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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VI. Earth Life Emergence: Development of Body, Brain, Selves and Societies

1. Geosphere and Atmosphere

Lofta, Nastaran, et al. Centrality in Earthquake Multiplex Networks. Chaos. 28/063113, 2018. University of Zanjan, Iran and University of Sao Paulo physicists achieve a detailed global complex systems analysis of these spurious geological calamities. To reflect, out of this arduous planetary evolution and human history a collective, cumulative knowledge at last arises which then might be fed back to give better warnings, and maybe mitigate. What could its cosmic identity and purpose be?

Seismic time series has been mapped as a complex network, where a geographical region is divided into square cells that represent the nodes and connections are defined according to the sequence of earthquakes. In this paper, we map a seismic time series to a multiplex network, and characterize the evolution of the network structure in terms of the eigenvector centrality measure. We generalize previous works that considered the single layer representation of earthquake networks. Our results suggest that the multiplex representation captures better earthquake activity than methods based on single layer networks. We also verify that the regions with highest seismological activities in Iran and California can be identified from the network centrality analysis. The temporal modeling of seismic data provided here may open new possibilities for a better comprehension of the physics of earthquakes. (Abstract)

Mann, Daniel. On Patterned Ground. Science. 299/354, 2003. A report on how intricate, ever changing landscape patterns are being understood through complex systems theory.

The (geomorphology) field is experiencing a paradigm shift from a reductionist approach towards concepts such as universality and self-organization. (355)

Martin, Miguel Angel, et al. Fractal Modeling and Scaling in Natural Systems. Ecological Complexity. 6/3, 2009. An introduction to a special section as an update to the wealth of findings across nature, noted herein, from snowy surfaces and rainfall amounts to Amazonian meteorology and fishery biomass, that evidence the same scale invariant geometries and dynamics. A number of these papers about soil complexities are drawn from a series of PEDOFRACT international seminars, see, e.g., J. Ibanez, et al.

The development and application of fractal models has become an important part of the ongoing quest to quantify, analyze, and manage the complexity of natural systems. Such models can help to reveal underlying relationships between structure and function, provide a succinct representation of scaling properties, and improve parameterization of natural variability and heterogeneity. (219)

Martin, Miguel Angel, et al, eds. Scaling, Fractals and Diversity in Soils and Ecohydrology. Ecological Modelling. 182/3-4, 2005. An introduction to a dedicated issue on self-similar, invariant spatial and temporal geometries that characterize hydrated earth. An example studied is the Aegean islands.

Scaling relations in ecosystems can be interpreted as the result of self-organization. (220)

Matthews, Robert. And Now the Forecast: Cloudy with a Chance of Fractals. New Scientist. November 7, 2009. Whereby the 1920s climate models of British mathematician Lewis Fry Richardson that were graced by cascades of similar weather patterns are being rediscovered and confirmed by the latest satellite data. Indeed, multifractal power laws abound in repetitive scales from local rainfalls to planetwide currents. A prime technical reference cited in this regard is Shaun Lovejoy, et al. Atmospheric Complexity or Scale by Scale Simplicity? in Geophysical Research Letters (36/L36801, 2009), see also Lovejoy above.

Meng, Fanzhen, et al. Power Law Relations in Earthquakes from Microscopic to Macroscopic Scales. Nature Scientific Reports. 9/10705, 2019. University of Hong Kong, and Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan systems geologists provide a latest technical analysis of Earth shaking catastrophic events by way of self-similar complexity theories. As they become more common in China, Iran and the USA, these insights can aid better warning systems.

Understanding the physics of earthquakes is a crucial step towards improving their prediction accuracy. Scale invariance or fractal features are often reported in earthquakes, such as the size distribution, the spatial distribution of hypocenters, and the frequency of aftershocks. Here we assess whether other key parameters and quantities involved in earthquakes also conform to the power law. By analyzing a large amount of data collected from the laboratory experiments and field monitoring of earthquakes, we find that the crack density on the two sides of small scale fracture or large scale fault decreases with increasing distance following the power law, and the crack number-crack length distribution is also scale invariant like natural faults. (Abstract excerpt)

Murray, Brad and Mark Fonstad. Preface: Complexity (and Simplicity) in Landscapes. Geomorphology. 91/3-4, 2007. A topical issue which covers in part Power-Law Scaling, Emergent and Self Organized Behavior, and Catastrophes, Biology and Intentionality. How might it then collectively dawn upon us that a grand new nonlinear genesis universe is being revealed by the very soil of the earth?

The self-similarity or self-affinity of a landscape (including the extension of multifractality), detected and quantified by power-law scalings, suggest that the same dynamics – the same cause in this sense – produce similar effects across a wide range of scales. (174)

Neugebauer, Horst and Clemens Simmer, ed. Dynamics of Multiscale Earth Systems. Berlin: Springer, 2003. On the hierarchical repetition of geological forms and processes.

Nkono, Collin, et al. Fractal Analysis of Lineaments in Equatorial Africa: Insights on Lithospheric Structure. Open Journal of Geology. 3/157, 2013. A team of French and Belgian geoscientists, including Annick Lesne, describe an aerial photography technique as a novel perspective for studying geological strata in remote, ravaged regions such as Cameroon and the Central African Republic. By virtue of aviation and satellite imaging, along with computer analysis, spatial desert and plateau landscapes, and temporal histories to the Paleozoic, can be constructed that are not possible otherwise. And one cannot help but perceive a collaborative humanity who returns to study the fraught regions from whence homo sapiens came. Might such a worldwise progeny also be able to attain a palliative knowledge, akin to African organic wisdom, that could save and heal these war-torn lands. Indeed, as I write in April 2014, Nigeria has just sent a plea to the whole world to help find a way to release their peoples from its consuming ignorance and violence. Indeed, the same abilities can now be applied to study extraterrestrial planets.

In this paper, the complexity in the spatial distribution of the lineaments was investigated from on remote sensing topographic (SRTM DEM) and multispectral (Landsat) data. Lineaments in equatorial Africa were chosen to apply the fractal analysis methodology. The good correlations of the obtained data with some geophysical data from the same area allow that the complexity in the spatial distribution of the lineaments can give qualitative information on the interior of the earth (or on other planets). This method can provide a bridge between classical geology and geophysics, and particularly powerful for studying large and inaccessible regions. (Abstract)

As the geoid is a complementary source of information about the earth’s (planets) internal structure, and in areas where geological information are not abundant, the complexity in the spatial distribution of the lineaments can give the same information in a qualitative way. This approach can provide a bridge between classical geology and geophysics, and particularly powerful for studying large and inaccessible regions. The approach proposed is thus very effective in gathering basic information for exploration geology in remote areas on Earth and for investigations in planets. (165)

Peters, Ole and David Neelin. Critical Phenomena in Atmospheric Precipitation. Nature Physics. 2/5, 2006. From UCLA’s Climate Systems Interactions Group, mathematical quantifications that rainfall similarly conforms to and exemplifies nonlinear topologies and dynamics, as most folk already know. See also “Universality of Rain Event Size Distributions” by Peters, Neelin, et al in the Journal of Statistical Mechanics (P11030, 2011).

Critical phenomena occur near continuous phase transitions. As a tuning parameter crosses its critical value, an order parameter increases as a power law. At criticality, order-parameter fluctuations diverge and their spatial correlation decays as a power law1. In systems where the tuning parameter and order parameter are coupled, the critical point can become an attractor, and self-organized criticality (SOC) results. Here we argue, using satellite data, that a critical value of water vapour marks a non-equilibrium continuous phase transition to a regime of strong atmospheric convection and precipitation with correlated regions on scales of tens to hundreds of kilometres. Despite the complexity of atmospheric dynamics, we find that important observables conform to the simple functional forms predicted by the theory of critical phenomena. Our study indicates that the attractive quasi-equilibrium state, postulated long before SOC, is the critical point of a continuous phase transition and is thus an instance of SOC. (Abstract, 393)

Phillips, Colin and Douglas Jerolmack. Self-Organization of River Channels as a Critical Filter on Climate Signals. Science. 352/694, 2016. University of Minnesota and University of Pennsylvania earth systems scientists enter one more finding to evince that every domain of nature and society, in this case riverine phenomena, displays and is guided by such a common mathematical source.

Spatial and temporal variations in rainfall are hypothesized to influence landscape evolution through erosion and sediment transport by rivers. However, determining the relation between rainfall and river dynamics requires a greater understanding of the feedbacks between flooding and a river’s capacity to transport sediment. We analyzed channel geometry and stream-flow records from 186 coarse-grained rivers across the United States. We found that channels adjust their shape so that floods slightly exceed the critical shear velocity needed to transport bed sediment, independently of climatic, tectonic, and bedrock controls. The distribution of fluid shear velocity associated with floods is universal, indicating that self-organization of near-critical channels filters the climate signal evident in discharge. This effect blunts the impact of extreme rainfall events on landscape evolution. (Abstract)

Phillips, Jonathan. Soils as Extended Composite Phenotypes. Geoderma. 149/1-2, 2009. A University of Kentucky, Tobacco Road Research Team, geographer proposes that growing insights to earth’s grounded surface as formed by and exhibiting the same dynamic self-organization as everywhere else, along with systemic microbial presences and influences, merits its view as a viable “biomantle.” Indeed what "Geoderma" means. From Vladimir Vernadsky’s living matter to current biogeomorphologies, a true organismic, biosphere continuity for evolutionary life is revealed.

Several recent theories and conceptual frameworks in pedology, ecology, geomorphology, and evolutionary biology, taken together, suggest the notion that earth's soils are not just strongly influenced by biota, but represent selective pressures. These ideas point in the direction of many aspects of soils as expressions of the effects of genes through the effects of organisms (i.e., extended phenotypes). The cumulative, interacting, overlapping effects of these extended phenotypes as manifested in the soil represent an extended composite phenotype. If this is the case, then we should expect major changes in biological evolution to be reflected in major changes in the types of soils. (143) The notion of genetic signatures in soil morphology also has implications for the search for extraterrestrial life, and extends the notion of Earth as a set of tightly-coupled, densely interwoven systems. (143)

V. I. Vernadsky, a pioneer of biogeochemistry, saw the biosphere as a web of biogeochemical feedback mechanisms connecting organisms and environment in a single system. In his view, life has a natural tendency for expansion through intensification of biogeochemical cycles and natural selection favors individuals and species capable of increasing cycling of elements. (145) These ideas, together with those of the biosphere and soils as planetary skins or membranes which capture and transform energy, collectively point to a view of soils as reflecting the cumulative genetics effects of multiple generations of multiple organisms – soils as extended composite phenotypes. (150)

UK Faculty Website: Phillips is also interested in theory and methodology related to studying Earth systems as complex, nonlinear dynamical systems. He has developed, and continues to attempt to develop, new ideas and methods for complex systems analysis of rivers, soils, landscapes, and ecosystems. Teaching interests include introductory and upper-level physical geography, geomorphology, and biogeography. A majority of Phillips’ students grudgingly concede that he is not the worst professor they ever had.

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