One side of the Earth is almost completely covered with water (the Pacific), while landmass is almost all on the other side. Is this coincidence or plays there something else? This difference is not as pronounced as the difference between North and South.

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    $\begingroup$ Random plate tectonics, I think. Over time, these land masses will merge and break away and repeat the processes all over again. $\endgroup$
    – NVZ
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 5:35
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    $\begingroup$ maybe related: earthscience.stackexchange.com/questions/4822/… $\endgroup$
    – wienein
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ @NVZ=Do you think it's a kind of periodic movement of the landmasses so over a very long time the part of the Earth with the most water is on one side, then, after a long time, on the other side, then again on the other side etc.? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 21:12

2 Answers 2


NVZ is correct. Get a palaeo-geographical atlas and see how the the distribution of the continents has changed over time. There is much more ocean than land, and it has ever been so, but there is no particular pattern to the way the continents have drifted. It's not quite random because the heat distribution in the mantle isn't random, but given the conveyor belt system of plate tectonics there will always be a tendency for crustal plates to clump together before breaking up and then clumping together somewhere else.


You are correct that it seems that the Pacific is covering half of the Earth and the landmass cover the other half. But in Earth's history there were several times that it was even more extreme. From about 250 to 200 million years ago, all continents were concentrated even more in a supercontinent called Pangaea:

enter image description here source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pangaea_continents.png

This continent would cover anything from a quarter to a third of the Earth's surface, the rest being a massive ocean called Panthalassa.

The reason this happens is plate tectonics: lithospheric plates, which carry the continents, move and drift slowly. Here's a nice simplified animation of how this works:


Another animation showing how this changed during Earth's (recent) history:


As for now,

Is this coïncidence or plays there something else?

This is not a coincidence. The oceanic spreading centres that appear in the above video spread at different rates. The one at the Pacific does so relatively fast, and a large mass of oceanic lithosphere is being constantly produced in there. Consequently, the Pacific is quite large. It is slowly getting smaller though. Today's Pacific is the remnant of the old Panthalassa which used to be much larger. The Pacific is surrounded by subduction zones that recycle the oceanic lithosphere back into the mantle, resulting in the infamous Ring of Fire around the Pacific ocean.


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