September 22, 2013

The paleotectonic evolution of North America.

"The first map shows the land 510 million years ago, progressing from there... through the accretion and dissolution of Pangaea into the most recent Ice Age and, in the final image, North America in its present-day configuration."

Superimposing the familiar shapes of American states adds drama:



Oh, California! At the top of the link, you can see further back in time — 85 million years earlier than that to a nearly nonexistent pre-California. Looking at the series of maps, you're pushed to imagine what shapes lie ahead. Caged in our human-sized time frame, we like to think the drastic reconfigurations of the coastlines could be controlled if only we would live more virtuous lives, but in the larger scheme, change grinds on.

(Much more at the link.)

7 comments:

Paddy O said...

We go south for winter but take a very leisurely time about it.

Tarrou said...

I bet this only happened because dinosaurs hated the environment and were Republicans.

averagejoe said...

"if only we led more virtuous lives"- Yes and no. That's the AGW message from Gore and company, except that it should read "if only YOU led a more virtuous life". See, Al needs his mansions and jets and Escalade convoys in order to ensure that you follow his rules.

Big Mike said...

Damn! Once upon a time you really could get some oceanfront property in Arizona. Of course it was 130 Mya and those pesky T. Rex critters roaming around would be a bit of a bother.

YoungHegelian said...

The problem I have with the future projection maps is that they have no way of knowing where new continental plates will be added in the future. If one looks at the past maps of tectonic movement, new plates appear seemingly out of nowhere to add to the land masses. Some of the "new" land masses are caused by plates getting "bucked" above sea level by impacting other plates, but sometimes the Earth just belches up huge amounts of new land as magma deposits that continue for hundreds of thousands of years (e.g. the Siberian traps covered an area as large as the US in magma several kilometers deep). Here are links on the best known "traps", the Siberian & the Deccan.

The Godfather said...

"Old" science fiction, when it was actually a separate genre from swords and sorcery fantasy, was interesting (to me) in its efforts to imagine what the human future would be like. That was anywhere from decades to centuries to (occasionally) a couple of millenia into the future. But looking at the geologic past, as these maps do, reminds me that our imaginings cover very short time scales. We can reconstruct the past 500 million years, but we can't even imagine what 500 million AD would be like.

Alex D. Novak said...

Sometimes when trying to escape the caging of my human-sized time frame as a boomer, I reflect on how silly it is to think my generation is any more important than another. There must be a coming gratitude from subsequent generations that we are beginning to die off.