Tethys Sea

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The Tethys Sea was a shallow inland body of water that existed between Laurasia and Gondwana, the geological ancestor of the modern Black, Caspian and Aral Seas.

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Historical theory

The theory that the Tethys Sea existed was first proposed in 1893 by Eduard Suess, who used fossil records from the Alps and Africa. He named it after the Greek sea goddess Tethys. The development of the theory of plate tectonics later disproved or overrode many parts of Suess's theory, even determining the existence of an earlier body of water called the Tethys Ocean. However, Suess's overall concept was still relatively accurate and remarkably imaginative for its day. He is credited with the discovery of both the Tethys Sea and the Tethys Ocean. Now oil geologists depend on what was once a mere postulation.

Modern theory

According to current theory the continent of Pangea had a deep sinus, when a long seafloor spreading ridge began to develop along its lower edge, reaching from the Australian Plate in the farthest southeast and running northeastwards. In the late Jurassic (150 Ma), the rift began to splinter Laurasia and Gondwana into masses resembling the continents we see today. Africa slowly began turning counter-clockwise, and India sped northeastward over the eastern end of the Tethys Ocean. As that part of the Tethys Ocean disappeared under Cimmeria, the relatively shallow area in the western end of the Tethys Ocean opened onto the growing Atlantic Ocean, forming the Tethys Sea (or 'Tethys Seaway'). Over the next 120 million years, the Tethys Sea shrank further, closed in an all sides by Africa, Saudi Arabia and Europe, eventually becoming the Black, Caspian and Aral Seas.

Confusion of terminologies

Like every science, geology is a continuously evolving system of theories, and the terms used to describe various pre-historic formations have fluctuated as more accurate theories have emerged. Even today, many sources use "Tethys Ocean" to refer to the "Tethys Sea" and vice versa.


External link

  • Palaeos Earth (http://www.palaeos.com/Earth/Geography/Tethys.htm): The Tethys Sea

ja:テチス海

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