Physical Geology - Plate Tectonics
Shallow earthquakes in yellow and deep earthquakes in red
You may wish to print a copy of the lecture outline on Plate Tectonics(minus the illustrations) and you have two options:
After reading Chapter Nineteen, you should be able to:
- Explain the idea of continental drift, compare it with the modern plate tectonics and list the evidence supporting this
- Illustrate how Earth's magnetic field affects rocks on the Earth's surface,
and explain how this relates to continental drift.
- Define seafloor spreading, and describe how reversals in the Earth's
magnetic field appear on the seafloor.
- Illustrate the types of plate boundaries and their features.
- Cite recent evidence that supports the theory of plate tectonics.
- Describe the possible mechanisms driving plate tectonics.
When I was an undergraduate in 1961, our Geology Club organized a debate in which faculty teams would discuss the "pros and cons" of the theory of Continental Drift. Not one of the 10 faculty wanted to be on the "pro" side so they formed their teams by drawing straws. Today, the opposite would be true in our department. The world map above used radar altimetry to reflect the underlying topography of the oceans and
continents. Note that many of the plate boundaries are clearly defined. I would hope that everyone who takes this course leaves with a better understanding of the Earth and how it works. The lead resource is a good thing to read at this time.
- Review - Plate Interactions
- Plate Tectonics - the Cause of Earthquakes
In the early 1960s, the emergence of the theory of plate tectonics started a revolution in the earth sciences. Since then,
scientists have verified and refined this theory, and now have a much better understanding of how our planet has
been shaped by plate-tectonic processes. We now know that, directly or indirectly, plate tectonics influences nearly all
geologic processes, past and present. Indeed, the notion that the entire Earth's surface is continually shifting has
profoundly changed the way we view our world."
- Plate Tectonics from the United States Geological Survey
"Convergent Boundaries ... "Hot Spots" ... Plates ... Plate Tectonics ... "Ring of Fire"... Sea-Floor Spreading ... Spreading
Ridges ... Subduction Zones ... Submarine Volcanoes ... "
A Virtual Field Trip to Mount Saint Helens
The Cascade mountain range in the Pacific northwest is a geologically active area. The Juan de Fuca plate is moving to the east and is being subducted beneath the North American plate which is moving the west. Review the before and after aspects of the most recent eruption of Mount Saint Helens
Learning about geology from a computer screen is only half as fun as enjoying it in the field!
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Copyright by John C. Butler, July 29, 1995
Check out this panoramic view of the Himalayian Mountains which were produced by continent/continent collision.