Take a video tour of the earth’s violent geological history

Video by NOVA PBS

Although the changes are slow and gradual, the earth’s surface is in a constant state of remodeling itself.

Specifically in North America, there are hints of how natural forces have reinvented the landscape of the world’s third largest continent over three billion years of deep time. Eighty-million-year-old fossils of a 14-foot-long fish in Kansas point to an underwater past in the Great Plains. New York City was built atop a bedrock of long-eroded mountains that would overwhelm any skyscraper in the city today. Erosion also reduced an ancient mountain range into sandstone slabs that make up the Rockies today.

NOVA’s new series “Making North America” looks at how the continent morphed into what it is today. And on tonight’s program, Kirk Johnson, director Kirk Johnson, director of Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, discusses how so much of the continent’s history can be gleaned from a single layer of sedimentary rock.

NOVA also has an online interactive that’s a coast-to-coast tour of the various clues embedded in the current landscape that investigates North America’s past.

NOVA’s “Making North America” premieres on three consecutive Wednesday nights starting tonight, Nov. 4, Nov. 11 and Nov. 18 at 9 pm. EST on PBS (check your local listings).