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Earth’s Changing Surface Mapped By Scientists For The First Time

Scientists have created the first map of Earth's surface changes during the last 100 million years.

Earth’s changing surface over the past 100 million years has been mapped by scientists for the first time.

It shows the rocks that lie under our feet – and how they have shaped the planet since the age of the dinosaurs.

The detailed chart sheds fresh light on global warming, says the international team.

Change in elevation over Greenland. The newly created earth map charts its changing surface, demonstrating how the rocks beneath our feet have formed the world since the time of the dinosaurs. UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP/GETTY IMAGES

It could also help companies find exploitable resources – such as minerals and oil.

Lead author Dr. Tristan Salles, of the University of Sydney, said: “To predict the future, we must understand the past.

“But our geological models have only provided a fragmented understanding of how our planet’s recent physical features formed.

“If you look for a continuous model of the interplay between river basins, global-scale erosion and sediment deposition at high resolution for the past 100 million years, it just doesn’t exist.

“So, this is a big advance. It’s not only a tool to help us investigate the past but will help scientists understand and predict the future.”

Computer simulations depict deposition of sediments – and the complete erosion of landscapes.

Climate, tectonics and time combine to create powerful forces that craft the face of our world.

Gradual sculpting by rivers means what to us seems solid rock is constantly altering.

Understanding the dynamic process has at best been patchy – until now.

High resolution images described in the journal Science show how geological features were born as millions of tons of debris spewed into the oceans.

Dramatic computer simulations are broken into frames of a million years.

Co-author Dr. Laurent Husson, of the Institute of Earth Sciences in Grenoble, France, said: “This unprecedented high-resolution model of Earth’s recent past will equip geoscientists with a more complete and dynamic understanding of the Earth’s surface.

“Critically, it captures the dynamics of sediment transfer from the land to oceans in a way we have not previously been able to.”

Flow of terrestrial sediment to marine environments is vital to comprehend present-day ocean chemistry.

Dr. Salles said: “Given that ocean chemistry is changing rapidly due to human-induced climate change, having a more complete picture can assist our understanding of marine environments.”

It will allow scientists to test different theories as to how the Earth’s surface will respond to changing climate and tectonic forces.

Nightime view of the earth from Space, showing Africa and Europe. 2016 NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data from Miguel Roman, NASA. UNIVERSAL HISTORY ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

Further, the research provides an improved model to understand how the transportation of Earth sediment regulates the planet’s carbon cycle over millions of years.

Added Dr. Salles: “Our findings will provide a dynamic and detailed background for scientists in other fields to prepare and test hypotheses, such as in biochemical cycles or in biological evolution.”


Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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