Ocean Drilling as Evidence for Plate Tectonics

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Paleomagnetism and Hot Spots: Evidence for Plate Tectonics

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:07 Plate Tectonics
  • 0:49 Deep Sea Drilling Project
  • 1:23 Mid-Atlantic Ridge &…
  • 2:28 Ocean Drilling Samples
  • 3:18 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

The Deep Sea Drilling Project extracted samples of the ocean floor that provided evidence to support the hypothesis of seafloor spreading and the theory of plate tectonics. Learn how these samples provided proof.

Plate Tectonics

Some of the most classic stories in history are about journeys at sea. From Homer's Odyssey to Gilligan's Island, it seems that we can't get enough of them. The story of plate tectonics is no different.

Plate tectonics is the theory that the earth's crust is broken up into plates. And these plates, which go by the name 'tectonic plates,' float around on the hotter and more fluid layer of the earth below them. As these plates move, they might push together, pull apart or slide past each other. In this lesson, we will look at the evidence in support of the plate tectonics theory that was uncovered through analysis of samples drilled from the ocean floor.

Deep Sea Drilling Project

Our tale begins in the 1960s. That's the decade that introduced the Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP), which was an ocean drilling project designed to analyze the ocean floor. The task was to drill down into the ocean floor and extract samples of the ocean sediments and underlying oceanic crust. This task was accomplished aboard a ship called the Glomar Challenger. This was a research vessel equipped with a drilling platform that traveled across the Atlantic Ocean drilling core samples into the sea floor along the way.

Mid-Atlantic Ridge and Seafloor Spreading

Now, an important feature found on the Atlantic Ocean basin is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which is an underwater mountain range that runs from Iceland to Antarctica. This ridge system was an important area to drill because at the time it was not fully understood how this large underwater ridge had formed.

It had been theorized that the creation of the oceanic ridge system was caused by seafloor spreading, which states that new oceanic crust is constantly being formed due to the upwelling of magma through diverging tectonic plates. However, this was a lot for some scientists to believe. The scientific community was perplexed over the idea that the Mid-Atlantic Ridge may actually be a tectonic plate boundary that was separating and allowing magma from deep within the earth to ooze up through the crack and that this magma then cooled and was responsible for creating the new layers of oceanic crust that spread out from that area. You can imagine that this whole idea sounded pretty far-fetched to many scientists.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account