When science fiction meets science fact: exploring the physical reality of giant dikes

Dave Pollard

Stanford University

Date & Time
Building 3, Rambo Auditorium
Ole Kaven

The release in 1965 of Paramount's science fiction classic, Crack in the World, challenged scientists and engineers to think about the possibility that a giant dike could fracture Earth's brittle crust and encircle the planet. The movie also offered a solution to the hydrocarbon energy crisis and global warming decades before anyone thought these were serious problems.

In this seminar I will replay key cuts from this sci-fi movie thriller and show how geology, volcanology, elasticity theory and fracture mechanics help one to separate fact from fantasy. I will use data reviewed in Townsend et al., 2017, Tectonophysics to argue for a third school of thought regarding mechanical models for dikes. Also, I will use model results published in Pollard & Townsend, 2018, JSG to highlight the role of gravity and a stratified crustal density to stabilize giant dikes, even if the fracture toughness of rock is zero. Finally, I will explore interesting instabilities for fluid-filled fractures predicted by the model results.

Closed captions are typically available a few days after the seminar. To turn them on, press the ‘CC’ button on the video player. For older seminars that don’t have closed captions, please email us, and we will do our best to accommodate your request.

Video Podcast