Alfred Wegener, What did he do?

12 05 2008

Alfred WegenerAlfred Wegener did something that many of us only dream of doing. He had wanted to elaborate on an opinon of Earth that was totally out there and tried to prove it! He was one of the many scientist who believed in the idea of one large continents that he imagened roughly fit together like a puzzle and wanted to go out on a limb to prove this theory. Scientest like Wagener imagened that Earth looked something like this at one point: One single landmass.

Alfreds theory

He argued that the similarity of these continents and the fossils found on the now distanced continents were evidence that these continents were drifting pieces of an ancient “supercontinent” [Bolt]. Wegener suggested that the lighter thicker coninental blocks floated above the oceanic crust millions of years ago similar to an iceburg in the sea.

The idea of “Float and Drift” is his explanation of the geographical phenomenon that occurred when oceanic crust similar to that of tar, floated to the surface and for thousands of years reached a balance and then drifted. We call this large floating continent Pangaea. However, Wegeners idea was not as easily accepted because he did not find reasoning to identify the strong forces that would propel these continents away from one another. What drove them apart? How did these plates drift through such a sea floor? Alfred would need the assistance and help of two other important figures in plate tectonics Harry Hess and Arthur Holmes to later make this plate tectonic, pangaea, and “floating and drifting” theories accepted in the science community. But they are coming up next!

How did Alfred’s theory assist with understanding Earthquakes and continents? Does this affect those theories? Why is it so important to the study of seismology?

Here is a great article about Alfred Wegener with more description and details about his theories and discoveries. Enjoy!

CLICK HERE, to see an article about Alfred Wegener in the NEW YORK POST!

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Plates? What Plates?

12 05 2008

Plate tectonics is one of those topics that you generally skim through in junior high. But what exactly are plates and how are they related to earthquakes? Plate tectonics is a theory that has become a well-accepted reason to explain geological facts about Earth.

The basic idea of plate tectonics is that the Earth is made up of several large, moving pieces of solid rock, on the ocean and on continents. They are plates floating on softer like rock. The plates are in constant motion and sometimes run into one another, this is called a collision, or they slide along, over or under one another. Their motion, and collisions can explain several geological events including earthquakes. It also explains the presence of faults on many continents, where two plates collide, including the San Andreas fault in California.

Under the ocean, the plates explain why there is major seismic energy in the Pacific Ocean and how deep ocean trenches and large fracture zones and rifts in the ocean floor occur. Plates also give reason to associate volcanoes and large mountain belts like the Andes. Plates are the reason mountain belts form, from the pushing of plates and vast spreading and colliding of plate tectonics..

Why are plates so important to understand? How do they contribute to our overall understanding of Earth and seismic motion?

Here is a great article about Plate Tectonics with great illustrations and explanations about faults, environments and locations of plates on Earth. Check it out!

The Pangaea Theory asserts that all of the plates were connected at one point and slowly shifted away from one another. This large continent is called Pangaea. Take the online quiz to test and learn more about this excited theory related to plate tectonics!