About This Chapter
Plate Tectonics - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives
Have you ever looked at a world map and thought how the continents look like they could all fit together like puzzle pieces? Well, if you have, then you're not alone. There is actually an area of science devoted to the idea that there used to be one huge continent, called Pangaea. The ideas about what happened to break Pangaea up usually center around the ideas of plate tectonics and continental drift. As you will learn in this chapter, a man named Alfred Wegener popularized his theory of continental drift. There is quite a bit of evidence supporting this idea. Plate tectonics is a related theory about how the continents drift. You will get to learn about these ideas and related concepts, such as:
- Major lithosphere plates
- Causes of plate movement
- The evidence revealed through ocean drilling
- Sea floor spreading
- Polar reversal
|What Is Pangaea? - Theory, Definition & Quiz||Study Pangaea to get a good idea what it was and how it relates to the theories of how the different continents were formed.|
|Plate Tectonics: A Unified Theory for Change of the Earth's Surface||Explore plate tectonics.|
|Alfred Wegener's Theory of Continental Drift||Take an in-depth look into Wegener's theory.|
|Evidence for the Mechanism of Continental Drift||Examine various evidence that supports the theory of continental drift.|
|Major Plates of the Lithosphere: Earth's Tectonic Plates||Explore the earth's tectonic plates.|
|Causes of Tectonic Plate Movement||Analyze the reasons why plates move.|
|Plate Boundaries: Convergent, Divergent and Transform Boundaries||Find out about plate boundaries.|
|Ocean Drilling as Evidence for Plate Tectonics||Find out what ocean drilling has revealed about plate tectonics.|
|Paleomagnetism and Hot Spot: Evidence for Plate Tectonics||Learn about evidence supporting the theory of plate tectonics.|
|Sea Floor Spreading and Polar Reversal||See what sea floor spreading and polar reversal tell us about continent movement.|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 within the Earth Science 101: Earth Science course
- Earth Science Basics
- Geologic Time
- Characteristics of Matter
- Earth's Spheres and Internal Structure
- Minerals and Rocks
- Igneous Rocks
- Volcanic Landforms
- Weathering and Erosion
- Sedimentary Rocks: A Deeper Look
- Metamorphic Rocks: A Deeper Look
- Rock Deformation and Mountain Building
- Water Balance on Earth
- Running Water
- Ground Water
- Coastal Hazards
- Earth's Atmosphere
- Weather, Air Masses & Storms
- Earth History
- Energy Resources
- Studying for Earth Science 101