Q:

Who discovered plate tectonics?

A:

Quick Answer

Researcher Alfred Wegener developed the continental drift theory that led to the modern theory of plate tectonics. Because plate tectonics is still a theory, it is hypothesized and not officially discovered or proven.

Continue Reading

Full Answer

The theory of plate tectonics is that separate and disconnected plates make up the lithosphere, or outer layer of Earth. Geoscientists believe that these plates move, causing the formation and break up of Earth's continents during hundreds of millions of years. There are eight major plates and many minor plates. The volatile friction within plate boundaries leads to increased seismic activity earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. For example, the highly active San Andreas Fault is part of the boundary between the Pacific and North American plates. Although Wegener first theorized drifting plates in 1912, it was not widely believed until the early 1950s.

Learn more about Plate Tectonics

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What would happen if plate tectonics stopped?

    A:

    If plate tectonics stopped, the continents would stay in place rather than moving slowly around the face of the earth. This would also result in a reduction in volcanic activity and earthquakes. Lower volcanic activity causes warmer surface temperatures because particles released by volcanoes have a cooling effect.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why do plates move?

    A:

    Plates move because of gravity, which is the main driving force behind plate tectonics. Another reason why plates move is due to convection.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is some evidence for the plate tectonics theory?

    A:

    Plate tectonics theory, formerly known as the theory of continental drift, is well supported in geology, geography and biology. It has the power to explain many phenomena, such as volcanoes and earthquakes. The theory provides a working model for analyses of phenomena that scientists observe. This explanatory power is, itself, strong evidence that the theory is correct.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the difference between continental drift and plate tectonics?

    A:

    Plate tectonics is the theory that explains the structure, composition and internal workings of the Earth on a worldwide scale, while continental drift refers to the theory that the continents all used to be connected in one megacontinent which scientists dub Pangaea. Both theories attempt to explain the movement of parts of the Earth's crust.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore