antarctica’s past

or so goes the current theory.  theories are only metaphors at their very best, so don’t get lost in it.

it started out as a tropical paradise, when it was part of theoretical gondwanaland.  back when i was in college, the head of the school of environmental sciences was dead set against this theory, and for our final exam he had us ‘prove’ that the new theory was wrong.  this was the university of virginia, and even in 1977 some people were still resistant to what seems obvious to every second grader – the earth’s landmasses fit together in one big splotch of an island.

there is coal in the transantarctic mountains.  they’ve found oil and gas as well, and it’s only a matter of time before someone strikes gold.

from polar discovery. click to see it animated.

so, what does this mean for my pirate novel?  well, if it happened once, it could happen again.  in fact, there’s a theory that says the continents break up and form repeatedly over time.  long time.  let’s see if i can find it in the research i read the other day and then failed to note…

yeah, and the sea levels fluctuate, being lower when the continents are all together, and higher when they’re apart.  here’s a quote:

There are two types of global earth climates: Icehouse and Greenhouse. Icehouse is characterized by frequent continental glaciations and severe desert environments. We are now in the icehouse phase, moving towards Greenhouse. Greenhouse is characterized by warm climates. Both reflect the supercontinent cycle.

  • Icehouse Climate
    • Continents moving together
    • Sea level low due to lack of seafloor production
    • Climate cooler, arid
    • Associated with Aragonite seas
    • Formation of Supercontinents
  • Greenhouse Climate
    • Continents dispersed
    • Sea level high
    • High level of sea floor spreading
    • Relatively large amounts of CO2 production at oceanic rifting zones
    • Climate warm and humid
    • Associated with Calcite seas

Periods of Icehouse Climate: Much of Neoproterozoic, Late Paleozoic, Late Cenozoic.

Periods of Greenhouse Climate: Early PaleozoicMesozoic-Early Cenozoic.

and here’s a lovely picture of what antarctica would look like without ice, showing all the lakes and rivers, and the parts of the continent that are currently below sea level.


About jeanne

artist, grandma, alien

Posted on March 1, 2010, in antarctica, research and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Dr. J. Bennett Jasmin

    The Pier Reis Map SEEMS to show the continent of Antarctica without the ice matt—all 20 meters of it. Yet the research is consistent, and the period when the pole was subtropical was in the remote past, far too long ago for even our most apelike ancestors to have seen it. And—even if they had—they didn’t have the manual dexterity to execute such a map, much less the intellect necessary to take an interest in geology. Any thoughts?

    • when you say all 20 meters of it, the current ice mat is more like a mile to two miles thick. if geological processes do not proceed as we assume they do, it’s conceivable that the ‘remote past’ wasn’t all that long ago. i would never assume that apelike ancestors made a map like that. it seems to me that your thinking is full of assumptions that have not been questioned and might be challenged by an alternative view of how things are.

      • James B. Jasmin

        You–it would seem–misread my post. I didn’t say or assume that our ancestors made such a map. The opposite; I said they could NOT have made such a map. We know the date of the Pier Reis map, and S.B. Leaky (I believe) found the oldest humanoid, dated (Lucy, in Africa) about 3,000,000 years ago. You did make one thing clear, and it helped. The “remote past” may not have been that long ago. The poles have shifted, and they’ll do so again, no doubt. Aside from coal, oil and gas there have been fossilized subtropical plant imprints recovered in layers of shale in the Antarctic. So your Professor was ignoring the evidence. It would be interesting to know the lineage and / or history of the geologic info that came into the hands of that Turkish map maker. Apologies on the ice mat error. Dr. jbj

  2. Reblogged this on The Wizard.

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