Ch 42: Earth's Formation & Plate Tectonics

About This Chapter

Use our video lessons to brush up on your knowledge of continent formation and plate tectonics. Measure what you have retained from these lessons by taking the accompanying self-assessment quizzes.

Earth's Formation and Plate Tectonics - Chapter Summary

Explore theories and scientific evidence about the plates that make up the earth's surface with the lessons in this chapter. Go over plate movements, characteristics and changes that impact the planet's geology.

You will learn facts about plate types and boundaries, as well as phenomena that help explain changes to these formations. You should be able to do the following once you have successfully reviewed this chapter:

  • Recognize geological evidence that explains Earth's formation
  • Explain Alfred Wegener's theory of continental drift and identify evidence that supports this theory
  • Define plate tectonics and what causes plate movement
  • Identify types of plate boundaries
  • Compare active and passive continental margins
  • Provide details about underwater mountain ranges
  • Discuss how ocean drilling supports the theory of plate tectonics
  • Show how paleomagnetism and hot spots help to confirm theories of plate tectonics
  • Detail information about sea floor spreading and pole reversal

Complex information is presented in an easy-to-follow manner through these brief video lessons. You can watch the videos and then print lesson transcripts to use as reference guides. You can also assess how much you have learned by taking the quizzes that accompany each lesson.

11 Lessons in Chapter 42: Earth's Formation & Plate Tectonics
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Geological Evidence of Earth's Formation

1. Geological Evidence of Earth's Formation

How did the Earth form? When did it form? And more importantly, how do we know? Learn about the evidence we have for the formation of the Earth. See how many clues you picked up by taking a quiz.

Alfred Wegener's Theory of Continental Drift

2. 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.

Evidence for the Mechanism of Continental Drift

3. 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.

Plate Tectonics: A Unified Theory for Change of the Earth's Surface

4. 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.

Causes of Tectonic Plate Movement

5. 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.

Plate Boundaries: Convergent, Divergent, and Transform Boundaries

6. 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.

Active & Passive Continental Margins

7. Active & Passive Continental Margins

Continental margins are areas that separate the continental crust and oceanic crust. Discover the differences between the tectonically active continental margins and the relatively quiet passive continental margins.

Oceanic Ridge System: Formation & Distribution

8. Oceanic Ridge System: Formation & Distribution

The oceanic ridge system is a continuous underwater mountain range with parts found in every ocean of the world. The ridge system is created when magma rising between diverging plates of the lithosphere cools and forms a new layer of crust.

Ocean Drilling as Evidence for Plate Tectonics

9. Ocean Drilling as Evidence for Plate Tectonics

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.

Paleomagnetism and Hot Spots: Evidence for Plate Tectonics

10. 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.

Sea Floor Spreading and Polar Reversal

11. 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.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
Not Taken
Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
Not Taken

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 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? Study.com 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.

Other Chapters

Other chapters within the NMTA Middle Grades General Science (204): Practice & Study Guide course

Support