Plate Tectonics and Our Supercontinental Past

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The theory of plate tectonics spans a large amount of time and history. To be very generic, the theory of plate tectonics describes the movement of the earth’s outermost layer known as the lithosphere. There are several theories that precede and coincide with plate tectonics. One of the earliest theories is that all the earth’s continents once were one large supercontinent known as Rodinia. There is little information about Rodinia, however the time frame for this phenomenon is estimated to have formed over one billion years ago. In the millions of years following, the supercontinent disassembled causing two major events. One event is known as Snowball Earth and the other is the evolution of primitive life. Fast forward seven-hundred-million years and the next supercontinent formed, this one known as Pangaea. Alfred Wegener, a geo-scientist from the early twentieth century, proposed the continental drift theory, hypothetically explaining how this event did occur. Assuming that these plates do in fact shift and move, the explanations of plate boundaries allows for a better understanding of how many natural landforms occur. The definition of divergence is a drawing apart, as of lines extending from a common center. When two plates separate from each other, a divergent boundary is generated. Convergence can be defined by moving towards one point, hence why when two plates move toward each other and collide, a convergent boundary is formed. Two plates that slide past each other create a transform plate boundary. (Merriam-Webster) So plate tectonics is the theory that the Earth’s outermost layer is divided into plates that surf the earth’s mantle. The plates make up the deepest of the ocean’s trenches and the mountains as tall as Mt. ... ... middle of paper ... ...gence>. IRIS. Plate Boundaries. Washington, DC: National Science Foundation, n.d. PDF. Kazlev, M. Alan. "Paleos." Paleos.com. Creative Commons License, 5 Apr. 2002. Web. 22 Mar. 2014. National Science Foundation. "UCSB Science Line Sqtest." UCSB Science Line Sqtest. National Science Foundation, n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014. Oskin, Becky. "What Is Plate Tectonics?" LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 23 June 2013. Web. 31 Mar. 2014. "There Are Three Kinds of Plate Tectonic Boundaries: Divergent, Convergent, and Transform Plate Boundaries." NOAA Ocean Explorer. N.p., 14 Feb. 2013. Web. 22 Mar. 2014. Watson, J. M. "Understanding Plate Motions [This Dynamic Earth, USGS]." Understanding Plate Motions [This Dynamic Earth, USGS]. USGS, 24 May 2012. Web. 29 Mar. 2014. Wilkens, Alasdair. "A History of Supercontinents on Planet Earth." Io9. Gawker Media, 27 Jan. 2011. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.

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