Plate Tectonics Research Paper

888 Words4 Pages
Birth of Plate Tectonics

Plate tectonics is a scientific theory, coined in the 1950s, to explain the large-scale motion of Earth’s lithosphere (the outermost shell of planet Earth). This theory is based on the idea that Earth’s lithosphere is divided into several “plates” that move across the Earth’s surface, relative to each other, gliding over the mantle.

The theory of plate tectonics was developed between the 1950s through the 1970s. It is basically the modern version of the theory of continental drift, proposed in 1912, by German scientist Alfred Wegener. His theory however did not explain how continents move around the planet. Before the theory of plate tectonics, people tried to explain geological features and occurrences in their
…show more content…
Subduction is the process when in which one tectonic plate moves under the other, sinking into the mantle as the plates converge. Regions where subduction takes place are known as subduction zones. Subduction zones tend to have very high rates of earthquakes, volcanism, and mountain building. Some examples of volcanoes that are located above subduction zones would be Mount St. Helens, Mount Etna, and Mount Fuji. Furthermore, the strains, which are a result of plate convergence, are known to be the cause of at least three different types of earthquakes. In fact, nine out of the ten major earthquakes to occur in the last 100 years were the results of subduction zone events. Just to name a few of these earthquakes, the 1960 Great Chilean Earthquake, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake were all the results of plate…show more content…
Because in transform boundaries there is no tearing or crunching between the plates like in the case of other boundaries, there is also usually a lack of formation of spectacular features like mountains for example. However this does not mean transform boundaries do not leave a mark at all on the surface. They are sometimes marked by linear valleys along the boundary where rocks and other debris has been ground up by the sliding of the plates. Transform boundaries may also be marked by stream beds which had been split in two halves, which had been moved in opposite directions. The most famous transform boundary is the San Andreas Fault, located in the western United States. Because of the transform boundary along the San Andreas Fault, Los Angeles moves 6 cm a year in the direction of Los Angeles, which means that in around 10 million years they will be side by side. Furthermore the sliding motion of transform boundaries can cause a lot of earthquakes, such as the 1906 earthquake along the San Andreas Fault, which hit San Francisco, killing more than 600 people and destroyed a significant part of the city.

To conclude this essay, the importance of the tectonic plate theory. Thorough knowledge and understanding of the tectonic plates allow us to better understand how life on Earth developed, and how it was influenced by geographical factors. Plate reconstruction

More about Plate Tectonics Research Paper

Open Document