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Science CAT

S9-12
The Story of Gondwana and Pangea
Overview of Tectonics
The theory of plate tectonics states that the Earths
outmost layer (the crust) is fragmented into a dozen or
more large and small plates that are moving relative to
one another as they ride atop hotter, more mobile
material.

The Earth is just over 4.5 billion years old, and hasnt
always appeared as we know it today. In fact, the
continents we know and live on have each come from
large super-continents as they break and re-arrange
over long periods of time.
Continental Drift
According to the continental drift theory, the super
continent Pangea began to break up about 225-200 million
years ago - eventually fragmenting into the continents as
we know them today
The Theory

Plate tectonics is a relatively new scientic concept, but has revolutionised


our understanding of our dynamic planet.

The theory has drawn together many branches of the earth sciences, from
palaeontology (the study of fossils) to seismology (the study of earthquakes)
and paleoclimatology (the study of climate change as earth has evolved)

The theory has provided explanations to questions that scientists had


speculated upon for centuries - such as why earthquakes and volcanic
eruptions occur in very specic areas around the world, and how and why
great mountain ranges like the Alps and Himalayas formed.
So whos behind this theory?
In 1912, German meteorologist Alfred Wegener
proposed that Pangea rst broke into two large
continental landmasses - Laurasia in the northern
hemisphere and Gondwanaland in the southern
hemisphere. These two continents then continued to
break apart into the various smaller continents that
exist today
Evidence
Wegeners theory was based in part on what appeared to him to be the
remarkable t of the South American and African continents.
Wegener was also intrigues by the occurrences of unusual geologic structures
and of plant and animal fossils found on the matching coastlines of S.
America and Africa, which are now widely separated by the Atlantic Ocean.
He reasoned that it was physically impossible for most of these organisms to
have swum or have been transported across the vast oceans. To him, the
presence of identical fossil species along the coastal parts of Africa and S.
America was the most compelling evidence that the two continents were
once joined
The Tectonic Plates
There are 3 major types of plate movement -
each resulting in a different change to land formations
Convergent
Divergent
Transformation
Types of Plate Movement
Convergent: Plates move towards
or into one another. This results in
the formation of mountains. The
denser plate will be pushed under
(subduction) causing the plate to
melt and form volcanoes. If two
plates are of the same density, they
will collide and form mountains.

Divergent: Plates move away from
one another. This results in sea
oor spreading where new oor is
created as magma rises in the gap
and sets into rock

Transformation: Plates slide past
each other in opposite directions.
The friction of the rock plates causes
vibrations / earthquakes
The Ring of Fire