Florida hasn’t always been a part of the United States
Florida may seem like it’s always been a part of the United States, but scientists discovered otherwise. 200-300 million years ago, there was a supercontinent called Pangea. Pangea was made up of what is now North and South America, Africa, and Europe (1). Many scientists believe that weak spots in the crust of Pangea and the Earth caused magma to build up. This magma created a volcanic rift, dividing Pangea. The gash also created a large basin, which is now the Atlantic Ocean (3).
When Pangea fractured, it split into North America, Europe, and Gondwana, which consisted of South America and Africa. However, at that time, present-day Florida was still part of Gondwana, and when it separated, it stayed a part of Africa (1). The split of Pangea affected almost everything that has to do with the world and its habitat, including the global climate and evolution, by controlling land distribution and ocean circulation (4).
Cornell University geologists discovered Florida and Africa’s complex history by sending shock waves into the ground. Although the shock waves were weaker than earthquakes, they went 30 miles deep into the Earth’s crust and returned, giving scientists shocking news. They found a joint, or suture line, between Florida and the United States. The joint ran from east Georgia to west Alabama (2). This led to the discovery of the Florida Block and the Florida Platform.
The Florida Platform is a flat geological feature that forms a wall between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean that supports Florida. Its boundaries are the edge of the continental shelf. The platform stretches 300 and 450 miles long and is mostly made of minuscule marine animals. The marine animals’ bodies, made of mostly carbon, sank to the seafloor and were slowly stacked and compressed to create the Florida Platform (1).
Nonetheless, the Florida Platform isn’t the only thing supporting it. There’s also the Florida Block, which is made up of basement rocks. The Florida Block separated from Africa and drifted across the equator to its current location. The top of the Florida Block is shaped like the letter U, which allows it to stay in place, with its northern edge reaching Georgia. Over time, as sea levels rise and fall, more geological features, such as mountains and bodies of water, are formed, changing the shape of Florida because it isn’t supported by the same platforms as the rest of the United States (1).
In conclusion, Cornell’s shock wave tests prove that Florida and Africa were once connected. Though Florida has been part of North America for millions of years, this piece of history is essential to understand many parts of our world and how much Gondwana and Pangea shaped our current geography.
ARROW Geology History – Apalachicola Region Resources on the Web. (2022). Retrieved October 6, 2022, from Fnai.org website: https://www.fnai.org/arrow-site/geology/geology-history#:~:text=Florida%20started%20out%20as%20part,both%20Florida%20and%20West%20Africa
Florida Peninsula Was Once African Territory. (1985, June 30). Washington Post; The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1985/06/30/florida-peninsula-was-once-african-territory/a902585f-1718-4dbb-9afe-dc721d433f2b/
What was Pangea? | U.S. Geological Survey. (2020, March 27). Usgs.gov. https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/what-was-pangea
Worthington, L. L., Shuck, B. D., A. Bécel, Eilon, Z. C., & Lynner, C. (2021, March 24). Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, Especially for Continents. Eos; Eos. https://eos.org/science-updates/breaking-up-is-hard-to-do-especially-for-continents
This is how Pangea was before its split and how it would look today.
This is a picture of the Florida platform.