A California paleontologist has created an interactive map that allows people to see how far their hometowns have moved over 750 million years of continental drift.
Ian Webster says, “That the history of Earth is longer than we can conceive, and the current arrangement of plate tectonics and continents is an accident of time. It will be very different in the future, and Earth may outlast us all.”
Webster built the map as a web application that sits on top of another map which visualizes geological models created by geologist and paleogeographer Christopher Scotese. Scotese’s models describe plate tectonic development since 750 million years ago, not long after green algae first evolved in the Earth’s oceans.
Webster’s site also utilizes GPlates, a software used by geologists to visualize plate tectonic reconstructions and associated data through geological time.
Webster’s map visualization lets users enter their location and then plugs that location into plate tectonic models. The result is that users can see where towns and cities were located hundreds of millions of years ago. For example, you can pretty much see where any city in the world was located on the Pangea super continent.
When searching a location on the map, the website’s 3D rotatable globe will point out where on Earth that area was located million of years ago. The map will even show users what dinosaurs used to live nearby in the area they search.
You can visit the full globe on Ian’s site by clicking in the Full Globe link in the above graphic or by following this link if your phone doesn’t show the above graphic: https://www.dinosaurpictures.org/ancient-earth/#0
GPlates and pyGPlates are both free software (also known as open-source software), licensed for distribution under the GNU General Public License (GPL), version 2.
GPlately is a Python package which enables the reconstruction of data through deep geological time (points, lines, polygons, and rasters), the interrogation of plate kinematic information (plate velocities, rates of subduction and seafloor spreading), the rapid comparison between multiple plate motion models, and the plotting of reconstructed output data on maps.
GPlates is funded by AuScope:
GPlates development by the EarthByte Project is part of the AuScope infrastructure-development programme. AuScope Ltd is a non-profit company formed to facilitate the implementation of a world-class infrastructure system for earth science, funded by the Australian Government under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).
You can visit the Dinosaur database here: https://dinosaurpictures.org/