South American Continental History (03:54)
The Amazonian craton formed two billion years ago. Flat-topped mountains called "tepui" provide Brazilian scientists with evidence of the original land mass that evolved into the Columbia, Rodinia, Gondwana, and Pangaea super continents.
Zircon Samples (03:02)
A U.S. geologist has collected mineral sediment from rivers throughout South America. He explains information yielded by a single grain of sand; learn about the lab analysis process identifying age and composition.
Super Continent Evolution (02:14)
Zircon analysis suggests South American land fragments were assembled as Rodinia 900 million years ago. A geologist uses a hot cocoa metaphor to explain continental block interaction.
Gondwana Super Continent (03:21)
South America collided with Africa 700 million years ago. Improved oceanic data collection in the 1950s supported plate tectonic theory. Sedimentary rocks containing Glossopteris fossils were discovered in Africa, Antarctica, India, Australia, and South America.
Gondwana History (02:55)
Sugar Mountain, granite rock overlooking Rio de Janeiro, formed when South American and African tectonic plates collided 600 million years ago. Originally a mountain, it's eroded over time and traces of dislocation remain.
African Gondwana Evidence (03:30)
Rocks outside the Namibian town of Keetmanshoop match those found in Brazil. Africa and South America’s dislocation weakened Earth's crust and magma seeped through rocks. Eroded lava inclusions called dolerite dykes exist on both coasts.
Andes Mountain Range (02:12)
Tectonic forces pushed South America west, where it collided with the Pacific Plate, creating the world's longest mountain range. Stratified rock at 2,000 meters in Peru shows the region was formerly an oceanic trench.
Andes Subduction Mystery (02:46)
South America lacks tectonic collision evidence typical of mountain ranges. As the Pacific Plate slid under the South American Plate, ocean sediments were deposited on the junction surface, pushing up mountains as the crust thickened.
Southern Andes Formation (01:18)
The mountain landscape is chaotic and new in Torres de Paine. After colliding with the Pacific Plate, South America hit the Antarctic Plate. Magma infiltration colored the rock reddish brown.
South American Seismic Data (03:48)
As the continent drifts west, it collides with the Pacific Plate. Coastal sensors in Ilo measure crust movements to analyze deformation during the interseismic phase. Energy builds between earthquakes, but seismic event prediction isn’t yet accurate.
Pacific Ring of Fire Theory (02:16)
Pacific Plate subduction has created volcanoes in the Andes. Candarave is threatened by Yucamane's eruption. Some scientists believe the Pacific Ocean will disappear.
Andes Ocean Deposits (02:35)
Pacific Plate subduction causes earthquakes and creates volcanoes in South America. Sediment appearing hundreds of meters above sea level shows deformation raising the coast. Shells are tens of thousands of years old—recent in geological history.
Altiplano Ecosystem (02:38)
A plateau has formed at 4,000 meters in the Andes. While the tomato remained at lower elevations, the potato adapted to high elevation by cloning itself. Scientists collect rock samples around Lake Titicaca.
Altiplano Formation (02:32)
The Eastern Andes formed when the Pacific Plate dipped below the South American Plate. Subduction heated the terrestrial crust and increased plasticity, creating the high plateau. Volcanic activity caused the Western Andes to uplift, locking in the basin.
Amazon Basin (03:03)
French paleontologists study biodiversity in the Peruvian Amazon. Sediment strata reveal evolving watercourses.
"Hot Has Gotcha!" (03:38)
Trilby is sad that Polly Possum is moving away. The Raggs band plays a song about hot summer days.
Remembering Friendships (04:16)
Trilby collects things to give Polly Possum to remind her of their friendship. Kids talk about how to make friends and things to do with them.
Credits: South America—Voyage of the Continents, Series 2 (00:58)
Credits: South America—Voyage of the Continents, Series 2
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