A simple paleoglobe

Related topics

A geology story for anywhere.
Give any location, get a good story. The place you care about has a fascinating history. Boston students live on a Gondwanan volcanic island chain, via the middle of Pangea.
Deep time.
Giving elbow room for stories in all the physical sciences.
Towards a better paleoglobe.
Deep time should be concrete and accessible. A new paleoglobe is needed which is: dynamically drawn, temporally fine-grained, and has biome data.
Where are all the paleoglobes?
Web paleoglobes have been doable for years now. And largely haven't been. Yet understanding deep time is valued. What went wrong, and is it common?
Visualization with uncertainty using multiples.
What did the globe look like at 250 Ma? There's scientific uncertainty. And 249.9, 250.0, and 250.01 all looked different. What did you look like, ages 1 to now, inclusive? Multiple small images, and flickering alternatives, might help make illustrations less misleading.

Any questions?

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  • Uncertainty is high, and not shown. The VPE and Blakey datasets are in agreement because one was derived from the other, not because our knowledge has converged so well.
  • The data was hand crafted, and so is not current.
  • The data is very course-grained in time. The Earth looked different at a mere 10ka, an ice age having moved around biomes. But here we only show today and 20Ma. Fine for continental drift. Very insufficient for climate and biology.
  • The Blakey images are atlas-style false color.
  • Should the rotation axis be changing?

The data


"All maps are copyright to me, Ron Blakey, and may bu used, with citation to Ron Blakey, NAU Geology, for educational, non-profit, non-commercial purposes." -- src (retrieved 2011-06-22).


VPE_Rectangular_Mosaic_Black.jpg source image
"The images and animations available here are only for educational and research purposes. None of these images can be used for any commercial purposes unless written permission is given. If you use these images, please give credit to: The Planetary Habitability Laboratory @ UPR Arecibo, NASA, Ron Blakey and Colorado Plateau Geosystems, Inc., and The PaleoMap Project." -- src (retrieved 2011-06-22).

I didn't see rectangular maps available individually, so I derived these from the mosaic.


The copyrights are a problem. "Non-commercial" is a regrettably blunt instrument. No sites with ads. No students that pay. Museums are iffy. But IANAL.

Some non-rectangular derivatives of the Blakey maps are CC-BY-SA on Wikimedia Commons (search). It might be worth back-transforming them to rectangular. Getting VPE usable seems less hopeful.

The demo

This is a trivial texture-mapped sphere, using the nice three.js library by Mr.doob. It was inspired by a 2010 three.js globe demo, which was prompted by a blog post by Seb Lee-Delisle.

Doables: Improve orientation: axis markers? a sunlit hemisphere? Does grab feel still need improvement? Wigitize. Deal with copyright, then refactor for github and, hopefully, handoff. MIT TLL has a new unity paleoglobe? - find and link.

Page history

Initial dev.
Mark it up No JS?
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