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EESA06H3 (234)
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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Notes (Beginning)

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Environmental Science
Nick Eyles

Chapter 2 Plate Tectonics What is Plate Tectonics? Plate tectonic theory suggests that the surface of the earth is divided into several large plates that change in position and size. Intense geologic activity, such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occurs at plate boundaries. Tectonics is the study of the origin and arrangement of the broad structural features of the earths surface, including not only fold and faults, but also mountain belts, continents, and earthquake belts. o Explains diverse features of the earth such as earthquake distribution, the origin of mountain belts, the origin of sea floor topography, the distribution and composition of volcanoes. Concept of plate tectonics developed in the late 1960s, combining two pre-existing ideas continental drift and sea floor spreading. o Continental drift: continents moving freely over the earths surface, changing their positions relative to one another. o Sea-floor spreading: a hypothesis that the sea floor forms at the crest of mid- oceanic ridges, then moves horizontally away from the ridge crest toward an oceanic trench. The two sides of the ridge are moving in opposite directions like slow conveyor belts. How did the plate tectonics theory evolve? THE EARLY CASE OF CONTINENTAL DRIFT Early 1900s Alfred Wegener, a German meteorologist made a strong case for continental drift. Noted that South America, Africa, India, Antarctica, and Australia had almost identical late Paleozoic rocks and fossils. Pangea reassembled the continents to form a giant super continent. o Studied the similar rocks and fossils in the 5 continents o Originally separated by two parts, laurasia (which is now North America) and Eurasia (excluding India). Gonwanaland was the southern supercontinent, composed of all the present-day southern hemisphere continents and India (which drifted north). Late Paleozoic glaciations strongly supports the idea of Pangea Paleoclimatology the study of ancient climates. www.notesolution.com
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