Pole Shift Hypothesis

The cataclysmic pole shift hypothesis is the conjecture that the axis of rotation of a planet has undergone relatively rapid shifts in location, creating calamities such as massive floods and large scale tectonic events. This type of event would occur if the physical poles had been or would be suddenly shifted with respect to the underlying surface over a geologically short time frame.

Among the scientific community, the evidence shows that no rapid shifts in the pole have occurred during the last 200 million years. True polar wander is known to occur, but only at rates of 1 per million years or less. The last rapid shift in the poles may have occurred 800 million years ago, when the supercontinent Rodinia still existed. This hypothesis is almost always discussed in the context of Earth, but other bodies in the Solar System may have experienced axial reorientation during their existences.

The geographic poles of the Earth refer to the points on the surface of the planet that are intersected by the axis of rotation. The pole shift hypothesis refers to a change in location of these poles with respect to the underlying surface. Note that this is a different phenomenon than the changes in axial orientation with respect to the plane of the ecliptic that are caused by precession and nutation.

Pole shift hypotheses are not to be confused with plate tectonics, the well-accepted geological theory that the Earth's surface consists of solid plates which shift over a fluid asthenosphere; nor with continental drift, the corollary to plate tectonics which maintains that locations of the continents have moved slowly over the face of the Earth, resulting in the gradual emerging and breakup of continents and oceans over hundreds of millions of years.

Pole shift hypotheses are also not to be confused with geomagnetic reversal, the periodic reversal of the Earth's magnetic field (effectively switching the north and south magnetic poles). Geomagnetic reversal has more acceptance in the scientific community than pole shift hypothesis.

In popular literature, many conjectures have been suggested involving very rapid polar shift. A slow pole shift in the poles would display the most minor alterations and no destruction. A more dramatic view assumes more rapid changes, with dramatic alterations of geography and localized areas of destruction due to earthquakes and tsunamis. Several recent books propose changes that take place in weeks, days, or even hours, resulting in a variety of doomsday scenarios.

An early mention of a shifting of the Earth's axis can be found in an 1872 article entitled "Chronologie historique des Mexicains" by Charles tienne Brasseur de Bourbourg, an eccentric expert on Mesoamerican codices who interpreted ancient Mexican myths as evidence for four periods of global cataclysms that had begun around 10,500 B.C.

In 1948, Hugh Auchincloss Brown, an electrical engineer, advanced a hypothesis of catastrophic pole shift. Brown also argued that accumulation of ice at the poles caused recurring tipping of the axis, identifying cycles of approximately seven millennia.

In his controversial 1950 work Worlds in Collision, Immanuel Velikovsky postulated that the planet Venus emerged from Jupiter as a comet. During two proposed near approaches in about 1,450 B.C., he suggested that the direction of the Earth's rotation was changed radically, then reverted to its original direction on the next pass. This disruption supposedly caused earthquakes, tidal waves, and the parting of the Red Sea. Further, he said near misses by Mars between 776 and 687 B. C. also caused the Earth's axis to change back and forth by ten degrees. Velikovsky supported his work with historical records, although his studies were mainly ridiculed by the scientific community.

Science: Causes and Effects

The potential forces that could cause a reorientation of the Earth's axis of rotation include:

Charles Hapgood

Theory of Crystal Displacement

Charles Hapgood is now perhaps the best remembered early proponent. In his books "The Earth's Shifting Crust" (1958) (which includes a foreword by Albert Einstein who was writing before the theory of plate tectonics was developed) and Path of the Pole (1970) - Hapgood, building on Adhemar's much earlier model, speculated that the ice mass at one or both poles over-accumulates and destabilizes the Earth's rotational balance, causing slippage of all or much of Earth's outer crust around the Earth's core, which retains its axial orientation.

Based on his own research, Hapgood argued that each shift took approximately 5,000 years, followed by 20,000- to 30,000-year periods with no polar movements. Also, in his calculations, the area of movement never covered more than 40 degrees. Hapgood's examples of recent locations for the North Pole include Hudson Bay (60N, 73W) , the Atlantic Ocean between Iceland and Norway (72N, 10E) and Yukon (63N, 135W).

However, in his subsequent work The Path of the Pole, Hapgood conceded Einstein's point that the weight of the polar ice would be insufficient to bring about a polar shift. Instead, Hapgood argued that the forces that caused the shifts in the crust must be located below the surface. He had no satisfactory explanation for how this could occur.

Hapgood wrote to the Canadian librarian, Rand Flem-Ath, encouraging him in his pursuit of scientific evidence to back Hapgood's claims and in his expansion of the hypothesis. Flem-Ath published the results of this work in 1995 in When the Sky Fell co-written with his wife, Rose.


The Earth's magnetic field has attracted pseudoscientific authors offering a variety of evidence, including psychic readings, possibly linked to other beliefs such as Tollmann's hypothetical bolide, Black Sea deluge theory or the Deluge myth.

In the 1970s and 1980s a series of non-fiction books authored by former Washington Newspaper reporter Ruth Shick Montgomery elaborates on Edgar Cayce readings.

In 1997, Richard W. Noone published the novel 5/5/2000, ICE: The Ultimate Disaster which depicts a cataclysmic shift of the Earth's ice cap covering Antarctica caused by a planetary alignment and solar storms, leading to crustal displacement. This book falls under pseudoscience rather than pop culture because Noone used scientific reasoning and backing to support his claim that the Earth's crust would "turn on its side" on May 5, 2000. This did not happen.

In 1998, retired civil engineer James G. Bowles proposed in a non-peer reviewed journal a mechanism by which a polar shift could occur. He named this Rotational-Bending, or the RB-effect. He hypothesized that combined gravitational effects of the Sun and the Moon pulled at the Earth's crust at an oblique angle. This force steadily wore away at the underpinnings that linked the crust to the inner mantle. This generates a plastic zone that allows the crust to rotate with respect to the lower layers. Centrifugal forces acting on the mass of ice at the poles, causing them to move to the equator.

Books on this subject have been published by William Hutton including the 1996 book Coming Earth Changes: Causes and Consequences of the Approaching Pole Shift (ISBN 0876043619), which compared geologic records with the psychic readings of Edgar Cayce and predicted catastrophic climate changes before the end of 2001 which did not happen.

In 2004 Hutton and co-author Jonathan Eagle published Earth's Catastrophic Past and Future: A Scientific Analysis of Information Channeled by Edgar Cayce (ISBN 1-58112-517-8), which summarizes possible mechanisms and the timing of a future pole shift.

Cataclysmic pole shift hypothesis Wikipedia

Ellie's Theories - A Pole Shift in Consciousness

Earth's magnetic field is slowing down as the consciousness frequency of reality is increasing. This gives the illusion of time speeding up when it is decelerating to Zero Point as consciousness returns to light.

It's all about magnetics, an electromagnetic experiment set in linear to experience and learn, one day reversing and returning the energy to light. This is a metaphor for a shift in the polarity of human consciousness, and perhaps what the Mayans were referring to on December 21, 2012 the end of cycle in their Long Calendar. As science and pseudoscience merge in the twenty first century, understanding of the nature of reality as a consciousness hologram, will define poles shifts on all levels.

In the News ...

What If Earth's Magnetic Poles Flip?   Live Science - February 15, 2012
The end of the world as we know it could come in any number of ways, depending on who you ask. Some people believe global cataclysm will occur when Earth's magnetic poles reverse. When north goes south, they say, the continents will lurch in one direction or the other, triggering massive earthquakes, rapid climate change and species extinctions. The geologic record shows that hundreds of pole reversals have occurred throughout Earth's history; they happen when patches of iron atoms in Earth's liquid outer core become reverse-aligned, like tiny magnets oriented in the opposite direction from those around them. When the reversed patches grow to the point that they dominate the rest of the core, Earth's overall magnetic field flips. The last reversal happened 780,000 years ago during the Stone Age, and indeed there's evidence to suggest the planet may be in the early stages of a pole reversal right now.

2012: Magnetic pole reversal happens all the (geologic) time   PhysOrg - November 30, 2011

Scientists understand that Earth's magnetic field has flipped its polarity many times over the millennia. In other words, if you were alive about 800,000 years ago, and facing what we call north with a magnetic compass in your hand, the needle would point to 'south.' This is because a magnetic compass is calibrated based on Earth's poles. The N-S markings of a compass would be 180 degrees wrong if the polarity of today's magnetic field were reversed. Many doomsday theorists have tried to take this natural geological occurrence and suggest it could lead to Earth's destruction. But would there be any dramatic effects? The answer, from the geologic and fossil records we have from hundreds of past magnetic polarity reversals, seems to be 'no.'

Earth's Magnetic Pole Moves, Throws Off Planes in Florida   Live Science - January 7, 2011
Earth's magnetic pole is shifting south and apparently it's affecting planes at Tampa International Airport in Florida. Currently the planet's northern pole is moving slowly south. "The Earth's poles are changing constantly, and when they change more than three degrees, that can affect runway numbering," FAA spokesperson Kathleen Bergen told FoxNews. Earth's magnetic field is thought to be generated deep inside the planet. An inner core of solid iron is surrounded by an outer core of molten iron. They rotate at different rates, and the interaction between the regions creates what scientists call a "hydromagnetic dynamo." It's something like an electric motor, and it generates a magnetic field akin to a giant bar magnet.

The process is not completely understood. In fact, one study suggests the planet's mantle, which surrounds the core, also plays a role. The poles are always in flux. Since runway designations and other charting rely on such geomagnetic information, as the poles slide one way or another, adjustments have to be made.

And every so often, the field all-together flips on its head, turning the magnetic North Pole into the South Pole and vice versa. It last happened 780,000 years ago, and is predicted to occur again in about 1,500 years, but that's a big "maybe." The overall frequency is hard to predict - there was one period in Earth's history when the field didn't reverse for 30 million years. The flip doesn't happen in a pinch, though. Studies have suggested anywhere from 1,000 to 28,000 years are required to initiate and complete a reversal.

North Magnetic Pole Moving East Due to Core Flux   National Geographic - December 24, 2009

Earth's north magnetic pole is racing toward Russia at almost 40 miles (64 kilometers) a year due to magnetic changes in the planet's core, new research says. The core is too deep for scientists to directly detect its magnetic field. But researchers can infer the field's movements by tracking how Earth's magnetic field has been changing at the surface and in space. Now, newly analyzed data suggest that there's a region of rapidly changing magnetism on the core's surface, possibly being created by a mysterious "plume" of magnetism arising from deeper in the core. And it's this region that could be pulling the magnetic pole away from its long-time location in northern Canada, said Arnaud Chulliat, a geophysicist at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris in France.