Friday, June 4, 2010

Young is a relative term.

Vancouver Island is relatively young, at least in terms of the time lapsed since the big bang which created our planet some 4.45 billion years ago. Paleontologically speaking (the earth science that studies fossil organisms and related remains) our island's records date back a mere 350 million years, and geologically speaking (the science that studies the physical matter that constitutes the earth) only a total of 420 million years.

Moreover our island, which is, as you are no doubt already aware, the largest off the Pacific coast of North America, is made up of a real mixture of materials. The oldest rocks are igneous. i.e. They are volcanic in origin, and were formed during an explosion somewhere in the south-western Pacific Ocean, in a manner reminiscent of the volcanic action that resulted in the formation of the Hawaiian island chain. So what on earth are these rocks doing over here, you may well ask?.

According to such usually reliable sources as the National Geographic, Goescape Canada, and our own Capital Region Geological history reference office, that's quite a long story which will take a little more time to explain, because it involves the extraordinary, and ongoing, movements of large chunks of our planet's surface which seem to float around somewhat randomly on its white hot molten core.

Once upon a time, many many moons ago, the land masses which we now recognize as continents were joined together as one gigantic blob, which earth scientists now refer to as Pangea. This blob was actually made up of various moving sections of the earth's crust, floating on the magma, and wandering around rather casually, opening and closing gaps between the sections.

Mount Arrowsmith - Looking West from Parksville, Vancouver Island

I know... don't you just hate these "to be continued" announcesements which appear at the most exciting moment in a TV program. But I guarantee, that you won't have to wait for an entire week this time, to see how I manage to condense the geological history of the earth into another single scintillating and remarkably brief blog.

Actually, I'm going to do my damnedest to have the second half ready to post by tomorrow. The suspense is really getting to me too you know.

No comments:

Post a Comment