Worked like a charm!!! Thanks, that was a lifesaver after pulling my hair out for a few days! Next up: mipmapping the surface noise on the GPU and switching the surface from normal mapping to relief mapping!
Just in case you're curious the algorithm basically uses this GPU gems piece on a planetary scale in a manner similar to CDLOD. It works extremely well for planetary LOD with just 2 passes (1 CPU, 1 GPU), able to push > 3 million tris on a couple year old GPU with no framerate dips and can be adjusted for older hardware by changing the value of a single constant. Morphing's a little tricky, though.