Through the Ages – Down to Earth
In today’s terms, Planet Earth has seen an Extreme Makeover in its geological layout. Who would have believed that such massive changes could have occurred to reshape the landmasses of our planet so radically?
Throughout the millions of years that Planet Earth has existed the land has morphed and drifted to accommodate the 20 tectonic plates (jigsaw pieces) that shift across the surface of Earth. All this occurs in response to the subterranean activity deep within the Earth itself.
The earth’s plates (similar to the foundation of a house, although more like that of the Leaning Tower of Pisa) grate together in overlaps or even move apart. There are many regions of the planet that this occurrence transpires and within these areas there is much geological activity. Volcanos, earth quakes and thermal regions emerge and in these hot zones the change to the earth’s surface is more dramatic and obvious.
Now when we refer to hot zones, nothing is more befitting than the activity under the Earth’s exterior. You do not have to travel too far below the surface before things really start to warm up and at 120 miles (200km) down the temperature is an unbelievable 1,500°C (2,732°F). If you were able to take a closer look at how things look at this depth (without singeing your eyebrows), you would witness that the rocks would be white hot. However, due to the intense pressure deep down inside the planet the rocks remain non-fluid until much further.
When rock does eventually melt it is known as magma and this occurrence comes about somewhere in the 100 to 300 km (60 to 180 miles) depth range. Now magma is hotter and lighter than the rock surrounding it and so it takes a little upwards trip and on the way melts some of the surrounding rocks in it’s path. What happens if this magma travels up and beyond the Earth’s surface? LAVA, LAVA and more LAVA. And what you get is a volcano.
There are many types of volcano, but we are all familiar with the more classic images of the stereotypical volcano looming in the distance, better known as the Dome Volcano (or the really scary volcano).
Other types of volcano are either more obvious such as the Ash-cinder volcano which rises to great heights and looks very menacing, to the Fissure volcano which is low lying with gentle slopes and somewhat less intimidating.
Either way all these volcanic occurrences contribute to a change in land mass or are linked to the greater picture.
What has been going on around here?
Due to the riotous activity under the Earth’s skin, the surface of our planet looks very different from its near beginnings. It seems that Mother Nature dropped the vase and may have used inferior glue when sticking it back together. This combined with some major jiggling and rocking deep down, has transformed the Earth’s geological layout, with yet more to come.Lets go back, baack, baaack, baaaack………
220 Million Years Ago. There is only one land mass known as Pangaea. This one land sits soaking in a giant ocean named Panthalassa.
200 Million Years Ago. A little stretch of water known as the Tethys Sea, which sits between the north of Africa and Southern Europe decides to grow in size. The result sees a split in Pangaea, creating Gondwanaland (such a cool name for a country) and Laurasia.
135 Million Years Ago. Water, water everywhere. Gondwanaland splits into Africa and South America as the Atlantic region opens up. India takes an Easterly trip towards Asia. Things are looking very different.
10 Million Years Ago. Australia and Antarctica separate after many happy years together. While a little turbulence sends America on its way from Europe.
So you are able to see that there have been a great many changes to our planet and there are still many more to follow.
Time constantly alters our lands and this combined with the exaggerated and accelerated (man-made) process of environmental change, means that in the next 10 million years our planet will see even more transformation.
Mother Earth accommodates the changes that she creates. A little tweak and some minor adjustments. She balances the books and makes the process of evolution work. Man often thwarts her, but unlike all of man’s conquering successes, Mother Nature remains unbeaten and triumphant. Her power is yet to be fully appreciated and yet it is all there in the history books to be observed and held in awe.
Down to Earth she brings us and allows us the honour of time spent on the ever-shifting land that we call our planet.
Join us soon for another Through the Ages