Plate Tectonics: Major and Minor Plates

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16 Questions

What is the average thickness of the lithosphere covered by oceanic crust?

75km

How does a tectonic plate move over the asthenosphere?

It slides horizontally over the asthenosphere

What is responsible for the Earth's most dramatic geologic events?

Tectonic activity

Which scientist introduced the continental drift theory?

Alfred Wegener

What causes the movement of tectonic plates?

Heat from the upper mantle

How many major tectonic plates are there in the lithosphere?

Seven

What was the name of the large continent that broke about 225 million years ago into the continents Laurasia and Gondwanaland?

Pangaea

Which piece of evidence supports the continental drift theory by showing a close match between the coastlines of continents on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean?

Continental fit between the eastern shoreline of South America and the western shorelines of Africa

Which extinct mammal-like reptile's fossil were found in both South America and South Africa, providing evidence for the continental drift theory?

Cynognathus

According to the seafloor spreading theory, what causes the magma to rise to the surface and solidify into new oceanic crust?

Convection current

Who explained that stripes of magnetic material on the seafloor provide strong evidence for tectonic movements?

Frederick John Vine

Which evidence supports the continental drift theory by showing mountain ranges of the same age, structure, and rock types in South America and Africa?

Mountain ranges of the same age, structure, and rock types in South America and Africa

What provides strong evidence for tectonic movements according to British Geophysicists Frederick John Vine and Drummond Hoyle Matthews?

Stripes of magnetic material on the seafloor

What does the seafloor spreading theory explain?

How the continents drifted away from each other

What is the name of the extinct herbivorous, pig-like reptile whose fossils are found in Antarctica, India, and South Africa, supporting the continental drift theory?

Lystrosaurus

What is the process by which hot and less dense material from the mantle rises to the surface on mid-ocean ridges according to the seafloor spreading theory?

Convection current

Study Notes

Lithosphere and Tectonic Plates

  • The average thickness of the lithosphere covered by oceanic crust is approximately 50-100 km.
  • Tectonic plates move over the asthenosphere due to convection currents, which cause the asthenosphere to flow.
  • The movement of tectonic plates is responsible for the Earth's most dramatic geologic events.

Continental Drift Theory

  • The scientist who introduced the continental drift theory is Alfred Wegener.
  • There are 7 major tectonic plates in the lithosphere.

Evidence for Continental Drift

  • The break-up of the large continent Pangaea about 225 million years ago into Laurasia and Gondwanaland supports the continental drift theory.
  • The fit of the coastlines of continents on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean provides evidence for the continental drift theory.
  • The fossil of the extinct mammal-like reptile Mesosaurus, found in both South America and South Africa, supports the continental drift theory.
  • The existence of similar mountain ranges of the same age, structure, and rock types in South America and Africa provides evidence for the continental drift theory.

Seafloor Spreading Theory

  • According to the seafloor spreading theory, magma rises to the surface and solidifies into new oceanic crust at mid-ocean ridges due to the process of convection.
  • The stripes of magnetic material on the seafloor provide strong evidence for tectonic movements, as explained by Frederick John Vine and Drummond Hoyle Matthews.
  • The seafloor spreading theory explains the process of plate tectonics, including the creation of new oceanic crust.

Fossil Evidence

  • The fossil of the extinct herbivorous, pig-like reptile Lystrosaurus, found in Antarctica, India, and South Africa, supports the continental drift theory.

Mid-Ocean Ridges

  • The process of convection, where hot and less dense material from the mantle rises to the surface on mid-ocean ridges, is responsible for the creation of new oceanic crust according to the seafloor spreading theory.

Learn about the major and minor tectonic plates that make up the Earth's lithosphere. Understand the characteristics of these plates, including their ability to carry both continental and oceanic crust.

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