face. Box 19-2 explains how plate movements on a sphere can be described. With the application of these geometric principles to find spreading directions and magnetic anomalies to deduce spreading rates, the relative motions of the lithospheric plates are being worked out worldwide. Some results have already been pictured in Figures 18-21 and 19-4. However, geophysicists are searching for ways to measure the absolute motions of individual plates rather than their motions relative to each other. If the hot spots discussed in Chapter 15 turn out to be fixed in the mantle below plates, then the string of extinct volcanoes trailing from the hot spot would record the movement of individual plates as they glide over the mantle (Figure 15-38). This is currently a subject of active research.




ology is now 'receiving much attention. New developments reported in nearly every issue of the geological journals show that the subject has definitely been revitalized. Rock associations, volcanism, metamorphism, the evolution of mountain chains-all are being rexamined in the framework of plate tectonics. Some of the new interpretations that we describe in this chapter may not stand the test of time. In this connection, future editions of this book may show some changes, not so much in the big picture of plate tectonics as in the details of fitting regional geology into the overall framework. The student (as well as the authors of this book) should be cautioned against calling on plate tectonics for easy explanations of everything geological. It is not clear, for example, how or whether the origin-of such structures as the Ozarks, the Black Hills, the Colorado Plateau, or such intracontinental, sediment-filled depressions as the Michigan Basin are related to plate movement.

One of us (F. P.) once helped write a paper dealing with the permanence of ocean basins. If he were allowed to expunge from the scientific record the one contribution he regrets the most, this would be it. The notion of the stability of global geographic features was not only q_ main tenet of the old geology but seems to be firmly rooted in the human psyche. We now know that on the geological time scale the sea floor is far from permanent The present ocean basins are being created by spreading and recycled by subduction on a time scale of about 200 million years, which is about 4 percent of the age of the Earth. The likelihood of finding extensive older remnants of seafloor is slight. Continents, on the other hand, are mobile but permanent features. They are too buoyant to be subducted. They may be fragmented, moved, reassembled, deformed, and eroded at their surfaces, but their bulk does not seem to be much diminished. Old terrains with ages of around 3.5 to 3.7 billion years can still be found. Continents grow with time by the gradual accumulation of materials along their margins. New continental strips can therefore be added on in different places at different time's, dependingon the history of fragmentation, movement, and reassembly.

With the emergence of these revolutionary ideas, geologists are rethinking Earth history. Most of the evidence for plate tectonics comes from the sea floor, a relatively simple place compared to the enormously complicated continents. Just how plate tectonics explains continental ge-

Rock Assemblages and Plate Tectonics

The only record we have of past geologic events is the incomplete one found in the rocks that have survived erosion or subduction. Since only sea floor younger than 200 million years (the last 4 percent of Earth history) has survived subduction, we must focus on the continents to find the evidence for most of Earth history. Some of the methods of reading the rock record have been described in earlier chapters. Here we explore the nature of the rock assemblages that characterize different plate-tectonic regimes as a first step in unraveling the history of past plate motions. Our aim isto reconstruct the process of continent fragmentation and ocean development, to locate the sites of vanished oceans, and to recognize the sutures that mark ancient plate collisions. .

Of the three kinds of plate boundaries, we might expect distinct suites (assemblages) of rocks to be associated with plate divergence and convergence. At transform faults no distinct or characteristic rock assemblages are to be expected. Discontinuities across the fault are found, however, since rock formations formed and altered elsewhere have slipped past one another, and once-continuous formations or structural features are displaced.

Think of all that happens at a zone of divergence, where plate accretion and spreading occur, and you can predict the kinds of rock that would characterize the place and the process. Because

- Spreading zone

- Transform fault

~ Subduction

Geometry allows us to describe the separation of two plates on a sphere-for example, plate A and plate B in the figure-as a rotation of B with respect to A about some pole of rotation, called a pole of spreading. Note on the diagram of plates (inside back cover) that along mid-ocean ridges where plates separate, the axis of spreading is not continuous but is offset by transform faults, approximately at right angles to the axis. Why this occurs is not fully understood, but it appears to be easier for plates to break apart this way with the plates typically sliding by each other at the transform fault, rather than pulling apart or overlapping there. Because of this geometry, if one imagines latitudes and longitudes drawn with respect to the pole of spreading, the transform faults lie on lines of latitude, and lines perpendicular to them are longitudes that converge at the pole of spreading. To understand why this must be so, consider the following analogy: If a tennis ball were sliced in two parts and put back together, one could rotate the two parts along the cut (as on a transfqrm fault). The cut would also describe a latitude centered on a pole of rotation, which can be located by drawing longitudes perpendicular to the cut. The intersection of two or more such longitudes is the pole of rotation. On a model of the Earth, if great circles are drawn perpendicular to transform faults between a pair of plates, their intersection locates the pole of spreading, which together with the spreading rate completely describes the relative motion of the two plates. The spreading rate is zero at the pole of spreading and increases to a maximum 90° away at the equator of spre~ding, as the

West longitude

After W. J. Morgan, "Rises, Trenches, Great Faults, and Crustal Blocks," J. Geophysical Research, v. 73, pp. 1959-1982, 1968.

figure indicates. This maximum equatorial value is frequently cited as the spreading rate between plates.

To see how a pole of spreading is located in practice, refer again to the inside of the back cover, which shows the zone of spreading and the transform faults that separate the African and American plates. Great circles perpendicular to the transform faults are drawn in the figure below. They intersect near the point 58°N, 36°W, off the southeast coast of Greenland. This is the pole of spreading of these two great plates. Don't bother going there, for there is nothing to be seen. The pole of spreading has no physical significance. It serves only as a construction point, a convenience for describing the relative motion of plates merely by giving the latitude and longitude of this point.



Deep-sea sediments: shales, limestones, cherts, turbid ites, fossils of pelagic marine organisms

Basaltic pillow lava cut by dikes

Gabbro, evidence of hydrous metamorphism

Peridotites and

other ultramafic

rocks, often showing hydrous metamorphism

Figure 19-10

Idealized section of an ophiolite suite. The combination of deep-sea sediments, submarine lavas, and mafic igneous intrusions indicates a deep-sea origin. Many geologists now believe ophiolites to be fragments of oceanic lithosphere emplaced on a continent as a result of plate collisions. extensive undersea volcanism, one would expect to find submarine basaltic lava, perhaps pillow lavas, the volcanic rock formed when hot lava is quenched by cold sea water (Chapter 15). Suboceanic crust and mantle are created here; dredge hauls and geophysical data show these layers to consist of mafic rocks, such as gabbro and peridotite, often showing evidence of alteration in a water environment (hydrous metamorphism). A carpet of deep-sea sediments would

" cover all of this. From Chapters 10 and 11 we remember that these deposits are recognized by thin layers of shale, limestone, and the siliceous rock chert, often with thin, discontinuous turbidites between them. Some or all of these layers may contain fossil remains of open-ocean marine organisms. A combination of deep-sea sediments, submarine basaltic lavas, and. mafic igneous instrusions like that shown in idealized section in Figure 19-10, is called an ophiolite suite. The presence of narrow ophiolite zones in convergence features like the Alpine-Himalayan belt


Figure 19-11

The development of a geosyncline on a rifted continental margin off the Atlantic coast of the United States. A rift develops in Pangaea as the ancient continent splits. Volcanics and Triassic nonmarine sediments are deposited in the faulted valleys (a). Seafloor spreading begins, the lithosphere cools and contracts, and the receding continental margins subside below sea level. Evaporites, deltaic deposits, and carbonates (b) are deposited and then covered by Jurassic and Cretaceous sediments derived from continental erosion (c and d).

and the Ural and Appalachian belts may indicate that slices of oceanic crust and mantle originally produced at accreting plate margins were thrust onto land when an ancient ocean finally disappeared as two continents converged. It is generally believed that the Appalachians, for example, mark the site at which the ancestral Atlantic Ocean (called Iapetus for one of the Greek gods) closed when North America and Africa converged about 375 million years ago. The Atlantic reopened a few hundred kilometers east of this old suture, about 200 million years ago, in a spreading episode that is still underway.

Arc: magmatic belt: volcanoes, intrusions, and high-temperature, low-pressure metamorphism



Subduction melanges: low-temperature, high-pressure metamorphism

Figure 19-12 .

Geologic features and activities associated with plate collisions and subduction: ocean trenches, melange deposits, magmatic belts, metamorphism, volcanism, earthquakes (dots). The drawing is not to scale; the thickness of lithosphere is about'

70 km, depth of the ocean trench 10 km, and the distance from trench to arc is 300-400 km.

Much was dropped on the continental slope, only to be moved later to the continental rise by turbidity currents. In deep water, very thick deposits can be built up in this way. As the shelf miogeosyncline builds up, deposition may become dominated by shales and carbonate platform deposits-indicators of a decrease in the supply of detritus from the continent.

Think what might happen to these geosynclines if the orderly, sequentially layered, gently dipping sediments were to become the leading edge of a plate in collision. In the following sections we describe some of the many possibilities.

Just as the events that take place in a convergence zone are different from divergence-zone phenomena, so do the rock assemblages have different characteristics. The main features of ocean-ocean or ocean-continent collision are shown in transverse section in Figure 19-12. Thick marine sediments, mostly turbidites, eroded from the continent or the island arc, rapidly fill the long marginal depressions. In descending, the cold oceanic slab stuffs the region below the inner wall of the trench with these sediments and with deep-sea materials brought with the incoming plate. Regions of this sort are enormously complex and highly variable, as they include turbidities and ophiolitic shreds scraped off the downgoing slab by the edge of the overriding plate-all highly folded, intricately sliced and metamorphosed: They are difficult to map in detail but recognizable by their distinctive mix of materials and structural features. Such a chaotic mess has been called a melange. The metamor-

Continent or ocean basin behind arc


Continental-shelf deposits are sedimentary rock assemblages that are laid down in an orderly sequence under tectonically quiet conditions in a geosyncline at a receding continental margin. Figures 19-11 and 10-29 show the orderly sequence of deposits in the geosyncline that is still forming off the Atlantic coast of the United States. The continental margin there was formed when the American plate separated from the European plate about 200 million years ago. Resting on the offshore shelf is a wedge-shaped deposit of sediments eroded from the continent and carried into shallow water. Because the trailing edge of the continent slowly subsides as the spreading lithosphere cools and contracts, the geosyncline continues to receive sediments for a longtime. The load of the growing mass of sediment further depresses the crust isostatically, so that the geosyncline can receive still more material from land. For every three meters of sediments received, the crust sinks two meters. The result of these two effects is that the geosynclinal deposits can accumulate in an orderly fashion to thicknesses of 10 kilometers or more. At the same time, the supply of sediments is sufficient to maintain the shallow-water environment of the geosyncline, or miogeosyncline, as we called it in Chapter 11.

The deposits show all of the characteristics of shallow-water conditions (Chapter 11). Atthe bottom of the entire sequence are rift valleys containing basaltic lavas and nonmarine deposits formed during the early stages of continental fissuring. In the early stages of shelf deposition, sandy materials started to fill the depression.


phism is the kind characteristic of high pressure and low temperature because the material may be carried relatively rapidly to depths as great as 30 kilometers, where recrystallization occurs in the environment of the cold slab. Somehow, perhaps by buoyancy and mountain-building, the material rises back to the surface much later. Find a melange and you can't be too far from the place of downturn of an ancient plate, long since consumed, but leaving this relic of its existence.

Refer again to Figure 19~12. Parallel to the melange is a magmatic belt that makes up the arcuate system of volcanoes, intrusions, and metamorphic rocks formed on the edge of the overriding plate. Here the conditions are dominated by the rise of magma from the descending plate. At the interface, where the descending plate slides past the overriding one, perhaps friction is great enough to melt the upper part of the downturned slab, including the subducted wet sediments and ocean crust. The liquids rise buoyantly from depths of 100 to 200 kilometers to erupt and build the volcanic chains on the leading edges of plates. The characteristic igneous rocks produced are andesitic lavas and granitic intrusives. Island

~- arcs, built up from the sea floor, may contain larger amounts of basalt; continental margins typically erupt rhyolitic ignimbrite arid are intruded by granitic batholiths below (see Chapter 15). In contrast to that in a melange, the metamorphism in the magmatic belts is typically the result of recrystallization under conditions of high temperatures and low pressures. This is because the hot fluids rise close to the surface, delivering much heat to a low-pressure environment.

Paired belts of melange and magmatism (Fig. 19-12) are the signature of subduction. The essential elements of these features of collision have been found in many places in the geologic record. One can see melange in the Franciscan Formation of the California Coast Ranges and magmatism in the parallel belt of the ~jerra Nevada to the east (Fig. 19-13). This paired belt marks the Mesozoic boundary between the colliding Pacific and American plates. It even shows the polarity of the convergence by the location of melange on the west and magmatism on the east; the Pacific plate was the subducted one. Other paired belts-for example, in Japan-can be found along the. continental margins framing the Pacific basin. The central Alps, a European example, were produced by the convergence of a Mediterranean plate with the European continent.

Seismic reflection profiles (see Box 17-1) are beginning to provide "x-ray" views of layers deep


. !

\ i


Idaho __ --~ batholith_-.----- i

i i i i

I, .

.>: / !

-~ L--, ---

I \

i i

i i

i i

. i

Franciscan melange

Magmatic belt: metamorphic and granitic rocks


500 km \--L---,'---'-o-----''--------,J

300 mi

Figure 19-13 ,

This paleogeologic map of the western United States shows the geology of the region as it was at the beginning of Tertiary time. The paired melange and magmatic belts indicate a collision of the Pacific and American plates in Mesozoic time, the Pacific plate being the subducted one. [After W. Hamilton and

W. B. Myers, "Cenozoic Tectonics," Reviews of Geophysics, v. 4, p. 541, 1966.]

within the crust. Figure 19-14, a remarkable example of this new technique, shows the Australian plate being subducted under the Eurasian plate at the Java trench.

Orogeny and Plate Tectonics

Orogeny means mountain-making, particularly by

- folding and thrusting of rock layers. In the framework of plate tectonics, orogeny occurs primarily at the boundaries of colliding plates, where marginal sedimentary deposits are crumpled and magmatism and volcanism are initiated.

Consider first some scenarios of plate convergence. In Figure 19-15a, a plate with a continent at





Sea surface

Subducted ocean floor


Sea floor


8 km

16 km o






Figure 19-14

Seismic reflection profile across the Java Trench subduction zone south of Bali, along longitude 112°E. Subducted ocean floor (between large arrows) dips about 6° under overthrust wedge of highly deformed sediments. The ocean floor can be followed from the beginning of subduction at the north wall of the trench to a depth of 12 km below sea level. [Courtesy of R. H. Beck and P. Lehner, Shell Internationale Petroleum.]

Subduction zone


New subduction zone

Figure 19-15

Possible stages in plate collisions. (a) Convergence between plates with continental and oceanic lithosphere at leading edges. Magmatic belt, folded mountains, and melange deposits are features of the overriding continental boundary. (b) Collision of continents, producing

a mountain range, magmatic belt, and thickened continental crust. Since the continent is

too buoyant to be carried down into the mantle, plate motions may be brought to a halt.

(c) Alternatively, the plate may break off and a new subduction zone be started elsewhere. An extinct subduction zone may show as a scar in the form of a mountain belt within a continent. Examples are the Ural Mountains and the Himalayas. [After "Plate Tectonics"

by J. F. Dewey. Copyright © 1972 by Scientific American, Inc. All rights reserved.]


the leading edge collides with another plate carrying a continent. In the early stage, during which the convergence is between continent and subducted oceanic lithosphere, a magmatic belt, folded mountains, and melange deposits may be features of the overriding continental boundary. An example exists today along the Pacific coast of South America, where the American and Nazca plates are colliding. Look at the illustration inside the back cover to see the setting of the plates. The Andes, from which the name of the volcanic rock andesite is derived, lie in the magmatic belt; subduction is taking place under the Peru-Chile trench.

In a later stage, continent may meet continent, as shown in Figure 19-15b. Since continental crust is too light for much of it to be carried down,

. the plate motions could be slowed or halted. Another possibility, the one depicted in the figure, is that the plate motions continue, with subduction ceasing at the continent-continent suture but starting up anew elsewhere. Cold and dense as the descending slab is, chunks of it may break off, fall freely into the mantle, and be resorbed. As Figure 19-15c shows, the suture is marked by a mountain range made up of either folded or thrust rocks, or both, coincident with or adj acent to the magmatic belt, and by a much-thickened continental crust. A prime example of continent-continent collision is the Himalayas, which began forming some 25 million years ago when a plate carrying India ran into the Asiatic plate (the collision and uplift are still going on). This may be how the root underlying the Himalayas originated (see Chapter 18). The plate-tectonic cycle of the closing of an ocean basin, a continent-continent collision, and the formation of an intracontinental mountain belt has been called the Wilson cycle, after the Canadian geologist J. Tuzo Wilson, who first suggested the idea that an ancient ocean closed to form the Appalachian mountain belt and then reopened to form the present day Atlantic Ocean. =

Displaced Terrains

Geologists have come across blocks within continents whose rock sequences, fossils, and paleomagnetism are alien to their surroundings. The rock assemblages and the fossils indicate different environments and ages than the surrounding terrain, and the paleomagnetic poles imply that the block originated in a different latitude. These are now believed to be fragments of other continents or of ocean crust that were swept up and plastered onto a continent in the process of plate

collisions and separations. Coastal New England and Newfoundland may be slices of Europe; parts of Alaska, British Columbia, and Nevada may have been scraped off Asia; and central Florida may be a fragment of Africa. Displaced terrains have also been found in Japan, Southeast Asia, China, and Siberia, but their original locations have yet to be worked out.

The Grand Reconstruction

At the close of the Paleozoic, some 250 million years ago, there was a single supercontinent Pangaea, stretching from pole to pole (Fig. 1-14). The fragmentation of Pangaea as a result of plate tectonics and continental drift over Mesozoic and Cenozoic time to form the modern continents and oceans is documented in the well-preserved record of magnetic reversal stripes on the ocean floor. But what of the pre-Pangaean distribution of continents? What were their shapes and where were they located? There is growing evidence that Pangaea was formed by the collision of continental blocks-not the same continents we know today but continents that existed earlier in the Paleozoic. The ocean-floor record for this period has been destroyed by subduction, so we must rely on the older evidence preserved on . continents to identify and chart the movements of these paleo continents. Old mountain belts like the Appalachians and the Urals mark the collision boundaries of the paleocontinents. Rock assemblages there reveal ancient episodes of rifting and subduction. Rock types and fossils also indicate the distribution of shallow seas, glaciers, lowlands, mountains, and climatic conditions. Paleomagnetic data can be used to find the latitude and the north-south orientation of the paleocontinents. Latitudes can also be checked by paleoclimatic data. Although it is not possible to assign longitudinal position to the paleo continents, the relative sequence of continents around the globe can be pieced together from the fossil record. One of the first efforts to depict the pre-Pangaean configuration of continents using these methods is shown in Figure 19-16. The ability of modern science to recover

_ the geography of this strange world of hundreds of millions of years ago is truly impressive. Geologists may be able to continue to sort out more details of this complex jigsaw puzzle, whose individual pieces change shape over geologic time.

Figure 19-17 reconstructs the most recent breakup of Pangaea as we now understand it. Fig-


_ Evaporite minerals ~ Coals

(indicating hot, dry (indicating warm,

conditions) humid conditions)

Lowlands Shallow sea c=J Glacial deposits

Figure 19-16

(a) Paleocontinents in the Middle Ordovician, about 475-490 million years ago. At that time the continents consisted of Gondwana (made up of South America, Southern Europe, Africa, the Near East, India, Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica), Laurentia (North America and Greenland), Baltica (most of Northern Europe and European Russia), Kazakhstania (Central Asia), China (China, Malaysia), and Siberia. (b) Paleo continents in Early Carboniferous, about 340-360 million years ago. Gondwana has moved across the South Pole entering the opposite hemisphere; Baltica has collided with Laurentia to form a larger continent Laurussia. The continents are assembling for the collisions that formed the supercontinent Pangea at the end of the Paleozoic. [After R. K. Bambach, C. R. Scotese, and A. M. Ziegler, American Scientist, January 1980.]

ure 19-17a shows the world as it looked in Permian times, a little more than 200 million years ago. Pangaea was an irregularly shaped land mass surrounded by a universal ocean called Panthalassa, the ancestral Pacific. The Tethys Sea, between Africa and Eurasia, was the ancestor of

part of the Mediterranean. The fit of North and South America with Europe and Africa is very good in detail when taken at the outer edge of the continental shelves, instead of at the present shorelines, which are some distance from the original rift. It is the fit for which we have the




Hot spot



Figure 19-20 ,

Possible driving mechanisms of plate tectonics.

(a) The plate is pushed by the weight of the ridges at centers of spreading Or is pulled by cool, heavy downgoing slab or both. (b) The plate is dragged

by convection current in mantle. (c) The plate is the cooled, brittle, boundary region of a convection current in the hot, plastic upper mantle. (d) J etlike thermal plume rises from great depth, causes hQj spots at mid-ocean ridges, and spreads laterally dragging the plates. Downward return flow occurs throughout the rest of the mantle.

rate your fingernails grow. The lithosphere is broken into rigid plates, somehow responsive in their motions to the flow in the underlying mantle,

As is generally the case when there is an abundance of data in search of a theory, many hypotheses have been advanced. Some would have plates pushed by the weight of the ridges at the zones of spreading or pulled by the heavy downgoing slab at subduction zones. Others hold that the plates are dragged along by currents in the underlying asthenosphere. Figure 19-20 shows some of these ideas. In line with the discussion in Chapter 13, we agree with those who view the process not in piecemeal but as a highly complex convective flow, involving rising, hot, partially molten materials and sinking, cool, solid materials, under a variety of conditions ranging from melting to solidification and remelting. A significant part of the mantle must be involved, for slabs are known to penetrate to depths of some 700 kilometers before being completely resorbed. Figure 19-20c, shows one of the first computer models of the process-one that neglects some of the effects just mentioned, but that nevertheless accounts for many observations. A rising plume of hot material, heated from below, reaches the surface at a center of spreading. It moves away from the center, cools near the surface, and the cooled boundary becomes solid, strong lithosphere. Finally becoming heavier after it has cooled, the lithospheric slab sinks back into the mantle in a subduction zone, where it is reassimilated, to be heated and to rise again in the future. Another theory (Fig. 19-20d) proposesthat hot, narrow, jetlike plumes rise from the bottom of the mantle, feed the growing plate, and drive it laterally away from spreading centers where the plumes mostly occur. These same plumes are evidenced at the surface by hot spots. Among the problems left tb the next generation of Earth scientists is the incorporation of such important details as the shapes of plates, the history of their movements, and the formation and growth of continents into an explanation of the distribution of convective currents in time and space.


1. According to the theory of plate tectonics, the lithosphere is broken into about a dozen rigid, moving plates. Three types of plate boundaries are defined by the relative motion between plates: boundaries of divergence, boundaries of convergence, and transform faults.

2. In addition to earthquake belts, many large-scale geological features are associated with plate boundaries, such as narrow mountain belts and chains of volcanoes. Boundaries of convergence are recognized by deep-sea trenches, inclined earthquake belts,


mountains and volcanoes, and paired belts of melange and magmatism. The Andes Mountains and the trenches of the west coast of South America are modern examples. Divergent boundaries (for example, the mid-Atlantic ridge) typically show as seismic, volcanic, mid-ocean ridges. A characteristic deposit of this environment is the ophiolite suite. Transform faults, along which plates slide past one another, can be recognized by their topography, seismicity, and offsets in magnetic anomaly bands. Ancient convergences may show as old mountain belts, such as the Appalachians.

3. The age of the sea floor can be measured by means of magnetic-anomaly bands and the stratigraphy of magnetic reversals worked out on land. The procedure has been verified and extended by deep-sea drilling. Isochrons can now be drawn for most of the Atlantic and for large sections of the Pacific, enabling geologists to reconstruct the history of opening and closing of these oceans. Based on this method and on geological and paleomagnetic data, the fragmentation of Pangaea over the last 200 million years can be sketched.

4. Although plate motions can now be described in some detail, the driving mechanism is still a puzzle. An attractive hypothesis proposes that the upper mantle is in a state of convection with hot material rising under divergence zones and cool material sinking in subduction zones. The plates, according to this model, would be the cooled, upper boundary region of the convection cell.


1. Summarize the principal geologic features of subduction zones and divergence zones.

2. Explain the following in the context of plate tectonics: (a) Iceland. (b) San Andreas fault of California. (c) Ural Mountains. (d) Aleutian trench. (e) Earthquakes in Italy and Turkey. (f) Andes Mountains.

3. How do we know that spreading along the East Pacific rise is faster than along the mid-Atlantic ridge?

4. What would an astronaut look for on Mars to find out if plate tectonics is an active process on the planet?

5. How would one recognize the boundaries between ancient plates no longer in existence?

6. Can you think of a way not mentioned in the text, by which to measure absolute motions of individual plates rather than relative motions between plates?

Marvin, U. B., Continental Drift. Washington, D.C.:

Smithsonian Institution Press, 1973.

Meyerhoff, A A, and H. A. Meyerhoff, "The New Global Tectonics: Major Inconsistencies," American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, v. 56, pp. 269-336, 1972.

Smith, A G., and J. C. Briden, Mesozoic and Cenozoic Paleocontinental Maps. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977.

Tarling, D., and M. Tarling, Continental Drift. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1971.

Vine, F. J., "The Continental Drift Debate," Nature, v. 266, pp. 19-22, 1972.

Wilson, J. T., ed., Continents Adrift: Readings from Scientific American. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1970.

Wylie, P. J., The Way the Earth Works. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1976.


Bambach, R. K., C. R. Scotese, and A M. Ziegler, "Before Pangea: The Geographies of the Paleozoic World," American Scientist, v. 68, pp. 26-38, 1980.

Beloussou, V V, "Why Do I Not Accept Plate Tectonics?" EOS, v. 60, pp. 207-210, 1979. (See also comments on this paper by A M. S. Senger and K. Burke on same pages.)

Cox, A., ed., Plate Tectonics and Geomagnetic Reversals. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1973.

Dewey, J. F., "Plate Tectonics," Scientific American, May 1972. (Offprint 900.)

Hallam, A, A Revolution in the Earth Sciences: From Continental Drift to Plate Tectonics. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973.

Le Pichon, S., J. Francheteau, and J. Bonnin, Plate Tectonics. New York: Elsevier Publishing Company,

1973. .


Moon (continued) basalt of, 517 breccia, 515*

crust, 516 differentiation of, 516 Earth tides and, 151 history, 519

internal activity, 518* internal structure, 518* lunar breccia, 517 lunar provinces, 507 magnetism on, 517 maria, 515-516, 516* mas cons, 518

meteorite impacts on, 510-513 micrometeorites, 513

origin, 517

project Apollo, 507 regolith, 513

rock, 513*

rocks on, 516-517

seismic activity, 518-519 seismographs on, 393-395 stratigraphy of, 513-515 surface, 508*

surface processes, 510-513 Morgan, J., 368

Morley, 1., 429

Moulton, F. R., 7

Mountain building, 454-456

at convergent plate margins, 454


definition, 119 evolution of, 294* fault-block, 498, 499* unwarped, 498

variation in form and origin, 498* Mt. Etna, Italy, 349

Mt. Monadnock, New Hampshire, 126 Mt. Newberry, Oregon, 358

Mt. St. Helens, 21, 72, 134, 351, 359*,

365-366, 366*

Muav Limestone Formation, 35-36 Mud, 274-275

Mudflow, 109, 110*

Mudstone, 72

Mylonite, 74, 384

Natural gas, 544-545 formation of, 538-539 world distribution, 539-542 Natural selection, 302

Nazca plate, 17

Nebula, 7

Nebular hypothesis, 7, 7* Neptune, 6, 531-532 Neutron, 42

activation, 69

Newton, Sir Isaac, 41, 243 Noble gases, 57

North America

Coastal Plain, 499-502 Continental Shelf, 499-502 orogenic belts, 489-499 regional structures of, 485-503 stable interior, 488-489 tectonic features, 485*

North American plate, 25* Nuclear energy, 548-549, 548* breeder reactor, 549

fusion, 549

uranium reserves, 548-549 Nucleus (of element), 42

Obsidian, 51, 55*, 72 Ocean basins abyssal hills, 257

age, 25 .

aseismic ridges, 257 Atlantic, 258* guyots, 257

history of, 257

Map of North Atlantic, 254* profile, 253-257

seamounts, 257

Ocean, dissolved substances in, 150* Oceanic circulation, 257-263

gyres, 250

upwelling, 260-262

vertical, 262-263

water masses, 262

Oceanic crust, composition, 413 Oceanography, 231-268


depth and age of basins, 444* depth variation in, 445

early history, 15

measurement of depth, 247-248 residence time of constituents, 150-


steady-state composition, 149-152 Ogallala formation, Texas and New

Mexico, 142 Oil. See Petroleum Oil shale, 547·

Old Faithful Geyser, Wyoming, 362* Olivine, 66

in mantle, 14

solid solution in, 61-62 Olympus 'Mons, Mars, 361 Oolite, 284*

Opaque minerals, 56 Oparin, A. E., 300

Ophiolite suite, 452, 452*, 453 Original continuity, principle of, 28 Original horizontality, principle of, 28 Orogenic belts, 480, 490*

Orogeny, 38

Outcrop, 26

Outgassing, 15, 151

of Earth, 149 Oxygen, 15-16

cycle in atmosphere and oceans, 306* evolution of in atmosphere, 304-306,


and evolution of life, 304* isotopes, and paleotemperature, 70 in sediments, 288-289

Ozark Dome, 489

Ozark Mountains, Missouri and Arkansas,115

Pacific plate, 19, 20*

Paleocurrent map, 272

Paleogeography, 39, 270

Paleogeology, 39

Paleo-oceanography, 2q2-263 Paleotemperatures, oxygen isotopes, 225 Palisades Sill, New York, 337, 337* Pangaea, 17, 441, 456-460, 18*

breakup, 460 Panthallassa, 457

"Parama basalts, Brazil and Paraguay,


Parent element, 42 Pasteur, Louis, 300 Peat, 289

Pegmatite, 71 Peneplain, 126

Perched water table, 138 Peridotite, 70

Period (time unit), 40 Permafrost, 225 Permeability, 136-137 Petroleum

on continental shelves, 542 distribution in time, 541* formation of, 538-539

oil fields; 439

reserves, 54,2-544, 541* traps, 539

world distribution, 539-542 Petrology, 51

Phanerozoic time scale, 39-40

Phenocryst, 72, 384, .

Photosynthesis, 15-16, 15*, 90, 304-306 Pillow lava, 452

Pingo, 225

Planetesimal, 8

Planetology, 505-534


origin, 9

vital statistics, 507

Plate tectonics, 16-21, 441-462

age of ocean basins, 451 analyzing plate motions, 449-451 Andes Mountains and, 456 breakup of Pangaea, 458*-459* and continental history, 451 continental margins, 443 convergence zones, 443 convergent boundaries, 453-454 and displaced terrains, 456 divergent boundaries, 451-452 divergent margin, 17*

driving mechanism, 461-462, 462* and earth history, 451-4,61 geometry of plate motion, 447-451 and heat flow, 445

Himalayas and, 456

history of concept, 441-443

and magnetic anomalies, 447' .. 448 mid-ocean ridges, 443

and mountain building, 454-456 and ocean depth, 445

opening of Atlantic, 448*

paired metamorphic belts, 454 Paleozoic history, 457*

and Phanerozoic earth history, 456-


plate boundaries; 443 plate collisions, 455 *

rate of plate motion, 445-447, 446* and rock assemblages, 451,454 structure and evolution of plates,


subduction, 445, 445*, 453*, 455* transform faults, 443, 447

triple junctions, 448.-449, 448*, 449* Pluto, 531-532

Plutonism, 38, 376*

dike, 378*

laccolith, 377*

lapolith, 378* sill, 377* stock, 377*

Plutons, 376-380 batholith, 378-380 dike, 378 laccolith, 377-378 lapolith, 378:"379

ring dike, 378 sill, 377 stock, 378.

Porosity, 136-137 Porphyrobl&sts, 384, 384* Porphyry, 72

Postglacial uplift, 25 Potholes, 161

Powell, J. W., 27, 26*

Precambrian time, age of rocks, 46-48 Products, 84

Project FAMOUS, 255 Proton, 42

ProtO-Sun, 8

Pumice, 72

Pyrite, 86

origin in sediments 288 sedimentary, 288* '

Pyroclastic deposits, 350-352 ash, 350

bombs, 350

breccia, 351

dust, 350

ignimbrite, 352

nuee ardente, 351-352 tuffs, 351

welded tuff, 352

Pyroxene, 66 cleavage of, 67 granulite, 386 in mantle, 14

L~ke Tanganyika, 122-123 .RIver Jordan, 123 Rmgwood, E. A., 415

R!ver depOSits, alluvial fan, 167 RIvers, 162-174

base level, 165-166 166* braided stream, 168

channel deposits, 171 * channelization, 170

c~annel patterns, 168-171 dIs~harge, 163, 163*, 164*, 174* dramage basin, 175*, 176* flooding, 172-174, 173* ~oodplain, 169*, 171-174

mte~fac~ with lake or ocean, 179* 10ngItudmal profile, 164, 165*, 166* meandering, 169*, 171*, 170* meanders, 168-171

natural levee, 171, 172 *

Oxbow lake, 171

point bar, 161*, 170, 170*, 171* pools, 170, 170*

riffles, 170, 170*

sinuosity, 169-170

splay deposits, 171

stage, 157

suspended sediment, 164* thalweg, 170

of the U.S., 174*

River systems continental diVide, 174

dendntto drainage pattern, 176-177 dramage basins, 174-175

order, 175-176

radial drainage pattern, 178 rectangu~ar drainage pattern, 178 stream piracy, 175

superposed streams, 179

trellis drainage pattern, 178

Rock fall, 110-111 Rock glacier, 111 Rocks, 52-53

"acidic" and "basic," 70 aphanitic, 71 classification, 70-78, 53 extrusive, 31

felsic and mafic 70 !dentification fl~w chart, 76* Igneous, 70-72, 31

intrusive, 31

massive, 93

metamorphic, 74, 31-32 phaneritic, 71

pyroclastic, 71-72

response to stress 467 sedimentary, 72-74

siliceous, 74

ultramafic, 70

Rockslide, 107, 111* Rocky Mountains, 124

.,present topography, 498 Rontgen, W., 41

Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica, 216 Rubey, W. H., 148-149

Russian platform, 489 Rutherford, E., 41

Quartz arenite, 99-100 crystalline forms, 55* Quartzite, 74

Radiation, infrared, 312 Radioactive decay, 10*, 42':':44 half-life, 43*

Radioactive waste disposal 314

Radioactivity, 4, 10 " ,

of early Earth, 10-11 Radiolaria, 287 Radiolarian ooze, 266, 287 Radiolarite, 287 Radiometric dating, 43, 44

HC, 43-44, 225

calibrating the stratigraphic time scale, 46

of groundwater flow, 140 Sources of error, 45-46 Radius ratio, 60

Rain shadow, 132-134, 134* Reactants, 84

Recharge, of groundwater 137 Redwall Limestone Form~tion 36

Reef, 280* '

Regression, 35, 278

~nd spreading rate, 489 .

ReId, H. F., 396 Relative humidity 130

Relief, 114 '

Remote sensing, 564 Respiration, 86

Rhine graben, 477, 477* Rhyolite, 72

origin, 367 Rifting, 17*, 18* Rift valley, 122-123 Dead Sea, 123

Sabkha, 196-197

Salton Sea, California, 375

San Andreas Fault, 19-20, 20* 25 25*

406*, 484 ' , ,


Sand, 271-272 bd~~d!ng, 271-272

IVISIon by .

frost' graIn size 271

. mg,271 '

Inference of on .

sorting, 271 gm from shape, 271

S~~dkstone, 29, 72, 271-272

ose, 74,272

~ra:ywacke, 74, 272 ht!l1c arenite, 272 mmeralogy, 272 quartz arenite, 272 quartzose, 73, 74

San Francisco earthquake f

396*, 484 0 1906, 20,

San Ioachin Valley Calif .

Saturn, 6, 530-531 ' ornia 295

moons, 531*

rings, 530

with rings and moons 530*

Schist, 74, 383 '

Schistosity, 382*, 383 Sea-floor spreading, 17, 17*

Sea level, eustatic changes, 235 Seamounts, 257

Sediment, 15, 27

accu~ulation and burial, 291-295 chemical, 73, 270, 278-291

clastic, 72, 270-275

detrital, 72, 270

gravel and conglomerate, 272-274 mud and shale, 274-275

pelagic, 264

sorting, 271 *

terrestrial, 36

Sedimentary deposits alluvial fan, 276

fining-upward alluvial cycle, 276 loess, 276

till, 276

Sedimentary environments, 275-278 alluvial, 276

beach and bar, 277 deltaic, 276

desert, 276

glacial, 276

pelagic, 277

shallow marine, 277 turbidite, 277

Sed!mentary facies, 277 Sed~mentary particles, origin, 95-96 SedImentary rocks, 78

classification, 73* organic, 74 phosphates, 74

relative abundances, 74 skeleton claSsification 77*

Sedin;tentary structures, '158-160 anhdunes, 160*

assymetrical ripples, 159 cross- bedding, 159, 160* dunes, 159, 160*

oscillation ripples, 159-160, 161* 158

159*, 160* ' ,

tr?ugh cross-bedding, 161*

SedImentation, 269-295

on continental platforms, 293-294 and current strength, 271 deep-sea, 263-266

eolian, 270 0/>j~'_'r- ~

physical, 269-270

subSidence, 292

and tectonics, 295

Sedimentation rate, deep-sea, 264



Seismic stratigraphy, 278 Seismic waves, 23

density-depth relations in Earth, 412* in determination of thickness of

crust, 414 outermost 700 km, 415* P waves, 409

paths of P-waves and S-waves, 410* paths of through Earth's interior, 409* prospecting, 411

refraction, 410

S waves, 409*

surface, 410

whole-Earth modes, 411* whole-Earth oscillations, 410

Seismicity, 398-401

deep earthquakes, 399 of world, 399 Seismogram, 395

Seismograph, 394, 393-395, 395* Seismology, 393-417

Earth's core, 408-410

and Earth structure, 410-417 seismic waves, 408-410

Series (geologic), 4;0

Shadow zone, seismic, 408-410 Shale, 29, 72, 274-275

Shapley, H., 307

Shards (volcanic), 72

Sheeting, in joints, 93

Sheet silicates, 66

Sheet wash, 112

Shepard, F., 241

Shields, 488

Shiprock, New Mexico, 361 Shorelines, 232. See also Beaches

drowned river valley, 236* landforms, 234-235

Sierra Nevada, 124, 134, 379, 494, 496, 498

batholith, 379*

Silica deposition, 287

Silica minerals

classification, 62

oxygen and silicon in, 61 Silica tetrahedron, 61 Silicosis, 310-311

Sill, 37, 289*

topographic, 288-289 Sillen, L. G., 149 Sinkhole, 123, 123*

Skarn, 388, 389* Sklodowska-Curie, M., 41 Slate, 74

Slickensides, 478

Slope wash, 111-113 Slump, 109, 109* Smectite, 87-88, 87

Smith, W., and stratigraphic correla-

tion, 30-31 Snider, A., 441

Snowflakes, crystal form, 55* Soddy, F., 41

Sodium chloride

ionic bonding, 59 structure, 59*

Soil, 96-98 A-horizon, 96 B-horizon, 96 C-horizon, 96 humus, 96 laterite, 98 major types, 99* pedalfer, 98

pedocal, 98

production of, 82-83 relation of to climate, 97-98

Soil creep, 111 Soil profile, 97*

Solar energy, 549-550 Solar system, 6

age of, 5

angular momentum in, 5 chemical composition, 6 chemical-condensation sequence

model of origin, 9 density of planets, 5-6 origin of, 5-9 planetary orbits, 5 planetary rotation, 5 planetary spacing, 5

recent theories of origin, 8-9 Solid solution, 61-62 Solifluction, 111

Sorby, H., 56

Sorting (sedimentary), 72

Space .

composition of interstellar particles, 8 density of matter, 8

Spectroscopy, of Sun, 6

Spheroidal weathering. See Weathering Stalactite, 123, 286*

Stalagmite, 123, 286, 286*

St. Augustine, 40

Steno, N., 28, 29-30, 53

Stratification, 27-28

Stratigrapher, 31

Stratigraphic sequence, 30

Stratigraphic time scale, 27-28, 39-40 Streams, 155-174

alluvium, 156

bed load, 157, 157*, 160* braided, 168*

capacity, 157, 157* competence, 157, 157* discharge, 157, 157* drainage patterns, 178* eddy, 156*

erosion by, 160-162 graded, 166

laminar flow, 155*, 155 measurement of discharge, 157 order, 177*

particle movement, 156-158 relation between competence and

velocity, 158

relation between grain size and

velocity, 158* saltation, 117, 157, 160* settling velocity, 157 shooting flow, 156, 156* streaming flow, 156, 156* streamlines, 155 superposed, 179*

suspended load, 156-157, 157* turbulent flow, 156, 156*

Stress, 466 Strike, 470, 470

Stromatolites, 285*, 302-303, 303* Subduction, and Appalachian Moun-

tains, 492

Subduction zone, 19, 21*, 250*

earthquakes at, 403 Sublimation, 130 Submarine canyons, 246 Subsistence, 122, 292 Suess, E., 441

Sulfide, sedimentary, 288-289

Sun, early history, 9 Supai Formation, 36

Superior province, Canada, 47 Supernova, 8

Superposition, principle of, 28 Surtsey, Iceland, 354*

Swamp, 136*

as natural reservoir, 134-135 Symbiosis, 281

Symmetry, in mineralogy, 56 Syncline, 121

System (time-rock.unit), 40

Talus slope, 110

Tapeats Sandstone Formation, 35 Tectonic valley, 122-123 Temperature, history of in Eart~, 11* Temple Butte Limestone Formation,


Terrestrial planets, 5-6 Tethys Sea, 457 Thermonuclear reaction, 8 Thin sections, 56

Tibetian plateau, 482 Tides, 243-245, 243*, 244*

and distance between Earth and Moon, 244

effect of on Earth's rotation rate,

244-245 neap, 244 spring, 244

tidal currents, 245 tidal flats, 245

Titan, moon of Saturn, 531 Titius-Bode rule, 5 Topographic map, 113

contours, 113

Topography, 113-119

effect of on climate, 117 effect of on weathering, 116 features, 113*

mature and old age, 126* worldwide distribution, 116-117

Toroweap Formation, 36 Transform fault, 19-20, 19* Transgression, 35, 278

and spreading rate, 489 Transition elements, 59 Transition zone, 328 Transpiration, 131 Travertine, 148, 286 Trilobite, 35*

Tsunami, 365, 404*, 405 Tufa, 286

Tuff, 72

Turbidites, 272, 293, 390, 453 Turbidity current, 252*, 251-253, 453

deposition by, 251-253, graded beds, 252 turbidites, 252

Unconformity, 31, 37, 32*

angular, 32

Unconsolidated material, 109 Uniformitarianism, principle of, 38 United States

major landforms, 124* physiographic provinces, 486*-487 schematic section, 488*

Uplift, and erosion, 116' Ural Mountains, 456

Uranium, radioactive decay of, 43 Uranus, 6, 531-532

Ussher, Archbishop James, 40

Valence electrons, 57

Valley and ridge topography, 122*

origin, 123 *

Valley, V-shaped, 114-115 Van der Waals bond, 61 Varved clay, 28

Venus, 5, 520-521

atmosphere, 86, 520 surface features, 520 Vesicles, 72

Vine, F. J., 429, 442 ViSCOSity, 156, 322* Vishnu formation, 32-33 Vitrinite, 289

Volcanic ash, 72 Volcanic dust, 72 Volcanic phenomena

bombs, 351*

columnar jointing, 350*

at convergence zones, 370 dike, 355

fissure eruptions, 353-355 flood basalt, 352, 354* fumarole, 363

gases, 362

and geothermal energy, 373 geyser, 362-363

global pattern, 366-370 global representation, 368* hot springs, 362-363 ignimbrite, 355, 355* intraplate, 368-370

lahar, 361-362, 373

nues ardentes, 352*, 361 at ocean ridges, 368

phreatic explosion, 352, 353*, 373 rift valley, 354

Volcanic rocks, 345-352. See also Pyro-

clastic deposits

aa, 347, 348* columnar jOinting, 350 lava caves (tube), 350 lava flows, 347-350 lava fountain, 350 pahoehoe, 347, 348* pillow lava, 349, 349* pumice, 350

spatter cone, 350 vesicles, 350

welded tuff, 86*


caldera, 359-360, 360* central vent (pipe), 356 cinder cone, 357, 358*

composite cone (strato-volcano), 359 crater, 359

diatreme, 361, 361*

global distribution, 346* '0 Kiluaea, 363-364

Krakatoa, 365

Mont Pelee, 352, 364-365

Mt. St. Helens, 365-366, 366* OCcurrence, 345

shield, 356, 356 *

volcanic dome, 356

von Laue, M., 57, 64

Wadi, 195 Wallace, A. R., 39 Water

distribution in crust, 146* distribution in natural reservoirs,


hardness, 144 infiltration, 131

loss into space, 130 magmatic, 147 meteoric, 147 origin, 148-152 properties, 130 quality, 143-149 runoff, 131

source on Earth, 15 thermal expansion of, 93 three states, 130*

time of origin, 151

uses of, 129*

Water table. See Groundwater, water table

Wave-cut terrace, 234 Waves, 236-239, 237* effect of storms on, 239* effect of wind on, 238* period, 236

refraction, 237*, 239, 239*, 240* steepness, 238

surf zone, 238

swell, 236

wavelength, 2~

and winds, 238-239

Weathering, 15, 38, 81-103, 83* of calcite, 90*

carbon dioxide in, 86 carbonic acid in, 86 chemical, 81, 100-101 climate and, 117-118 controlling factors, 98* exfoliation, 95

of feldspar, 83-88

global scale, 100-101- importance of water, 83-84 jointing and, 476

of mafic minerals, 90-91 mechanical, 81

on Moon, 92

physical, 92-96

of pyroxene, 91 *

of quartz, 91

rate of mechanical and chemical,


as sediment source, 99-100 and source rocks, 95-96 spherOidal, 94*, 95

topographic factors in, 100*, 116 vegetation and, 117-118

Wegener, A., 441

Werner, A., 50

Wilson, J. T., 368, 442, 456 Wind, 187-192

deflation by, 191 desert pavement, 191 dunes, 191

dust transport by, 189-190 erosion by, 191-192 frosted sand, 190-191 global pattern, 188* particle saltation, 189 particle transport, 187-192



saltation transport by 189* sandblasting by, 191-192 ventifacts, 191

XenOliths, 350 Xenophanes, 40

X-ray diffraction, 57, 64 X-ray fluorescence, 69

Zagr?s Mountains, Iran, 122* Zeolrte, 386

as water softener, 145* Zoned crystals, 336