Mountain Building – Geology

Formation of Continental Mountain Ranges and the Life Cycle of an Ocean

When two limestone rocks are split into halves, their inside reveals the existence of fossils. The rocks, one with trilobite and the other one with ammonite, are taken from the top of two mountains, Andes Mountain and Mount Everest respectively.

The movement of the fos,sil material from the bottom of the ocean and onto the top of some, of the highest mountains in the world is the result of strong forces. When continents collide, strong forces are created which end up bending rock across the earth’s surface for thousands of miles (Gault, 2004a, 1192).

The preceding explains why mountains do not occur individually, but instead, they occur along with linear formations. Plate collisions cause mountains to arise along straight lines as a result of two processes, namely, volcanic process and deforming process.

Another important feature of mountains is that they are formed near continental edges. Just like the oceans where areas around the edges are the deepest, the areas around the edges are the highest, when it comes to continents. Ththe is does explain the plate tectonic theory to some extent.

The collision of continents results in the deformation of the continental rock and extra new material along the subduction zone. This results in permanent subduction or destruction of the ocean while the continents remain the same but with varying degrees of dents.

The dents range from folds, cracks, fractures, scars, and faults. Another striking feature of mountain ranges is that each range is absolutely different from another while all ridges in the middle of the ocean share a similar structure. Their top is covered by a similar thick layer composed of things such as sediment and basalt (Rodgers, 1987, 79).

The life cycle of an ocean comes to an end after the formation of the continental mountain ranges. This happens when the continents collide forcing the ocean to close up. As stated earlier, the collision of the two continents may result in additional material being trapped in between the continents collision zone.

An accretionary wedge is formed through subsequent subductions occurring over a very long period of time. The sediments or the material that gets trapped in between the collision zone are the ones have been torn away or come from the land. This makes the accretionary wedges resemble the continents in their structure. The composition that resembles that of the continents is called sialic composition (Rodgers, 1987, 83).

It happens that the material trapped in between the zone of collision is of intermediate andesitic composition. In case there is a back-arc basin with similar composition such as basalt, which is rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium and others, the movement of a continent towards a subduction zone leads to the destruction of the constituents of the composition; what remains after the collision of the continents is the range of growing mountains (Wynne, 1989, 53).

Geologic Mechanisms and Ocean Fossils within Crustal Rocks in the Middle of the Continent

The earth was formed 4.6 billion years ago. The earth and other planets were formed after particles from a cloud of dust formed the entire solar system after they had collided resulting into the formation of planets. The earth consists of three layers, namely, the core, the mantel, and the crust. The earth had no living things after its formation except for bare rocks, ice, desert, and water (Gault, 2004a, 1195). Otha er than for steam and carbon dioxide, the atmosphere was devoid of any other gas.

Life first appeared on earth in the form of single-celled organisms living in the ocean between the period of six hundred million years and four billion years ago. This age was followed by algae and bacteria. Towards the end of this period normally referred to as the Precambrian period, no life form existed on land during this period due to lack of oxygen on earth.

By the time the Precambrian period was coming to an end, the oceans were swarming with all kinds of living organisms. These organisms and especially the plants absorbed the carbon dioxide from the land and replaced it with oxygen thereby making it possible for living organisms to start living on dry land. The continents that came into existence during this period were very different from the continents that exist today.

Between 240 to 600 million years ago, most living organisms both plants and animals, lived in the ocean and at the end of this period popularly known as the Paleozoic era, life began developing on land. It was during this period that land masses kept moving and they eventually merged to form Pangaea being the only continent that existed during that period. The subsequent collision of land masses led to the formation of mountains such as Ural and Appalachian (Wynne, 1989, 66).

This period was followed by Mesozoic era that occurred from 65 to 240 million years ago. This period was marked by the emergence of huge reptiles among them the popularly known dinosaurs. Other mammals started appearing during this period and suddenly, Pangaea started breaking apart into different land masses that finally culminated into the present continents.

A sudden strike by an asteroid led to the death of over three quarters of life on land due to obstruction of sunlight for long periods of time as a result of dust. The end of this period was marked by the beginning of Cenozoic period which spread from about 65 million years ago up the present moment. This period is characterized by numerous movements of the continents.

It is believed that heavy shower fell during the Cenozoic period and this led to the death of many animals whose remains were fossilized in the earth’s surface. This is well illustrated through the flood geologic mechanisms (Hutton, 2000, 34). It happened that living things living along a certain habitat became buried in the same rock.

Organisms living nearby would be buried in a different rock. The ones living around the shores would be buried at the middle of the rock while the ones living in the seas would be buried at the bottom parts of the rock, the same trend being applied for the hills. This is called ecological zonation.

Invertebrates through buoyancy got placed in different places of the rock. This is called hydrological sorting. Through differential escape, it is thought that animals that were fast, sought higher grounds (Sigurdsson, 2000, 94). Through biogeographic zonation, animals that lived together are found along the same crustal rocks. Thus, an occurrence of a flood similar to that recorded in holy books would not mean that bears and ostriches would be found together. Also, the tectonic movement could have pushed some fossils beneath the ocean upwards.

Predicting Natural Disasters

Natural disasters affecting the earth such as volcanoes, hurricanes, typhoons, el Ninos, bananas, tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards are practically impossible for man to control at the moment but the damage they cause can be prevented by predicting when and where they are likely to occur.

The likelihood of the occurrence of a disaster can also be determined by assessing the suitability of the conditions (Meyer, 2004, 37). Again, a disaster can be prevented from taking toll by monitoring and of course giving suggestions to avoid any looming damage.

Predicting weather patterns is no mean task given its chaotic nature. Some disasters are dependent on the occurrence of another disaster. Take an example of avalanches and landslides that depend on earthquakes to occur. This makes it more difficult to predict disasters, given the fact that it is very difficult to tell when an earthquake occurs.

However, scientists have had remarkable success in predicting volcano-related disasters (Bolt, 1988, 47). This is because it takes time before a volcano erupts thereby giving the scientists enough time to monitor its development. The problem with this is that it is possible to give false alarm because one is not certain of the actual occurrence of an eruption after detecting volcanic activities.

The scientists use a method commonly known as pale seismicity to determine the occurrence of earthquakes but this method hardly works. A more efficient method of containing damage due to earthquakes is the use of seismic assessment where an earthquake is monitored in real time.

Works cited

Bolt, Bruce. Earthquakes, New York: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1988. Print.

Gault, John. “Crest of a Continent.” The Rocky Mountains, 112.6 (2004a): 1181–1222. Print.

Hutton, Kate. Furious Earth: The Science and Nature of Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000. Print.

Meyer, Larry, California Quake, New York: Rutledge, 2004. Print.

Rodgers, John. The Anatomy of Mountain Ranges, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987. Print.

Sigurdsson, Haraldur. Encyclopedia of Volcanoes, San Diego: Academic Press, 2000. Print.

Wynne, Patricia. Earth: The Ever-Changing Planet, New York: Random House, 1989. Print.

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