Continental drift

Continental drift is the theory that the Earth's continents have moved over geologic time relative to each other, thus appearing to have "drifted" across the ocean bed.[2] The speculation that continents might have 'drifted' was first put forward by Abraham Ortelius in 1596. The concept was independently and more fully developed by Alfred Wegener in 1912, but his theory was rejected by many for lack of any motive mechanism. Arthur Holmes later proposed mantle convection for that mechanism. The idea of continental drift has since been subsumed by the theory of plate tectonics, which explains that the continents move by riding on plates of the Earth's lithosphere.[3]

Pangea animation 03
The continental drift of the last 250 million years
Antonio Snider-Pellegrini Opening of the Atlantic
Antonio Snider-Pellegrini's Illustration of the closed and opened Atlantic Ocean (1858).[1]


Early history

Abraham Ortelius (Ortelius 1596),[4] Theodor Christoph Lilienthal (1756),[5] Alexander von Humboldt (1801 and 1845),[5] Antonio Snider-Pellegrini (Snider-Pellegrini 1858), and others had noted earlier that the shapes of continents on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean (most notably, Africa and South America) seem to fit together.[6] W. J. Kious described Ortelius' thoughts in this way:[7]

Abraham Ortelius in his work Thesaurus Geographicus ... suggested that the Americas were "torn away from Europe and Africa ... by earthquakes and floods" and went on to say: "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]."

In 1889, Alfred Russel Wallace remarked, "It was formerly a very general belief, even amongst geologists, that the great features of the earth's surface, no less than the smaller ones, were subject to continual mutations, and that during the course of known geological time the continents and great oceans had, again and again, changed places with each other."[8] He quotes Charles Lyell as saying, "Continents, therefore, although permanent for whole geological epochs, shift their positions entirely in the course of ages."[9] and claims that the first to throw doubt on this was James Dwight Dana in 1849.

In his Manual of Geology (1863), Dana wrote, "The continents and oceans had their general outline or form defined in earliest time. This has been proved with respect to North America from the position and distribution of the first beds of the Silurian – those of the Potsdam epoch. … and this will probably prove to the case in Primordial time with the other continents also".[10] Dana was enormously influential in America – his Manual of Mineralogy is still in print in revised form – and the theory became known as Permanence theory.[11]

This appeared to be confirmed by the exploration of the deep sea beds conducted by the Challenger expedition, 1872-6, which showed that contrary to expectation, land debris brought down by rivers to the ocean is deposited comparatively close to the shore on what is now known as the continental shelf. This suggested that the oceans were a permanent feature of the Earth's surface, and did not change places with the continents.[8]

Wegener and his predecessors

Alfred Wegener 1910
Alfred Wegener

Apart from the earlier speculations mentioned in the previous section, the idea that the American continents had once formed a single landmass together with Europe and Asia before assuming their present shapes and positions was speculated by several scientists before Alfred Wegener's 1912 paper.[12] Although Wegener's theory was formed independently and was more complete than those of his predecessors, Wegener later credited a number of past authors with similar ideas:[13][14] Franklin Coxworthy (between 1848 and 1890),[15] Roberto Mantovani (between 1889 and 1909), William Henry Pickering (1907)[16] and Frank Bursley Taylor (1908).[17] In addition, Eduard Suess had proposed a supercontinent Gondwana in 1885[18] and the Tethys Ocean in 1893,[19] assuming a land-bridge between the present continents submerged in the form of a geosyncline, and John Perry had written an 1895 paper proposing that the earth's interior was fluid, and disagreeing with Lord Kelvin on the age of the earth.[20]

For example: the similarity of southern continent geological formations had led Roberto Mantovani to conjecture in 1889 and 1909 that all the continents had once been joined into a supercontinent; Wegener noted the similarity of Mantovani's and his own maps of the former positions of the southern continents. In Mantovani's conjecture, this continent broke due to volcanic activity caused by thermal expansion, and the new continents drifted away from each other because of further expansion of the rip-zones, where the oceans now lie. This led Mantovani to propose an Expanding Earth theory which has since been shown to be incorrect.[21][22][23]

Continental drift without expansion was proposed by Frank Bursley Taylor,[24] who suggested in 1908 (published in 1910) that the continents were moved into their present positions by a process of "continental creep".[25][26] In a later paper he proposed that this occurred by their being dragged towards the equator by tidal forces during the hypothesized capture of the moon in the Cretaceous, resulting in "general crustal creep" toward the equator. Although his proposed mechanism was wrong, he was the first to realize the insight that one of the effects of continental motion would be the formation of mountains, and attributed the formation of the Himalayas to the collision between the Indian subcontinent with Asia.[27] Wegener said that of all those theories, Taylor's, although not fully developed, had the most similarities to his own. In the mid-20th century, the theory of continental drift was referred to as the "Taylor-Wegener hypothesis",[24][27][28] although this terminology eventually fell out of common use.[29]

Alfred Wegener first presented his hypothesis to the German Geological Society on 6 January 1912.[12] His hypothesis was that the continents had once formed a single landmass, called Pangaea, before breaking apart and drifting to their present locations.

Wegener was the first to use the phrase "continental drift" (1912, 1915)[12][13] (in German "die Verschiebung der Kontinente" – translated into English in 1922) and formally publish the hypothesis that the continents had somehow "drifted" apart. Although he presented much evidence for continental drift, he was unable to provide a convincing explanation for the physical processes which might have caused this drift. His suggestion that the continents had been pulled apart by the centrifugal pseudoforce (Polflucht) of the Earth's rotation or by a small component of astronomical precession was rejected, as calculations showed that the force was not sufficient.[30] The Polflucht hypothesis was also studied by Paul Sophus Epstein in 1920 and found to be implausible.

Rejection of Wegener's theory, 1910s–1950s

The theory of continental drift was not accepted for many years. One problem was that a plausible driving force was missing.[2] A second problem was that Wegener's estimate of the velocity of continental motion, 250  cm/year, was implausibly high.[31] (The currently accepted rate for the separation of the Americas from Europe and Africa is about 2.5  cm/year).[32] It also did not help that Wegener was not a geologist. Other geologists also believed that the evidence that Wegener had provided was not sufficient. It is now accepted that the plates carrying the continents do move across the Earth's surface, although not as fast as Wegener believed; ironically one of the chief outstanding questions is the one Wegener failed to resolve: what is the nature of the forces propelling the plates?[2]

The British geologist Arthur Holmes championed the theory of continental drift at a time when it was deeply unfashionable. He proposed in 1931 that the Earth's mantle contained convection cells which dissipated heat produced by radioactive decay and moved the crust at the surface.[33] His Principles of Physical Geology, ending with a chapter on continental drift, was published in 1944.[34]

Geological maps of the time showed huge land bridges spanning the Atlantic and Indian oceans to account for the similarities of fauna and flora and the divisions of the Asian continent in the Permian era but failing to account for glaciation in India, Australia and South Africa.[35]

Geophysicist Jack Oliver is credited with providing seismologic evidence supporting plate tectonics which encompassed and superseded continental drift with the article "Seismology and the New Global Tectonics", published in 1968, using data collected from seismologic stations, including those he set up in the South Pacific.[36][37]

It is now known that there are two kinds of crust: continental crust and oceanic crust. Continental crust is inherently lighter and its composition is different from oceanic crust, but both kinds reside above a much deeper "plastic" mantle. Oceanic crust is created at spreading centers, and this, along with subduction, drives the system of plates in a chaotic manner, resulting in continuous orogeny and areas of isostatic imbalance. The theory of plate tectonics explains all this, including the movement of the continents, better than Wegener's theory.

The fixists

Hans Stille and Leopold Kober opposed the idea of continental drift and worked on a "fixist"[38] geosyncline model with Earth contraction playing a key role in the formation of orogens.[39][40] Other geologists who opposed continental drift were Bailey Willis, Charles Schuchert, Rollin Chamberlin and Walther Bucher.[41] In 1939 an international geological conference was held in Frankfurt.[42] This conference came to be dominated by the fixists, especially as those geologists specializing in tectonics were all fixists except Willem van der Gracht.[42] Criticism of continental drift and mobilism was abundant at the conference not only from tectonicists but also from sedimentological (Nölke), paleontological (Nölke), mechanical (Lehmann) and oceanographic (Troll, Wüst) perspectives.[42][43] Hans Cloos, the organizer of the conference, was also a fixist[42] who together with Troll held the view that excepting the Pacific Ocean continents were not radically different from oceans in their behaviour.[43] The mobilist theory of Émile Argand for the Alpine orogeny was criticized by Kurt Leuchs.[42] The few drifters and mobilists at the conference appealed to biogeography (Kirsch, Wittmann), paleoclimatology (Wegener, K), paleontology (Gerth) and geodetic measurements (Wegener, K).[44] F. Bernauer correctly equated Reykjanes in south-west Iceland with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, arguing with this that the floor of the Atlantic Ocean was undergoing extension just like Reykjanes. Bernauer thought this extension had drifted the continents only 100–200 km apart, the approximate width of the volcanic zone in Iceland.[45]

David Attenborough, who attended university in the second half of the 1940s, recounted an incident illustrating its lack of acceptance then: "I once asked one of my lecturers why he was not talking to us about continental drift and I was told, sneeringly, that if I could prove there was a force that could move continents, then he might think about it. The idea was moonshine, I was informed."[46]

As late as 1953 – just five years before Carey[47] introduced the theory of plate tectonics – the theory of continental drift was rejected by the physicist Scheidegger on the following grounds.[48]

  • First, it had been shown that floating masses on a rotating geoid would collect at the equator, and stay there. This would explain one, but only one, mountain building episode between any pair of continents; it failed to account for earlier orogenic episodes.
  • Second, masses floating freely in a fluid substratum, like icebergs in the ocean, should be in isostatic equilibrium (in which the forces of gravity and buoyancy are in balance). But gravitational measurements showed that many areas are not in isostatic equilibrium.
  • Third, there was the problem of why some parts of the Earth's surface (crust) should have solidified while other parts were still fluid. Various attempts to explain this foundered on other difficulties.

Road to acceptance

From the 1930s to the late 1950s, works by Vening-Meinesz, Holmes, Umbgrove, and numerous others outlined concepts that were close or nearly identical to modern plate tectonics theory. In particular, the English geologist Arthur Holmes proposed in 1920 that plate junctions might lie beneath the sea, and in 1928 that convection currents within the mantle might be the driving force.[49] Holmes' views were particularly influential: in his bestselling textbook, Principles of Physical Geology, he included a chapter on continental drift, proposing that Earth's mantle contained convection cells which dissipated radioactive heat and moved the crust at the surface.[50][51]  Holmes' proposal resolved the phase disequilibrium objection (the underlying fluid was kept from solidifying by radioactive heating from the core).  However, scientific communication in the '30 and '40s was inhibited by the war, and the theory still required work to avoid foundering on the orogeny and isostasy objections.  Worse, the most viable forms of the theory predicted the existence of convection cell boundaries reaching deep into the earth that had yet to be observed.

In 1947, a team of scientists led by Maurice Ewing confirmed the existence of a rise in the central Atlantic Ocean, and found that the floor of the seabed beneath the sediments was chemically and physically different from continental crust.[52][53]  As oceanographers continued to bathymeter the ocean basins, a system of mid-oceanic ridges was detected.  An important conclusion was that along this system, new ocean floor was being created, which led to the concept of the "Great Global Rift".[54]

Meanwhile, scientists began recognizing odd magnetic variations across the ocean floor using devices developed during World War II to detect submarines.[55]  Over the next decade, it became increasingly clear that the magnetization patterns were not anomalies, as had been originally supposed. In a series of papers in 1959-1963, Heezen, Dietz, Hess, Mason, Vine, Matthews, and Morley collectively realized that the magnetization of the ocean floor formed extensive, zebra-like patterns: one stripe would exhibit normal polarity and the adjoining stripes reversed polarity.[56][57][58]  The best explanation was the "conveyor belt" or Vine–Matthews–Morley hypothesis.  New magma from deep within the Earth rises easily through these weak zones and eventually erupts along the crest of the ridges to create new oceanic crust.  The new crust is magnetized by the earth's magnetic field, which undergoes occasional reversals.  Formation of new crust then displaces the magnetized crust apart, akin to a conveyor belt — hence the name.[59]

Without workable alternatives to explain the stripes, geophysicists were forced to conclude that Holmes had been right: ocean rifts were sites of perpetual orogeny at the boundaries of convection cells.[60][61] By 1967, barely two decades after discovery of the mid-oceanic rifts, and a decade after discovery of the striping, plate tectonics had become axiomatic to modern geophysics.

In addition, Marie Tharp, in collaboration with Bruce Heezen, who initially ridiculed Tharp's observations that her maps confirmed continental drift theory, provided essential corroboration, using her skills in cartography and seismographic data, to confirm the theory.[62][63][64][65][66]

Modern evidence

Snider-Pellegrini Wegener fossil map
Fossil patterns across continents (Gondwanaland).
Mesosaurus skeleton, MacGregor, 1908.

Evidence for the movement of continents on tectonic plates is now extensive. Similar plant and animal fossils are found around the shores of different continents, suggesting that they were once joined. The fossils of Mesosaurus, a freshwater reptile rather like a small crocodile, found both in Brazil and South Africa, are one example; another is the discovery of fossils of the land reptile Lystrosaurus in rocks of the same age at locations in Africa, India, and Antarctica.[67] There is also living evidence, with the same animals being found on two continents. Some earthworm families (such as Ocnerodrilidae, Acanthodrilidae, Octochaetidae) are found in South America and Africa.

The complementary arrangement of the facing sides of South America and Africa is obvious but a temporary coincidence. In millions of years, slab pull, ridge-push, and other forces of tectonophysics will further separate and rotate those two continents. It was that temporary feature that inspired Wegener to study what he defined as continental drift although he did not live to see his hypothesis generally accepted.

The widespread distribution of Permo-Carboniferous glacial sediments in South America, Africa, Madagascar, Arabia, India, Antarctica and Australia was one of the major pieces of evidence for the theory of continental drift. The continuity of glaciers, inferred from oriented glacial striations and deposits called tillites, suggested the existence of the supercontinent of Gondwana, which became a central element of the concept of continental drift. Striations indicated glacial flow away from the equator and toward the poles, based on continents' current positions and orientations, and supported the idea that the southern continents had previously been in dramatically different locations that were contiguous with one another.[13]

See also


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  67. ^ "Rejoined continents [This Dynamic Earth, USGS]". USGS.


  • Frankel, Henry R. (2012). The Continental Drift Controversy. Volume I: Wegener and the Early Debate. Cambridge.
  • Le Grand, Homer Eugene (1988), Drifting Continents and Shifting Theories, Cambridge University, ISBN 978-0-521-31105-2.
  • Oreskes, Naomi (1999), The Rejection of Continental Drift, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-511732-5 (pb: 0-19-511733-6).
  • Oreskes, Naomi (2002), "Continental Drift" (PDF), in Munn, Ted; MacCracken, Michael C.; Perry, John S. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change, Vol. 1, Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 321–325, ISBN 978-0-471-97796-4, OCLC 633880622, archived from the original (PDF) on 4 February 2012
  • Ortelius, Abraham (1596) [1570], Thesaurus Geographicus (in Latin) (3 ed.), Antwerp: Plantin, OCLC 214324616 (First edition published 1570, 1587 edition online)
  • Şengör, Celâl (1982). "Classical theories of orogenesis". In Miyashiro, Akiho; Aki, Keiiti; Şengör, Celâl (eds.). Orogeny. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-103769.
  • Snider-Pellegrini, Antonio (1858), La Création et ses mystères dévoilés, Paris: Frank and Dentu.

External links

Abraham Ortelius

Abraham Ortelius (; also Ortels, Orthellius, Wortels; 14 April 1527 – 28 June 1598) was a Brabantian cartographer and geographer, conventionally recognized as the creator of the first modern atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World). Ortelius is often considered one of the founders of the Netherlandish school of cartography and one of the most notable figures of the school in its golden age (approximately 1570s–1670s). The publication of his atlas in 1570 is often considered as the official beginning of the Golden Age of Netherlandish cartography. He is also believed to be the first person to imagine that the continents were joined before drifting to their present positions.The Google Doodle of May 20, 2018, recognised Ortelius's endeavours, particularly the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum.

Alfred Wegener

Alfred Lothar Wegener (; German: [ˈʔalfʁeːt ˈveːgənɐ]; 1 November 1880 – November 1930) was a German polar researcher, geophysicist and meteorologist.

During his lifetime he was primarily known for his achievements in meteorology and as a pioneer of polar research, but today he is most remembered as the originator of the theory of continental drift by hypothesizing in 1912 that the continents are slowly drifting around the Earth (German: Kontinentalverschiebung). His hypothesis was controversial and not widely accepted until the 1950s, when numerous discoveries such as palaeomagnetism provided strong support for continental drift, and thereby a substantial basis for today's model of plate tectonics. Wegener was involved in several expeditions to Greenland to study polar air circulation before the existence of the jet stream was accepted. Expedition participants made many meteorological observations and were the first to overwinter on the inland Greenland ice sheet and the first to bore ice cores on a moving Arctic glacier.

Continental Drift (novel)

Continental Drift is a 1985 novel by Russell Banks. Set in the early 1980s, it follows two plots, through which Banks explores the relationship between apparently distant people drawn together in the world under globalization, which Banks compares to the geologic phenomena of continental drift. The first plot features Bob DuBois, a working class New Englander who heads to Florida in the hopes of striking it rich; the second plot traces the journey of Vanise Dorsinville from Haiti to Florida. It is an avowedly political work, whose stated aim is to "destroy the world as it is." Despite its scope, it is according to critic Michiko Kakutani "somehow, acutely personal."The book sold well (15,000 copies in hard cover, 100,000 in paper-back) and was highly acclaimed by critics. After publishing Continental Drift, Banks won the Dos Passos Prize for Literature.

Ester Dean

Esther Renay "Ester" Dean, (born April 15, 1986) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. Dean has also written songs for many artists, with numerous Top 10 hits, including No. 1 hits for Rihanna and Katy Perry, earning the name “The Song Factory”.

In 2011, Dean contributed to the soundtrack for the animated film, Rio by Blue Sky Studios.

At the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, Dean was nominated for Album of the Year as a producer on Rihanna's album Loud.

In 2012, she voiced two of the characters in the fourth film in the Ice Age franchise, Ice Age: Continental Drift, and also wrote a song for the movie, entitled "We Are (Family)". Dean made her acting debut in the film Pitch Perfect (2012) as Cynthia-Rose Adams, a role she reprised for the sequels, Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) and Pitch Perfect 3 (2017).

European Terrestrial Reference System 1989

The European Terrestrial Reference System 1989 (ETRS89) is an ECEF (Earth-Centered, Earth-Fixed) geodetic Cartesian reference frame, in which the Eurasian Plate as a whole is static. The coordinates and maps in Europe based on ETRS89 are not subject to change due to the continental drift.

The development of ETRS89 is related to the global ITRS geodetic datum, in which the representation of the continental drift is balanced in such a way that the total apparent angular momentum of continental plates is about 0. ETRS89 was officially born at the 1990 Florence meeting of EUREF, following its Resolution 1, which recommends that the terrestrial reference system to be adopted by EUREF will be coincident with ITRS at the epoch 1989.0 and fixed to the stable part of the Eurasian Plate. According to the resolution, this system was named European Terrestrial Reference System 89 (ETRS89). Since then ETRS89 and ITRS diverge due to the continental drift at a speed about 2.5 cm per year. By the year 2000 the two coordinate systems differed by about 25 cm.The 89 in its name does not refer to the year of solution (realization), but rather the year of initial definition, when ETRS89 was fully equivalent to ITRS. The solutions of ETRS89 correspond to the ITRS solutions. For each ITRS solution, a matching ETRS89 solution is being made. ETRF2000, for example, is an ETRS89 solution, which corresponds to ITRF2000. ETRS89 is realized by EUREF through the maintenance of the EUREF Permanent Network (EPN) and continuous processing of the EPN data in a few processing centres. Users have access to ETRS89 via EPN data products and real-time streams of differential corrections from a set of public providers based on the EPN stations.

The transformation from ETRS89 to ITRS is time-dependent and was formulated by C. Boucher and Z. Altamimi ETRS89 is the EU-recommended frame of reference for geodata for Europe. It is the only geodetic datum to be used for mapping and surveying purposes in Europe.

It plays the same role for Europe as NAD-83 for North America. (NAD-83 is a datum in which the North American Plate as a whole is static, and which is used for mapping and surveying in the US, Canada, and Mexico.) ETRS89 and NAD-83 are based on the GRS80 ellipsoid. WGS84 originally used the GRS80 reference ellipsoid, but has undergone some minor refinements in later editions since its initial publication.

History of geology

The history of geology is concerned with the development of the natural science of geology. Geology is the scientific study of the origin, history, and structure of the Earth.


The hydrosphere (from Greek ὕδωρ hydōr, "water" and σφαῖρα sphaira, "sphere") is the combined mass of water found on, under, and above the surface of a planet, minor planet or natural satellite. Although the Earth's hydrosphere has been around for longer than 4 billion years, it continues to change in size. This is caused by seafloor spreading and continental drift, which rearranges the land and ocean.It has been estimated that there are 1,386 million cubic kilometres (333,000,000 cubic miles) of water on Earth. This includes water in liquid and frozen forms in groundwater, oceans, lakes and streams. Saltwater accounts for 97.5% of this amount, whereas fresh water accounts for only 2.5%. Of this fresh water, 68.9% is in the form of ice and permanent snow cover in the Arctic, the Antarctic, and mountain glaciers; 30.8% is in the form of fresh groundwater; and only 0.3% of the fresh water on Earth is in easily accessible lakes, reservoirs and river systems.The total mass of the Earth's hydrosphere is about 1.4 × 1018 tonnes, which is about 0.023% of Earth's total mass. At any given time, about 20 × 1012 tonnes of this is in the form of water vapor in the Earth's atmosphere (for practical purposes, 1 cubic meter of water weighs one tonne). Approximately 71% of Earth's surface, an area of some 361 million square kilometers (139.5 million square miles), is covered by ocean. The average salinity of Earth's oceans is about 35 grams of salt per kilogram of sea water (3.5%).

Ice Age (franchise)

Ice Age is an American media franchise centering on a group of mammals surviving the Paleolithic ice age. It consists of computer-animated movies and TV specials and a series of video games. The movies are produced by Blue Sky Studios, a division of Walt Disney Studios (formerly 20th Century Fox), and feature the voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, and Chris Wedge. Five films have been released in the series thus far: Ice Age in 2002, Ice Age: The Meltdown in 2006, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs in 2009, Ice Age: Continental Drift in 2012, and Ice Age: Collision Course in 2016. It has received some criticism for making no attempt to be scientifically accurate.As of April 2016, the franchise had generated $6 billion in revenue, making it one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time. However, the series has also experienced diminished critical favor with each succeeding film.

Keith Runcorn

(Stanley) Keith Runcorn (19 November 1922 – 5 December 1995) was a British physicist whose paleomagnetic reconstruction of the relative motions of Europe and America revived the theory of continental drift and was a major contribution to plate tectonics.

List of 2012 box office number-one films in Turkey

This is the ranking of top twenty films according to tickets sold during the year of 2012 in Turkey

This is a list of films which have placed number one at the weekly box office in Turkey during 2012. The weeks start on Fridays, and finish on Thursdays. The box-office number one is established in terms of tickets sold during the week.

List of 2012 box office number-one films in Venezuela

This is a list of films which have placed number one at the weekend box office in Venezuela during 2012.


Palaeogeography (or paleogeography) is the study of historical geography, generally physical landscapes. Palaeogeography can also include the study of human or cultural environments. When the focus is specifically on the study of landforms, the term paleogeomorphology is sometimes used instead.

Paleogeography yields information that is crucial to scientific understanding in a variety of contexts. For example, paleogeographic analysis of sedimentary basins plays a key role in the field of petroleum geology, because the ancient geomorphological environments of the Earth's surface are preserved in the stratigraphic record. Paleogeographers also study the sedimentary environment associated with fossils for clues to the evolutionary development of extinct species. And paleogeographic evidence contributed to the development of continental drift theory, and continues to inform current plate tectonic theories, yielding information about the shape and latitudinal location of supercontinents such as Pangaea and ancient oceans such as Panthalassa, thus enabling the reconstruction of prehistoric continents and oceans.


Paleomagnetism (or palaeomagnetism in the United Kingdom) is the study of the record of the Earth's magnetic field in rocks, sediment, or archeological materials. Certain minerals in rocks lock-in a record of the direction and intensity of the magnetic field when they form. This record provides information on the past behavior of Earth's magnetic field and the past location of tectonic plates. The record of geomagnetic reversals preserved in volcanic and sedimentary rock sequences (magnetostratigraphy) provides a time-scale that is used as a geochronologic tool. Geophysicists who specialize in paleomagnetism are called paleomagnetists.

Paleomagnetists led the revival of the continental drift hypothesis and its transformation into plate tectonics. Apparent polar wander paths provided the first clear geophysical evidence for continental drift, while marine magnetic anomalies did the same for seafloor spreading. Paleomagnetism continues to extend the history of plate tectonics back in time and are applied to the movement of continental fragments, or terranes.

Paleomagnetism relied heavily on new developments in rock magnetism, which in turn has provided the foundation for new applications of magnetism. These include biomagnetism, magnetic fabrics (used as strain indicators in rocks and soils), and environmental magnetism.


Pangaea or Pangea ( ) was a supercontinent that existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras. It assembled from earlier continental units approximately 335 million years ago, and it began to break apart about 175 million years ago. In contrast to the present Earth and its distribution of continental mass, much of Pangaea was in the southern hemisphere and surrounded by a superocean, Panthalassa. Pangaea was the most recent supercontinent to have existed and the first to be reconstructed by geologists.

Plate tectonics

Plate tectonics (from the Late Latin tectonicus, from the Greek: τεκτονικός "pertaining to building") is a scientific theory describing the large-scale motion of seven large plates and the movements of a larger number of smaller plates of the Earth's lithosphere, since tectonic processes began on Earth between 3 and 3.5 billion years ago. The model builds on the concept of continental drift, an idea developed during the first decades of the 20th century. The geoscientific community accepted plate-tectonic theory after seafloor spreading was validated in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The lithosphere, which is the rigid outermost shell of a planet (the crust and upper mantle), is broken into tectonic plates. The Earth's lithosphere is composed of seven or eight major plates (depending on how they are defined) and many minor plates. Where the plates meet, their relative motion determines the type of boundary: convergent, divergent, or transform. Earthquakes, volcanic activity, mountain-building, and oceanic trench formation occur along these plate boundaries (or faults). The relative movement of the plates typically ranges from zero to 100 mm annually.Tectonic plates are composed of oceanic lithosphere and thicker continental lithosphere, each topped by its own kind of crust. Along convergent boundaries, subduction, or one plate moving under another, carries the lower one down into the mantle; the material lost is roughly balanced by the formation of new (oceanic) crust along divergent margins by seafloor spreading. In this way, the total surface of the lithosphere remains the same. This prediction of plate tectonics is also referred to as the conveyor belt principle. Earlier theories, since disproven, proposed gradual shrinking (contraction) or gradual expansion of the globe.Tectonic plates are able to move because the Earth's lithosphere has greater mechanical strength than the underlying asthenosphere. Lateral density variations in the mantle result in convection; that is, the slow creeping motion of Earth's solid mantle. Plate movement is thought to be driven by a combination of the motion of the seafloor away from spreading ridges due to variations in topography (the ridge is a topographic high) and density changes in the crust (density increases as newly formed crust cools and moves away from the ridge). At subduction zones the relatively cold, dense crust is "pulled" or sinks down into the mantle over the downward convecting limb of a mantle cell. Another explanation lies in the different forces generated by tidal forces of the Sun and Moon. The relative importance of each of these factors and their relationship to each other is unclear, and still the subject of much debate.

Steve Martino

Stephen Michael "Steve" Martino (born July 21, 1959) is an American director and designer, best known for directing the films Horton Hears a Who! (2008), Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012) and The Peanuts Movie (2015).

The Longest Daycare

Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare" or simply The Longest Daycare, is a 2012 American traditionally animated 3D comedy short film based on the animated television series The Simpsons. In the film, Maggie Simpson is enrolled at a new daycare facility where she squares off with the foul-tempered Baby Gerald when she befriends a caterpillar. The short originated with Simpsons producer James L. Brooks, who enlisted long-time veteran of the series David Silverman to direct the film. The picture was written by producers Brooks, Al Jean, David Mirkin, writers Michael Price and Joel H. Cohen, as well as show creator Matt Groening.

The film premiered on July 13, 2012, where it was attached to screenings of the 20th Century Fox release Ice Age: Continental Drift. The film is the second Simpsons theatrical release. The short was re-released on February 15, 2013 and played before the film Life of Pi in selected theaters in USA. Reception has been positive, praising the storytelling and animation. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2013, losing to Paperman.

Vine–Matthews–Morley hypothesis

The Vine–Matthews–Morley hypothesis, also known as the Morley–Vine–Matthews hypothesis, was the first key scientific test of the seafloor spreading theory of continental drift and plate tectonics.

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