An illustration of Earth 250 million years ago when the megacontinent Pangaea existed
DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
At three moments in the past, Earth’s geological activity picked up the pace. Its tectonic plates moved 30 to 50 per cent faster than normal, and there were bursts of volcanic activity and mountain building that helped create supercontinents. These three geological big bangs may have played an important role in the evolution of life on Earth.
Kent Condie at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and his colleagues want to understand how Earth’s gigantic tectonic plates behaved in …