly of iron and some nickel. Older planets such as Venus and Mercury may also have cores of iron but these are likely to be alloyed with much heavier metals.


If asteroids and meteorites are the debris of previous planets (as Planetary Metamorphosis suggests) then the iron structures of some of them may describe the nature of the core materials of these previous planets.


















A 4.6 billion year old meteorite (iron) - Oxford Natural History Museum


Cosmic Rays


Cosmic rays may also add mass to the planet - although perhaps in a much less significant way than in the way previously described. These rays comprise of protons (H ions positively charged- 89%) and neutrons (helium nuclei -with no charge - 10%) and heavier elements of all species - 1%.


These cosmic rays originate from the Sun and other stars. Immediately after Solar storms, however, the flow from the Sun briefly interrupts the flow from outside the solar system.


These cosmic rays (primary cosmic rays) hit the outer atmosphere at a point 20 km up from the surface of the Earth and create a jet of secondary particles (secondary cosmic rays) which carry on in roughly the same direction until they collide with oxygen and nitrogen in the Earth’s atmosphere (Leeds University Department of Astrophysics).



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