So there has been a bit of “what if humans were the weird ones?” going around tumblr at the moment and Earth Day got me thinking. Earth is a wonky place, the axis tilts, the orbit wobbles, and the ground spews molten rock for goodness sakes. What if what makes humans weird is just our capacity to survive? What if all the other life bearing planets are these mild, Mediterranean climates with no seasons, no tectonic plates, and no intense weather?
What if several species (including humans) land on a world and the humans are all “SCORE! Earth like world! Let’s get exploring before we get out competed!” And the planet starts offing the other aliens right and left, electric storms, hypothermia, tornadoes and the humans are just … there… counting seconds between flashes, having snowball fights, and just surviving.
The lava lake at Puu O’o in Gif form. Love it. Lava rises up, quenches at the surface to a dark layer, and forms plates that slide around on the lava below and expand. You can even see the lava lake versions of triple junctions and transform faults if you look closely.
Previously Unknown Precambrian Microcontinent May Have Existed in the Indian Ocean Ancient Fragments of Zircon Tell the Tale
[The following story - from February 25, 2013 - has been covered by all the major online news sources. Here’s one much closer to the actual site, one that doesn't get re-blogged as often.]
The Telegraph (Calcutta, India)
Scientists have discovered a hidden microcontinent, a chunk of ancient land that hugged India 750 million years ago but now remains submerged in the Indian Ocean beneath Mauritius.
A new study suggests that the microcontinent was sandwiched between southern India and Madagascar for several hundred million years before tectonic and volcanic activities broke it apart, and an ocean emerged to submerge it.
Geologists have used sand grains from the beaches of Mauritius and gravity measurements in the Indian Ocean region to reconstruct plate tectonics and show that India’s Lakshadweep islands and Mauritius were both once part of this microcontinent. The scientists have named the microcontinent Mauritia, and have described their findings today in the journal Nature Geoscience. “This is an unexpected discovery, never proposed before,” Lewis Ashwal, a senior geologist and a study team member from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, told The Telegraph.
The scientists found that minerals called zircons in the beach sand had ages between 1,970 million years and 690 million years, an indication that the zircons were part of ancient continental crust brought to the surface by plumes of lava.
The researchers suggest the 750 million-year-old continental crust of Mauritia was once part of an extensive belt of high mountains — similar to present-day Andes — that extended from Rajasthan through the Seychelles and Madagascar into Mauritia.
“This belt would have been along the margins of the ancient supercontinent called Rodinia which broke apart to form Gondwana,” Ashwal said. Mauritia was likely exposed on the Earth’s surface between 750 million years and 100 million years.
Pacific Rim (2013) dir Guillermo del Toro
When I was a kid, whenever I’d feel small or lonely… I’d look up at the stars. Wondered if there was life up there. Turns out I was looking in the wrong direction. When alien life entered our world it was from deep beneath the Pacific Ocean. A fissure between two tectonic plates. A portal between dimensions. The Breach.