Ch 21: Plate Tectonics in Geology: Help and Review

About This Chapter

The Plate Tectonics chapter of this Introduction to Physical Geology Help and Review course is the simplest way to master plate tectonics. This chapter uses simple and fun videos that are about five minutes long, plus lesson quizzes and a chapter exam to ensure students learn the essentials of plate tectonics in geology.

Who's it for?

Anyone who needs help learning or mastering college physical geology material will benefit from taking this course. You will be able to grasp the subject matter faster, retain critical knowledge longer and earn better grades. You're in the right place if you:

  • Have fallen behind in understanding plate tectonics theories and evidence.
  • Need an efficient way to learn about plate tectonics in geology.
  • Learn best with engaging auditory and visual tools.
  • Struggle with learning disabilities or learning differences, including autism and ADHD.
  • Experience difficulty understanding your teachers.
  • Missed class time and need to catch up.
  • Can't access extra science learning resources at school.

How it works:

  • Start at the beginning, or identify the topics that you need help with.
  • Watch and learn from fun videos, reviewing as needed.
  • Refer to the video transcripts to reinforce your learning.
  • Test your understanding of each lesson with short quizzes.
  • Submit questions to one of our instructors for personalized support if you need extra help.
  • Verify you're ready by completing the Plate Tectonics in Geology chapter exam.

Why it works:

  • Study Efficiently: Skip what you know, review what you don't.
  • Retain What You Learn: Engaging animations and real-life examples make topics easy to grasp.
  • Be Ready on Test Day: Use the Plate Tectonics in Geology chapter exam to be prepared.
  • Get Extra Support: Ask our subject-matter experts any relevant question. They're here to help!
  • Study With Flexibility: Watch videos on any web-ready device.

Students will review:

In this chapter, you'll learn the answers to questions including:

  • What were some of the defining features of Pangaea?
  • What are the guiding principles behind plate tectonics theory?
  • How does the Theory of Continental Drift work?
  • What are the major plates of the lithosphere?
  • What causes plate movement?
  • How do convergent, divergent and transform boundaries differ?
  • How do scientists define paleomagnetism and hot spots?
  • What causes the seafloor to spread?
  • What is the definition of polar reversal?

13 Lessons in Chapter 21: Plate Tectonics in Geology: Help and Review
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.

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

2. 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.

Alfred Wegener's Theory of Continental Drift

3. 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

4. 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

5. 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

6. 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

7. 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.

Ocean Drilling as Evidence for Plate Tectonics

8. 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

9. 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

10. 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.

What is a Normal Fault? - Definition & Example

11. What is a Normal Fault? - Definition & Example

A normal fault is no more typical, or better, than any other kind of fault. But it is responsible for certain mountain ranges and other interesting geological features in the earth's crust.

Who was Alfred Wegener? - Biography, Facts, Theory & Accomplishments

12. Who was Alfred Wegener? - Biography, Facts, Theory & Accomplishments

Learn about Alfred Wegener, the father of continental drift theory. While his work was not widely accepted during his lifetime, advancements in imaging and technology helped to prove his theory that the Earth's continents have changed position over time.

How Plate Movement Affects Earthquakes, Tsunamis & Volcanic Eruptions

13. How Plate Movement Affects Earthquakes, Tsunamis & Volcanic Eruptions

Earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis are all dangerous natural disasters, but they also have something else in common - tectonic plate movement. In this lesson, you'll see how these seemingly different events actually come from similar geological beginnings.

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 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? 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.

Support