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Plate tectonics

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Author Topic: Plate tectonics  (Read 2096 times)
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« on: May 16, 2007, 06:52:35 am »

The tectonic plates of the world were mapped in the second half of the 20th century.

Plate tectonic theory arose out of the hypothesis of continental drift first proposed by Alfred Wegener in 1912 and expanded in his 1915 book The Origin of Continents and Oceans that said in part that all the continents once been together in a single land mass that had drifted apart. But it was not until the mechanic of seafloor spreading (first articulated by Robert S. Dietz, but Harry Hess is usually given credit (see below)) in the early 1960s that the theory actually became accepted by the scientific community.

Following the recognition of magnetic anomalies defined by symmetric, parallel stripes of similar magnetization on the seafloor on either side of a mid-ocean ridge, plate tectonics quickly became broadly accepted. Simultaneous advances in early seismic imaging techniques in and around Wadati-Benioff zones collectively with numerous other geologic observations soon solidified plate tectonics as a theory with extraordinary explanatory and predictive power.

Study of the deep ocean floor was critical to development of the theory; the field of deep sea marine geology accelerated in the 1960s. Correspondingly, plate tectonic theory was developed during the late 1960s and has since been essentially universally accepted by scientists throughout all geoscientific disciplines. The theory has revolutionized the Earth sciences because of its unifying and explanatory power for diverse geological phenomena.

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