Plate tectonics and data page

This finding, though unexpected, was not entirely surprising because it was known that basalt—the iron-rich, volcanic rock making up the ocean floor—contains a strongly magnetic mineral magnetite and can locally distort compass readings.

Because all plates form a closed system, all movements can be defined by dealing with them two at a time. Divergent margins As plates move apart at a divergent plate boundarythe release of pressure produces partial melting of the underlying mantle. Meanwhile, debates developed around the phenomena of polar wander.

Dissipation of heat from the mantle is acknowledged to be the original source of the energy required to drive plate tectonics through convection or large scale upwelling and doming. They provide a valuable natural laboratory for studying the composition and character of the oceanic crust and the mechanisms of their emplacement and preservation on land.

This motion causes earthquakes and a deep trench to form in an arc shape. And, using the mobilistic concepts developed before, he correctly concluded that many millions of years later, the oceanic crust eventually descends along the continental margins where oceanic trenches — very deep, narrow canyons — are formed, e.

The continents have a crust that is broadly granitic in composition and, with a density of about 2. Thus, the plates move along transform faultswhose trace defines circles of latitude perpendicular to the axis of spreading, and so form small circles around the pole of rotation. However, it later became clear that slivers of continental crust adjacent to the deep-sea trenchas well as sediments deposited in the trench, may be dragged down the subduction zone.

The fault surfaces are rarely smooth, and pressure may build up when the plates on either side temporarily lock. These zones later became known as Wadati—Benioff zones, or simply Benioff zones, in honor of the seismologists who first recognized them, Kiyoo Wadati of Japan and Hugo Benioff of the United States.

Plate tectonics

If the diverging plates are capped by continental crust, fractures develop that are invaded by the ascending magma, prying the continents farther apart.

In line with other previous and contemporaneous proposals, in the meteorologist Alfred Wegener amply described what he called continental drift, expanded in his book The Origin of Continents and Oceans [32] and the scientific debate started that would end up fifty years later in the Plate tectonics and data page of plate tectonics.

Wegener could not explain the force that drove continental drift, and his vindication did not come until after his death in This upper portion of the mantle, which is known as the lithospheric mantle, has an average density of about 3.

Also located are several dozen hot spots where plumes of hot mantle material are upwelling beneath the plates. This hypothesis linked these patterns to geomagnetic reversals and was supported by several lines of evidence: The greater density of old lithosphere relative to the underlying asthenosphere allows it to sink into the deep mantle at subduction zones, providing most of the driving force for plate movement.

Modern theories that continue building on the older mantle doming concepts and see plate movements as a secondary phenomena are beyond the scope of this article and are discussed elsewhere for example on the Plume tectonics article.

Forces that are small and generally negligible are: Diagram depicting the process of atoll formation. The asthenosphere, which sits directly below the lithospheric mantle, is thought to be slightly denser at 3. Its summits are typically 1 to 5 km 0. At spreading rates of about 15 cm 6 inches per year, the entire crust beneath the Pacific Ocean about 15, km [9, miles] wide could be produced in million years.

The four main types of seismic waves are P waves, S waves, Love waves, and Rayleigh waves. Under these conditions the rocks recrystallize, or metamorphose, to form a suite of rocks known as blueschists, named for the diagnostic blue mineral called glaucophanewhich is stable only at the high pressures and low temperatures found in subduction zones.

Furthermore, when the rock strata of the margins of separate continents are very similar it suggests that these rocks were formed in the same way, implying that they were joined initially. There are two types of crust, continental and oceanicwhich differ in their composition and thickness.

Alfred Wegener in Greenland in the winter of — Specifically, they did not see how continental rock could plow through the much denser rock that makes up oceanic crust.

Using Google Earth to Explore Plate Tectonics

More important, because the presence of magnetite gives the basalt measurable magnetic properties, these newly discovered magnetic variations provided another means to study the deep ocean floor. This distortion was recognized by Icelandic mariners as early as the late 18th century.

Such flattening causes the back-arc basin to close, resulting in deformationmetamorphismand even melting of the strata deposited in the basin. The subducted slab still has a tendency to sink and may become detached and founder submerge into the mantle. InGeorge W.Intro | Earth's Structure | Plate Tectonics | Plates & Boundaries Plates & Boundaries The earth's continents are constantly moving due to the motions of the tectonic plates.

Closely examine the map below, which shows the 15 major tectonic plates.

Google Earth/KML Files

and some are sliding past each other. Because of these differences, tectonic plate. The theory of plate tectonics is based on a broad synthesis of geologic and geophysical data. It is now almost universally accepted, and its adoption represents a true scientific revolution, analogous in its consequences to quantum mechanics in physics or the discovery of the genetic code in biology.

The new data that had been collected on the ocean basins also showed particular characteristics regarding the bathymetry.

One of the major outcomes of these datasets was that all along the globe, a system of mid-oceanic ridges was detected. The Wikibook Historical Geology has a page on the topic of: Plate tectonics: overview.

The Himalayan mountain range dramatically demonstrates one of the most visible and spectacular consequences of plate tectonics. When two continents meet head-on, neither is subducted because the continental rocks are relatively light and, like two colliding icebergs, resist downward motion.

Space-geodetic data have already confirmed that. Plate tectonics and people: Endnotes: Ordering Instructions This book was originally published in paper form in February (design and coordination by Martha Kiger; illustrations and production by Jane Russell).

It is for. This page last updated on Aug EENS Physical Geology Tulane University Prof. Stephen A.

Plate tectonics shift?

Nelson Continental Drift, Sea Floor Spreading and Plate Tectonics.

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Plate tectonics and data page
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