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550, 000, 000 Years of Plate Tectonics

November 19, 2011

Curse you, fluffy water!

This week marked the first snowfall of the season for my sleepy hometown of Brantford, Ontario. The advancing signs of winter, combined with the attacks by the tilted Earth axis and the purveyors of daylight savings time on the length of our day, drives pretty well everyone to become cold, cranky messes. But as I was sitting in a coffee shop, festering in my first world problems, a twitter conversation between Brian Romans and Matthew Garcia reminded me that it wasn’t always this way.

No, my friends. Brantford, it seems, used to be a lush, subtropical, coastal paradise. One where, if you were lucky, you might have seen the planet’s first tree, or the first steps of a timid tetrapod as it clawed its way to land.

Just 385, 000, 000 years ago, Brantford, Ontario was right……………………………………………………..



That white line in the centre of the image is the equator, and the happy red dot is where I could have been relaxing on the beach right now. The creator of this image, Ron Blakey of Colorado Plateau Geosystems Inc., was kind enough to leave the faint ghost of the current geography on the map, making it surprisingly fun to see where your home would have been way back in the day.

But as it turns out, that specific image, of Devonian paleogeography, was not the only such picture created by dear Dr. Blakey. Oh no, there are DOZENS of pictures of North America alone.

And what is the only reasonable course of action when presented with such beautiful scientific imagery? Why, set it to some sweet acoustic guitar, of course.

The images created by Dr. Blakey are not spaced at regular temporal intervals, but thanks to some simple math the animation should be a scientifically accurate representation of the changing face of our little blue planet.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 30, 2011 11:08 pm

    Thanks for this post. I like how you told it from the perspective of your hometown. I made my kids laugh with the Angry BBQ photo, too! The video is great, too. Very much enjoyed this.

    I am paying “blog calls” to each @scio12 attendee to say “Hi” and give your blog a shoutout on twitter (I’m @sciencegoddess). I look forward to seeing you again in January!

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