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crazyivan's avatar

What geological process would you most like to have seen?

Asked by crazyivan (4451 points ) September 30th, 2010

Alright, so let’s pretend that scientist discovered a series of geosynchronous satelites circling our planet that were put in place by an advanced alien race millions of years ago. Recorded and stored on these suckers was a video log of the entire history of the planet.

They’ve retrieved them and brought them back to earth so now you can see a time-lapsed video of any moment in the history of terrestrial geology. What would you want to see most?

(For the purposes of this question, the cameras aren’t shooting second by second frames so only things that take a long time to happen can be seen. In other words, no peeking in on Marilyn Monroe sunbathing…)

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32 Answers

CMaz's avatar

The meteorite impact that offed the dinosaurs. And, the Ice Ace.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

The formation of the Grand Canyon.

Rarebear's avatar

The rupture of the land bridge between Gibralter and Morrocco.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

The breaking up of the continents. And it might be fun to run the film backwards.

JilltheTooth's avatar

The Thera explosion.

jaytkay's avatar

The breaching of an ice dam in the Missoula Floods

Blackberry's avatar

It’s hard to pick one….Can they just make a TV series and play everything? I guess I’d like to see how the dinosaurs were eliminated.

gasman's avatar

I’d also like to see the Grand Canyon forming—a combination of downward cutting by the Colorado River and uplifting of the land mass from below.

@Rarebear I recall reading that the Gibraltar land bridge opened & closed several times, re-filling the Mediterranean, which was once desert.

poisonedantidote's avatar

The impact that created the moon.

marinelife's avatar

The formation of the Rockies and the Cascades.

JustmeAman's avatar

Funny you should say this in a question. One day we will be able to view all of it.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

The collision of India with Asia, forming the Himalayas.

Cruiser's avatar

The thaw and retreat and of the ice age would be way cool….I bet the floods were Biblical in proportion!

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

The volcanic eruptions that formed the Hawaiian Islands.

CMaz's avatar

@hawaii_jake – All you had to do was look in my toilet this morning.

crisw's avatar

Lots of the above would be fascinating! I think watching the Bering land bridge and seeing what critters came over it.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@ChazMaz : Sorry to hear that, buddy, but I think I’ll pass up that opportunity.

Qingu's avatar

The proto-moon smashing into Earth and then breaking off to form the current moon.

wundayatta's avatar

The dissolution of Gondwanaland.

RocketGuy's avatar

Definitely the giant meteorite that offed the dinosaurs!

Brian1946's avatar

Joan Rivers first plastic surgery. ;-)

In case the tapes don’t go back that far, I’d love to see:

The dinosaur extincting asteroid that hit near the Yucatan peninsula about 65 million years ago. It’s estimated that the asteroid weighed about a trillion tons and created impact waves close to 1,000 feet high.

The super volcanic eruption at Lake Toba about 70,000 years ago. IIRC, the blast was powerful enough to have thrown Mt. Everest about 30 miles skyward.

The process that brought water to or created water on Earth.

There’s speculation that at one time there was a mountain over 30,000 feet high in the Hudson Highlands of what is now NY state. I’d love to have seen that, especially during the fall if they had arboreal color changes back then.

crazyivan's avatar

I was reading some stuff about the “snowball earth” hypothesis this morning. That’s what inspired the whole question.

And @Brian1946 Fantastic answer. I was looking for info on the Lake Toba eruption to link in this answer. Didn’t think about the lunar collision, though. That would have been pretty sick (though it might have damaged our theoretical alien satelites).

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Brian1946's avatar

@crazyivan

Thanks Ivan. :-)

“I was reading some stuff about the ‘snowball earth’ hypothesis this morning. That’s what inspired the whole question.”

I saw a feature on TV about that. IIRC, there was something about the arrangement of the continent(s) back then that also contributed to the glaciation.

There’s also speculation that a 4,000 mile long ice bridge formed between North America and Europe during the winters of about 18,000 years ago.
This bridge supposedly enabled prehistoric Euros to cross over to North America.

deni's avatar

The formation of the Rocky Mountains…because holy shit! I look at them every day, and sometimes it just hits me…woah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How did this happen? Sometimes I seriously actually freak out because I start to understand how long it took to form something this huge and the process…plates hitting each other…what?!?!?! it is beyond my brain. it frazzles me.

BarnacleBill's avatar

New Madrid Fault Earthquake

MeinTeil's avatar

The lands that would become Iran and North Korea wedge their way into the ocean.

gondwanalon's avatar

I would lke to see the event that created the Earth’s moon and Pangea.

crazyivan's avatar

@Brian1946 I suppose the best things are the ones that would teach us something. Confirming the existence of ice bridges and the duration and life cycle of land exposures could be profound.

@deni How about watching the Smokey mountains? The Rocky Mountains are infants in comparison but with the Smokies you get all the build and the decline, the life and death of a mountain chain…

@BarnacleBill Way awesome answer.

@all One of my roommates suggested watching the city of New York (or any other major city of similar scale) develop from a small community to a megalopolis. That would be pretty darned impressive. I suppose that’s not geological but it would fit the proposed scenario anyway.

Nullo's avatar

Presumably, there are the makings of a supervolcano beneath the western half of the United States. Presumably, it could go off without much warning.
I’d rather that it stayed put, but if it had to go up, I’d like to see it.

I heard once of a volcanic eruption violent enough to blast a lake clear to the other side of the mountain. Fact or fiction, I’d like to see that.

BarnacleBill's avatar

@crazyivan, part of me would not be surprised if there was a major quake in that area, and the whole Mississippi – Ohio Valley went up in a natural gas – methane gas fireball. Accounts of the New Madrid quake indicate that it was felt all the way to NYC. The aftershocks were significant, almost 1000 separate quakes, and there were fireball sightings even then. The Ohio River rand backwards.

When I read The Road I imagined it as the aftermath of a modern day New Madrid quake.

yankeetooter's avatar

Supervolcano erupting in Yellowstone how ever many years ago…

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