Friday Headlines, January 8, 2016
THE LATEST IN THE GEOSCIENCES
Not an H-bomb
Seeing the Earth a billion years ago.
North Korea is claiming that it has now successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. Such a detonation would be expected to be much more powerful than their previous nuclear tests. However, seismic data from China show that this blast was no more powerful than any of their other tests (2006, 2009, and 2013), suggesting that either the test was not as successful as North Korea claims or that (more likely) they did not detonate a hydrogen bomb at all.
We have been able to use what we know of ages of the sea floor and our understanding of plate tectonics to go back half a billion years and reconstruct where the modern continents might have been. At that time, all the Earth’s major land masses were in one giant continent called Pangaea.
It’s known that prior to Pangaea the continents were separate as they are now, and before that there was an earlier supercontinent called Rodinia. But what Rodinia looked like is not as clear as our understanding of Pangaea.
Scientists have now created a computer model to show the motion of the continents and can go back to reconstruct Rodinia, its breakup, and the subsequent formation of Pangaea.
This article is particularly interesting because of its discussion of the history of the development of the modern theory of plate tectonics. Well worth a quick read if you’re interested in the history of geology.