352 pages, colour & b/w illustrations
The shifting continents of the Earth are heading for inevitable collision. Two hundred and fifty million years from now, all the landmasses on this planet will come together in a single, gigantic supercontinent which no human is ever likely to see. That future supercontinent will not be the first to form on Earth, nor will it be the last. Each cycle lasts half a billion years, making it the grandest of all the patterns in nature.
It is scarcely a century since science first understood how Pangaea, the supercontinent which gave birth to dinosaurs, split apart, but scientists can now look back three-quarters of a billion years into the Earth's almost indecipherable past to reconstruct Pangaea's predecessor, and computer-model the shape of the Earth's far-distant future.
Ted Nield's book tells the astounding story of how that science emerged (often in the face of fierce opposition), and how scientists today are using the most modern techniques to draw information out of the oldest rocks on Earth. It also reveals the remarkable human story of the Altantis-seeking visionaries and madmen, who have been imagining lost or undiscovered continents for centuries.
Ultimately all supercontinents exist only in the human imagination, but understanding the "Supercontinent Cycle" represents nothing less than finally knowing how our planet works.
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Ted Nield holds a doctorate in geology and currently works for the Geology Society of London, where he is Editor of their monthly magazine Geoscientist. He is Chair of the British Association of Science Writers and Chair of the Outreach Programme of the International Year of the Earth, a UN-backed venture. He lives in London.