What is the scientific theory of plate tectonics?


What is the scientific theory of plate tectonics?

Tectonic Plates:

Tectonic Plates are large pieces of the Earth's lithosphere (crust and upper mantle) that are able to slowly move because of convection in the mantle. Tectonic plates are considered to be either oceanic plates or continental plates, depending on the type of crustal material found on them.

Answer and Explanation:

The scientific theory of Plate Tectonics was developed largely from the 1950s to the 1970s. This theory states that the Earth's lithosphere (the crust and uppermost mantle) forms a shell that surrounds the Earth. This shell of lithosphere is broken into pieces called tectonic plates. These tectonic plates, according to the theory, have been able to move on a large-scale since tectonic processes started on the Earth over 3 billion years ago, and are continuing in the same fashion today.

The theory of Plate Tectonics is largely credited to Alfred Wegener, who first proposed this idea in 1912. While Wegener proposed that the Earth's surface was broken into pieces that moved, he lacked evidence that the large plates could move so his theory did not gain much traction. However, World War Two in the 1940s saw the development of underwater sonar and detection equipment originally meant to detect submarines. This technology was later expanded upon to research the ocean floor after the war, and scientists were able to use this technology to find evidence for Wegener's theory in the form of underwater sea trenches, underwater mid-ocean ridges, and seafloor spreading.

Learn more about this topic:

What is Plate Tectonics? - Definition, Theory & Components

from NYSTCE Earth Science (008): Practice and Study Guide

Chapter 24 / Lesson 2

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