Plate Tectonics

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Plate Tectonics Since the beginning of human kind there has been a cloud of wonder of how our planet was formed. Scientist interested in this field through out the years have developed many different theories to how our planet came about. Before the Twentieth Century, scientists and geologists thought that mountain structures were due to the massive tightening of the earth caused by the gradual cooling of molten rocks. In 1900, American scientist Joseph Le Conte, published an article in the Appleton's Popular Scientific Monthly. He described that the problem in understanding mountain building was establishing the cause of sideways pressure. It was not until 1910, that an American Geologist named F.B.Taylor, proposed the idea of a continental drift. Other scientists dismissed Taylor's idea, because there was just not enough proof. However, Taylor's idea was then backed up by a German scientist named Alfred Wegener. He proposed that the continents surrounding the Atlantic Ocean, Africa and South America fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. His broad range of studies enabled him to incorporate his theory of Plate Tectonics. Wegener, later in 1915 while in the German military published his idea that interpreted how his continental drift theory worked. He proposed that a huge landmass called Pangea, meaning ("all land") existed 200 million years ago. He furthered explained that this super continent began to drift apart very slowly throughout millions of years into what it looks like now. Wegener went on several expeditions through out his life to the continents of South America and Africa. He came back with evidence to support his claim of plate tectonics. Wegener and his expedition brought back rock structures, fossils, and evidence of ancient climates. When it came to rock structures, Wegener looked for the similarities of the rocks found along coastlines and the mountain belts found on the continents. They looked at the mountain belts of the Appalachian Mountains and the Caledonian Mountains in Scandinavia and the British Isles. These two continuous belts contained similar rock structures and the ages of these rocks matched the on both ends of the African and South American continents. Wegener also found evidence of massive climatic changes. He researched and found out that ancient glacial deposits were found indicating that ice sheets covered a large part of the Southern Hemisphere, India and Australia. He furthered explained that the Northern Hemisphere was near the equator supporting the idea of coal deposits being located there.

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