Immanent islandry

Two Chilean scientists believe that the world's largest tectonic plate, located beneath the Pacific Ocean, is "tearing apart," and possibly on the verge of cracking in two, New Scientist reports.

[Image: Courtesy of New Scientist].

The northern half of the plate has been drifting west, into the Mariana subduction zone, nearly seven times faster than the westward drift of the southern half, creating a massive linear cramp of tectonic stress that may eventually snap altogether. Indeed, the scientists suggest that "several archipelagos in the south Pacific – running from Samoa to Easter Island – including the Pitcairn and Cook islands, and French Polynesia," are evidence that this "future border," as the scientists call it, has already begun leaking magma, producing tropical island chains.
The seafloor is unzipping, one could say.
So will future archipelagos bloom there, like rocky fruits of the sea – and could we prepare for this? Mapping those islands in advance, even naming them? And might someone yet design a new, sub-oceanic architecture for these and other future spreading zones, awaiting the arrival of new landmasses, slowly explosive islands that don't exist yet? The virtuality of the tectonic.
And, for now, could we arrange a kind of psychonavigation of this future shear zone, some boatbound summer design studio on a yacht, involving martinis, bikinis, salt-bleached beards, and SPF 100, taking echo-locative readings of the Pacific seafloor, determining edges and boundaries for these islands yet to come?
Perhaps there is a whole new version of the earth that remains both immanent and imminent inside the one we currently live on – with all due implications for tomorrow's philosophy. Or geophilosophy, as Deleuze would say, sipping pinot grigio on a boat in the mid-Pacific.

Comments are moderated.

If it's not spam, it will appear here shortly!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

real interesting. bring to mind the recent s.francisco chronicle article i read about cheap land in hawai'i... it was some of the newest land on the entire planet (it was moonscape lava, dig?).

January 29, 2008 2:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't that cause the mother of all tsunamis if it fractured in just the wrong way in a few spots?


January 29, 2008 10:33 AM  
Blogger Chris Kannen said...

I could sleep..., we were just out in Hawaii on the "newest land" a couple months ago. Hawaiians described how the shifting plate moves across the Hawaiian hotspot, forming islands as the plate moves west, while erosion is weathering and submerging the westernmost islands. In a few thousand years, Kauai will be underwater and, assuming humans are still on Earth, we'll honeymoon on Loihi instead. Maybe.

January 29, 2008 11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's normally pretty random which species wind up on a new island but with a tiny bit of intervention we could probably arrange for really bizarre mixes.

January 29, 2008 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Lynne said...

In light of the recent earthquakes in the Samoan Islands and the Solomon Islands, would you like to expand on this theory?

October 07, 2009 9:26 PM  

Post a Comment