Posted by: Barry Bickmore | April 29, 2017

Facepalm: The Universal Model and Radioactive Lava


This is part of a series of articles responding to the claims made in Dean Sessions’ Universal Model.  Click the link to see the introduction to the series.

In the Universal Model, Vol. 1, Dean Sessions says that if current scientific theories about the interior of the Earth (i.e., that it’s hotter down there) are correct, then we should see highly radioactive lava erupting from volcanoes.  However, that’s beyond wrong–it’s ludicrous.  Let me explain.

As noted in the UM, the standard theory is that the interior of the Earth was originally hot because of heat generated when the planet formed from the solar nebula (a cloud of space debris coalescing by gravity) around 4.5 billion years ago.  Things smashing together, friction creating heat–you get the idea.  The problem is that geologists figured out quite a while ago that if this “residual heat” were the only source, then the Earth should have completely cooled off a long time ago.  An apparent solution was found when scientists discovered radioactivity.  Certain elements (most notably uranium, thorium, and potassium) include isotopes (atoms of that element with different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei) whose nuclei can decay over time, creating atoms of different elements, releasing fractured nuclei and/or subatomic particles, and releasing heat.  So here’s the logic.

“Hey, we need another source of heat to explain why the Earth’s interior is still hot!”

“Oh, look!  We found out that some elements in the Earth are radioactive, and they produce heat!  Maybe that’s it!”

Not too complicated, right?  But Dean Sessions wants the core of the Earth to be a giant ice ball, so he tries to dismiss the idea that radioactivity could provide an explanation.

However, naturally occurring radioactive rocks are weak and generate very little heat. The most abundant, naturally occurring radioactive rock is uranium, which is found only near the surface of the Earth.  Moreover, there are no known radioactive lava flows.  (p. 97)

Let’s take that apart.

First, ALL rocks are radioactive.  ALL OF THEM.  All it takes to make a radioactive rock is a single radioactive atom, and with modern mass spectrometers, we can measure small amounts of radioactive atoms.  And if a little heat is generated by every single radioactive decay event that occurs, then that heat can add up to quite a lot throughout the entire Earth.

Second, uranium is an element, not a “rock”.  (Seriously, it’s like Sessions is trying to give rage aneurysms to geochemists.)

Third, it’s true that the most abundant radioactive isotopes tend to concentrate most in the crust of the Earth, but that really doesn’t matter.  Suppose you have a sphere with heat sources spread throughout, but especially near the surface.  Heat energy is generated, and spreads out.  Some of it flows toward the surface and is radiated out into space, and some of it flows toward the center, because heat tends to flow, on average, in the direction of colder temperatures.  When the heat energy gets to the center, where does it go?  The only way to flow is toward the surface, but if the temperature is still warmer on the outside of the sphere, the net heat flow will still be toward the center.  Therefore, the center will keep heating up until it is hotter than the outside of the sphere and heat can flow back the other way.

(Think about this, UMers.  If the Earth is actually colder in the center, then there must be some kind of black hole sucking heat out of there.)

Fourth, geologists don’t think magma is generated in places where it is way hotter than other parts of the interior.  Rather, magma is mostly generated in places where the local pressure, temperature, and composition favor melting.  For example, in subduction zones, waterlogged oceanic crust gets shoved down into the mantle.  Since water is KNOWN to lower the melting temperatures of many minerals (yes, this has been experimentally verified), the mantle rocks above the subducted crust will be more likely to melt when exposed to more water, and that’s how geologists explain the fact that lots of volcanoes occur above subduction zones.  When the crust (lithosphere, actually) cracks open at a divergent plate boundary (mid-ocean ridges, mainly) that drops the pressure on the mantle rocks just below the crack.  Since lowering the pressure is KNOWN to lower the melting temperatures of rocks, that’s how geologists explain the fact that there are lots of volcanoes at mid-ocean ridges.

So basically, the idea that lava should be more radioactive than other Earth materials if geologists are right about the interior of the Earth is nonsensical.






  1. The killer question for him is “Why is it still so cold in there, then?” 4.5 billion years of sunlight should warm it up. And when it coalesced, where did the heat go when it was forming? Or does this universal model say that the earth was formed entire and whole and has been slowly ablating ever since?

    And why is Jupiter warmer than the radiation from the sun would make it because of the energy of the compressing centre?

    Last, was it ice to begin with, solid and unformed, or did it condense? If the latter, where did the latent heat go when it condensed? If the former, where did it form (and how big) originally, since the sun’s radiation will melt ice quite nicely, see comets for an example of what happens to ice when it’s within the orbit of Jupiter.

    Like Scott Adam’s “idea” (probably from someone else, even if he’s not remembering where, memory is a patchy thing) that gravity could be the result of everything expanding in size, he only considers the questions of “how does it work if it were that way?”, not “How do I tell it doesn’t work that way?” or even “What are the awkward questions about how it works that I can’t answer?” so they can be worked out and answered (or the hypothesis dropped).

    It’s armchair science. Plato thought this good enough, but he was so massively smart and so he was far more often right than this half-assed way of theorising would otherwise have been. He only got several things wrong with this “method” rather than almost (or actually) everything. He was a VERY smart chappie. Just about everyone else needs some way to weed out the dumb ideas. It’s called the scientific method.

  2. “Or does this universal model say that the earth was formed entire and whole and has been slowly ablating ever since?”

    That is probably the assumption. The author appears to be trying to interpret Earth from a particularly strict, somewhat unusual application of Mormonism blended with born again Christianity and New Age mysticism.

    Since the bible says the Sun was created on the third day, everything created before the third day is going to be cold, like absolute zero cold. Of course God could have created everything at room temperature (or any other temperature).

    One of the weirder theories in Brigham Young’s day was that the Earth already existed in some other solar system and was brought here entire, wiped clean (leaving only dinosaur bones) and started fresh. After all, Genesis starts with the Earth already here, just “void”. I allow for the possibility that 65 million years ago it was “time” for mammals to rise; so kaboom, goodbye dinosaurs. Whether it is purely accident or helped along there’s no way to tell, but as a consequence, here we are having this conversation.

  3. […] an internal heat source, or sources, to keep the outer core from solidifying.  As I explained in another post, radioactive decay of some elements is the most likely candidate.  Japanese scientists recently […]

  4. […] I explained in another article, “Facepalm:  The Universal Model and Radioactive Lava“, geologists do not, in fact, think that there are local concentrations of radioactivity in […]

  5. […] the earthquake faults melts the surrounding rock, which can then be ejected out of volcanoes.  In another post (see Facepalm:  the UM and Radioactive Lava), I explained why, even if the source of heat in the […]

  6. […] is that he believes it supports his idea that the Earth is cooler in the center.  I explained in another article that if a spherical body had heat generated in an outer layer, heat would still build up in the […]

  7. […] one of the arguments listed above is complete bullpucky, as I’ve shown before in detail.  1) Just because a certain thing is a heat source, it doesn’t follow that the source has to be pre…. 2) Quartz demonstrably DOES grow from molten rock. 3) Quartz regains its piezoelectric properties […]

  8. Barry–Do you believe that there was a universal flood such as Sessions describes in chapter 8 of the Universal Model (pp. 476-698)?

  9. You never addressed the fundamental question: How could lava that’s formed from radioactive materials not be radioactive?

    • Travis, you didn’t read the article carefully. Magma IS radioactive.

      • Haha okay, a very political answer. Let’s get more specific. Why is there not a SIGNIFICANT amount of radioactivity found in lava if it was melted due to highly concentrated radioactive material? Uranium has to be highly concentrated, enriched, and refined in order to produce enough heat to boil water (100 C). But rock doesn’t melt until around 1300-1700 C. The radioactive material that caused that rock to melt should be observable at SIGNIFICANT levels. Why don’t we observe that?

        • Seriously, Travis–that’s what the entire article is about. Maybe read it again a little more slowly.

  10. Barry, I’m going to hold your feet to the lava on this one.

    Nowhere in your article do you answer the question why LAVA ISN’T HIGHLY radioactive.

    You make 4 points.
    1. All rocks are radioactive.
    2. Uranium is an element not a rock (insert ad hominen on Dean Sessions).
    3. Heat flows out from the earth’s center. “The center will keep heating up until it is hotter than the outside of the sphere and heat can flow back the other way.”
    4. Groundwater in subduction zones lowers the melting point, and that’s why lots of volcanoes occur there and near oceanic ridges.

    None of these answer the question.

    1. Yes, all rocks are radioactive. But why isn’t lava HIGHLY radioactive?
    2. Uranium ore is mined. And ore is in the form of a rock. If you show a picture of uranium ore to a geochemist, even they would call it a rock.
    3. Yes, heat energy spreads out. But what energy is keeping lava in a liquid state on the earth’s surface?
    4. The melting point could be lower in certain areas, but it would still take an immense amount of radioactive energy to melt rock. Highly radioactive energy that should be observable when lava reaches the surface. If that radioactivity faded, then the rock would turn back into a solid, never reaching the surface as a liquid.

    So, let’s put it this way. You and I are standing near an active lava flow. We can feel the heat it produces.

    Q. Why is the lava so hot that it remains in a liquid state even on the earth’s surface?

    A. Radioactive elements generated enough heat to melt rock.

    Q. Why don’t we observe high levels of radioactivity in the lava? Why aren’t there signs warning us not to be near the lava due to high levels of radioactivity?

    A. “Magma is radioactive”

    Q. That’s not what I asked. Why isn’t LAVA (not magma) HIGHLY radioactive?

    A. Heat spreads out from the earth’s center and even into outer space. Since the surface is cool, the radiation goes back to the center of the earth.

    Q. Okay, but why isn’t the lava right in front of us not highly radioactive? It’s clearly still hot enough to be in a liquid state. Shouldn’t it take a lot of radioactivity to generate that much heat right here on the surface? Shouldn’t we observe high levels of radioactivity from the lava?

    A. The melting point is lower near subduction zones, so it would probably take less radioactivity to melt rock.

    Q. Okay, but this lava is right here in front of us, still melted. Even if it took less radioactive energy to melt rock, shouldn’t that radioactivity still be observable at high levels near this lava?

    What am I missing, Barry? What part of your article did I not understand?

    From what I read and reread, I do not find an answer to the question: Why isn’t LAVA HIGHLY radioactive?

    • Hi Travis,

      Here’s your answer:

      “Lava isn’t highly radioactive because it doesn’t have a high concentration of radioactive elements.”

      As for what you are missing, here is a partial list.

      1. Molten rock is hot because it contains a lot of heat energy.

      2. That heat energy comes from within the Earth, but there are several sources of heat from within the Earth. These include residual heat from the initial formation of the Earth, radioactive decay, and chemical reactions that release heat.

      3. Once heat energy exists, it MOVES AROUND. It spreads in ALL DIRECTIONS from its source, but since cooler areas aren’t emitting as much heat, the NET heat flow will be from hotter areas to cooler areas.

      4. As that heat energy MOVES AROUND, some of it might encounter areas in the interior of the Earth where the rocks are easier to melt. Sometimes that’s because of the presence of water coming off dehydrating subducted rocks. Sometimes that’s because lowered pressure underneath mid-ocean ridges reduces melting temperatures. Note that the radioactive elements (or chemical reactions, or whatever) that initially generated the heat don’t have to be in the same place as the rock that happens to melt. The heat just had to be generated SOMEWHERE, and then spread out to where it could be used to melt some rocks.

      5. Once rock is melted, it becomes LESS DENSE than the surrounding rock. Therefore, it tends to rise relatively rapidly toward the surface of the Earth through fissures, and by melting some of the surrounding rock along the way. That’s how molten rock can come out of the ground, AND NOT BE PARTICULARLY RADIOACTIVE.

      6. Let’s just pause and ruminate about this last point. Do you now see how idiotic Dean Sessions’ argument is? He is essentially claiming that heat energy has to stay where it was generated. Why else would lava have to be radioactive to contain heat energy that originated with radioactive elements? You know that’s not the case, because you have experienced such things as touching a hot stove, standing nearby a fire, or feeling the warmth of the Sun on your face. “What? You mean that my car gets hot because of nuclear fusion happening 96 million miles away, inside the Sun, and yet there’s no nuclear fusion happening in my hot car?” Hopefully you get the point. It’s a moronic argument, made by someone who could have disabused himself of his fever dreams by taking a year of college physics.

      7. You summarized one of my arguments as, “Heat spreads out from the earth’s center and even into outer space. Since the surface is cool, the radiation goes back to the center of the earth.” What are you even talking about? That is NOT what I said. I said that, supposing radioactive elements are more concentrated in the crust (which they are), and that the Earth’s center is actually cooler than its outside (which it isn’t, but Dean Sessions thinks so), heat generated in the crust would move BOTH out into space and inward toward the core. Once some heat reaches the core, it would keep building up until it was hotter than the crust, so that the net heat flow would then be toward the outside of the planet. So even if Sessions is right (he isn’t) that the Earth’s center started out cooler than the outside, it wouldn’t remain that way very long.

      Honestly, you need to drop Dean Sessions and his cult like a chunk of barely solidified, not-very-radioactive lava. This stuff is incredibly basic physics, but being a crackpot false prophet, he cannot wrap his head around any criticisms of his ideas. And so he just keeps on building and building the house of cards. The whole purpose of Dean Sessions’ work is to create a basis for Young-Earth Creationism. But even if that’s your thing, I promise you that the only thing Sessions is accomplishing is to give a bad name to the YE Creationists. That’s how incredibly bad his arguments are.

      • Barry,

        Thanks for elaborating and taking the time to respond.

        1. I get the idea that heat spreads out from whatever is the source of the heat, and I can see how that can work as an explanation as to why lava isn’t radioactive. But with the examples you gave, such as heat from the sun, a stove, or a fireplace — we can directly observe the source of the heat. As you’re well aware, that’s NOT the case with the extreme-heat-producing radioactive elements in the earth’s interior. (To be clear, I don’t need a lecture about how inferring is not a sin… I know Sessions occasionally does it to)

        2. You brought up how heat energy flows, and how eventually lava flows to the earth’s surface because it is less dense than the surrounding rock. You’ve also stressed the importance of magma convection in your other articles. In your words, “In convection currents, hot material flows upward in certain places because it is less dense than the overlying cooler stuff. When it reaches the top it spreads out to the sides and cools, while the cooler stuff at the top sinks down to the bottom and heats up. This goes on over and over…”

        3. Why have NONE of these highly radioactive, heat-producing materials ever hitched a ride to the earth’s surface for us to observe?

        With all that circular movement, shouldn’t SOME of those elements get pulled into the flow upwards? Shouldn’t we observe SOME of them at oceanic ridges, where the upflow and heat is the greatest?

        How could these elements NOT EVER come to the surface?

        Or even close to it?

        When scientists have drilled down miles and found magma chambers, such as in 2005 in Hawaii, they never mentioned any evidence of highly radioactive lava.

        4. Addressing your 7th point. You said, “once some heat reaches the core, it would keep building up until it was hotter than the crust, so that the net heat flow would then be toward the outside of the planet.”

        I don’t follow your logic on this statement. Why would the core become hotter than the crust?
        If the crust were the main source of heat, then the residual heat flow reaching the center would be far less than the continual heat production occurring at the surface.

        Regardless, Sessions model of the Earth’s interior never claims that the core is cold. Of course, it’s far colder than what the typical theory claims it to be, but Sessions claims the inner core is water ice due to pressure, not temperature. If the center were cold, then the outer core would be ice too, but seismic evidence shows it’s a liquid.

        As an example (Sessions’s prime example of a hydroplanet), Enceladus has a liquid water mantle. Why it’s a liquid is still a mystery to scientists today. Most scientists believe it remains in a liquid state due mainly to tidal heating and perhaps radioactive heating and chemical factors.

        According to Wikipedia the estimated tidal heating (1.1 gigawatts) is greater than the supposed radioactive heating (0.3 gigawatts).

        So Enceladus should be experiencing this heat build up at the core that you described… but it’s not. There’s more heat generated at the surface than at the core. Why is this?

        • Hi Travis,

          1. After you drive a car for a while, you can put your hand on the hood and feel how hot it is. The engine is the source of the heat, but you can’t directly observe it (unless you open the hood). How is that any different from the situation with molten rock? There is a source of heat, and the heat moves outward from there. You don’t have to observe the heat source to infer that there WAS ONE, and that it probably wasn’t the car hood or the magma themselves.

          2-3. They have hitched a ride to the surface. That’s why the Crust is more enriched in Uranium than the Mantle, for instance. To get significant concentrations of Uranium (i.e., concentrated enough to want to mine), Uranium has to get dissolved in water and then encounter a reducing environment as it travels along (maybe from a bunch of organic matter), whereupon it precipitates out and forms minerals like Uraninite. None of this has anything to do with the topic at hand, however. Whether radioactive elements are more concentrated deeper in the Earth or near the surface, they still generate heat, and that heat travels both toward the surface and deeper into the interior.

          4. Even if the heat is being generated near the surface, lots of that heat is lost by radiating out into space. The more it heats up, the more heat gets radiated out into space, so it can only heat up to the point where the rate of heat generation equals the rate of heat loss. But any heat that travels into the interior of the Earth can’t radiate out into space, so the heat content of the interior would build up until there is a net flow of heat outward. There would only be a net flow of heat outward when the interior is hotter than the surface. Therefore, eventually the interior would HAVE TO heat up more than the surface. Remember, however, that radioactivity is NOT the only source of heat in the Earth.

          Good point about pressure affecting the melting temperature of ice. It still doesn’t save Sessions’s model, however, because seismic evidence also shows that the Core is MUCH more dense than the Crust, based on the speed of wave propagation in that region. No form of ice could be that dense, under any conditions. The measured mass of the Earth is consistent with the conclusion that the interior is more dense, as well. You should read the articles here about the mass of the Earth–Sessions and his people thought they had an answer to that (some experiment they did in Sessions’s garage), but had to admit to me that their experiment was botched. (I think that’s the only time I’ve ever seen them actually admit a mistake. They seemed SURE, however, that their next attempt at the experiment would support their conclusions, which they went ahead and published, anyway.)

          I don’t really see how Enceladus supports your case. The interior is obviously hotter than the outside of the moon, because the outside is ice, and apparently there is heated water in the interior that escapes via geysers.

          Note this sentence in the Wiki article. “The existence of Enceladus’ subsurface ocean has since been mathematically modelled and replicated.” Here is what is buried in that statement. a) They can use spectroscopic analyses by Cassini to figure out what the stuff on the surface and the geyser material is. b) They can use the measured mass of Enceladus (from observation of its gravitational attraction to Saturn) to infer what kinds of materials might make up the interior. c) They can then use that information to make a model of Enceladus, calculate tidal forces and such, and show that it’s physically reasonable to have a subsurface ocean there. d) This gives them more confidence that their model of what the interior is like is probably not too far off.

          The thing is, scientists do the same thing with the Earth, except here we have FAR more information to go on, such as seismic surveys, detailed analyses of rocks, drill cores, and so on.

          Do you see what is going on, here? Sessions doesn’t like scientists’ model of the Earth’s interior, because he wants the Earth to be a “hydroplanet.” So he points to a “hydroplanet” that scientists actually say exists as evidence that the Earth might be one, too. However, he ignores the fact that the methods the scientists used to infer that Enceladus is made mostly of water have also been used on the Earth, and they don’t come to the same conclusion about the Earth. In other words, Sessions’s brain can only process information that he wants to see. Everything else gets ignored.

          • Wait, wait, wait…

            So these highly radioactive, heat-producing materials DO travel to the Earth’s surface?

            Then we must revisit the original question.


            • What do you mean by “highly” radioactive? Generally, lava is more radioactive than the rocks in the mantle. If, by “highly radioactive” you mean lava that has so much Uranium in it that it melts itself, then you haven’t understood a single thing I’ve said this whole time.

  11. Barry,

    1. Of course I mean “highly radioactive lava that has so much Uranium in it that it melts itself.” That’s EXACTLY what we’ve been talking about this whole time.

    You admitted that a lot of uranium flows to the earth’s surface. So, why don’t we see a LOT of it flowing in active lava flows?

    What is STOPPING a LOT of melt-rocking uranium from coming out of active lava flows?

    Why would only its “residual heat” come out via lava, but none of the uranium itself?

    2. You support the theory of radioactive heat as the main source of heat in the earth’s interior. (There are other theoretical heat sources, but this is the main one).

    This theory is passable among most scientists WITHOUT ANY direct evidence. But when it SHOULD have direct evidence, but it doesn’t… the theory crumbles.

    If there is a lot of uranium heating up the earth’s interior, and magma convection brings a lot of it up to the surface, then we SHOULD see evidence of a lot of uranium in active lava flows.

    Or… you’ll need to come up with a rational explanation as to why a lot of uranium comes to the earth’s surface but never comes through lava vents. Are these vents anti-uranium or something?

    3. How do you know that “Generally, lava is more radioactive than the rocks in the mantle?” We know there are less radioactive rocks the deeper we go down in the crust, but the mantle is still unobserved.

    p.s. I have more things to say about Enceladus and earth’s mass, but that’s leaving the main point of this article.

    • You may say that only a little uranium actually comes to the surface at a time. If that’s the case, then why does that happen? Why would these magma convection flows only bring up a small amount of uranium? What would stop a lot of uranium from flowing up to the surface?

      • Travis, Uranium is thought to be less concentrated in the mantle. When mantle rock partially melts, the magma is generally going to be more concentrated in Uranium than the mantle rock that is left over. The magma moves upward and is emplaced in the crust as igneous rock, so that’s how the crust becomes more enriched in Uranium than the mantle. Water interacts with the rock, dissolving some of it, and preferentially moving some elements (like Uranium) somewhere else. If that water encounters a reducing environment (e.g., one that has a lot of organic matter in it), the Uranium can drop out of solution and form minerals such as uraninite, in which the Uranium is far more concentrated than it was in the igneous rock it came from. And yet, even in the most concentrated natural deposit of Uranium, you still don’t get enough heat generated to melt rock. Why? Because it is near the surface of the Earth, and the surface loses heat out into space quickly enough that it doesn’t build up enough to melt rocks.

        All this proves is that Dean Sessions doesn’t have a clue how to think about thermodynamics.

    • Travis, geoscientists can infer what is in the mantle in the following ways.

      1) They can look at “xenoliths,” which are chunks of rock included in other types of volcanic rocks. Lots of the xenoliths in basalt are made of a rock called peridotite. And guess what? If you partially melt a peridotite, you can get a magma with the composition of a basalt. Therefore, it is reasonable to suppose that the basaltic magma is formed by partially melting something like a peridotite, and sometimes the magma carries an unmelted chunk of peridotite up with it.

      2) They can look at the speed at which seismic waves travel through different parts of the Earth, using a network of seismographs all around the world. And guess what? The speed the waves travel through the mantle is consistent with rock like peridotite, with changes in the mineralogy the deeper you go, because of increased pressure and temperature. You can do laboratory experiments on all that.

      3) We can look at the measured mass of the Earth, and see that if the mantle and core have the composition we think they do, the total mass would come out right.

      That’s how scientists work. We can’t always make all the direct observations we might want, but we make the ones we can, and try to construct explanations that are consistent with all that data. Dean Sessions works by constructing an explanation that will let him believe whatever he wants, quote-mining scientific literature to find tidbits he can take out of context to support his explanation, and then ignoring all the data that is completely inconsistent with his explanation. Oh, and then he accuses scientists of doing what he himself does.

      • 1. Sessions would likely agree with most of what you said about basalt. He claims it forms from molten rock under pressure — in what you would call a magma solution. (I don’t know if you read that far in his book)

        2. Sessions would also agree with the seismological evidence of the mantle. However, that evidence doesn’t show us how much uranium is in the mantle, just what the general composition is. When scientists “think” there isn’t much uranium in the mantle… it’s just that. A thought.

        Sessions also “thinks” there isn’t much uranium in the mantle, but for completely different reasons.

        3. Sessions’s measured mass of the earth is a major problem that he will have to account for.

        However… none of this saves the Radioactive Heating theory.

        4. From what I understand, you believe uranium-rich magma doesn’t come to the surface because “Water interacts with the rock, dissolving some of it, and preferentially moving some elements (like Uranium) somewhere else.”

        This idea has a few major problems.

        First, let’s establish the facts. According to this website:

        “The present-day abundance of uranium in the ‘depleted’ mantle exposed on the ocean floor is about 0.004 ppm. The continental crust, on the other hand, is relatively enriched in uranium at some 1.4 ppm.”

        If the earth were heated by radioactive elements, like uranium, then there must be much much more uranium in the earth’s interior, and a lot of that uranium travels to the earth’s surface, right toward these oceanic ridges… and yet very very little of it is observed there.

        Here are 3 problems with your explanation.

        A. What about the uranium-rich magma that doesn’t interact with water? Why doesn’t it reach the surface?

        B. You said the water dissolves “some of the” uranium-rich magma. What about the rest of the uranium-rich magma that doesn’t get dissolved? Why doesn’t it reach the surface?

        C. And finally, you said the water preferentially moves Uranium somewhere else. The website I referenced earlier claims it gets moved laterally toward the continental crust. But here’s the big problem.

        Isn’t the movement of the magma under oceanic crusts generally UPWARD FIRST, and LATERLLY SECOND? Yes, it is.

        So, even if water came in contact with uranium-rich magma, and even if it dissolved some of the uranium out, shouldn’t that magma and uranium-rich water still reach the surface FIRST and THEN travel laterally? Shouldn’t we see WAY more than 0.004 ppm of uranium if this is how uranium is brought to the earth’s surface?

        • Hi Travis,

          1. It would be pretty odd if Sessions didn’t acknowledge that basalt comes from molten rock, considering that you can go to Hawaii or Iceland and watch it forming from molten rock. Of course, I can pick up a fresh piece of basalt that I watched form from lava, grind it up, put it in an X-ray diffractometer, and show that it’s made of crystalline materials–even though Sessions says crystals only form from water. So I guess maybe it wouldn’t be particularly odd for Sessions not to admit the obvious.

          I also don’t call magma under pressure a “magma solution.”

          2. No, Sessions does not agree with the seismological evidence about the mantle. For instance, has he tried to figure out what kind of materials would propagate seismic waves at the speeds seismologists measure in different parts of the Earth’s interior? No, he has not. He wouldn’t have a clue how to go about it, and so he just ignores all the bits he doesn’t like, and pretends he has dealt with it.

          That’s why what he “thinks” about the composition of the Earth’s interior CANNOT be correct, whereas what scientists “think” about it MIGHT be correct. They try to account for all the data they can gather, and he ignores whatever is inconvenient for his dogma.

          3. You are right that the mass of the Earth is a major problem. In fact, it is such a simple piece of data he gets so far wrong, that any reasonable person would conclude his account of the Earth’s interior must be complete fantasy.

          4. You say: “From what I understand, you believe uranium-rich magma doesn’t come to the surface because ‘Water interacts with the rock, dissolving some of it, and preferentially moving some elements (like Uranium) somewhere else.'”

          No, that’s not what I believe. I believe uranium-rich magma doesn’t come to the surface because there are no rocks in the deep interior of the Earth that have enough Uranium to make a Uranium-rich magma when melted or partially melted. The bit you quoted was referring to how Uranium near the surface can become more concentrated in certain places, i.e., in Uranium ore deposits.

          Seriously–you’re doing exactly what Sessions does. He doesn’t read his sources carefully, and so ends up garbling most of what they say.

          5. You say: “If the earth were heated by radioactive elements, like uranium, then there must be much much more uranium in the earth’s interior, and a lot of that uranium travels to the earth’s surface, right toward these oceanic ridges… and yet very very little of it is observed there.”

          Wait… have you done the calculations? You know… calculations about how much heat radioactive decay produces, how heat propagates through different materials, what the difference in temperatures throughout a spherical body would be if it had different concentrations of radioactive elements at different distances from the center? Neither has Dean Sessions. Sessions doesn’t do stuff like math, because he hasn’t developed the skill. Instead, he just pulls pronouncements about what his opponents’ theories require out of his rear, and knocks down the straw men he creates.

          Sessions just LOVES to quote from an old book by geophysicist O.M. Phillips, called The Heart of the Earth, when it is convenient for him to take what Phillips says out of context, but he missed the part where Phillips reported the results of ACTUALLY DOING THE CALCULATIONS. You can read all about it is this article:

          That Sinking Feeling: Radioactivity in the Earth

          6. You ask: “What about the uranium-rich magma that doesn’t interact with water? Why doesn’t it reach the surface?”

          Again, you misread what I said.

          7. You ask: “You said the water dissolves ‘some of the’ uranium-rich magma. What about the rest of the uranium-rich magma that doesn’t get dissolved? Why doesn’t it reach the surface?”

          Still going on about the same misreading.

          8. Your last question is so long and garbled that I won’t even attempt to parse it. Instead, I’ll re-explain what you misinterpreted in more detail, and hope you read it carefully this time.

          Here’s how Uranium is thought to move in the Earth.

          A. It starts out in the mantle, which has a low concentration of Uranium.

          B. When that rock partially melts (due to changes in pressure or the presence of SMALL AMOUNTS of water), the magma is more enriched in Uranium than the original rock it came from, and the rock left behind is more depleted. You can measure the degree to which this happens experimentally, so yes, this is what happens when you partially melt the type of rock thought to make up the mantle.

          C. This magma STILL isn’t very enriched in U. Maybe 0.12 ppm, rather than 0.004 ppm. It travels upward and solidifies to become part of the crust. A lot of this type of rock forms new oceanic crust at mid-ocean ridges.

          D. Water interacts with the rock formed this way, and dissolves out some elements more than others, leaving the rock more enriched in some elements, and more depleted in others. Uranium is one of those that gets dissolved in water more easily.

          E. The dissolved Uranium moves somewhere else in the crust and eventually gets deposited in sedimentary rocks, some of which are pretty concentrated in Uranium, and can be mined as Uranium ore.

          F. That mid-ocean ridge basalt that had some of the Uranium dissolved out of it eventually gets subjected back into the mantle. Remember that, due to interactions with water near the surface, it largely LEAVES ITS URANIUM BEHIND in the crust. That’s how the mantle gets more and more depleted and Uranium, and the crust gets more and more enriched. Right now the crust has about 1.4 ppm Uranium, and over time this should get higher.

          There is no need for self-melting, highly radioactive magma to explain ANYTHING in the standard model of the Earth’s interior. Not one thing. It’s just a straw man that Dean Sessions made up because he has misunderstood the few tidbits he can parrot about heat dynamics, and even if he did understand them, he couldn’t do the math to figure out what the consequences would be.

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