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Early Cretaceous (late Barremian - Early Aptian, 120 million years ago)


Spin and Rotate the Virtual Globe

(to spin globe, hold mouse-button down and drag mouse up or down across globe)

(c) PALEOMAP Project, 2003

(Read the explanation below, while you wait for the animation to load.)

You can interactively manipulate and rotate this paleo-globe, and view the Earth from the North Pole to the South Pole, and from the eastern edge of Asia to the western edge of North America.  To interactively grab and rotate the globe, hold down mouse-button and drag mouse up and down across the globe. 

This globe shows the location of the continents and the shape of the ocean basins 120 million years ago during the early Cretaceous.   At this time sea level was somewhat higher (~100 m) than today and the margins of the continents were flooded by shallow seas.  Notice that the positions of the continents were quite different than they are today.   The North Atlantic was closed, the South Atlantic was just beginning to open, and the Central Atlantic, between Africa and North America, was  narrower than today.   The southern continents of Gondwana had just begun to break apart, and narrow ocean basins separated Africa from Antarctica, Madagascar and India.  Australia was still attached to Antarctica.

The colors represent the depth of the ocean (dark blue - deep oceans, light blue - very shallow seas). The color of the land areas represents elevation (green - lowlands, browns - highlands, and white - high mountains).  The large dark blue areas adjacent to some of the continents represents ocean floor that has been subducted.  The width of these areas illustrates how fast subduction is recycling material back into the Earth.  This 3D topographic and bathymetric model is based primarily on the digital elevation information from Smith and Sandwell (1997), with additional digital elevation information for the Arctic Ocean from  Jakobsson et al. (2000), for Greenland without ice from Bamber et al. (2000), and for Antarctica without ice from the British Antarctic Survey (BEDMAP).

 Some interesting places to check out:   the wide Tethys ocean separating the northern and southern continents,  the exotic terranes (Wrangellia) off the west coast of NorthAmerica that will collide to form the Canadian Rockies, the rifting between southern South America and southwest Africa, and the there was no ice cap at the poles.

A screen-sized version of this VR Globe is available on CD-ROM in both Quicktime and html (Java applet) format.   For more information see Teaching Materials.

Images and animations of PALEOMAP Paleoglobes can be licensed for use in textbooks, museum exhibits, and educational CD-ROMs. 

This page uses a java applet that displays a VR model. Visit FreedomVR at for more information about this applet.

(c) PALEOMAP Project, 2003. Thanks to WebDoGS by Paul Howell for inspiration.