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Vanished Ocean: How Tethys Reshaped the Worldby Dorrik Stow
Synopses & Reviews
Six million years ago, a vast ocean--which scientists have named Tethys--vanished from the face of the earth. How could such a huge body of water simply disappear? More interesting, how is it possible for scientists to know with certainty that Tethys existed for a quarter of a billion years, a period that includes the entire "Age of Dinosaurs" and almost all of the "Age of Mammals," right up to the point when our distant ancestors began to walk upright.
Vanished Ocean tells the fascinating story of Tethys, offering an illuminating account of the scientific evidence for the ocean's existence. Renowned geologist 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; and the impact of its currents on environment and climate. The story of Tethys is also a story of extinctions, 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 Gibraltar. In telling this story, Stow reveals how geologists and oceanographers have spent years proving the former existence of Tethys, from a remarkable series of clues locked away in rocks now exposed high up in mountain ranges and buried in sediments deep beneath today's oceans. Indeed, these myriad clues are now scattered from Morocco to China and from the depths of the Caspian Sea to the highest Himalayan peaks.
Here then is the gripping story of the merging and splintering of continents, the rise and fall of mountain ranges, and an ancient, vast ocean that simply vanished from sight. It is a story that reminds us of the profound impact of oceans and their currents on the environment, climate, and life of our planet.
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. This book 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.
About the Author
Dorrik Stow is ECOSSE Chair of the Institute of Petroleum Engineering at Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh. A world-renowned geologist and oceanographer, he has particular expertise in the deep oceans and a long-standing quest to unravel the history of the ancestral Tethys Ocean. He recently contributed to the BBC Radio 4 series, Oceans: What Lies Beneath.
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