Abstract: A hundred million years ago, a mighty ocean dominated the equatorial world. Its vast waters bore witness to many of most dramatic episodes in the story of our planet. It played host to a plethora of fascinating organisms, saw great mass extinctions and then nurtured the ensuing rebirth of new life forms. It endured its own secret drama of submarine quakes and powerful currents, at one point quaking under evening skies lit by the outpourings of a super-volcano that exploded along its northern margin. For long ages, its quiet central gyres were more desolate and empty than anything seen in today’s world. But then, five and a half million years ago, it quite simply disappeared.
It was called the Tethys Ocean and this is a kaleidoscope of images from that lost world, pieced together from myriad clues, which are now scattered through the rocks that stretch from the Western Interior Seaway in the USA to the Deccan Traps of India, Morocco to China, from the depths of the Caspian Sea to the highest Himalayan peaks. Though imperfect and incomplete, the record is varied and captivating, telling something of the assembly and splintering of continents, the rise and fall of mountain ranges, the changing ocean currents and their link to Earth’s climate, the remarkable story of oil and gas, and other deep-ocean treasures. So too do they provide an alternative view of mass extinction events and the demise of the dinosaur world. Such changes in the land and ocean have been strongly instrumental in shaping the colourful pageant of life through the past 250 million years of Earth history, and in painting the template for the oceans of today.
Professor Dorrik Stow FRSE is an internationally renowned geologist and oceanographer. He has led scientific cruises to all the world’s major oceans, worked and lectured in more than 50 countries across the globe, published over 300 scientific papers, reports, and books. His research speciality is deepwater sedimentary systems – modern, ancient and subsurface. But he is equally passionate about explaining his science to a wider public as an author and speaker, and radio/TV presenter.
His popular science books include Oceans: An Illustrated Reference (2005), Vanished Ocean (2010), and Oceans: A Very Short Introduction all with Oxford University Press. He has also contributed to recent Dorling Kindersley coffee-table books Science of the Ocean (2020) and Science of the Earth (2022), and as a consultant on many children’s natural history titles.
He has worked both in industry and university and is currently Emeritus Professor at Heriot Watt University (Edinburgh, UK), Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Distinguished Professor at the China University of Geoscience (Wuhan, China), Visiting Fellow in Japan (Gakugei, Tokyo), and Leverhulme Emeritus fellow working on a novel research project: The Heartbeat of the Earth.
Professor Dorrik Stow, FRSE
Emeritus Professor, Consultant and Author
Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh EH14 4AS, Scotland, UK
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Meeting ID: 917 3273 5211