Planet Earth (III) by Aaron Escobar
Planet Earth (III) by Aaron Escobar

By Steve Hammons September 8, 2006

Have the Earth’s frozen poles wandered, drifted or shifted in the ancient past?

Has the planet’s outer crust moved, a little or a lot, millions or even thousands of years ago?

Was the continent of Antarctica always at the South Pole and covered by ice?

These types of questions have been the subject of much research and speculation. The ideas of crustal movement over the fluid layer of molten rock that lies beneath the hard surface layer of our planet have been called “true polar wander,” “pole drift,” “pole shift” and “crustal displacement.”

The concept of pole wander and drift was the subject of a scientific research paper in the September-October edition of the Geological Society of America Bulletin.

A geological team led by Princeton University’s Adam Maloof and Galen Halverson of Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, France, claims that our planet did experience a significant pole rebalancing approximately 800 million years ago.

Part of their research involved testing magnetic minerals within ancient rocks located in the sediment in Norway.

Maloof and Halverson claim that the North Pole has shifted more than 50 degrees (approximately about the distance between the equator and Alaska) in less than 20 million years.


Much of the debate about these “Earth changes” concepts involves the amount of wander, drift or shift and how long ago it may have occurred.

Additional speculation centers on whether the Earth’s crust periodically shifts to rebalance itself, and whether this has happened many times in the ancient past.

Does a movement of the crust involve relatively slight changes and adjustments as the planet rotates on its axis and in its orbit around the sun?

Or, has the crust slid and shifted dramatically and violently over the liquid magma below the surface, significantly realigning the location of continents and oceans?

Theories have been put forth over the past decades claiming that areas of the Earth that had once been the polar ice caps changed their position and became warmer areas. The ice caps suddenly melted before new ones refroze, and a great flood occurred.

The current ice caps formed at the new cold, pole positions. Some continents and seas that had been in temperate latitudes with mild climates suddenly got very cold, very fast, according to these kinds of views.

Frozen animals unearthed from under snow and ice have been found with tropical plants in their stomachs.

Variations on pole shift theories include speculation that as Earth revolves in its orbit around the sun, year after year, century after century, it slightly changes its angle along the way. It tilts on its axis a little bit more and more, and this is simply a natural process.

The natural pole shift theory includes views that Earth periodically gets to a point when this tilt becomes so heavy that momentum suddenly shifts the outer crust of the Earth off its previous axis. The outer crust slides and shifts over the fluid molten layer beneath.

But, instead of happening over hundreds of millions of years, it happens suddenly and dramatically over a period of days, weeks and months, some researchers speculate.

In addition, this natural shift happens every so many thousands of years, not millions, according to these views.

And when this occurs, weather and climate for most areas of the planet suddenly change, the old poles melt and new areas are quickly frozen over.

Theories of these periodic crustal shifts include the factors of very significant earthquakes, volcanic activity and tsunamis that would accompany such sudden movement of the Earth’s crust.

In fact, such a movement of the crust would be so violent that impact on human civilization as we know it would be extreme.

Intensely violent earthquakes would affect virtually the whole planet. Volcanic gas, ash and debris would fill the atmosphere. Huge tsunamis would crash into coastlines around the world.


Legends from several cultures indicate that such a huge catastrophe happened in the ancient past.

Some pole shift theorists allege that historical tales about descriptions of the Earth shaking, the sudden movement of the stars in the sky, dramatic flooding and the darkening of the skies all match a long-ago crustal shift.

Prophesies of different kinds also have predicted some kind of similar event. The Mayan calendar, Hopi beliefs and other cultural indicators are sometimes cited to describe views that such an event is going to occur again, and maybe soon.

In the case of the Mayans and Hopis, the prediction of some kind of event like this is framed as being part of the normal course of the Earth’s and Nature’s cycles. It could even be viewed as a kind of natural destruction and renewal, or maybe a cleansing or sorts.

And, the time frame for this natural and periodic change in the planet’s crust is sometimes predicted to be in the early twenty-first century. The year 2012 is put forth by some.

Other ideas include questions about whether a pole shift in ancient human history nearly wiped out previous cultures and civilizations.

Some researchers have looked at different archeological and anthropological clues around the world. These clues may indicate that advanced human cultures developed long before the time frames for the origins of human civilization on Earth that we currently believe.

These unknown, ancient cultures may have been virtually destroyed by the pole shift of their time, and only fragments of and clues about their existence remain, according to some theories.

One of the most interesting set of circumstances is in regard to the continent we call Antarctica, now under the ice cap at the South Pole. Ancient maps have been found that show details of the coastline and geography of Antarctica.

The mystery in these maps is that the coastline and geographic details of Antarctica were unknown until ice-penetrating radar was used by the U.S. military to map the coastline in the second half of the twentieth century.

As the theory goes, ancient mariners must have mapped the coastline in detail at a time when it was obviously free of the ice that now covers it. This indicates that the large continent of Antarctica was at one time in a more temperate latitude, then shifted to the South Pole.


Variations on these ideas include a crustal shift triggered by some other geological factors, such as shift of weight from volcanic activity or changes in the massive weight of the ice at the current poles.

Some speculate that the magnetic pull of alignments of other planets and forces in our solar system could contribute to tipping the balance of Earth’s crust off of the current axis.

These kinds of views give a whole new meaning to the term “climate change.” According to many indications and apparently valid research, we will be experiencing significant weather and climate changes in the coming years.

There may be “global warming” and/or there may be significant cooling in some parts of the world.

Torrential rains in some regions and extreme drought in others may also be in our future.

In addition to planning for these kinds of challenges, which could be disastrous in themselves, some people apparently believe we would be wise to plan for a possible crustal displacement and the changes such an event would bring.

The earthquakes from such a development could make “The Big One,” when the San Andreas Fault in California breaks loose, look tame by comparison.

Major infrastructure and most buildings and man-made structures around the world would be damaged or destroyed, such would be the level of violence of a significant crustal shift.

Coastal cities and communities around the world could be devastated by tsunamis.

Agriculture might be severely impacted by both sudden change in latitudes of farming areas as well as blockage of sunlight from volcanic debris in the atmosphere, causing food shortages.

Some areas where people now enjoy a temperate climate might suddenly be near new polar areas, and humans living there would need to quickly escape or freeze, according to worst-case scenarios of pole shift theories.

As our scientific community makes further progress in understanding the past, present and future developments involving the planet, maybe these frightening views will be put to rest.

Or, maybe we will discover that these possibilities are something we should seriously consider and plan for.

After all, our survival and the continuation of human civilization on Earth could be at stake.