Continent Australia started to break away from Gondwanaland and Antartica more than 100 million years ago and finally seperated 50 million years ago to make its journey north towards the equator. Continent Australia, which includes Papua-New Guinea slowly drifted north until 20 million years ago it crashed into the Pacific Plate which is moving westward. This movement westward sliced off segments of Continent Australia and inserted them into the Indonesian archipelago, the continued northward movement (at around 7 cm per year) has thrust up the mountains of Papua-New Guinea and it is this continued movement which has caused the recent earthquakes there.
Sabin Zahirovic of the University of Sydney has produced a brilliant animation showing the amazing voyage of Continent Australia over 150 million years. To view please follow the link below and it is recommended to watch in full screen mode.
What is equally remarkable is that 50 years before Alfred Wegener’s theory of continental drift and 100 years before the science of plate tectonics, the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace had already deduced in 1856, from his observations of the birds and animals of the eastern Indonesian archipelago, that Australia had collided with Asia.
To read more about ‘Where Australia Collides with Asia’, Alfred Russel Wallace, the Wallace Line and the biogeographic region of Wallacea please follow the link below:
Ian: Nice animation of the drifting of the continents. It is still happening and one can only wonder how the world will look several million years from now — If it still exists, that is.
Who knows, one day we may be part of China!