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What Is The Link Between Continental Drift, Plate Tectonics, And The Development Of Earthquakes And Volcanoes?

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What Is The Link Between Continental Drift, Plate Tectonics, And The Development Of Earthquakes And Volcanoes? Steven Marlow Before thinking about how continental drift, plate tectonics and the development of earthquakes and volcanoes link together, it is important to understand what exactly each are. The theory of continental drift entered mainstream thought around about 1915, when an Austrian Meteorologist published a book imaginatively called "continental drift". Its discovery was mainly brought about by the fact that west Africa and east South America seem to fit together perfectly. After some research, it was found that South America and Africa share a lot of similarities buried beneath the soil millions of years ago; such as fossils and soils. Fossils of many dinosaurs dating back to a certain period can be found in Africa and South America in the same layer of rock beneath the surface, suggesting they existed at the same times on the two continents. Evidence of ice sheets, dating from the ice age in the carboniferous period roughly 290 million years ago, beneath the soil in the two continents fits together perfectly, like a jigsaw puzzle; as do the coastlines. Deposits of many minerals on the two continents, such as rare violet quartzes found in South Africa and Brazil from the Devonian period, occur in shapes that seem to be cut in half; if the two continents were joined this would not appear to be the case. ...read more.


In the 1960's the theory of continental drift became to be widely accepted throughout the world, and has since led us on to some interesting discoveries. Once the theory of continental drift had become widely accepted, scientists started asking themselves "how". What they came up with is the theory of Plate Tectonics. The biggest question facing them was what provided the mechanism for the movement of the plates. The answer is constructive plate boundaries. Convection currents in the earth's mantle( which at the top near the lithosphere is almost solid, but near the core is almost liquid) caused molten rock to be released onto the surface of the earth. This then hardens and pushed the two plates on either side away from each other. The best example is the mid-atlantic ridge. There is video evidence of this occurring (but obviously as the plates move very slowly - even slower than Homer Simpson's neurological activity) the continents haven't been captured moving. However modern, high-tech photos taken of the mid-atlantic ridge show that on either side of the plate boundary there is a wide-gently sloping incline showing the path of previous lava flows. What is more difficult to prove is that the escaping lave from within the crust causes the continents to move apart. ...read more.


This occurs when two plates are moving next to each other in different directions or at different speeds. As there is a large amount of friction between them, the movement is not regular and smooth. The convection currents in the mantle build up a large force pulling the plate in the direction it is going to. When that force is greater than the force of friction holding the two plates together, a sudden, jerky movement occurs. This of course is an earthquake. The most famous example of this type of plate boundary is the San Andreas Fault in North America. There were several major earthquakes in the area during the 20th century, with the worst one being in 1906. The evidence for this type of plate movement as a result of earthquakes: Because earthquakes have often occurred in cities the movement of the plates has been very easy to spot. This is obviously because of the number of individual features that a city has have moved some distance in opposite directions. The best examples in San Francisco, where the actual fault line passes through the city, have been fences, gates etc. Overall we can see that the link between continental drift, plate tectonics and the development of earthquakes and volcanoes is this: The discovery of continental drift led to the discovery of plate tectonics, which led to the study of the development of earthquakes and volcanoes. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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