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Alfred Wegener was the primary advocate of the continental drift idea.
The Earth's crust is divided into enormous chunks of rock known as tectonic plates. These slabs fit together like pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle.
The idea was offered by Alfred Wegener, a geophysicist, and meteorologist, in 1912, but it was rejected by orthodox science at the time. According to Wegener, continents move over the Earth's surface and were formerly joined as a single supercontinent. When Wegener was alive, scientists did not believe the continents could shift. Alfred Wegener suggested that the continents were originally joined into a single supercontinent known as Pangaea, which means all of Earth in ancient Greek. He proposed that Pangaea disintegrated long ago and that the continents then shifted to their current places. He coined the term continental drift to describe his theory.
Aside from the way the various continents fit together, Wegener and his allies assembled a significant amount of evidence to support the continental drift idea.
The Earth's crust is divided into tectonic plates. Where the plates rise above sea level, continents and islands arise.
Pangea had separated into two major geographical masses about 200 million years ago, known as Gondwanaland and Laurasia.
North America and Europe split apart, and India began to move north toward Asia around 120 million years ago.
Scientists state that Earth's continents will possibly join again together in about 250 million years.
The majority of the Earth's plates are both marine and continental in nature.
It is interesting to know that Europe and the Americas are currently drifting around 1.6 in (4 cm) apart each year.
Tropical plant fossils can be found as far north as Alaska, owing to the fact that the North American landmass was formerly found in the tropics.
Every year, the African Rift Valley expands by around 0.03 in (1 mm).
Alternating patterns of magnetic anomalies on the ocean floor showed seafloor spreading, where the formation of additional plate material happen.
Magnetic minerals aligned in ancient rocks of continents revealed that continents have shifted relative to one another.
Continental plates can be up to 43 mi (69.2 km) thick, while oceanic plates are only approximately 3 mi (4.8 km) thick.
Geologists discovered significant differences in the magnetic polarity of different ages of rocks on the same continent.
Magnetite crystals present in fresh volcanic rocks point to the existing magnetic north pole regardless of continent or location on the continent.
Older rocks of the same age and on the same continent point to the same position, but has different north magnetic pole.
Older rocks of varying ages do not point to the same locations or to the existing magnetic north pole.
Geologists noticed that the small magnets pointed to different magnetic north poles for rocks of the same age but from different continents.
Magnetite 400 million years old in Europe, for example, pointed to a distinct magnetic north pole than magnetite the same age in North America.
Continental drift was one of the foremost ideas geologists had about how continents moved over time.
Despite the fact that the theory of continental drift has been around for millennia, it sparked controversies.
Wegener was convinced that all of the Earth's continents were once part of a massive landmass known as Pangaea.
Scientists contended that there was no explanation for how various solid continents could plow through solid oceanic crust.
Wegener, a professional astronomer, described Pangaea and continental drift using biology, botany, and geology.
Scientists believe that multiple supercontinents, such as Pangaea, originated and disintegrated during the course of the Earth's history.
Scientists found plate boundaries in the '60s through magnetic surveys of the ocean floor and seismic listening networks designed to monitor nuclear tests.
Two examples are Pannotia, which lived around 600 million years ago, and Rodinia, which existed more than a billion years ago.
The concept of large-scale continent movement has a long history.
It is thought that hot rock ascended from the mantle and spread out over the Earth's surface to build the ocean floor.
Magnetometers, which can measure the intensity of a magnetic field, were used by scientists to examine the magnetic properties of rocks in a variety of locales.
Alexander von Humboldt proposed in about 1800 that the territories bordering the Atlantic Ocean had once been connected, into the bight of Africa.
Antonio Snider-Pellegrini suggested that the existence of identical fossil plants in both North American and European coal beds might be explained if the two continents were formerly united.
Snider-Pellegrini, like Wegener, maintained that there was once a single landmass that disintegrated, albeit he attributed the cause to the biblical Great Flood.
Frank B. Taylor of the United States proposed the concept of continental collision in 1908 to explain the genesis of some of the world's mountain ranges.
Increased understanding of the shape of the ocean floor offered additional evidence for continental drift.
If there were a geographical forecast, it would illustrate how the Atlantic Ocean will continue to expand over the next 100 million years, until it is far larger than the Pacific.
Read to discover the significance and science behind how the continents drifted.
Continental drift refers to large-scale horizontal motions of various continents relative to one another and to ocean basins across one or more geologic time spans.
Plates pushing together generated the world's highest mountains, the Himalayas, and the mountains are constantly expanding as a result of the plates pushing together even now.
Two occurrences, in particular, are extremely significant: The formation of new crust in places like the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
Subduction moving beneath is the disappearance of crust at the locations where plates collide.
The notion of continental drift reconciled identical fossil plants and animals that are currently found on widely separated continents.
Wegener proposed that glaciers were concentrated over the southern landmass around the South Pole and that the continents later moved to their present positions.
Although coral reefs and coal-forming wetlands are found in tropical and subtropical habitats, ancient coal seams and coral reefs have been unearthed in areas that are currently far too cold.
The theory is that the Earth's continental surface is a jigsaw puzzle of plates that move as full pieces rather than merely the tallest parts.
The theory is now part of the larger theory of plate tectonics.
Plate tectonics theory, which incorporates continental drift, provides a framework for studying geology and the Earth.
Modern geology is built on the notions of continental drift and plate tectonics.
Scientists have also recognized that the Earth is constantly shifting and that the continents are actively moving and changing now.
Due to the ongoing movement of tectonic plates, we may even be on the verge of forming another supercontinent in about 200 million years.
Scientists are also aware that plate tectonics is a complicated feedback mechanism.
Continental drift causes a variety of different phenomena to come into play.
After the global continent Pangaea split up, Arabia, Australia, South America, Antarctica, India, Africa, and Madagascar became the supercontinent Gondwana.
Table Mountain in South Africa and the mountains south of Rio de Janeiro are comprised of identical rocks.
Around 120 million years ago, India began to migrate northward toward Asia.
The huge rocky plates that make up the crust move only a few inches every year are propelled by the circulation heat of the Earth's interior.
They have had a significant impact on the Earth's climate over time.
These physical changes to the Earth can drive evolution as the planet's species change as the globe itself changes.
As continents separated from Pangaea, species became divided by seas and oceans, resulting in speciation.
Individuals who could once interbreed became reproductively isolated from one another and finally developed adaptations that rendered them compatible.
If species did not adapt to variations in weather and temperature, they would perish and become extinct.
New species would emerge to take their place and learn to live in the new environments.
Geosynclines are formed when subsidence occurs in large belts, creating troughs for sediment deposits; nonlinear subsidence causes basins and irregular depressions.
Subsurface solution during cave development can result in a sequence of subsidence features at the ground surface, which is referred to collectively as karst topography.
In geology, uplift is the vertical elevation of the surface of the Earth as a result of natural causes.
Warping, also known as epeirogeny, is a broad, slow and gentle uplift.
Uplift of the surface has also happened as a result of the melting and wasting of Pleistocene ice sheets.
In geology, a fault is a flat or slightly curved fracture in the crust where compressional or tensional forces induce relative displacement of the rocks on opposite sides of the fracture.
Faults can range in length from a few inches to hundreds of miles, and displacement can range from less than an inch to hundreds of miles.
Continental drift may lead to climate changes.
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