Earth's Evolution: The Paleogeography Quiz

By: Staff
Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Paleogeography is the study of the geography of paleos, right? Perhaps you could use a little brushing up on your paleogeography knowledge — or a starter course. Either way, this quiz will have you combining your paleo and geo knowledge in no time.

First things first: What is paleogeography?

Those who study paleogeography are interested in the physical environment of the past.

Let's dive into some well-known names in paleogeography. What is Pangaea?

Ooh, that means there are more supercontinents to name that came before Pangaea ...

The "precursor" body of water to the Pacific Ocean is called ...

Although it stretched across the globe, it's kind of like the Pacific's ancestor.

Paleogeography is designed to …

While it's important to see where we came from, we also need to know where we're going.

What is paleomagnetism?

Rocks and minerals can give insight into the strength and direction of Earth's magnetic field at different points in history.

How does paleomagnetism work?

Between those two facts, we can determine where rocks and minerals were originally deposited and how plate tectonics moved them.

But you know, magnetic north is always north and south is always south so no biggie.

Yeah, turns out that every 200,000 to 300,000 years the poles reverse.

When was the last time the poles reversed?

After about 780,000 years, we're due for another reversal!

What are hot-spot tracks?

The Hawaiian Islands are a well-known example of hot-spot tracks and can help us determine the age and movement of land masses.

What's paleobiogeography?

By studying where and how plants and animals migrate or move, we can get some clues to the shifting of continents and land.

What is paleoclimatology?

Rainfall, temperature and other climate markers can give us an idea of ancient trends.

Wait, how would we know about ancient rainfall and temperature?

Certain rocks form under specific climate conditions, so we can nail down some context for climate by studying things like coal and tillites.

What is the lithosphere?

The lithosphere of Earth consists of the hard crust and the very upper part of the mantle.

Continents are composed of …

The rock that makes up continents isn't easily subducted, so it's been around a long time.

Mountain belts are interesting for paleogeography because …

The movement of mountains proves useful to those studying geography.

Mountains form …

While we mostly think about continents moving together to form mountains, peaks can also occur when continents rift.

When did the Andes form?

It'd be rather exciting if dirt piles the size of the Andes appeared after a gale, but alas, they were formed by the subduction of the ocean lithosphere.

What mountain range is older?

The Appalachian mountain range is estimated at 300 million years old — much older than the Rockies or Himalayas, despite being much smaller.

True or false: Alfred Wegener's continental drift theory was widely accepted upon its proposal.

The theory of continental drift was controversial and problematic in many ways, but it was a precursor to plate tectonics.

Modern coastlines have developed within …

Coastlines change extremely fast, based on rising and lowering sea levels. They've developed within the last 12,000 years.

Where is the edge of a continent?

The edge is demarcated by the continental slope and rise, which is often far at sea.

Throughout history, Earth generally ...

A lot of Earth was covered by sea for most of its history.

Why do sea-level changes occur?

Both of these factors cause sea-level changes, which is linked to climate change.

Wait, how did all this water get here?

So through rain, kind of.

When did water first appear on Earth?

Water's been around for a while — approximately 4.6 billion years.

How do the oceans' basins change shape?

Nope, it's not just Earth rearranging the furniture. It occurs through seafloor spreading and plate tectonics.

What is seafloor spreading?

Seafloor spreading occurs where tectonic plates diverge.

Paleogeography is often used in …

Understanding sedimentary basins is an important part of petroleum geology.

What else can we learn from sedimentary deposits?

Studying paleogeography allows us to learn about biological evolution, too.

So let's end with a cool paleogeographic fact. What happened when North and South America linked up?

The continents had different mammalian fauna, and while some native South American species migrated up, most of the South American fauna went totally extinct in the fight for supremacy and space.

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