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Discuss The Range Of Available Evidence Which Supports The Theory Of Plate Tectonics. (40 Marks)

1071 words - 5 pages

Wegener's theory Continental drift-In 1915, the German geologist and meteorologist Alfred Wegener first proposed the theory of continental drift, which states that parts of the Earth's crust slowly drift atop a liquid core. The fossil record supports and gives credence to the theories of continental drift and plate tectonics.

Pangea was a supercontinent that existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras. It formed approximately 300 million years ago and then began to break apart after about 100 million years. Unlike the present Earth, much of the land mass was in the Southern Hemisphere. Pangea was fully assembled by the Early Permian Period, some 270 million years ago. It ...view middle of the document...

What supports this evidence is the fact that earthworms were not known for their swimming ability, meaning that they may have been transported to the Gondwanaland continents. These places consist of all of the countries in the Southern hemisphere eg. Antarctica, South America and also Australasia. Earthworms originally came from North America, therefore meaning that due to the North American plate and the African plate pulling away from each other, certain species of earthworms were therefore taken across the oceano on this plate, after that they died and their fossils have now been discovered, therefore helping to develop the theory of continental drift and plate boundaries. Also, another piece of evidence that could perhaps be used to back up Wegener's theory is the fact that the Appalachians and Caledonian mountain ranges located in North America and Scotland are thousands of miles away from each other yet match up almost perfectly. This could therefore suggest that North America and Scotland were once joined as one piece of land and therefore shared the same mountain range. This helps to back up the theory because had the African plate not been pulling away from the North American plate, it would have perhaps mean that Scotland and North America were perhaps still the same piece of land or country, meaning that these two mountain ranges were part of the same one large mountain range.

However, certain modern day examples would consist of the Mid Atlantic ridge shows that the North American, African and Eurasian plate are pulling away from each other causing a large U shape in the sea bed around Iceland. Due to it being located on a divergent plate boundary, it means that new land is always being formed during this process. This would therefore suggest that these plates are pulling away from each other at a very slow pace. This therefore means that magma is coming up through the gap and forming new land with rock called basalt. However, due to the plates pulling away from each other at such a slow rate, this means that a large U shaped valley is formed underwater, resulting in a 3 km deep ridge in the sea bed. The ridge has an average spreading rate of...

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