And you thought Niagra Falls was big

Before I moved to my current job, I worked in a used bookstore. Specifically, I was the keeper of the World History section. And one of the infinitely cool things about being responsible for shelving books in a particular area was the frequent and totally arbitrary discovery of  tidbits of information as one tried to figure out where a book would go. For example…

Once upon a time, the Mediterranean Sea looked like Death Valley; a huge below-sea-level desert. Some 5 million years ago though, the strait of Gibraltar busted open and the Atlantic flooded the Mediterranean basin to its current state over the course of 100ish years. For the time that the falls were active, water flowed in at a rate of 40,000 cubic kilometers per year. By comparison (and assuming the sites where I got the information are at least remotely accurate), Niagara Falls flows at the relatively paltry rate of a mere 17.9 cubic kilometers per year.

Cubic kilometers per year is already an awkwardly huge unit to think in, but just the ratio of 40,000 to 17.9 is mind blowing all on its own. And then! Not just the ratio but the fact that something that’s as seemingly constant and present and unchanging in our world as the Mediterranean Sea simply did NOT exist at an earlier point of time. Anything. EVERYTHING can change.

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~ by Picaspexit on March 26, 2010.

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