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Ch 8: Plate Tectonics, Continental Drift & Ocean Formations

About This Chapter

Watch video lessons to review plate tectonics, ocean formations and the theory of continental drift. Find out about the supercontinent of Pangaea, examine causes of tectonic plate movement and study the types of ocean basins.

Plate Tectonics, Continental Drift & Ocean Formations - Chapter Summary

If it has been some time since you learned about plate tectonics or the theory of continental drift, look no further than this chapter's video lessons. Our instructors break down these concepts and also guide you through the formation of the oceans, types of plate boundaries and the earth's lithosphere. Study all the lessons in this chapter and you should be able to:

  • Explain the Pangaea theory
  • Discuss the theory of and evidence for continental drift
  • Describe the structure of Earth's lithosphere
  • Identify the causes of tectonic plate movement
  • List and describe the types of plate boundaries
  • Recognize the link between sea floor spreading and polar reversal
  • Discuss the types and features of ocean basins
  • Understand the oceanic ridge system

Our videos are viewable on mobile devices and are usually under 10 minutes long. The videos also have convenient timeline tags so you can jump around to rewatch major points. If you retain terms or concepts better by reading about them, check out our lesson transcripts that also include key vocabulary in bold print. We offer self-assessment quizzes as well so you can gauge your understanding of the chapter.

9 Lessons in Chapter 8: Plate Tectonics, Continental Drift & Ocean Formations
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
What is Pangaea? - Theory & Definition

1. What is Pangaea? - Theory & Definition

The continents you know have existed for a long time, but not in their current locations. In fact, over 200 million years ago Pangaea broke apart by plate tectonic movement to form the continents we see today.

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.

Major Plates of the Lithosphere: Earth's Tectonic Plates

4. 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.

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.

Sea Floor Spreading and Polar Reversal

7. 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.

Ocean Basins: Definition, Formation, Features & Types

8. Ocean Basins: Definition, Formation, Features & Types

Ocean basins are those areas found under the sea. They can be relatively inactive areas where deposits of sediment slowly collect or active areas where tectonic plates meet. Learn how ocean basins form and about features such as oceanic ridges and trenches.

Oceanic Ridge System: Formation & Distribution

9. 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.

Chapter Practice Exam
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Practice Final Exam
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