This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Information For Plate Tectonics Essay

975 words - 4 pages

Information for Plate Tectonics

"Viewed from the distance of the moon, the astonishing thing about the Earth, catching the breath, is that it is alive. Photographs show the dry, pounded surface of the moon in the foreground, dead as an old bone. Aloft, floating free beneath the moist, gleaming membrane of bright blue sky, is the rising earth, the only exuberant thing in this part of the cosmos. If you could look long enough, you would see the swirling of the great drifts of white cloud, covering and uncovering the half-hidden masses of land. And if you had been looking for a very long, geologic time, you would have seen the continents themselves in motion, drifting apart on their crustal plates, held afloat by the fire beneath." (1) These were the words spoken by Lewis Thomas, the U.S. Physician and author.

The story of Plate Tectonics is a fascinating story of continents drifting majestically from place to place breaking apart, colliding, and grinding against each other; of terrestrial mountain ranges rising up like rumples in rugs being pushed together; of oceans opening and closing and undersea mountain chains girdling the planet like seams on a baseball; of violent earthquakes and fiery volcanoes. Plate Tectonics describes the intricate design of a complex, living planet in a state of dynamic flux. (1)

Many forces cause the shape of the Earth to change over long time. However, the largest force that changes our planet's surface is the movement of Earth's outer layer through the process of plate tectonics. This process causes mountains to push higher and oceans to grow wider. The rigid outer layer of the Earth, the lithosphere, is made up of plates that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. These solid but lightweight plates seem to "float" on top of a more dense, fluid layer underneath. (2)

Motions deep within the Earth carry heat from the hot interior to the cooler surface. These motions of material under the Earth's surface cause the plates to move very slowly across the surface of the Earth, at a rate of about two inches per year. (2) When two plates move apart, rising material from the mantle pushes the lithosphere aside. Two types of features can form when this happens. At mid ocean ridges, the bottom of the sea comes apart to make way for new ocean crust formed from molten rock, or magma, rising from the mantle. Continental rifts form when a continent begins to split apart (the East African Rift is an example). If a continental rift continues to split a continent apart it can eventually form an ocean basin. When two plates move towards each other, several features can form. Often, one of the plates is forced to go down into the hot asthenosphere at a subduction zone. Volcanoes may form when a subducted plate melts and the molten rock comes to the surface. If neither plate is subducted, the two crash into each other and can form huge mountains like the Himalayas. (3)

There are several different hypotheses to explain...

Find Another Essay On Information for Plate Tectonics

Mars Geology Essay

1372 words - 6 pages similar stripes in the crustal magnetic field on Earth. To see this characteristic magnetic imprint on Mars indicates that it, too, had regions where new crust came up from the mantle and spread out across the surface. And when you have new crust coming up, you need old crust plunging back down ¬the exact mechanism for plate tectonics. Connerney points out that plate tectonics provides a unifying framework to explain several Martian features. First

plate tectonics Essay

1278 words - 6 pages , not a geologist. the concept of continental drift (and plate tectonics) is now widely accepted as one of the fundamental unifying ideas of geology. This shift in thinking among geologists depended not only on the discovery of an adequate explanation for continental movement (seafloor spreading, rifts, and trenches) but also because the way the continents are shaped they looked like a puzzle you could piece together. Another thing that is

Transform Faults

1043 words - 5 pages ridges causing distinctive land formations. Plate movements can be both vertical and horizontal at the same time, producing what is known as an oblique fault. Plate Tectonics shows us that the entire world is broken up into roughly twelve giant plates. The six major tectonic plates, as the sections are called, are the African, American, Antarctic, Eurasian, Indian and Pacific plates. Each one reaching thousands of miles long and wide. Each

Land Feature

1297 words - 5 pages AbstractThis paper will discuss how the Pacific Southwest region was formed according to the theory of plate tectonics. It will explain the theory of plate tectonics, which is the theory of how the continents move around on the mantle, and identify factors that influence the location and intensity of earthquakes and volcanoes for the region. The San Andreas Fault located in California, is a crack in the crust of the earth and is the main factor

Explain how the plate tectonics theory helps our understanding of the formation of island chains such as Hawaii

1284 words - 6 pages boundary. An example of this plate boundary is between the North American and Pacific plate which has formed the San Andreas Fault which is 1300km long. However, although there is significant evidence to suggest that volcanic and seismic events occur along plate boundaries, there are volcanic islands located away from plate boundaries. The theory of plate tectonics couldn’t provide an answer for the occurrence of intraplate volcanism. In 1963, J

Planet Earth (SCI350 Astronomy)

843 words - 3 pages planet that inhibits life because it meets all the requirements needed to enable life processes.Earth's Unique GeologyThe foundation (literally) for Earth's ability to inhabit life is its surface. Earth has two crusts: seafloor and continental. These two crusts are a result of Earth's unique process known as plate tectonics; ours is the only planet known to have this special feature. Radioactive decay keeps Earth's center hot which causes plate

Plate Tectonics

1036 words - 4 pages , the origin of mountain belts, the origin of sea floor topography, the distribution and composition of volcanoes, along with many other features can all be related to plate tectonics or also known as plate interactions at plate boundaries.Plate boundaries are of three general types, this is determined by whether the plates move away from each other, move toward each other or move past each other. These three plates' boundaries are known as

Continental drift

733 words - 3 pages Geophysicists combined the thoughts of seafloor spreading and subduction zones into a system of geodynamics. They demonstrated the global continuity of the subduction zones and showed that when the ocean floor spreads in one part of the globe, only one thing could possible happen. The expansion has to be accommodated by subduction in another part, or the earth would grow larger. The theory of plate tectonics has been debated, tested, and expanded and now forms a general idea for the geological sciences.

Chemistry in Society

1110 words - 5 pages can be found in many places in Earth science. Probably the most obvious point which can be related between the two is that molecules are the building blocks for absolutely everything existing on the Earth. Molecules make up solids, liquids, and gases. All molecules possess some form of energy and are always moving. They are usually, short, subtle movements not visible to the naked eye. Another way that chemistry in in Earth science is the plate

Dan McKenzie and the Theory of Plate Tectonics

825 words - 4 pages been moving away from each other since then. Plate tectonics is the only way to explain this. Lastly, there is a theory called the sea floor expansion which says that the Mid-Ocean Ridge spews magma and causes the sea floor to expand and for the older rocks to be pushed under the Earth’s surface and melted again into magma. This is proved by a the Glomar Challenger, a ship that was sent on an educational drilling expedition where it was supposed to

Plate Tectonics

805 words - 3 pages Plate TectonicsBy **********, ************Plate tectonics are a somewhat new method of analysis that has radically changed the way geologists think about the Earth. According to the new theory, Plate tectonics, the surface of the Earth is broken into several differently, and large, sized plates. The size and position of these plates change over time due to earthquakes, the plates colliding, etc, but we will explain this later. The hypothesis of

Similar Essays

Plate Tectonics Essay

1317 words - 5 pages In junior high school, I have learned the Continental Drift Theory, and my geography teacher told me there was a new theory based on the Continental Theory, i.e. Plate Tectonics. I accessed to the Internet to find the information about Plate Tectonics. There are three distinct types of plate boundaries existing, which are supported by geological observation, geophysical data, and theoretical considerations. Their names and categories are

Plate Tectonics And Our Supercontinental Past

976 words - 4 pages The theory of plate tectonics spans a large amount of time and history. To be very generic, the theory of plate tectonics describes the movement of the earth’s outermost layer known as the lithosphere. There are several theories that precede and coincide with plate tectonics. One of the earliest theories is that all the earth’s continents once were one large supercontinent known as Rodinia. There is little information about Rodinia, however the

Plate Tectonics Theories Analysis

1261 words - 5 pages Plate Tectonics Theories Analysis Since the beginning of human kind there has been a cloud of wonder regarding the natural processes and patterns of our planet. Scientist interested in this field through out the years, have developed many different theories to how our planet geological features have come about. The most widely accepted theory in this field is that of plate tectonics. For those who

Plate Tectonics Essay

2418 words - 10 pages in the past, present, or future. The Theory of Plate tectonics is accredited to most of the creations of Mountain Ranges, the Centennial drifting Theory, for earthquakes, and volcanic activity. Plate tectonics and mountains also play a big part in the Earth and its geological features. Geophysics, which studies the physics of the Earth, has led to many important findings about the Earth and how it is made. Seismologic studies of planet Earth