Q:

What argument was used to dispute the theory of plate tectonics?

A:

Andrew Alden of About explains that Australian geologist Sam Carey's theory of Earth expansion, the idea that the continents fit together properly only on a formerly smaller Earth, once rivaled the theory of plate tectonics. Carey's ideas expanded upon Wegener's continental-drift theory and hypothesised that the continents fit together properly on a shrunken Earth. From about the 1930s to the 1950s, this idea of Earth expansion remained a legitimate hypothesis.

Alden explains that many people still believe the Earth expands in size, but their work further demonstrates plate tectonics. However, he also argues that Carey used the curving lines of mountain ranges, long seafloor chasms, island chains and the patterns of earthquakes and eruptions to paint vivid portraits of Earth bursting its seams and stretching into its modern state with two distinct kinds of crusts. Carey's theories proposed that the original continental crust remained in its current torn pieces with the newer and different oceanic crust between them. Alden explains that the doubts about Carey's theories actually helped formulate the now accepted ideas of plate tectonics, with Carey's detractors creating good maps of the seafloor, making progress in seismology by creating large paleomagnetic databases and making precise measurements of crustal motions.


Is this answer helpful?

Similar Questions

  • 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:
  • 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 drives plate tectonics?

    A:

    The plate tectonics theory suggests that the outer shell of the Earth's surface is split into a few plates that move along the mantle, forming a hard shell, with pressure from mid-ocean ridges and subduction zones causing the shifting in the plates. Mid-ocean ridges are the gaps that lie between the plates, much like the seams on a basketball. Magma oozes through these ridges, creating new crust on the ocean floor and pushing the plates apart, while subduction zones sit at the meeting point between plates. One slides under the other, pulling the crust down as it goes.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What does plate tectonics mean?

    A:

    According to About.com, plate tectonics is the scientific theory that attempts to explain the movement of the Earth's lithosphere, which has formed the landscape features seen across the globe. It provides geology with a comprehensive theory that explains how the Earth works.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore