Summary. Attempts to estimate palaeo-radii of the Earth, using palaeomagnetic data have necessarily been based on simplistic Earth models. It has been asserted that real geological processes are too complex to enable us to approach the problem quantitatively, and such attempts yield invalid results. We examine this and argue that, to the contrary, it appears that errors introduced by allowing for more realistic behaviour of the continents, e.g. ‘orange-peel effect’ and crustal extension, are smaller by an order of magnitude than the response of palaeomagnetic data to simplified expansion models.

From a qualitative argument, it is shown that the observed Late Palaeozoic and Early Mesozoic palaeomagnetic data are not what should be expected from an expanded Earth. We conclude that it appears unlikely that the Earth has expanded significantly since the Early Mesozoic.