Many things have changed on Earth during the last billion years of its existence. The land divided into the seven continents that we’re all aware of, life evolved in the extraordinary diversity of 8.7 million species, humans managed to go into outer space and build artificial intelligence, and much more. The first complex forms of life even began to evolve about one billion years ago.
Planetary evolution implies that tectonic plates are crisscrossing atop the ooze of our planet’s kernel. Business Insider reveals that geoscientists from the University of Sidney reconstructed how landmasses and oceans changed during the last billion years. You can see those changes animated in the video below:
We can see green continents lumbering across oceans represented in white. The color lines indicate various types of boundaries that separate the tectonic plates. Red triangles indicate convergent boundaries (plates moving together), grey-green curves indicate plates sliding sideways past each other, and blue-purple lines represent divergent boundaries (plates splitting apart).
Moving at very low speed
Sabin Zahirovic, who’s a University of Sydney geologist who co-authored the new study, explains just how slow the plates move:
These plates move at the speed fingernails grow, but when a billion years is condensed into 40 seconds, a mesmerizing dance is revealed.
Dietmar Müller, another co-author of the study, declared in a press release:
Simply put, this complete model will help explain how our home, planet Earth, became habitable for complex creatures.
The plates move atop the mantle and moving around while hot and less dense material from the depths of the Earth rise towards the crust. Also, colder and denser material sinks towards the core.
There’s no telling how the process of continents shifting will end, as it continues even today. Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and it still has a long time to live and go through a lot of changes.