Chapter 4 Main Ideas
4.1 Alfred Wegener’s Arguments for Plate Tectonics
The evidence for continental drift in the early 20th century included the matching of continental shapes on either side of the Atlantic, and the geological and fossil matchups between continents that are now thousands of kilometres apart.
4.2 Global Geological Models of the Early 20th Century
The established theories of global geology were permanentism and contractionism, but neither of these theories was able to explain some of the evidence that supported the idea of continental drift.
4.3 Geological Renaissance of the Mid-20th Century
Giant strides were made in understanding Earth during the middle decades of the 20th century, including discovering magnetic evidence of continental drift, mapping the topography of the ocean floor, describing the depth relationships of earthquakes along ocean trenches, measuring heat flow differences in various parts of the ocean floor, and mapping magnetic reversals on the sea floor. By the mid-1960s, the fundamentals of the theory of plate tectonics were in place.
4.4 Plates, Plate Motions, and Plate-Boundary Processes
Earth’s lithosphere is made up of over 20 plates that are moving in different directions at rates of between 1 cm/y to greater than 10 cm/y. The three types of plate boundaries are divergent (plates moving apart and new crust forming), convergent (plates moving together and one possibly being subducted), and transform (plates moving side by side). Divergent boundaries form where existing plates are rifted apart, and it is hypothesized that this is caused by a series of mantle plumes. Subduction zones can form where accumulation of sediment at a passive margin leads to separation of oceanic and continental lithosphere. Supercontinents form and break up through these processes.
4.5 Mechanisms for Plate Motion
It is widely believed that ridge-push and slab-pull are the main mechanisms for plate motion, as opposed to traction by mantle convection. Mantle convection is a key factor for producing the conditions necessary for ridge-push and slab-pull.
Key Term Check
What key term from Chapter 4 is each card describing? Turn the card to check your answer.