evidence for continuous formation of new rock at the ridges. As more rock forms, older rock is pushedfarther away from the ridge, producing symmetrical stripes to either side of the ridge. In the diagram to theright, the dark stripes represent ocean floor generated during "reversed" polar orientation and the lighter stripes represent the polar orientation we have today. Notice that the patterns on either side of the linerepresenting the mid-oceanic ridge are mirror images of one another. The shaded stripes also represent older and older rock as they move away from the mid-oceanic ridge. Geologists have determined that rocks foundin different parts of the planet with similar ages have the same magnetic characteristics.
Deep Sea Trenches
The deepest waters are found in oceanic trenches, which plunge as deep as 35,000 feet below the oceansurface. These trenches are usually long and narrow, and run parallel to and near the oceans margins. Theyare often associated with and parallel to large continental mountain ranges. There is also an observed parallel association of trenches and island arcs. Like the mid-oceanic ridges, the trenches are seismicallyactive, but unlike the ridges they have low levels of heat flow. Scientists also began to realize that theyoungest regions of the ocean floor were along the mid-oceanic ridges, and that the age of the ocean floor increased as the distance from the ridges increased. In addition, it has been determined that the oldestseafloor often ends in the deep-sea trenches.
Chains of islands are found throughout the oceans and especially in the western Pacific margins; theAleutians, Kuriles, Japan, Ryukus, Philippines, Marianas, Indonesia, Solomons, New Hebrides, and theTongas, are some examples.. These "Island arcs" are usually situated along deep sea trenches and aresituated on the continental side of the trench.These observations, along with many other studies of our planet, support the theory that underneath theEarth's crust (the lithosphere: a solid array of plates) is a malleable layer of heated rock known as theasthenosphere which is heated by radioactive decay of elements such as Uranium, Thorium, and Potassium.Because the radioactive source of heat is deep within the mantle, the fluid asthenosphere circulates asconvection currents underneath the solid lithosphere. This heated layer is the source of lava we see in