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The development and heritage of plate tectonics

3 März 2016

The development and heritage of plate tectonics

Plate tectonics comes from two terms; plate and tectonic. Plate in geological phrases means that a significant slab of hard rock whereas tectonics in Greek implies’ to build’. Therefore’ plate tectonic could be outlined as how the earth’s builds on moving the plate. It may even be well-defined being a section of the Earth’s lithosphere which is rigid moves distinctively from all those surrounding it (Rodger, 1993).

Concept of plate tectonics states the lithosphere from the earth is made up of unique plates that fragmented into a few massive and small items of good rock. The plates go up coming to each other along with the decrease mantle to generate varied variations of plate borders which have formed the Earth’s landscape about more and more yrs. (Oreske & Legrand, 2001).

Alfred Wegener, a populous meteorologist, is known to be the founder of the plate tectonic idea. He noticed the coastline of East South America and that for the west coast of Africa seemed to fit together in a jigsaw manner like to form a bigger plate. He then proposed an idea that all plates (continents) connected to a single substantial plate called Pangaea which gradually began to drift apart around 300 million a long time ago (Rodger, 1993).

More scientific research on the plates’ coastline revealed that all the plate of earth’s continent somehow fit together. The principle, commonly known as continental drift theory, and Wegener became the founder with the concept on which scientist have based on their research.pop over to this website

However, Alfred Wegener plate tectonics idea could not ascertain how exactly the continents drifted away from every other. He proposed the earth’s rotations and the centrifugal forces towards the equator as one belonging to the possible mechanism for continental drift. He said that Pangaea started at South Pole and earth’s rotation finally caused it to break up, sending continents toward the equator. His theories were discarded by the scientific community (Rodger, 1993).

Arthur Holmes, (1929), a British geologist, came up with the theory of thermal convection to explain the gradual drift belonging to the Earth’s continents. He based on heating and cooling cycle for the Earth’s mantle that caused the continents to shift. The Wegner’s idea being borrowed by scientist community in their quest for earth’s shape.

Today scientist have researched and analyzed past items of evidence and findings by geologist and scientist to expound and come up with a better ways of explaining plate tectonic theory and forces that were behind the drifting on the plates. It is believed and proofed using geological evidence that earth’s plate at one time was one big supercontinent called Pangaea. Due to three main driving forces namely, mantle convection, gravity, and the Earth’s rotation led to the drifting away within the quite a few plate from the main one. Multiple major plates (continents) formed which include North America, South America, Eurasia, Africa, Indo-Australian, Pacific, and Antarctica.

Expounding on the three main driving forces for the movement belonging to the Earth’s tectonic plates; Mantle convection is the most extensively studied technique of tectonic plate movement. It was widely discussed by Holmes in 1929, in his idea. The huge convection current of molten material in the Earth’s upper mantle produces a lot of energies which is transferred to cheaper mantle. The reduced mantle material finds their way to the crust causing the embedded rock to move away and out from the ridge thus going the plate. Evident of this is present in mid-ocean ridges.

Gravity evidenced by the mid-ocean ridges where the elevation is higher than the bordering ocean floor. Convection currents within the Earth cause reduce mantle material to rise and spread away from the ridge, causing the older material to flow toward the ocean floor due to gravity and aid in the movement within the plates. Then lastly earth rotation is caused by centrifugal forces as the earth rotates (Oreskes $ Legrand, 2001).

Plates construct different styles with the boundaries as they interact with their movement. Some on the boundaries established include the Divergent boundaries form when a plate breaks along certain lines of weakness and shift away from just about every other forming a new crust, for instance, Mid-ocean ridges. The other boundary is called Convergent boundaries and created when two plates collide with one another causing the sinking of one plate below the other. Transform boundaries forms at the location where new crust created and without destroying it.

Today, through research, scientists have come up with shreds of evidence proving that earth plates were once super plate that split into the current Continent. One on the evidence is the jig-saw fitting belonging to the East coast of South America, west coast of Africa appear to fit into one another. Also, Fossils remains of plants and animals collected by scientist around the world showed similarities that were cumbersome to explain unless continents had once joined. For instance, Cynognathus was a land reptile; its Fossils remain present both Africa and South America. Thus proving which the two continents joined as one, millions of yrs ago, (Oreskes $ Legrand, 2001). Scientists have also found out from the evidence of earthquakes happened continually and occurred along certain lines, near the boundaries between tectonic plates.

As Wegener’s ideas form the basis why the landscape from the earth is the way it is, scientist community has advanced the methodology of studying the plate tectonic idea currently. They use the satellite to study evidences of plate tectonic where they position it several kilometers away from the earth surface. From the satellite statistics, it is evidenced that the plates go linearly and away from each and every other at the speed of 10mm to 100mm per year. Thus proving that plate tectonic idea that may be earth was once one plate that gradually drifted apart around millions of several years back to form the current continents.


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