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This blog does what it says on the box. It quite simply narrates, from the start to the present day, a history of the world, and virtually everything of note in it. Follow the saga that the World's story is, by checking in for our daily updates! Contact us at worldhistoryblog@yahoo.co.uk

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Violent beginnings

A map of the world's tectonic plates

The earth is but a small planet among the innumerable galaxies and still yet more star clusters in the universe. It orbits an insignificant star in the outer trails of the Milky Way. Sun, earth, Milky way. We, as a planet, are not terribly important in the grand scheme of things. The earth is believed to be some 4.6 billion years old, but we need not go back quite so far in our story. I am concerned primarily with the human footprint on the planet. Small by the standards of time's expanse, but it is big enough to have a story, and a damned good one too.

It i said that no man is an island unto himself, but it is equally true that all men are on islands. More like giant tectonic plates, to be accurate. Our very existence is mounted on 12, enormous, rigid plates, resting on on a mantle, upon the molten core of the planet. The continents are carried on these plates. Oceans form as these plates move apart. Lava spills into the new sea-bed thus formed, and fills the resulting scars. Most of the plates have been identified and named. There is a Pacific Plate but not an Atlantic one, the reason being all the continents originally formed one landmass. About 180 million years ago, America began to separate from Africa and Europe, slowly opening the Atlantic Ocean in between. The final link-up between the central and southern Atlantic was established some 90 million years ago. This ocean is therefore bisected by a North American and a South American plate, reaching into its western part, and a Eurasian and African Plate reaching into its eastern Part.

Some 160 million years ago Antarctica, Australia, and India started to separate from Africa, tearing the Indian Ocean in their wake. Most of this ocean, and India and Australia are riding on this plate. Australia and Antarctica were cloven roughly 45 million years ago, while, a 35 millions of years earlier, Greenland broke from Canada, and 30 million years later, from Europe as well. Indeed, even today, Arabia is moving away from Africa and India is moving northwards into Asia. The Great Mountains Rockies, Andes, Himalayas, and the Alps are a result of these continental clashes, as the force of collision heaps great hunks of rock together.

While the rock of the earth solidified, new rock has accumulated below. The molten rock may remain deeper in the crust, cooling slowly, or in some cases it erupts as lava, forming volcanoes in the process. This is usually a lengthy and patient process, but the Capelinhos island in the Azores has actually grown since 1957 from sea level to over 3500 feet. Some volcanoes erupt violently. In 1833, Krakatoa in java sent a dust cloud right round the world, causing huge tidal waves and killing some 36,000 people. nearby, the Tambora volcano had erupted in 1815 with even worse casualties. Krakatoa thrust 18 cubic kilometres of material into the atmosphere, while Tambora raised 30 cubic kilometres - enough to mask the sun sufficiently to cool the earth, the following year being "the year without summer" for Europe. A 1783 eruption of volcano in Iceland caused lava to seep out continuously for 8 whole months. The 154 million tonnes of volcanic gases released, killed a fifth of Iceland's population.

As we take the pulse of history, violently throbbing sometimes, as it is pumped by violent events, it would be well to remember that the very drama of our existence is itself played out on these violent, clashing mounds of rock.

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