Monday, August 15, 2016
Visualizing Continental Drift
GPlates is a 3d animation which shows how the Earth has evolved over millions of years. The map shows the Earth's shifting plate tectonics from 240 million years ago up until the present day.
As the animation plays through you can watch how the post-Pangaea Earth has formed as that super-continent drifted apart. The current land mass is shown beneath the shifting tectonic plates. You can therefore observe how the positions of the continents and countries we know today have moved around over the centuries due to the rifts in plate tectonics.
GPlates includes an option to view the same animation on top of a 2d map. It also includes controls which allow you to adjust the speed of the animation playback.
If you want an idea about how the rifts in plate tectonics and continental drift has effected the Earth's continents then you should also check out 'What Did the World Look Like'. This interactive 3d globe from Dinosaur Pictures travels back 600 million years to the dawn of multi-cellular life on Earth.
Of course that's just the beginning, What Did the World Look Like actually allows you to view how our planet has looked throughout the entire history of life on Earth. Here's what the Earth looked like in the Jurassic era, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth:
Using What Did the Earth Look Like you can view 3d globes from throughout Earth's history. The site includes two menus, which allow you to change the era visualized on the interactive 3d globe. The menu at the top-middle of the page allows you to select an era by age. The menu at the top right allows you to select a view based on the stages of life on Earth and by geologic period.