Norway through time

400 million years ago Norway was situated in the tropics. With time, Norway slowly moved northwards towards its present-day high-latitude position.
The Wilson Cycle in the North Atlantic region. Illustration after Wilson (Nature 211, 1966) and Buiter and Torsvik (Gondwana Research 26, 2014).

The motions of Earth's tectonic plates over millions of years has caused Norway to move around the surface of the Earth. Several hundred million years ago the area now forming Norway found itself at equatorial latitudes, where tropical conditions led to an abundance of organic materials. During the Jurassic much of this organic material gathered on the sea-bed, leading to the hydrocarbons found offshore today. Since those times in the tropics Norway has moved steadily northwards to its present-day location.

Using global plate models we can track the location of Norway through time, and we can visualize the plate tectonic history of Norway and its interactions with other continents. In the geologic past, Norway was separated from Greenland by the Iapetus Ocean. This ocean closed by subduction leading to the collision of Norway with Greenland 425 million years ago. The collision formed the Caledonian Mountains in Norway and Greenland, which continue into the Appalachians of North America. Repeated extension periods since the Carboniferous finally led to the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean ca. 54 million years ago.

Researchers at NGU investigate the plate tectonic history of Norway focusing on the formation of the Caledonide Mountains, the break-up of Norway and Greenland, and the evolution and structures of the Norwegian rifted continental margin.

Norway's slow northern movement since the Carboniferous is illustrated by its latitudinal position through time.
Based on data from Torsvik and Cocks, "Earth History and Palaeogeography", Cambridge University Press, 2016