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Sediment-al Journey

December 27, 2018

 

 

 

In viewing layers of sedimentary rock, geologists can gain knowledge about the environment at a specific point in time. 

In this quilt, the layers represent significant moments in Earth's timeline.  The layers are not shown to scale of course. Earth first cooled to solid rock over 4 billion years ago, and it existed as a barren rock for at least another billion years before water began to collect on the surface. 

The first microscopic signs of life trace back a billion years ago, before the Earth even had an atmosphere.  In contrast, the entire length of human existence and all our accomplishments occurred in the last  .01% of that time - in just the last 100 thousand years or so. 

 

From the bottom building up, the layers of fabric represent the following developments:

The bottom layer represents disparate elements that came together to form a planet.

Next - The Earth existed as molten rock

The Earth cooled into solid rock

Moisture began to condense on the surface and form bodies of water

The 1st signs of life - single celled organisms such as bacteria formed in the oceans

Plants evolved using photosynthesis (still under the oceans)

ICE AGE known as "Snowball Earth" - a mass extinction event -  ice covers the planet for millions of years

Earth begins to warm up, some ocean life that survived the ice age begins to thrive in the oceans

As the Ozone forms around Earth, an oxygen-rich atmosphere develops & supports plant life on land

Amphibians evolve from ocean creatures to ocean/land dwellers

Small reptiles and dinosaurs roam the earth

Mammals, birds, flowering plants and the first primates appear, forest dominates the planet's surface

Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals evolve, using tools to hunt animals and create shelter for themselves

Human beings begin to form communities and develop agriculture

The invention of the wheel, breakthroughs in mathematics, vehicles, weapons, and simple machines 

The Industrial Revolution changes the landscape and the atmosphere of Earth

The Nuclear Age introduces radiation to all living things on the planet's surface

The Space Age leads to human beings leaving the Earth's atmosphere for the first time

The Digital Age revolutionizes communication, computing, engineering and medical science

Humans develop digital communication as the newest weapon between tribes

Global climate change leads to extinctions and weather events that threaten human existence

As Earth warms up and ice caps melt, previously dormant bacteria & viruses are reanimated

The top layer represents the unknown. Maybe the Earth is covered in radioactive ash. Maybe the climate causes mass extinctions but paves the way for new species to evolve.

 

What is next for Earth?  Will the next eon include human beings or not? What will Earth look like to future generations of geologists?

 

 

 

 

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