Earth: Changes Through Time


Over the past 4600 million years since its formation, the Earth has undergone many changes. From a barren planet with a molten surface constantly churned by meteorites and volcanoes, and no free oxygen in its atmosphere, the Earth has evolved into a planet with large slow‐moving continents covered in vegetation that provides an oxygen‐rich atmosphere.

Keywords: craton; pangaea; orogeny; greenhouse climate; epicontinental seas

Figure 1.

Summary of major events in Earth history over the past 4600 million years.


Further Reading

Cloud P (1988) Oasis in Space: Earth History from the Beginning. New York: WW Norton.

Prothero DR and Dott RH Jr (2001) Evolution of the Earth, 6th edn. New York: McGraw‐Hill.

Hartmann J and Miller R (1991) The History of the Earth, An Illustrated Chronicle of an Evolving Planet. New York: Workman.

Holland HD, Lazar B and McCaffrey J (1986) Evolution of the atmosphere and oceans. Nature 320: 27–33.

Nisbet EG (1987) The Young Earth, An Introduction to Archean Geology. Boston, MA: Allen and Unwin.

Rodgers JJW (1994) A History of the Earth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Stanley SM (1999) Earth System History. New York: WH Freeman.

Windley BF (1984) The Evolving Continents, 2nd edn. New York: Wiley.

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How to Cite close
Prothero, Donald R(Oct 2001) Earth: Changes Through Time. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001631]