The Plate Tectonic Evolution of the Earth Over 500 Million Years: Animated Video Takes You from Pangea, to 250 Million Years in the Future

Christo­pher R. Scotese, a geol­o­gist affil­i­at­ed with North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty, has cre­at­ed an ani­ma­tion show­ing “the plate tec­ton­ic evo­lu­tion of the Earth from the time of Pangea, 240 mil­lion years ago, to the for­ma­tion of Pangea Prox­i­ma, 250 mil­lion years in the future.” The blurb accom­pa­ny­ing the video on Youtube adds:

The ani­ma­tion starts with the mod­ern world then winds it way back to 240 mil­lion years ago (Tri­as­sic). The ani­ma­tion then revers­es direc­tion, allow­ing us to see how Pangea rift­ed apart to form the mod­ern con­ti­nents and ocean basins. When the ani­ma­tion arrives back at the present-day, it con­tin­ues for anoth­er 250 mil­lion years until the for­ma­tion of the next Pangea, “Pangea Prox­i­ma”.

Accord­ing to an arti­cle pub­lished by NASA back in 2000, Scote­se’s visu­al­iza­tion of the future is some­thing of an edu­cat­ed “guessti­mate.”  “We don’t real­ly know the future, obvi­ous­ly,” he says. “All we can do is make pre­dic­tions of how plate motions will con­tin­ue, what new things might hap­pen, and where it will all end up.” You can see his pre­dic­tions play out above.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Map Shows Where Today’s Coun­tries Would Be Locat­ed on Pangea

Paper Ani­ma­tion Tells Curi­ous Sto­ry of How a Mete­o­rol­o­gist The­o­rized Pan­gaea & Con­ti­nen­tal Drift (1910)

View and Down­load Near­ly 60,000 Maps from the U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey (USGS)

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