Hot Springs and Supervolcanoes

I can’t think about smoking bans all the time. And this morning’s thought was: we’re going to defeat these people. We’re going to destroy Tobacco Control. And actually it’s inevitable that we will.

I’m interested in lots of other things besides smoking and smoking bans. In fact I’m interested in absolutely everything. And my current interest is in ice ages. Because I had a very simple idea about the glaciations during which several kilometres of ice lies on top of the Earth.

And the simple idea was that ice sheets act as layers of insulation on the Earth, and this insulation warms the surface of the Earth. At right, there’s a block of rock which has a temperature of 200ºK at the top where it meets the atmosphere, and 500ºK at the bottom deep inside the hot Earth, and a temperature gradient from top to bottom. Now add a layer of ice of equal depth on top, and if the thermal conductivity of ice is taken to be the same as that of rock, the temperature gradient through them will also be from 200ºK at the top to 500ºK at the bottom, and the temperature where the ice meets the rock will be 350ºK. But the melting point of ice is 273ºK. So the ice will melt. And maybe all the ice will melt. And when it’s all melted, the surface of the rock will drop back from 350ºK to 200ºK. Whereupon any snow that falls on it will not melt, and it’ll build up to form a new block of ice. And that’s my theory of how ice ages happen, and why the ice sheets first grow, and then melt away, over and over again.

Over the past couple of months I’ve been slowly putting together a computer simulation model of the process, which calculates all the heat flows over tens of thousands of years, that shows how the cycle works. About a month back I reported on my progress. And fairly soon I hope to report some more (unless I get interrupted like I did last week with a mini ice age here in the UK).

The theory suggests that the rock beneath ice sheets can get very hot. And that also suggests that there ought to be residual “hot spots” where ice sheets used to be during the last glaciation, which ended about 12,000 years ago. And evidence of this heating might be found in hot springs that flow out of the earth. If I’m right, there ought to be hot springs all over Canada and much of northern Europe and Russia. So I’m thinking I might try to compile a map of hot springs all over the world.

I found one for the USA:

Most of the hot springs in the USA seem to be in the area of the Rocky Mountains. And in fact mountains ought to have the same heating effect as ice sheets on the the rock beneath them: they also provide an extra layer of insulation. The eastern hot springs are under the long thin Appalachian mountain range.

In the UK, there are a couple of hot spots. One in the Peak District in Derbyshire, and the other in Avon.

And, oddly enough, I used to live in the district of Hotwells in Bristol in the county of Avon, right on top of a hot spring. I knew of its existence, but never saw it, because it had been closed for many years due to Health and Safety considerations (the spring had become tainted)

The nearby town of Bath also has a famous hot spring, which the Romans built a hot bath on top of. It’s still there, and still full of hot water. But once again Health and Safety have closed it.

And there are hot springs all over Europe, I believe. There’s one in Baden in Germany (Baden actually means ‘bath’) I think there are lots of towns in Germany with -baden in their names – e.g. Wiesbaden -, and maybe they all have hot springs associated with them. And there are hot springs in Italy, not far from Rome. I would imagine that all the mountain ranges in Europe would have hot springs associated with them. And I’m wondering whether a map of hot springs in the northern hemisphere might show (once the springs associated with mountains were removed) the extent of glaciation during the last ice age.

Another interesting thing about some hot springs is that several of them seem to have supervolcanoes under them. There are hot springs in Yellowstone Park in the USA, and there’s a supervolcano too. Same with Baden in Germany. And also in Italy, south of Rome. And it occurred to me that, if ice sheets heat up the rock beneath them, they might also act to actually heat up the rock so much that it melts. Or at least raise the melt line of the rocks in the region underneath the ice sheet. And this was maybe what the “supervolcano” was: a raised area of molten rock.

There would of course be hot springs and volcanoes associated not only with ice sheets and mountain ranges, but also with cracks in the continental plates covering the globe. And that’s where most of the world’s volcanoes are found. And volcanoes like Vesuvius and Etna in Italy seem to be associated with faults in the Mediterranean plate.

Anyway, since I’m associating some hot springs with past glaciations, I think there ought to be hots springs all over Scandinavia and northern Russia and Siberia. And there ought to be hot springs all over Canada as well.

I also once lived in Tunbridge Wells, in Kent. And the town only came into existence because of the iron-rich water from the Chalybeate spring. I’ve no idea what the exact temperature of the water is: in the link above it’s simply said to be “cool”. And “cool” may be somewhere between “cold” and “hot”. But I imagine that for every hot spring, there are lots of warm springs and cool springs as well as cold springs.

I’ve found a free e-book: Thermal Springs of the United States and Other Countries: A Summary.

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About Frank Davis

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7 Responses to Hot Springs and Supervolcanoes

  1. Rose says:

    The nearby town of Bath also has a famous hot spring, which the Romans built a hot bath on top of. It’s still there, and still full of hot water. But once again Health and Safety have closed it

    I remember that well being a regular visitor then, it was because of the deadly amoeba.

    “As Editor, Mr Boardman was directly responsible for the closure of the Bath Spa after he discovered that a child died after swimming in the water of the city baths.

    He found that a Bath Public Health scientist researching the contents of spa water sediments had identified a meningococcal amoeba which, if sniffed into the nasal passage could lead to death.

    When he blew the story, the amoeba was found in pipes and tanks throughout the city’s spa water distribution system. The swimming baths, spa treatment centre and Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases all had to stop using spa water until a new source was drilled.”
    https://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/news/former-bath-evening-chronicle-editor-1267255

  2. Philip Neal says:

    Hot springs seem to be an intriguing matter in their own right. It is no mystery why you get them in the volcanic zones at plate boundaries, but the e-book you link to lists twelve in the island of Great Britain and one in Ireland. Three in Derbyshire, four in the Bristol-Bath area and the others scattered here and there. There is no obvious pattern, and the British Isles have not seen volcanic activity for millions of years.

  3. smokingscot says:

    O/T

    Seems (to me at least) that Trump’s very aware of what we the people have known about for ages.

    “He also said that he would be asking Congress to look at Big Pharma and Big Media”.

    http://4liberty.org.uk/2018/03/11/trump-in-fighting-form-at-pennsylvania-rally/

    He’s got another couple of years until his first term is up, however he’s tackling the most difficult first. He’s doing that because he wants a further 4 years. After that the lesser sacred cows will be a minor swish of his pen. Supranational entities, parasitic charities and such beware (and no it has not escaped my notice that Banzhaf is 77 and Glantz is 72, nor that either is grooming a successor).

    • Joe L. says:

      and no it has not escaped my notice that Banzhaf is 77 and Glantz is 72, nor that either is grooming a successor

      Why should either need to groom a successor? As non-smokers, Banzhaf and Glantz cannot possibly die prematurely, so they will surely live at least 120 years, right?

      Joking aside, this is welcome news and I hope Trump sees it through (whatever happened to “lock[ing] her up”?). The pharmaceutical companies and media conglomerates are long overdue to be put under a microscope.

      However, at the same rally, Trump channeled Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte by calling for the death penalty for drug dealers. Duterte is a maniac who also completely banned smoking in public throughout the Philippines, so this statement is a bit concerning.

      • smokingscot says:

        Agreed on the drug business. Not a style to emulate. However the way it’s been interpreted by his supporters was he was just thinking out loud, just running it by them.

        And that’s what it was, Mr T with his people, the ones who vote for him. They didn’t like it, not one bit. And many in the auditorium ill know that the nut case in the Philippines thinks tobacco is a drug on a par with the heavy stuff.

        He’s got smokers and tobacco growers in his support base, so I think it’ll be quietly dropped. He’s most definitely not going to slit his own neck on an unpopular principle.

        Blair and Mc Connell did, politically speaking.

  4. Joe L. says:

    And it occurred to me that, if ice sheets heat up the rock beneath them, they might also act to actually heat up the rock so much that it melts. Or at least raise the melt line of the rocks in the region underneath the ice sheet. And this was maybe what the “supervolcano” was: a raised area of molten rock.

    This is a very interesting hypothesis, and it would make perfect sense if your thoughts on insulation of the earth by ice are correct. You may very well be on to something here, Frank.

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