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Vanished Ocean: How Tethys Reshaped the World

Popular Science
The first book to consider the fundamental role of oceans in our history
Tells the story of Tethys, an ocean named after the Greek sea nymth, which formed some 250 million years ago, and finally disappeared just six million years ago
Takes a novel approach towards the study of oceans, considering their importance through history and the mysterious story of a great vanished ocean
Emphasizes the importance of the ocean to the environment, climate, and to life, with implications for environmental issues today
Explores the stories of plate tectonics, ocean circulation, climate, and marine life in the history of the oceans
Explains the clues found in fossils and oceanic sediments that led geologists to discover the appearance and demise of Tethys

By: Dorrik AV Stow (Author)

300 pages, 15 b/w illustrations and maps

Oxford University Press

Paperback | Mar 2012 | #194995 | ISBN-13: 9780199214297
Availability: Usually dispatched within 7 days Details
NHBS Price: £9.99 $12/€11 approx
Hardback | May 2010 | #182809 | ISBN-13: 9780199214280
Out of Print Details

About this book

This is a book about an ocean that vanished six million years ago – the ocean of Tethys. Named after a Greek sea nymph, there is a sense of mystery about such a vast, ancient ocean, of which all that remains now are a few little pools, like the Caspian Sea. There were other great oceans in the history of the Earth – Iapetus, Panthalassa – but Tethys was the last of them, vanishing a mere moment (in geological terms) before Man came on the scene. Once Tethys stretched across the world. How do we know? And how could such a vast ocean vanish? The clues of its existence are scattered from Morocco to China. Vanished Ocean tells the story of the ocean, from its origins some 250 million years ago, to its disappearance. It also tells of its impact on life on Earth. The dinosaurs were just beginning to get going when Tethys formed, and they were long dead by the time it disappeared. Dorrik Stow describes the powerful forces that shaped the ocean; the marine life it once held and the rich deposits of oil that life left behind; the impact of its currents on environment and climate.

It is rarely realized how very important oceans are to climate and environment, and therefore to life on Earth. The story of Tethys is also a story of extinctions, and floods, and extraordinary episodes such as the virtual drying up of the Mediterranean, before being filled again by a dramatic cascade of water over the straits of Gibralter. And in the telling of that story, we also learn how geologists put together the clues in rocks and fossils to discover Tethys and its history.

Dorrik Stow talks about his book Vanished Ocean.


"Vanished Ocean is an ideal book for those who are already widely read in natural science. It should appeal strongly to legions of former science students who, having since made their way in the world as accountants and personnel managers, hanker for the interest ad excitement of a life they once glimpsed but were unable to grasp. [...] A wealth of nourishing knowledge revealed through the history of Tethyan Realm."
– Ted Nield, Literary Review

"A well argued contribution to one of the great scientific debates of the last 30 years."
– Jonathan Beard, New Scientist



1: Tethys the Sea Goddess
2: Pangea the Supercontinent and the Birth of Tethys
3: Extinction, Evolution, and the Great Cycles of Life
4: Tethyan Fecundity in the Jurassic Seas
5: Black Death to Black Gold
6: The Greatest Flood of All Time: Rise and Fall of the Seas
7: End of an Era: The Debate Continues
8: Portrait of the Tethys Seaway
9: Closing Ocean, Rising Mountain
10: Death Throes of an Ocean
11: Epilogue: Perspective on the Future

Further Reading
Glossary of terms

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Dorrik Stow is ECOSSE Chair and Professor at Heriot-Watt University. He was previously Professor of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton. His main research interests are energy and environmental research for ECOSSE (Edinburgh Consortium for Subsurface Science and Engineering), past environmental change, and the role of geosciences for international development. He has published over 200 research publications and eight books including Encyclopedia of the Oceans (2005).

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