If you know where things used to be, you can find them today.
January 3, 2016 7:45 PM   Subscribe

 
This is fascinating! The first reproduction showing the plates as we know them now, and then moving back through time is both hypnotic and one of those things that makes me realise a lot of what I imagined about life on my continent in the distant past is wrong. And New Zealand, you young whipper-snapper, it's past your bedtime.
posted by Thella at 8:17 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Psh, groundbreaking technology is unnecessary: Ovoid.
posted by axiom at 8:34 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Literally groundbreaking.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:57 PM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


It sounds like a jigsaw puzzle except really hard because the pieces are moving through time itself and if you look closely, each piece is somehow really made of bits of other pieces.
posted by polymodus at 9:09 PM on January 3, 2016


Wow, thanks for posting this. I have been outside the field for a long time, but I remember back in grad school thinking that it was a shame that better reconstructions of paleogeography weren't available (outside of what I imagine are very nice proprietary models the oils companies keep). It's nice to see this being done, and it's also nice to see such good writing about science. I especially liked the part about the scientist analyzing 14,500 faultily-cataloged core samples in three months. Science isn't always so glamorous, but that kind of scholarship is so important to understanding something so elusive as deep time.
posted by Maxwell's demon at 9:16 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Pity he didn't mention Marie Tharp , whose work was pivotal in getting acceptance for plate tectonics.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:18 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Acceptance? I used to work with a guy who flat-out rejected plate tectonics as lunacy.
posted by GuyZero at 10:25 PM on January 3, 2016


This is neat. I'm trying to figure out which era would make it the easiest to visit the most continents - this also needs to be mapped against when they were still discrete enough to be separate, I guess?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:31 PM on January 3, 2016


I am sure that somewhere in Southern California there is a surgeon who can take a billion years off the planet, no problem.
posted by kinnakeet at 3:52 AM on January 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


GuyZero: "Acceptance? I used to work with a guy who flat-out rejected plate tectonics as lunacy."

How could they move? With the Earth being flat the way it is.
posted by Splunge at 6:18 AM on January 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Expanding Earth. It is just a theory, but Warren Carey was a brilliant geologist, and his books are well worth readiing. The last time I was in the geology library at Stanford they had two of his books on the shelves and neither one had ever been checked out.
posted by bukvich at 8:18 AM on January 4, 2016


Plate tectonic illustrations always amaze me. They're one part map porn and one part "damn planets are amazing. " this is great.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:24 AM on January 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


How could they move? With the Earth being flat the way it is.

He did not believe in a flat earth, but his theory was that most major geological features we attribute to plate tectonics can instead be attributed to erosion over huge time periods. I never pressed him on nuances like undersea subduction trenches etc.
posted by GuyZero at 8:30 AM on January 4, 2016


This is stunning.
posted by odinsdream at 8:40 AM on January 4, 2016


I liked the note that the Scottish Highlands and Appalachians are basically connected considering the Scots-Irish migration history in the US (though I believe the Scots-Irish were originally from the Lowlands, not Highlands).
posted by symbioid at 9:02 AM on January 4, 2016


What a great use for machine learning -- we can't tell the difference between these two chunks of basalts, but the robots can*. Yay robots.

*with 75% accuracy
posted by puffyn at 10:01 AM on January 4, 2016


An earlier version of this data was in the later versions of EA 3D Atlas in the late 1990s on Mac and PC.
One of the product's globes had a time-slider you could drag to go back in time and see the continents' positions at various points in geological history. It was cool to drag it back and forth and see India colliding with the rest of Asia at speed and recently (geologically speaking) forming the Himalayas.
posted by w0mbat at 10:26 AM on January 4, 2016


This was fantastic. I always wondered why we couldn't just keep running the timeline backwards to see what was around pre-Pangea. Now, we are.
posted by Hactar at 11:31 AM on January 4, 2016


"If you know where things used to be, you can find them today," said someone who had never lost their keys.
posted by tivalasvegas at 2:04 PM on January 4, 2016


Generally speaking, continents cannot make abrupt, jerky movements (although, as Scotese says, “every once in a while … wham!”)

What are some of the every-once-in-a-while whams he mentions? I always hear mention of the Indian subcontinent's jetpack speediness, but that seems more like an every-once-in-a-while speed limit violation. I want to know about these whams!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 3:30 PM on January 4, 2016


Appropriately I suppose, the model videos always bring to mind time-lapse footage of ice floes.
posted by lucidium at 4:48 PM on January 4, 2016


late afternoon dreaming hotel: "Generally speaking, continents cannot make abrupt, jerky movements (although, as Scotese says, “every once in a while … wham!”)

What are some of the every-once-in-a-while whams he mentions? I always hear mention of the Indian subcontinent's jetpack speediness, but that seems more like an every-once-in-a-while speed limit violation. I want to know about these whams!
"

Pacific Northwest earthquake.
posted by Splunge at 5:37 PM on January 4, 2016


Thanks for the link, but I got the impression he was talking about something other than high magnitude earthquakes. On rereading, maybe he wasn't (it seemed like he was talking about continental motion at a very large scale, not a localized megathrust or other earthquakes). I live in a Very Large Fault Zone, so talk of big events from science types always piques my interest.

lucidium, it's crazy to me that that time lapse all takes place in one day!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:50 PM on January 5, 2016


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