The Unusual Theory of Dripping Continents

If you’ve ever looked at a map, you might have glossed over a rather interesting facet of the world’s geography. Most of the Earth’s land mass drips off to the southern tip of the globe. This phenomenon is known as continental drip, not to be confused with the much more common natural phenomena, continental drift, which describes the shifting of tectonic plates.

Check out the video below for more information about this phenomenon and some animation describing where it’s happening.

Africa, South America, India, Greenland, nearly every land mass on earth has a trailing edge pointing towards Antartica. The observation was first made by Ormonde de Kay in a 1973 paper titled More Random Walks in Science. Kay meant the paper as a purely tongue-in-cheek observation, but it pointed out a very real and confusing phenomenon with our world’s geography.

Another scientist and writer named John C. Holden expanded on the idea in a book he published in 1976. The notion eventually became so popular in the scientific community that the 1990 game, SimEarth, even included a continental drip model in its Earth simulation.

This intriguing observation about the continents dripping nature might just be coincidence, but there could be other forces at play.

De Kay proposed the idea of some kind of large paleomagnetic force that has gone unsuspected and undetected centered in Argentina that perpetually tugs down the lower portions of Earth’s land masses. He also proposed that the drip might be due to some aspect of Earth’s rotation or even lunar attraction. However, De Kay wasn’t being completely serious, he thought in all likelihood that the continental drip was probably a thing of chance. New Scientist wrote in 1999 that the continent’s shapes have been constantly changing and that “in another few hundred million years the continents and their positions and shapes will all look quite different again.”

Maybe the dripping of the continents is all just random chance, or maybe there’s a mysterious primal force pulling all of our land down to the bottom of the earth. What do you think?

Trevor is a civil engineer by trade and an accomplished internet blogger with a passion for inspiring everyone with new and exciting technologies. He is also a published children’s book author whose most recent book, ZOOM Go the Vehicles, is aimed at inspiring young kids to have an interest in engineering.


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