The Rocky History of an Idea Close examination of a globe often results in the observation that most of the continents seem to fit together like a puzzle: The fit is even more striking when the submerged continental shelves are compared rather than the coastlines.
You might prefer to call it the Next Big Thing. A supercontinent is on its way that incorporates all of Earth's major landmasses, meaning you could walk from Australia to Alaska, or Patagonia to Scandinavia. But it will be about million years in the making.
For Christopher Scotese at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, the fact that our continents are not stationary is tantalising. How were they arranged in the past — and how will they be positioned in the future?
Africa will also be pushing right up against southern Europe, while the Atlantic will be a far wider ocean than it is today.
View image of This video is no longer available However, he admits that projections for the period beyond 50 million years in the future — which include his Pangaea Proxima prediction — are "very speculative".
Earth's continents rest on a system of plates and these move at differing speeds. Some travel about 1. These are roughly the speeds at which human fingernails and hair grow, respectively. These days, plate motion is tracked with satellite positioning instruments embedded into the ground. But we knew that plates moved long before such technology was invented.
How did we ever realise that we were standing on huge, shifting plates, given that they move so slowly and are so massive?
The idea that the continents moved around dates back centuries, but the first time anyone produced any serious evidence in favour of the idea was years ago. That someone was German geophysicist Alfred Wegener. For many geologists, continental drift was a crackpot idea with little hard evidence He noticed remarkable similarities between the fossilised plants and animals found on continents that were separated by vast oceans.
This suggested to him that those continents were connected when those now fossilised species were alive. What's more, when Wegener looked at his maps, he could clearly see that South America and Africa were like two giant puzzle pieces — they fit together.
Could that really just be coincidence, or were they connected millions of years ago, only to drift apart? That was the essence of Wegener's theory: But few people liked it. In fact, for many geologists, continental drift was a crackpot idea with little hard evidence.
How exactly could massive continents move? Wegener could not provide a satisfactory explanation. He died in abiotic nonliving absolute magnitude the actual brightness of a star acceleration the rate at which velocity changes adaptation a trait which helps an organism or.
Video: Alfred Wegener's Theory of Continental Drift People used to think that Earth was static, and that it never changed. Gradually, a body of evidence was gathered that made no sense in this model.
P A N G A E A The Continent. Excerpts and Readings on ALFRED WEGENER () Biographical Note.
German climatologist and geophysicist who, in , published as expanded version of his book The Origin of Continents and Oceans. This work was one of the first to suggest continental drift and plate tectonics.
The progress of the earth sciences and the advancement of technologies associated with the understanding of our planet during the 's and 50's have led geologists to develop a new way of looking at the world and how it works. Mar 20, · Alfred Wegener, a scientist from Germany's theory was the continental drift.
Initially, it was rejected.
Thirty years, later, Harry Hess provided the proof n. In geologic terms, a plate is a large, rigid slab of solid rock. The word tectonics comes from the Greek root "to build." Putting these two words together, we get the term plate tectonics, which refers to how the Earth's surface is built of plates.
The theory of plate tectonics states that the Earth's outermost layer is fragmented into a dozen or more large and small plates that are moving.