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Early Miocene World (20 million years ago)


Spin and Rotate the Virtual Globe

(to spin globe, hold mouse-button down and drag mouse up or down across globe)

(c) PALEOMAP Project, 2003

(Read the explanation below, while you wait for the animation to load.)

You can interactively manipulate and rotate this paleo-globe, and view the Earth from the North Pole to the South Pole, and from the eastern edge of Asia to the western edge of North America.  To interactively grab and rotate the globe, hold down mouse-button and drag mouse up and down across the globe. 

This globe shows the location of the continents and the shape of the ocean basins 20 million years ago during the Miocene Period.   The positions of the continents are similar to today's world, but there are a few differences.  There are no glacial features (Great Lakes, Hudson's Bay, fjiords of Norway) and young mountain ranges like the Himalayas and Andes are not quite as high.  Sea Level was approximately 80 meters (250 feet) higher than today. As a consequence low lying areas like Florida, the Amazon Basin, and all along the edges of the continents were flooded.

The colors represent the depth of the ocean (dark blue - deep oceans, light blue - very shallow seas). The color of the land areas represents elevation (green - lowlands, browns - highlands, and white - high mountains).  The large light blue areas adjacent to some of the continents represents ocean floor that has been subducted.  The width of these areas illustrates how fast subduction is recycling material back into the Earth.  This 3D topographic and bathymetric model is based primarily on the digital elevation information from Smith and Sandwell (1997), with additional digital elevation information for the Arctic Ocean from  Jakobsson et al. (2000), for Greenland without ice from Bamber et al. (2000), and for Antarctica without ice from the British Antarctic Survey (BEDMAP).

 Some interesting places to check out:  a smaller and less imposing Tibetan plateau, the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden are nearly closed, no Arctic islands or Hudson's Bay, Florida is flooded, the Amazon basin is flooded, England is connected to Europe, and the Great Valley of California is flooded.

A screen-sized version of this VR Globe is available on CD-ROM in both Quicktime and html (Java applet) format.   For more information see Teaching Materials.

Images and animations of PALEOMAP Paleoglobes can be licensed for use in textbooks, museum exhibits, and educational CD-ROMs. 

This page uses a java applet that displays a VR model. Visit FreedomVR at for more information about this applet.

(c) PALEOMAP Project, 2003. Thanks to WebDoGS by Paul Howell for inspiration.