The most detailed geological model shows Earth’s last 100 million years

Photo credit: University of Sydney

Climate, tectonics and time combine to form powerful forces that shape the face of our planet. Add to this the gradual shaping of the earth’s surface by rivers, and what appears to us as solid rock is constantly changing.

However, our understanding of this dynamic process has been sketchy at best.

Scientists today published new research revealing a detailed and dynamic model of the Earth’s surface over the past 100 million years.

In collaboration with scientists in France, geoscientists from the University of Sydney have published this new model in the journal Science.

It provides, for the first time, a high-resolution understanding of how today’s geophysical landscapes formed and how millions of tons of sediment poured into the oceans.

lead author dr Tristan Salles of the University of Sydney School of Geosciences said: “In order to be able to predict the future, we need to understand the past.

“If you’re looking for a continuous model of the interplay between river basins, global erosion, and sediment deposition in high resolution for the last 100 million years, it just doesn’t exist.

“So this is a big step forward. Not only is it a tool to help us study the past, but it will also help scientists understand and predict the future.”

Using a framework that incorporates geodynamics, tectonic and climatic forces with surface processes, the scientific team has presented a new high-resolution (up to 10 km) dynamic model of the last 100 million years, divided into frames of one million years.

Second author Dr. Laurent Husson of the Institut des Sciences de la Terre in Grenoble, France, said: “This unprecedented high-resolution model of the Earth’s recent past will provide geoscientists with a more comprehensive and dynamic understanding of the Earth’s surface.

“Crucially, it captures the dynamics of sediment transfer from land to the oceans in a way we haven’t been able to before.”

dr Salles said understanding the flow of terrestrial sediments in marine environments is critical to understanding ocean chemistry today.

“Given that ocean chemistry is changing rapidly due to human-caused climate change, a more complete picture may improve our understanding of the marine environment,” he said.

The model will allow scientists to test different theories about how the Earth’s surface will respond to climate changes and tectonic forces.

In addition, the research provides an improved model to understand how the transport of Earth’s sediments regulates the planet’s carbon cycle over millions of years.

‘Our results will provide scientists in other fields with a dynamic and detailed background to prepare and test hypotheses, such as in biochemical cycling or biological evolution.’

More information:
Tristan Salles, Hundred million years of landscape dynamics from catchment to global scale, Science (2023). DOI: 10.1126/science.add2541.

Provided by the University of Sydney

Citation: Most detailed geological model reveals Earth’s last 100 million years (March 3, 2023) Retrieved March 6, 2023 from .html

This document is protected by copyright. Except for fair trade for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is for informational purposes only.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *