Victoria School Secondary One Geography Worksheet 1-Reflective Essay (8/ 7/ 2006) Ravi Manigandan 1H 30 Name: __________________________________ Class: ________

Register No: _____ What would it be like if you were living on an earth where there were no tectonic forces at work? (150 words) The crust of the Earth is made up of two layers; namely the lithosphere and asthenosphere. The lithosphere essentially floats over the asthenosphere. The lithosphere is made up of 14 tectonic plates, which are always converging (slide towards each other), diverging (slide away from each other) or transforming (grind past each other). Often earthquakes and volcanoes occur at the boundaries of these tectonic plates. This is because of the impact of the plate movement, which is at its peak here. The lateral movement of the tectonic plates is typically at speeds of 0.66 to 8.50 centimetres per year but due to great pressure exerted on the plates there is a sudden movement between plates, which causes an earthquake. If the earthquakes occur under the ocean one or alternate tsunami waves are created which can simply submerge an entire city under water. Volcanoes, which are also formed due to plate movement, can cause massive destruction. Now let’s explore the social, economical, political, climatic and aesthetic impact of living in a world without plate tectonics. Without tectonic forces our life would be extraordinarily changed. Let’s observe the social implications first. Without plate tectonics, there would be far less deaths caused by natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. There would be much less destruction to the Earth. This is a negative impact of plate tectonics at work on the Earth. Thus, the Earth would have been a safer place to live and prosper. Volcanoes can clearly cause much damage and destruction, but on the flip side, economically, they have also benefited people. Over millions of years, the physical breakdown and chemical weathering of volcanic rocks have formed some of the most fertile soils on Earth e.g. the rice growing regions near active volcanoes in Indonesia. Hence, the agricultural economy of the world without tectonic forces will be affected, as there would be fewer suitable areas for the cultivation of crops.

Most of the metallic minerals such as gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc are associated with magmas found deep within the roots of extinct volcanoes. Without plate tectonics would we obtain minerals? There would not have been gold or silver in the world. The jewellery industry would come to a standstill, as there will be no more gold or silver to mine. Industries using minerals such as copper, lead, zinc would be affected to. Therefore, I feel that plate tectonics is fundamental in obtaining in such minerals. Living in a world without tectonic forces also means losing another source of energy; geothermal power from volcanoes. Geothermal heat from volcanoes is used to run turbines to generate electricity. Eventually, more fossil fuels would have been used up to produce electricity and there would be a greater demand for fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum and hydrocarbons. Thus, the prices of fossil fuels will escalade. Many major populated cities are located near very active fault zones, such as the San Andreas Fault; millions of people have suffered from personal and economic losses as a result of very huge earthquakes. The government of these places spend large sums of money rebuilding homes, offices and re-establishing damaged infrastructure. A world without tectonic forces would not have this problem of economic losses from earthquakes and other natural disasters. However, politically if the world did not have any tectonic forces acting on it would be joined together as Pangaea, the supercontinent that existed 250 million years ago. I feel that if the world still were Pangaea our life would have been much simpler. There might have world peace (e.g. No World Wars) there would be less or even no political boundaries in the world. In my opinion, the world would be a better and safer place to live in. Even one single hierarchy might have ruled the world and travelling would also invariably be easier as you might not need passports to cross boundaries and you need not cross oceans to travel from a place to another. Singapore would have been joined with countries around us such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines. With mountainous terrains formed by plate movement we can also expect climatic changes. There are two basic effects on precipitation caused by mountains. On the windward side, there is a greater amount of rainfall, and on the leeward side, there is a significantly reduced amount of it. This is why Kentfield, in Marin Country can receive 1300 millimetres of rainfall annually and San Francisco can only receive 500 millimetres of rainfall annually. Without mountains, we can expect uniform distribution of rainfall. Aesthetically, over time, plate movements, together with other geological processes, have created some of Nature’s most spectacular scenery. The Himalayas, the Swiss Alps and the Andes are some magnificent examples. Without tectonic forces, the world would not have any mountains, volcanoes and ridges to which greatly beautifies the world in many ways. As a conclusion, I feel humans can lead a better life without tectonic forces. Although, agricultural economy, electricity production, lack of metallic minerals and probably humans may have not come up with great inventions such as aeroplanes as the

Earth’s land would be joined together as Pangaea, on the beneficial side, we can have uniform distribution of rainfall, world peace, extremely easy travel and especially no deaths caused by tectonic disasters. I only hope that a time will come when there is a machine so advanced that it could stop the tectonic plates from moving!

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