Tectonic Theories

Jun 28th, 2015
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Tectonic theories attempt to explain why mountains, earthquakes, and volcanoes occur where they do, the ages of deformational events, and the ages and shapes of continents and ocean basins.

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Tectonic Theories Tectonic theories attempt to explain why mountains, earthquakes, and volcanoes occur where they do, the ages of deformational events, and the ages and shapes of continents and ocean basins. Late 19th Century theories Contraction of the Earth due to cooling. This is analogous to what happens to the skin of an apple as the interior shrinks as it dehydrates. This could explain compressional features, like fold/thrust mountain belts, but could not explain extensional features, such as rift valleys and ocean basins. Nor could it explain the shapes and positions of the continents. Expansion of the Earth due to heating. This was suggested after radioactivity was discovered. This could explain why the continents are broken up, and could easily explain extensional features, but did not do very well at explaining compressional features. Wegner's Theory of Continental DriftAlfred Wegner was a German Meteorologist who studied ancient climates in the early 1900s. Like most people the jigsaw puzzle appearance of the Atlantic continental margins, caught his attention. He put together the evidence of ancient glaciations and the distribution of fossil to formulate a theory wherein the continents moved over the surface of the Earth, sometimes forming large supercontinents and other times forming separate continental masses. He proposed that prior to about 200 million years ago all of the continents formed one large land mass that he called Pangea.The weakn

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