The Extraterrestrial Origin of the Continental Tectonic Plates

Gneissic continental basement rock is suggested here to be extraterrestrial in origin, from aqueously-differentiated hot-classical Kuiper belt objects (KBOs), with terrestrial emplacement during the late heavy bombardment (LHB), circa 4.2–3.8 Ga.

An alternative solar system formation mechanism, designated "trifurcation", was designed to explain the 3 sets of twin planets (Jupiter-Saturn, Uranus-Neptune and Venus-Earth) in our highly unusual solar system, and this mechanism has both hallmarks of a good theory: fertility and falsifiability.

The most immediately falsifiable aspect of this mechanism is the prediction that the 6 twin planets + Mercury (excluding Mars) lay on the 3-oxygen-isotope terrestrial fractionation line (TFL) and more specifically that the hot classical Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) have the exact same isotopic and chemical composition as Earth's continental tectonic plates. Thus, a sample return mission to Venus would either support this mechanism or completely falsify it with no possibility of redemption.

The late heavy bombardment theory has been strengthened by dating lunar spherules from the Apollo mission, which indicates a bimodal LHB, with a narrow early pulse followed by the broader main pulse (and a bimodal LHB is another falsifiable requirement of this alternative hypothesis). By comparison, the Grand Tack standard model rejects LHB theory, because the planetary migration inherent in Grand Tack had to occur early rather than late when the prime mover of the protoplanetary disk was still intact.

Sedimentary origin of the continental tectonic plates:​

Far-and-away the shakiest of all the standard models is the supposed formation of metamorphic migmatite by 'anatexis', where anatexis is the supposed partial melting of protolith where the light-colored 'felsic' minerals supposedly melt, while the dark-colored 'mafic' minerals remain unmelted. It may be possible to explain the formation of metamorphic migmatite by anatexis without extensive hand waving—but I've never seen it done. For starters, the standard model of migmatite formation requires extreme fine tuning of temperature, pressure, gas and fluid content to create conditions where only the light-colored felsic minerals melt (quartz, feldspars and muscovite), while the dark mafic minerals (biotite, hornblende & etc.) remain unmelted, but melting alone doesn't begin to explain why the resulting partial melt separates to form the alternating felsic-mafic layering characteristic of migmatite, where the felsic-mafic layering can be so regular as to resemble the pages of a book, nor does it explain why migmatite is so frequently associated with centimeter-scale isoclinal folding in rock units kilometers on a side at 10s of kilometers beneath the surface.

Banded iron formation theory to the rescue:
Algoma-type banded iron formation (BIF) is uncannily similar to migmatite in appearance and in its basic description. Algoma-type BIF has the same felsic-mafic layering as migmatite, with the same centimeter-scale folding, but unlike the problematic anatexis theory (which can only explain partial melting and not folding and modulated layering), the modulated sedimentation theory of Algoma-type BIF is wholly intuitive. According to Pirajno and Yu (2021), the felsic-mafic layering is due to modulated authigenic sedimentation of quartz and iron oxides from hydrothermal plumes, forming mounds of authigenic sediments around hydrothermal vents that slumped and folded when the underwater sedimentary mounds exceeded the critical angle.

If it quacks like a duck, maybe it's a duck.

The extraterrestrial origin of the continental basement rock suggests that migmatite formed the exact same way as Algoma-type BIF, except in a low-gravity extraterrestrial setting, where the authigenic mineral grain size was proportionally larger than on Earth. Indeed, if migmatite had the same mineral grain size as Algoma-type BIF, then the standard model for migmatite formation would be modulated authigenic sedimentation with accompanying slump folding prior to lithification, the same as Algoma-type BIF. But because of the enlarged mineral grain size in migmatites, a terrestrial origin forces anatexis on you, regardless of how unnatural the fit.

Migmatite formed near hydrothermal vents, while gneiss formed at a greater distance from the vents. The mounding and associated slump folding were greater in the vicinity of hydrothermal vents where migmatite formed, and the felsic-mafic layering was fuzzier in gneiss, because gneiss formed at a distance from hydrothermal vents where the modulation from multiple hydrothermal vents overlapped.

Since this is a solar system forum, maybe that's sufficient geology for one post. What follows is the alternative solar system formation hypothesis, for which trifurcation is the lynchpin.

Pirajno, Franco; Yu, Hao-Cheng, (2021), Cycles of hydrothermal activity, precipitation of chemical sediments, with special reference to Algoma-type BIF, Gondwana Research, Volume 100, Dec. 2021, Pages 251-260

Alternative solar system dynamics:
(optional reading)

¶ An extraterrestrial origin for continental basement rock places stringent constraints on the composition of hot-classical KBOs, namely a siderophile-depleted composition that lies on the 3-oxygen-isotope terrestrial fractionation line (TFL) and has a lower density than terrestrial basalt such that it floats on the mantle and stands proud above sea level. The inner solar system asteroids and chondrites possess none of these properties, requiring that the high-angular-momentum hot-classical KBOs formed from a different reservoir than the low-angular-momentum reservoir that formed the inner solar system asteroids and chondrites.

'Symmetrical FFF' and 'trifurcation':
¶ A former binary-Companion and three sets of twin planets in our solar system (Jupiter-Saturn, Uranus-Neptune, and Venus-Earth) are suggested here to have formed in 4 generations, like Russian nesting dolls from a former 'Brown Dwarf', which was the original stellar core of our solar system. 'Brown Dwarf' is capitalized as the name of the original protostellar core of the solar system.
¶ Brown Dwarf formed at the center of a massive protoplanetary accretion disk, where the accretion disk was much-more massive than diminutive brown-dwarf-mass protostellar core, such that Brown Dwarf was unable to damp down disk inhomogeneities in the disk from amplifying into full-fledged disk instability. In this case, the massive accretion disk underwent a bilateral disk instability, forming a twin pair of stellar-mass disk-instability objects orbiting Brown Dwarf, constituting a non-hierarchical (dynamically-unstable) system. The twin disk-instability objects evolved into a pair of protostars that formed our former 'binary-Sun'. During a period of orbital interplay, the twin stellar components that became binary-Sun progressively spiraled in while 'evaporating' Brown Dwarf into a circumbinary orbit. And the orbital dynamics that evaporated the Brown Dwarf into a circumbinary orbit around former binary-Sun also caused Brown Dwarf to 'spin up' and undergo centrifugal fragmentation, by way of 'trifurcation'.
¶ In orbital close encounters between objects with differing masses, the principle of 'equipartition of kinetic energy' dictates that the less massive object leaves the close encounter with a kinetic-energy kick at the expense of the more-massive object, progressively evaporating Brown Dwarf into a circumbinary orbit at the expense of the kinetic energy and angular momentum of the much-more-massive stellar components, which spiraled inward into a close-binary pair to become binary-Sun. But not only did Brown Dwarf gain orbital kinetic energy and angular momentum, but it also received rotational kinetic energy and angular momentum in the form of rotational spin up to the point of centrifugal fragmentation. Brown Dwarf was evaporated into a hierarchical circumbinary orbit around binary-Sun at a distance of about 15 AU, but not before undergoing centrifugal fragmentation by a very specific pathway leading to 'trifurcation'.
¶ The centrifugal force of rotation causes a gravitationally bound object to deform into an oblate sphere. Continued spin up deforms an oblate sphere into an triaxial ellipsoid and finally into a bilaterally-symmetrical bar-mode instability, whose centrifugal failure mode is to gravitationally fragment into a twin pair of objects in orbit around a much-less-massive residual core, fragmenting a single object into 3 components, hence 'trifurcation'. And the newly-trifurcated non-hierarchical system was a mini-me version of the original system and similarly dynamically unstable. First-generation trifurcation promotes second-generation trifurcation, and etc., like Russian nesting dolls.
¶ Thus, Brown Dwarf orbited by the pair of much-more-massive twin disk instability objects induced first-generation trifurcation, fragmenting Brown Dwarf into a twin-binary pair of super-Jupiter-mass objects orbiting a much-less-massive residual core, which was a mini-me version of the original disk instability, which promoted second-generation trifurcation. So first-generation trifurcation promotes second-generation trifurcation, and etc,, like Russian nesting dolls, forming;
- 0 gen, binary-Sun + Brown Dwarf core
- 1st gen, binary-Companion + 'SUPER-Jupiter' (residual core),
- 2nd gen. Jupiter-Saturn + 'SUPER-Neptune' (residual core),
- 3rd gen. Uranus-Neptune + 'SUPER-Earth' (residual core), and
- 4th gen. Venus-Earth + Mercury (residual core)
¶ Binary-binary resonances caused eccentricity pumping of all 4 sets of binary pairs (binary-Companion, Jupiter-Saturn, Uranus-Neptune, Venus-Earth) at the expense of binary-Sun. Binary-Companion orbited binary-Sun at a distance of about 15 AU, with other binary pairs + Mercury orbiting binary-Companion. Eccentricity pumping caused Uranus-Neptune to escape from binary-Companion via its outer L2 Lagrangian point, and Jupiter-Saturn escaped via the inner L1 Lagrangian point, with Earth-Venus-Mercury in tow. Then Venus-Earth-Mercury escaped from Jupiter-Saturn via Jupiter-Saturn's inner L1 Lagrangian point. Additional eccentricity pumping by binary-Sun caused all binary pairs to separate, except former binary-Companion.
¶ Because Brown Dwarf had internally differentiated into a siderophile-enriched iron core prior to trifurcation, the trifurcation debris disk was necessarily siderophile depleted. Additionally, the residual core of a trifurcation generation inherited a higher specific mass of metallic iron than its much-more massive twin-binary pair of siblings, and each next-generation trifurcation inherited a higher specific mass of metallic iron than the previous-generation, which is why Mercury has the highest specific mass of metallic iron of all the planets formed by trifurcation. Mars is the odd man out in the solar system, which formed by a different planet formation mechanism. And since all the planets formed by trifurcation came from the same Brown Dwarf reservoir, they should all lie on the 3-oxygen-isotope Brown Dwarf fractionation line, which we know as the terrestrial fractionation line (TFL).
¶ Then the hot-classical KBOs formed by streaming instability from the trifurcation debris disk orbiting beyond Neptune, which have the identically correct siderophile-depleted TFL composition to constitute the continental crust on Earth, including a lower density than terrestrial basalt.

¶ Shortly after the trifurcation epoch, the stellar components of former binary-Sun spiraled in to merge at 4,567 Ma in a luminous red nova that scrubbed the solar system of the earlier trifurcation debris disk, leaving behind its own low-angular-momentum 'solar-merger debris disk' with a solar composition that formed the asteroids with live stellar-merger-nucleosynthesis radionuclides, and slightly-later formed chondrites, largely after the short-lived radionuclides had decayed away.

Late heavy bombardment:
¶ Perturbation of binary-Companion by the newly-merged Sun caused its super-Jupiter-mass binary components to spiral in, transferring their close-binary potential energy to progressively-increasing the heliocentric eccentricity of binary-Companion over time, which progressively increased binary-Companion's heliocentric period. The progressively-increasing heliocentric period of binary-Companion caused its 1:4 mean-motion resonance to migrate outward through the Kuiper belt, perturbing KBOs into the inner solar system, causing the LHB of the inner solar system that embedded gneissic-composition KBO cores into Earth's lithosphere, ~ 4.2–3.8 Ga.

¶ The progressively-increasing eccentricity of former binary-Companion around the Sun caused binary-Companion to overrun Uranus' orbit, resulting in Uranus' severe axial tilt. As spiral-in of the binary-Companion components progressed, the super-Jupiter-mass components progressively accreted their own moons, fogging the solar system, which caused the Sturtian glaciation of Snowball Earth. Ultimately the super-Jupiter components merged at 650 Ma in an asymmetrical merger explosion that gave newly-merged Companion escape velocity from the Sun, with the merger debris creating the 650 Ma 'Companion-merger debris disk' that condensed the young, cold classical KBOs against Neptune's outer 2:3 resonance by streaming instability, and resulting fogging of the solar system caused the Marinoan glaciation of the Cryogenian Period on Earth.
¶ The loss of the centrifugal force of the Sun around the former Sun-Companion barycenter caused all heliocentric objects to fall into slightly lower period orbits, and the resulting readjustment of the solar system caused super tsunamis on Earth, resulting in the global erosion of the Great Unconformity at circa 650 Ma.

[As an aside, the trifurcation mechanism also predicts that each trifurcation planet was born with an oversized "trifurcation moon", with one moon of each twin pair injected into a prograde orbit, such as like Titan at Saturn and Luna at Earth, and the other moon of the twin pair injected at formation into a doomed retrograde orbit, like Triton at Neptune. Here's the accounting:
- Venus' former retrograde trifurcation moon spiraled in and merged with Venus at 541 Ma, seeding Earth with Venusian lifeforms, causing the Cambrian Explosion on Earth. The 'Venusian cataclysm' entirely resurfaced Venus and is responsible for the present high temp. high density sulfurous atmosphere
- Earth's prograde trifurcation moon Luna (not formed by "Giant Impact")
- Uranus lost its prograde trifurcation moon and all its other moons in solar system dynamics touched on later that accounts for its 90° tilt, such that its present well-behaved moons are young (650 Ma)
- Neptune's moon trifurcation moon Triton is in a doomed retrograde orbit that will spiral in and merge with the planet in about 3.6 billion years.]
- Jupiter's former retrograde trifurcation moon spiraled in and merged with Jupiter at 4,562.5 Ma, forming the E-type asteroids and enstatite meteorites, which are the only meteorites that lay on the TFL
- Saturn's prograde trifurcation moon Titan]
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