About This Chapter
Earth Structure & Plate Tectonics - Chapter Summary
Building a quality understanding of the earth's structure and plate tectonics is simple using this chapter's fun lessons. Created by expert instructors, the lessons take a close look at the formation of the earth, plate tectonics, paleomagnetism and hot spots, theories about ocean formation and more. Feel free to review the lessons as short videos that average 8 minutes each or full transcripts you can print or read online. If you want to check your knowledge of concepts the lessons cover, be sure to take the accompanying quizzes and broader chapter exam. Our subject-matter experts can answer any questions that arise about specific lesson topics. Once you've completed this chapter, you will be able to:
- Provide descriptions of each of the earth's internal layers
- Explain how geological layers and radioactive dating are used to determine the earth's age
- Discuss Alfred Wegener's theory of continental drift and evidence for the mechanism of continental drift
- List and describe major plates of the lithosphere
- Outline causes of tectonic plate movement
- Differentiate between convergent, divergent and transform plate boundaries
- Exhibit knowledge of sea floor spreading and polar reversal
1. Formation of the Earth: Theories
In this lesson, the theory of how the planet Earth formed will be discussed. This includes looking at how it differentiated into three layers, how it formed its atmosphere, water, and land features, and how it continues to evolve today.
2. Theories About How Oceans Were Formed
Today, more than 2/3 of Earth is covered with water, mostly in our oceans. But Earth itself is much older than our oceans. In this lesson you'll explore theories on how our oceans formed, as well as why liquid water remains on Earth even after all this time.
3. Earth's Internal Layers: Crust, Mantle & Core
Earth is made up of several different layers, each with unique properties. In this video lesson, you will identify each layer of Earth and how it relates to Earth as a whole.
4. Using Geological Layers & Radioactive Dating to Determine the Earth's Age
If you want to know how old a person is, you ask them. If you want to get an idea about a tree's age, you count its rings. But what if you want to know the age of the Earth? In this lesson, we'll get an idea of how scientists date our planet.
5. Plate Tectonics: A Unified Theory for Change of the Earth's Surface
After many years of trying to solve the mystery of the moving continents, enough data and evidence was collected to develop a unifying theory of how the surface of the earth changes. It's called plate tectonics.
6. Alfred Wegener's Theory of Continental Drift
People used to think that Earth was static, and that it never changed. Gradually, a body of evidence was gathered that made no sense in this model. Alfred Wegener, Geologic Supersleuth, laid the groundwork for a whole new theory for the large-scale changing nature of the earth.
7. Evidence for the Mechanism of Continental Drift
As scientists began to explore the ocean floor after World War II, they discovered many new clues to help them solve a mystery that had begun decades earlier - how the continents moved about on the surface of the earth.
8. Major Plates of the Lithosphere: Earth's Tectonic Plates
The outer shell of the earth, the lithosphere, is broken up into tectonic plates. The seven major plates are the African plate, Antarctic plate, Eurasian plate, Indo-Australian plate, North American plate, Pacific plate and South American plate.
9. Causes of Tectonic Plate Movement
In this lesson, we explore the causes of plate movement, including thermal convection, ridge push and slab pull. Students will learn how these processes complement each other and form a theory for tectonic plate movement.
10. Plate Boundaries: Convergent, Divergent, and Transform Boundaries
In the theory of plate tectonics, the earth's crust is broken into plates that move around relative to each other. As a result of this movement, three types of plate boundaries are formed: divergent, convergent, and transform boundaries.
11. Paleomagnetism and Hot Spots: Evidence for Plate Tectonics
Paleomagnetism is the study of past magnetic fields. Hot spots are fixed pockets of heat that well up to form volcanic features. Learn how paleomagnetism and the study of hot spots provide evidence that supports the theory of plate tectonics.
12. Sea Floor Spreading and Polar Reversal
Sea floor spreading is the process by which new oceanic crust is formed by the upwelling of magma through diverging tectonic plates. Learn about the relationship between sea floor spreading and polar reversals detected on the ocean floor.
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