Plate Tectontics: an Essay

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Plate Tectonics: An Essay

By: Grace Park

Science 9

Mr. Achor

11-22-11

In the early 1900’s, scientists began to ask questions about the earth and it’s continents. Why are the same fossils found on opposite sides of the globe? Why do South America and Africa seem to fit together like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle? Some scientists went to rather extreme measures to explain these strange phenomenons. Others took the time to come up with detailed theories. The theories that are accurate to us today, however, were considered impractical back then. The idea that the continents were all moving and gradually spreading apart was nonsense! Therefore, the ideas were disregarded, despite the obvious scientific evidence that supported these theories.

The first scientist to explored the idea of plate tectonics was Frank Bursley Taylor. Taylor came from a wealth family and was very smart. Struck with the similarity in shape of South America and Africa, he was the first to propose that these continents were once joined together and broke apart millions of years ago. He also suggested that the plates that were crushing against each other is what created the earth’s mountains. However, since he was not able to support his theories with much scientific evidence, they did not earn very serious attention from other scientists.

Taylor’s ideas did not go completely unnoticed. A german meteorologist named Alfred Wegener picked up these ideas and added to them. Wegener had made discoveries of fossils for the same plant or animal on opposite sides of the globe and had wondered how they had traveled from one side to the other. To explain all this, Wegener developed the theory that all the continents were once part of a supercontinent called Pangaea. He published these theories in a book called The Origin of Continents and Oceans. His book gained popularity, and soon everyone agreed that continents moved up and down, not sideways. This...
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