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CHAPTER 10 SECTION 1. CONTINENTAL DRIFT Objectives Summarize Wegners hypothesis of continental drift Describe the process of sea floor spreading Identify.

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Presentation on theme: "CHAPTER 10 SECTION 1. CONTINENTAL DRIFT Objectives Summarize Wegners hypothesis of continental drift Describe the process of sea floor spreading Identify."— Presentation transcript:

1 CHAPTER 10 SECTION 1

2 CONTINENTAL DRIFT Objectives Summarize Wegners hypothesis of continental drift Describe the process of sea floor spreading Identify how paleomagnetism provides support for the idea of sea floor spreading Explain how sea-floor spreading provides a mechanism for continental drift

3 CONTINENTAL DRIFT One of the most exciting recent theories in Earth Science began with observations made over 400 years ago As early explorers sailed the globe they collected information on the continents coastlines Map makers used this information to make the first reliable world maps

4 CONTINENTAL DRIFT In 1912 a German scientist named Alfred Wegner proposed the hypothesis of continental drift He hypothesized that the continents all formed one land mass called a super continent, at one time and then began to break apart about 250 million years ago, during the Mesozoic Era

5 CONTINENTAL DRIFT In addition to the similarities of the coastlines Wegner proposed that fossil evidence should exist between areas that once were connected A identical fossil of Mesoasaurus was discovered in both South America and Western Africa

6 CONTINENTAL DRIFT The theory of continental drift is also supported by the age, type, and shapes of the rocks found on the edges of divergent continents

7 CONTINENTAL DRIFT Changes in climate patterns also suggest that continents are not where they once were South Africa displays evidence of glacial activity Fossils of tropical plants found on Antarctica

8 CONTINENTAL DRIFT Despite the evidence Wegner had many scientists at the time rejected his hypothesis of continental drift He spent the rest of his life trying to find the mechanism for continental drift, but died before the discovery occurred

9 CONTINENTAL DRIFT Evidence for Wegners theory came two decades after his death Scientists who set out to map the Mid-Atlantic Ridge made some discoveries Amount of sediment near the ridge is less than further away Radiometric dating of rocks showed rocks get older as the move away from the ridge Ocean rocks are much younger than continental rocks

10 CONTINENTAL DRIFT In the 1950s geologist Henry Hess proposed that the mechanism for Wegners hypothesis was sea floor spreading At the center of the valley is a rift were new magma is rising and cooling creating new sea floor

11 CONTINENTAL DRIFT If you have ever used a compass you know Earth has a magnetic pull As magma cools the iron rich minerals in the magma align to Earths magnetic field and it is permanent (paleomagnetism)

12 CONTINENTAL DRIFT Earths magnetic field has not always pointed north Rocks with normal polarity have the same dating periods as other normal polarity rocks The same holds true for rocks with reverse polarity (south aliened)

13 CONTINENTAL DRIFT The stripped pattern on one side of the mid ocean ridge mirrors the pattern on the other side of the ridge Age of the ocean rocks are symmetrical

14 CONTINENTAL DRIFT Rocks on land have magnetic symmetry also Similar layers and age in rocks Further proof verifying Wegener's hypothesis


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