Looking at a globe, Antarctica looks remarkably centered on the south pole. Has the rotation of the earth had any effect on the position of the landmass? enter image description here

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Yes, coincidence $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 22:41
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It hasn't always been that way; it won't always be that way. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 23:01

1 Answer 1


It's an interesting thought.

Antarctica is not so balanced as it might appear on the maps. East Antarctica is old, consisting probably of cratons and Proterozoic orogenic domains whiles West Antarctica is much younger, thinner and have mostly been accreted during the formation of Gondwana (See e.g Boger 2011). If there was a direct control of the location of the continents from the rotation, one would expect East Antarctica to be centered rather than the whole landmass as it appears today, moreover one would expect a similar continent, resting at the North Pole.

However, Antarctica have been relatively stable, at least for the last 200My. The breakup of Gondwana could partly be simplified as one continent after the other radiating away from Antarctica, that mostly stayed in the same latitudes (See e.g Torsvik et al. 2010). Today Antarctica has relatively low tectonic activity and little continental drift, mostly a rotational component.

My personal believe is that astronomic potential fields, as gravitational tidal forces, might become a more important parameter in future for mantle dynamic models and maybe even some tectonic mechanisms, but I might be wrong and studies so far (e.g. this) have not shown good evidences and didn't attract much attention.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Just for clarification: would "East Antarctica" be the part with longitude designated as "East" and "West Antarctica" the part with "West" longitude? (since the continent doesn't have an east coast or a west coast) $\endgroup$
    – haresfur
    Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 3:36
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @haresfur East Antarctica normally (at least for Earth scientists) refers to the larger section, East of the Transantarctic Mountains as seen from the prime meridian. That is from Dronning Maud Land to Terre Adélie, including the pole. $\endgroup$
    – user2821
    Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 4:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.