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Plate tectonics

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Describe geographic evidence collected in the last part of the 20th century to support the theory of continental drift.
Why do scientists today accept the movement of continents but did not accept this theory back in Wegner's time?
Describe the process of the scientific method and theory development.
How does the scientific method help us understand the natural world?
Describe how plate tectonics provides the mechanism for continental drift.
How do plate tectonics explain the process of continental drift?
How do plate tectonics explain natural landforms like the Himalayas and the Ring of Fire in the Pacific Ocean?

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The solution provides assistance, information and advise to answer the list of questions and tasks (see above) on the subject of plate tectonics. Resources are also listed for the purpose of expansion.

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Continental Drift Evidence

The theory had its beginnings in the 16th century in the ideas of Abraham Ortelius and Theodor Christoph Lilienthal. Upon observation of the shapes of the continents, they believed that it looked like they could fit together, as in a puzzle. So Ortelius proposed that (Kious/Tilling, 1996) "The vestiges of the rupture reveal themselves, if someone brings forward a map of the world and considers carefully the coasts of the three [continents]." While the idea was debated upon over and again, by the 20th century, the notion of Continental drift has been pretty established in the geographic study area known as plate tectonics. In 1912 Europe, the German Geological Society had offered the following evidence:
1. Matching of the coastlines of the continents
2. Geological similarities between continents
3. Life forms between continents appearing to have the same source due to similarities
4. Permo-Carboniferous moraine deposits found in continents with matched coastlines prove singular origins
5. Evidence of land bridges

Further developments through the 20th century include:
1. In the mid-20th century Bruce Heezen has found the great Global rift along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge,
2. Jan Hospers proved that the magnetic poles and geographical poles coincide in the last 23 Millennia
3. Harry Hess' work with the US Navy proved the idea of seafloor spreading
4. S.K. Runcorn utilizes the theory of convection which further supports the movement of the tectonic plates
5. Better mapping and computer model systems - this allowed for an efficient utilization of available statistics to confirm the movement of ...

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  • MA, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • Certificate, Geva Ulpan (via Universita Tel Aviv)
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