Ocean Tides

600-mph Ocean-Going Ships

Ocean Tides, which are 21-inch high hills of 18 trillions of tons of water, must cross the oceans at around 1,000 mph

Current Understanding of Ocean Tides is that two Moon-and-Sun-caused 21-inch-tall Tide waves pass entirely around the Earth every 24 hours and 50 minutes. At the Equator, that means that each 18 trillion ton tide must travel (westward) at almost exactly 1,000 mph or 1,700 kmh! However, there are well known frictional drag effects on the bottom of any water body which slows that down, and it is known that in the deep ocean (around 11,000 feet deep) the fastest water can flow is around 750 mph. Say, for a moment that water IS flowing (westward) across the Pacific along the Equator, at 1,000 mph or even at 750 mph. At one moment, that 18 trillion ton hill of water is centered over 135°W Longitude, from Antarctica to Alaska. Three hours later, that 18 trillion tons of water is over the 180° Longitude, 3000 miles to the west. That seems to unavoidably mean that 18 TRILLION TONS OF WATER moved westward at around 1,000 mph speed!

The premise at hand is to put ANYTHING in front of such a flow, and it WOULD get PUSHED ALONG, at amazing speed! In other words, what if you opened up a "giant underwater sail" and spread it out to be pushed by such fast moving tidal water. Couldn't that sail EASILY pull a full-sized Ocean Liner or an Oil Tanker (by a long cable) (westward) at 600 mph or faster?

If not, then WHY not?

When Research ships lower Research Nansen Bottles deep into the oceans, none have ever suddenly been swept away by ferocious westward water flows. So NO Research has ever detected 1000 mph or even 750 mph or even 50 mph ocean water flows, from ANY driving force.

So, as of yet, there is no evidence, either way, regarding spectacularly fast ocean water flows. But maybe no one had ever searched for them! What if, halfway down to a deep ocean floor, there IS some sort of very fast moving westward water flow?

For centuries, we have all known about the ocean tides due to the gravitational effect of the Moon and Sun acting on the Earth and its oceans. Every 24 hours and 50 minutes, two 'domes' of high tide and two 'troughs' of low tide pass through each ocean. Consider that we examine the Pacific Ocean. We will also consider a Spring Tide where the gravitational effects of the Moon and Sun add, 0.367 meter plus 0.155 meter in height to result in 0.522-meter (or 21") high tide crossing the ocean.

At one point in this sequence, we have a long dome of water, entirely up and down 135° West Longitude, nearly all the way from Antarctica to Alaska. Three hours later, that tidal dome will have MOVED AWAY (to the West) and will now be along 180° Longitude, which is 1/8 of the way around the Earth, or about 5,000 kilometers to the west.

We think we know what happens BUT IT IS NOT POSSIBLE!

When the tidal dome is centered over 135° W Longitude, there IS a definable amount of extra mass of water there. The volume of this (incompressible) tidal bulge is about 1.8 * 1013 cubic meters. Each cubic meter has a mass of about 1 metric tonne, so the whole tidal bulge must be about 18 trillion tonnes of water.

The standard understanding is that all that mass of water MOVES 5,000 km to the west during the next three hours to become the tidal bulge which will be at that Longitude at that time. Otherwise, how could that enormous mass of water LEAVE 135° W Long. to ARRIVE at 180° Long., in just three hours?

This appears to claim that all those 18 trillions of tonnes of water had to move at around 1700 km/hr or at about the speed of sound! But on the surface, we see very minimal water velocity to the westward. At the ocean bottom, we know that water is only minimally flowing sideways, or else it would rapidly erode the entire ocean bottom continuously.

Is this then implying that at some depth, there has to be ferocious westward water flow? But then why don't Research Nansen Bottles suddenly get dragged sideways at 1000 km/hr or 1700 km/hr, at some specific depth, during each water sampling?

If there WERE some depth of water, which is moving westward at 1000 km/hr, wouldn't we have some very efficient ships available? Instead of constantly burning massive amounts of diesel fuel to plod along at 25 knots, shouldn't it be possible to LOWER large “sails” down into such a westward flowing tidal flow, to "drag" even large ships along at 800 km/hr, faster than airliners fly and without burning any fuel?

Obviously, that is not possible. WHY?

If trillions of tons of water are flowing westward due to the westward movement of the oceans' tides due to the Moon's gravitation, then WHY couldn't we just "tag along"?

We certainly DETECT the tidal bulge of water that "appears" at each Longitude with the ocean tides, twice every day. And we know how massive and incompressible water is. HOW does the main ocean tide travel around the earth to keep up with the Moon?

The traditional understanding of all this always describes that the ocean tides significantly LAG behind the Moon! And a frictional drag between the ocean tide and the seafloor is described as being the cause of the Earth's rotation very slowly slowing down. The length of our day is described as becoming about 22 seconds longer after each million years. But when the actual calculations are done, something seems to be fishy! The Angular Momentum of the Earth and the Kinetic Energy of its rotation can easily be calculated. But the "frictional drag" between the seafloor and ocean tide water simply does not seem capable of making the observed and predicted changes in our rotation!

I have studied this matter for many years. I think I have come up with an entirely new and odd explanation! VIRTUALLY ALL of the observed ocean tides are NOT ocean tides at all but EARTH tides! If the Earth's Crust distorted and rose by 0.5 meter due to the gravitational attraction of the Moon and Sun, then the water in that part of the ocean would SEEM to have gotten deeper, but the entire ocean might just have stayed the same water depth and simply been LIFTED UP. After all, the density of the Earth's Crust is much greater than the density of water. Virtually NO lateral movement of massive water would then be necessary, only relatively SMALL amounts that would account for the Bay of Fundy and other localized tidal phenomenon which we make Tide Tables for. Even then, it seems like there must still be a tiny percent of ocean tides that are due to actual lateral movement of the water following the Moon (and Sun). that may still be trillions of tons of ocean water flowing westward at amazing velocities. If that is so, there might still be some way to lower sails into the oceans to drag boats and ships westward at extreme speeds!

In any event, it seems that some major error must exist in current understanding of the Tides. In order that science might advance, we need to figure out what is wrong and how to correct the reasoning.


This presentation was first placed on the Internet in Sept 2012.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from the University of Chicago