Last week our Education Coordinator showed me an IPad app that, as a geologist, I can't believe I've not seen before. I sometimes do random searches on geology but this one has never popped up before. However I'm glad I've found it now.
This is how EarthViewer is described by the publisher...
"EarthViewer is like a time machine for exploring Earth’s deep history. Based on the latest scientific research, it lets you scroll through the last 4.5 billion years with your fingertips. Follow a favorite landmark, be it Greenland or New York City, as its position shifts through time, or watch a famous fossil like Tiktaalik make an incredible journey from its origin to its current location. Layer your view of shifting continents with data on atmospheric composition, temperature, biodiversity, day length, and solar luminosity, to get a more complete view of our dynamic planet."
It's slick, informative and fun to use. The main time zone covered is the Phanerozoic (the last 542 million years) - the time that is perhaps the most interesting as we know the most about its story. During this time, the supercontinent Pangaea broke up giving us the continents we have today. At the start of this time, British Columbia sat south of the equator and has since zig-zagged north to its current home. Other events during this time include the creation of the Atlantic Ocean and the relative slamming of India into the continent of Asia. By using the interactive sliding timeline, you can follow the traces of many of the world's cities or countries during this time.
You can overlay the sites and/or times of mass extinctions, impact craters, and important geological or biological events. For those wanting even more information, graphs overlaid on the map can show fluctuations in the likes of oxygen, day length or biodiversity.
You can also explore the planet right back to the formation of the earth, as well as world temperatures over the last 100 years. Not only this, but concise and attractive graphics describe important geological processes.
Looking at the credits, I see the work of Christopher Scotese and the PALAEOMAP project there. This is reassuring as Scotese is a renowned authority in reconstructing the movement of the continents. I have referred to the PALAEOMAP site many times over the years. In some ways, I actually find the images of their reconstructions easier to visualize than EarthViewer, but as they are not animated, EarthViewer gives the user that sequencing from one time zone to another.
You might expect such a great app to be an expensive one. But believe it or not, it's entirely free. It's rated 4+ on ITunes and rightly so. I think this is the best educational app I've seen. Which leaves me with one only one thing left to say....what are you waiting for....download it now.
Header image: Folded rock by Greg Willis from Denver, CO, usa via Wikimedia Commons