Hiking the Transgondwanan Supermountains

Once upon a time in the Neoproterozoic, there was (maybe) an 8,000 km by 1,000 km mountain range that stretched across the half-supercontinent of Gondwana – that’s slightly longer than, and twice as thick as, the modern Andes. Those mountains lived for a quarter of a billion years, all the while dumping sand and dust into the oceans. When you wanted to go somewhere in Gondwana, you had to walk uphill both ways (that’s the topographic signature of life, you see – before the evolution of land plants everything was uphill both ways).

The rest of the story is a doozy – it involves all our funny-bodied friends from the Cambrian Explosion. But I’m going to refer you all to Joe Meert, who had a much timelier writeup of the actual research. Because the other intersection between geology and life is that sometimes, various spores and pollens will attempt to fertilize a geologist’s nose, so that she needs to take some antihistamines and go to sleep instead of telling stories to the Internet.

Trackbacks & Pings

  1. The Accretionary Wedge #3: Between Rock and a Squishy Face, Geology and Life « The Accretionary Wedge on 19 Nov 2007 at 10:32 pm

    […] a related post from earlier this year, brought to my attention by Yami from Green Gabbro, Joseph from the blog Science, AntiScience and Geology discusses research suggesting that the […]


  1. marthe glad wrote:

    I like your blog. I’d like it more if i was<a scienceperson. I’ll come back :)

    staccato writing as pc is on floor, while i’m in bed.

  2. Lab Lemming wrote:

    Dude, what the fuck! Tell Professor Dietrich that he needs to get out more- perhaps a trips to the GREAT BARRIER REEF might do him some good.

    I’ll repeat that, for the benefit of anyone who didn’t read the first linked article.

    The guy who got a nature paper by saying that “there are no landforms that can exist only in the presence of life” needs to spend time on a REEF. Or perhaps an atoll. After all, before corals evolved, bacteria have only been building them for 3 billion years.

  3. Tina Anderson wrote:

    Where did this guy get his information from? It seems like he has no idea about landforms that can only exist when life is present. I guess he never heard of a reef.

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