An upwelling of hot rock beneath the Atlantic is heating the world’s oceans

That’s not what the article says, but that’s my take on it. See if you agree.

An upwelling of hot rock beneath the Atlantic is heating the world’s oceans

Robert W. Felix

“An upsurge of hot rock from deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean may be driving the continents on either side apart,” writes Maria Temming in Science News.

Not surprisingly in today’s politically correct world, Temming’s article does not mention ocean warming. Instead, the title of the piece enthuses that “An upwelling of rock beneath the Atlantic may drive continents apart.” Notice that the title does not mention the hot rock.

Same with the subtitle: “The Mid-Atlantic Ridge may play a more active role in plate tectonics than thought.” No mention of hot rocks there, either.

But I think the hot rocks are the most important takeaway from her article.

Mid-Atlantic Ridge – NOAA

The image of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge included with Temming’s article (above) might make it difficult for you to delineate just exactly where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is located. But as luck would have it, I found a different image (below) showing the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the Mid-Pacific Rise, and other oceanic ridges. I think the vast amount of red emanating from those ridges makes it perfectly clear where the heat is coming from.

NCEI/NOAA; R.D. Müller et al/Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 2008

Anyway, back to Temming’s article.

New seismic data from the Atlantic Ocean floor show that hot rock is welling up beneath the Mid-Atlantic Ridge from more than 600 kilometers deep in Earth’s mantle, says Temming. (She loves calling it ‘hot rock,’ but in reality it’s red-hot fiery basalt, the ocean’s version of red-hot lava.)

Matthew Agius, a seismologist at Roma Tre University in Rome, and his colleagues used 39 seismometers on the seafloor along the ridge between South America and Africa to monitor earthquakes around the world for about a year. The tremors contained clues about the location and movement of material far below the seafloor.

In those signals, Agius’ team saw hints of material from Earth’s lower mantle welling up toward the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. “This was completely unexpected,” Agius says, and it could be a powerful force for pushing apart the tectonic plates on either side of the rift.” (I don’t understand why it would be “unexpected.”)

So what to make of this?

I certainly agree that the deep-mantle material surging up at the centers of these rifts must play a major role in seafloor spreading.

But I also maintain, as I have been saying for years, that those hot rocks are heating the world’s oceans. And not just a little bit of heat, mind you, but far more than you might believe. If those ‘hot rocks’ are like other such fiery basalt, their temperatures could easily measure up to 2,150°F (1,177°C) hot.

More than ten times the boiling point!

Scientists agree that there are more than three million – yes, more than three million! – underwater volcanoes … and we’re trying to blame humans for heating our seas?

Thanks to Viv Forbes for this link

“What incredible news,” says Viv. “Whoever would have thought?”

For more about underwater volcanoes heating the world’s oceans, see Not by Fire but by Ice, Chapter 10, “Fish Stew.”

40 thoughts on “An upwelling of hot rock beneath the Atlantic is heating the world’s oceans”

  1. “The Mid-Atlantic Ridge may play a more active role in plate tectonics than thought.”
    “An upsurge of hot rock from deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean may be driving the continents on either side apart,” writes Maria Temming in Science News.
    And this Maria Temming is a science writer ? Its been known for at least 60 years that the mid ocean rifts are the principal drivers of plate tectonics with new ocean floor being created in mid ocean and pushing the ocean floor on both sides of the rift away like 2 huge conveyor belts .

  2. Absolutely correct, Robert! It is lava that is “Welling up”!
    Furthermore, there is thousands of miles of hot lava “Welling up”.

    And it is not “may be driving the continents on either side apart”; it “IS” driving the continents apart!

    How they twist the words to fool the masses into believing their agenda.
    BTW: Speaking of twisted words, I seem recall an article long ago about the “Melting Himalaya glaciers are contributing to the ocean rise by -.02mm per year”. (That’s negative .02mm) In other words, the glaciers are not melting!

    • I don’t claim to know any answers but I do know that many geologists believe the “upwelling rock” is a result of, not the cause, of plate movement.

      • Let’s see, all the heat left from our planet’s creation is concentrated in our mostly iron core, for the whole of it’s existence, since cooling sufficiently for solid ground, not burning, tectonics have been the primary causative drive of the surface. Solid surface, sort of cool, hot center, molten, moderating magma in between, ranging from molten, around the core, to plastic, almost solid, next to the actual solid parts, and particularly important where it lies under the oceans, as they cause it to ripple out, and as stated, “millions of volcanoes”. We float on sludge, almost hot enough to melt, which floats on magma almost cool enough to solidify, the hot rock/innards, flows towards cool, the plates move, some get over-run, others dive under, mountains and valleys.

  3. I have never understood why anyone would think that a liquid, even if it was a thick paste, would come to a “crack” in the surface above it and push the two sides apart rather than flow through the crack and spread out on the surface. I still don’t see the ridge forming as a force to push one “plate” under another “plate.” To me that defies common sense.

    Sort of like looking at a crack in the surface after an earthquake, where the sides are still the same height – where did the land shrink to make up for it? Or is it actually possible these are artifacts of a planet that is slowly getting larger?

    • My unusual brain supposes that landmass cooling plays into this somehow. Atmosphere rotates faster than land , giving us prevailing westerlies. A diurnal pumping effect. Could this apply to landmass also or simply cooling = shrinkage!

  4. How much geo thermal heat is in the oceans is unknown, yet dependent on the residence time of said geo thermal energy.

    The residence time may well be years, decades, and possibly centuries. Until the mean residence time is known, and the heat flux is known, we have no accurate idea of how much geo thermal heat is in the oceans, or how much this energy source varies.

    I do not understand their surprise at a mechanism of crust creation that has been known for many decades and depends on mantle uplift. Are they saying the mid Atlantic ridge is heating up or becoming more active?

    By the way, we also do not know the varied residence times of disparate wave length solar insolation entering the oceans, or how much energy to the oceans is gained or lost over varied solar cycles.

    • David, as is the ACGW mantra, everything is new again. Rediscovering old ideas keeps their blame game intact. Relabeling it as a result of climate change keeps the money flowing…..

  5. Looking at the map of the Atlantic, Iceland is slap bang in the middle and sat on the very ridge. Bit of a Godsend for geothermal energy and hot springs. I know of no easy way to cook steaks on those hot rocks but pardon me for thinking of food to complement my usual drinks LOL.
    Iceland is also enjoying the Thermohaline Circulation or Gulf Stream which makes it a lot less icy than it otherwise would be.
    This is the part of the Atlantic I most want to visit so I’ll put it on my bucket list.

  6. and of course if rock upwells as NEW mass
    then water is displaced
    pretty sure that’d make for a mm or more on the tide gauges eventually
    one sides going to get a DROP if a plate shifts downwards the other will record smallish rises
    been the odd hefty quake mainly to the sth hemisphere too, along that rideg

  7. Well, there goes the land of my ancestors…

    my mother’s family was from San Miquel in the Azores, right in the middle of all that (top of the first map at the east side of the mid-Atlantic ridge).

  8. Perhaps I missed something. But didn’t I learn this stuff in school say way back in the late 60’s, early 70’s? I guess in their over-reach to revise/change history, geology, science, they burned those books as well and now are creating it all over again as though it’s a new idea. As far as warming oceans goes, no doubt under-sea volcanic activity is probably playing role as increasing volcanic and seismic activity seem to be well correlated to GSM’s. …

    • I suppose that all depends on the teacher…. I remember our Biology Teacher in the 11th grade on the subject of Geology, presented many varying views at the time… one was that I still remember was the idea of what was then called Pangea… the one Continent theory….. I liked the way he presented things in that class because he didn’t come with dogmatic but with discovery and allowing us to question and reason for ourselves….. perhaps because he himself was aware that this type of science still is in the discovery mode. =)

  9. Are there any “top” view of the volcanic ridge in the arctic? Hard to see from that shot but it appears to go all along the Siberian coast from one end to the other.

  10. (I don’t understand why it would be “unexpected.”)

    Well, neither do I because the north Atlantic ridge is responsible for Iceland’s active volcanoes, sits right on a northern spot on the north Atlantic ridge and that has been well-known for quite a long time.

    I fail to understand anyone to CLAIMS to be involved in science (somehow) who is unaware of these things, when I’ve known about them since childhood. I’m guessing we just had better teachers and more accurate books back in Them There Olden Times?

  11. Yes Robert, logical and credible!
    Up-welling, extremely hot, molten basalt must heat the water above, and so heat the Atlantic ocean from points from pole to pole.

    Also note that all that basalt (mostly made of iron, manganese, and magnesium) will maintain the ocean’s pH above 7 (an alkali), i.e. NO major ocean ‘acidification’!

  12. Anyone who believes an extra 0.01% of a stable gas in the atmosphere since the 1960’s is responsible for heating the oceans which have a mass 933,333 times that of the total atmosphere is simply stupid beyond belief !

  13. Almost everywhere in the ocean, the temperature gets lower and lower as you go deeper and deeper. If it truly were being heated significantly from the bottom as you claim, this would not be the case.

    Yes, there are various hotspots like the Atlantic Ridge and “black smokers” and the like. By the same token, there are various hotspots on the land as well, hot springs and mud pools and volcanoes and the like.

    But just like in the ocean, they only take up a minuscule fraction of the area.

    As an example, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is 16000 km long, and the active (hot) zone is about 50 km wide. That’s a total area of 0.22% of the ocean floor …

    Curiously, the MAR is not all under the ocean. It comes out of the water in Iceland … but its not superheating the air there either.

    So no, I fear that the idea that the ocean is heated from the bottom doesn’t match up with the facts.


    • Curiously, the furnace that heats my house is probably less than 0.22% of the total square footage of my home … but it somehow miraculously seems to keep my house warm.

    • Hi Willis, and yet nobody, yourself included, made any attempt to define the geothermal heat content of the global oceans. And nobody in this post defined that geo thermal as the principle heat source of the oceans. There was a simple allusion to the possibility that a “supposed” recent increase in OHC could partially be a result of an increase in geothermal. We don’t know about the variations in geothermal heat flow, either qualitative or temporal.

      Without knowing the residence time of said input or quantifying the heat flux, how can we possibly know how much total geothermal is within the global oceans. Perhaps the geothermal is primarily responsible for the what, fairly steady 4 degree T of the lower oceans. We know the ocean crust is thinner than the land, and the geothermal heat flow higher over large areas, not just on that .22 percent of the ocean floor. We know energy is never destroyed. We know the energy in the ocean depths takes centuries to reach the atmosphere. So geothermal, accumalating for centuries, day after day, each day accumalating to the previous day, for years is what? Can you quantify it? Does said flux vary, and over what time scales? What would the OHC be if there was no geothermal heat flow?

      All the Best…
      Oh, and thanks for all your excellent work at WUWT!

  14. The thing is, the continents have been separating at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, for as long as 175 million years, though the whole ridge has been there for somewhat less time (maybe 140 million years).

    There’s probably no significant difference in the long term average heat release between now and the peak of the last ice age. At least, I’ve seen no evidence to contradict that.

    • Perhaps, yet we have no historical knowledge of whatever natural flux there is over the past 100 years, let alone 100,000 years. See my post to Willis above, and share your thoughts on those questions.

      One thought is that in the depth of an ice age, geothermal on land is suppressed by the pressure of massive ice sheets, and geo thermal in the oceans is perhaps released by lower sea levels, therefore reduced pressure. This change of geothermal release points may also altar magna flow underneath the crust. Also the heat loss of the oceans would be reduced by far larger sea ice sheets. Thus great geothermal to the oceans and reduced heat loss, possibly further reduced by slower ocean currents.

      The combination, suppressed land geo thermal and released ocean geothermal may eventually heat the oceans contributing to the end of an ice age glaciation.
      Just random speculative thoughts…

      All the Best…


  16. Ocean temperature is a Big factor in CO2 levels as oceans warm they release more disolved CO2, comparable to removing a cold soda from the frig. As it warms it looses it’s fizz or disolved CO2 into the atmosphere. This is not caused by man and his wonderful fossil fuels. The political war on fossil fuels will not reduce world CO2 levels.
    Lions live off meat, cattle live off grass, government
    live off taxes, it is a little suspect when the governments decide the way to lower CO2 is with a tax . Taxes transfers wealth and power to the government, the government craves power and would like a “one world government” with total control , China is a good example.
    God expressed His opinion on global government at the tower of Babble. The human being is infused by God with the desire for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness those who oppose this oppose the Maker.

  17. There was a B class solar flare last night along with a direct facing coronal hole, a 7.7 mag and two 6 mags Loyalty Islands and also a 6 mag Indo. A 10′ tsunami alert issued for S Pacific.

  18. It was only a little while back when they discovered a whole string of underwater volcanoes in the Mediterranean just off the coast of Italy. Hardly a remote ocean location or at a great depth and yet unknown.

  19. MMGW is still a hoax but my visceral reaction is that the sun is transferring a few orders of magnitude greater heat to the oceans each day than some hot rocks are.

    • It is indeed. And there is a great deal more solar energy in the oceans then there is geo thermal. Yet I did not here anybody assert anything to contradict that, so perhaps a bit of a strawman.

      All the Best…

  20. I have to wonder what the never ending Fukashima radiation dumping into the ocean does to catalyze the warming process.

  21. The saturation limit of CO2 in water is not even close to what can be held by the dilute salt water oceans.

    The average concentration of inorganic carbon in the ocean is very hard to find but I found this number.
    ~2.3 mmol kg-1.

    That’s calculates to a current ocean CO2 level of 101.2 PPM.

    (101.2 / 1,300,000) times 100 for percent, is an ocean that is only 0.00778% of the saturation limit of CO2 in salty ocean water as measured against distilled water values from the CRC handbook values in grams of CO2 per 100 mls.

    The proper way to determine the level of all types of CO2 dissolved, suspended, or both in ocean water is to do a determination called “CO2 by Evolution”.
    You better know your post CO2 by evolution catalyst converters and filters to scrub interference gases in the CO2 gas stream, like postulated CO, NOx, SOx gases, and more. I did. Copper oxide furnaces and MnO2 furnaces are a start.

    You won’t find that current ocean water saturated CO2 number as a percentage of the total saturation limit of CO2 in ocean water anywhere but on

    0.00778% of the maximum solubility of CO2 in ocean water is a puny threat.

    What a threat to doomsday sayers and the IPCC.


  22. This is strong evidence for earth expansion. We are caught between Jupiter and Saturn brown dwarf and the sun pulling in opposite direction! Add that to the shrinking corona of the sun and the anomaly or more energy hitting the earth from the dark side in this new region of space and we have some nice surprises. Btw there is evidence this happened in the Bible

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