Earth and How it changes

Formation of the Earth

The Earth is thought to have been formed about 4.6 billion years ago by collisions in the giant disc-shaped cloud of material that also formed the Sun. Gravity slowly gathered this gas and dust together into clumps that became asteroids and small early planets called planetesimals. These objects collided repeatedly and gradually got bigger, building up the planets in the Solar System, including the Earth.

The details of how the Earth formed are still being worked out. Scientists study meteorites and the oldest rocks on Earth to understand what happened in these earliest times in the Solar System.

Continental Drift

Continental drift is the movement of the Earth's continents relative to each other, thus appearing to "drift" across the ocean bed. The speculation that continents might have 'drifted' was first put forward by Abraham Ortelius in 1596. Evidence for the movement of continents on tectonic plates is now extensive. Similar plant and animal fossils are found around the shores of different continents, suggesting that they were once joined. The fossils of Mesosaurous, a freshwater reptile rather like a small crocodile, found both in Brazil and South Africa, are one example; another is the discovery of fossils of the land reptile Lystrosauras in rocks of the same age at locations in Africa, India, and Antarctica. There is also living evidence—the same animals being found on two continents. Some earthworm families are found in South America and Africa, for instance


Pangaea or Pangea was a supercontinent that existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras. It formed approximately 300 million years ago and then began to break apart after about 100 million years. Unlike the present Earth, much of the land mass was in the southern hemisphere. Pangaea was the first reconstructed supercontinent and it was surrounded by a super ocean, known as Panthalassa. The forming of supercontinents and their breaking up appears to have been cyclical through Earth's history. There may have been many others before Pangaea. The fourth-last supercontinent, called Columbia or Nuna, appears to have assembled in the period 2.0–1.8 Columbia/Nuna broke up and the next supercontinent, Rodinia, formed from the accretion and assembly of its fragments. Rodinia lasted from about 1.1 billion years ago (Ga) until about 750 million years ago, but its exact configuration and geodynamic history are not nearly as well understood as those of the later supercontinents, Pannotia and Pangaea.

Tectonic Plates

Tectonic plates move because they are floating on top of the liquid mantle. The mantle itself moves due to convection currents: hot rock rises, gives off some heat, then falls. This creates vast swirls of moving liquid rock under the crust of the earth, which jostles the plates of crust on top.
Nobody really knows the details of the convection cells. They're hard to study, since they're so deep.
But earthquakes are probably less about changes in the underlying convection, and more like sudden responses to strain. Plate tectonics occurs over periods of hundreds of thousands to millions of years. It doesn't all proceed evenly. Bits get stuck against each other, and when they give, you get a sudden jolt of a few tens of feet. There are 4 types of plate, collision plate, conservative plate, destructive plate and constructive plate.

The Future of the Tectonic Plates

Pangaea Ultima (also called Pangaea Proxima, Neopangaea, and Pangaea II) is a possible future supercontinent configuration. Consistent with the supercontinent cycle, Pangaea Ultima could occur within the next 249 million years. This potential configuration earned its name from its similarity to the previous Pangaea supercontinent.According to the Pangaea Ultima hypothesis, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans will continue to get wider until new subduction zones bring the continents back together, forming a future Pangaea. Most continents and microcontinents are predicted to collide with Eurasia, just as they did when most continents collided to Laurentia. Around 50 million years from now, North America is predicted to shift slightly west and Eurasia would shift to the east, and possibly even to the south, bringing Great Britain closer to the North Pole and Siberia southward towards warm, subtropical latitudes. Africa is predicted to collide with Europe and Arabia, closing the Mediterranean Sea (completely closing the Tethys Ocean (or Neotethys) and the Red Sea).

Comment Stream

2 years ago

A2, well done Oscar. A clear understanding of the concepts and the task. You could possibly include some images and clips to support your Tackk.

2 years ago

@DHSBGeography thankyou