8 Processes of Continents and Ocean Formation
Continents and oceans are forms of the Earth’s crust. The shape of the Earth’s surface consists of land and waters. In this case, the continent is a form of land while the ocean is a form of its waters. Has it ever crossed your mind about the origin of the formation of continents and also the oceans on the Earth?
Apart from the question, it turns out that ancient scientists have been very concerned about this. Even scientists study and also conduct research on the formation of oceans and continents. Did you know that the shape of the surface of the ancient Earth is not the same as today?
Previously the continent was not as it is today, which only hit seven, but only one in the form of a large terrestrial ecosystem and was named Pangea. In the past, there was only one ocean which was very large, not fragmented as it is now. On this occasion, we will discuss the history of the formation of oceans and continents.
History of the Formation of Continents and Oceans
In the past, since the first time the Earth was formed, the appearance of the Earth is not what it looks like today. Currently, we know that there are 7 continents and 4 oceans in the world, but they were not like this before. Oceans and continents undergo a long process to form what they are now. It is difficult indeed to explain how this process happened considering that modern humans appeared on Earth long after the period of dynamism and ancient humans on Earth.
So if you would like to do research, you have to flash back, find out the evidence, and link it to the real conditions that exist on the Earth. There was a scientist who had examined the history of the Earth; he is Alfred Wagener who revealed the theory of continental formation.
Regarding the process of forming our continent, we will be guided by the theory of Alfred Wagener. Wagener’s theory is also called the Continent Shift Theory. According to this theory, the process of continents formation is as follows:
- About approximately 300 million years ago on this Earth, it’s only in the form of large land mass called Pangea or Continent of Pangea.
- Over time, due to the motion of the Earth’s plates and other factors, the continent of Pangea was divided into two, called Laurasia (north) and Gondwana (south). The process of breaking this Pangea continent occurred around 135 million years ago.
- Then the continent of Laurasia continued to move north away from Gondwana and is now the continent of North America.
- The Gondwana continent was divided into several continents, including:
- The west continues to shift westward to form South America
- The eastern part continues to shift to the east to form the African continent
- The small part in the east continues to shift towards the northeast to form India.
- One more part is split into two, one continues to move to the northeast and the other continues to move to the south level.
- Then those continents still move and North America joins one with South America.
- Eurasia forms the European continent and Asia.
- The fragments that moved to the south just kept going south to form the Antarctic continent.
- The fragment that leads to the northeast forms the continent of Australia.
Now that would be some long journey of the continent, which initially had only one very large form, Pangea, which eventually formed a continent with a number of seven. From the information above, we can conclude that this division and shift in continents signifies that every time the continent or land we occupy is moving even though we don’t feel it directly. Until now our continent or land continues to move. In fact, it does not rule out the possibility that one day one continent will rejoin the other continents.
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After knowing the history of continental formation, what about the ocean? Basically the process of ocean formation cannot be separated from the shape of the Earth’s surface in the form of a basin. A very broad basin on the surface of the Earth will filled with water to form an ocean or sea. Then, why does the ocean taste salty?
The salty taste of sea water or oceans is obtained from rainwater that flows from the land to the sea, mostly carrying chemical materials, especially Sodium Chloride (NaCl). Because there are many waves in the ocean, Sodium Chloride is stirred by the current and makes the ocean water taste salty.
(Also read: 13 Causes of Subsurface Ocean Currents You Must Know)
The ocean was divided into 4 types, namely:
- The Pacific Ocean
- Indian Ocean
- The Atlantic Ocean
- Arctic Ocean
The area of the waters or oceans on this Earth is far wider than the land, which reaches 71% compared to land which is only 29%.
Those are the steps of how continent and ocean formed. Actually, the processes are quite amazing, isn’t it? Everything happens step by step as time goes by. Overall, we hope that this article is helpful and able to answer your curiosity.