Watch How Continents Moved Over 100 Million Years in Video â Mapped by Scientists as Never Before
The last 100 years of continental movement have recently been calculated by scientists and illustrated in a 23-second video, down to an astonishing 10-kilometer resolution.
The short .gif explains so much of how our world came to be in such a short time span, most notably how Africa has changed over time.
There are certain concepts at the bedrock of our geographical understanding of why the globe looks the way it does, for example, that the Indian subcontinent is on a slow-motion collision course with the Eurasian continent, and that this created the Himalayas.
However, it’s difficult to imagine these massive, literally world-changing events simply by looking at a static 2D image of the Earth.
“If you look for a continuous model of the interplay between river basins, global-scale erosion, and sediment deposition at high resolution for the past 100 million years, it just doesn’t exist,” said lead author of a paper presenting the video, Dr. Tristan Salles of the University of Sydney.
Salles’ model and illustration not only take into account continental drift and plate tectonics, but sediment deposition, erosion, and other geologic and hydrologic forces as well.
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In the second part of the video illustration, the blue shades on the continents show the rates of sediment deposition contrasted with erosion, and total discharge of river flows as a way to help scientists and students comprehend how water changes the shape of the globe.
“So, this is a big advance. It’s not only a tool to help us investigate the past but will help scientists understand and predict the future.”
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The first part measures how the movement of the continents changes the elevation of global topography. Take a look here at the changing shape of Africa, notably how West Africa is an early addition.
Also key to the evolution of that part of the world is the tugging of what would become the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula away from the central African basin, a phenomenon that formed the Great Rift Valley with its glorious volcanic features we see today.
The land paths this event created allowed one to travel overland from the farthest tip of Asia to the bottom of Africa—a change which if it did not take place, would have left North and South America unpopulated by Homo sapiens.
WATCH the video below…
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