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Geog 101

by: Hallie Notetaker
Hallie Notetaker
Minnesota State University, Mankato
GPA 3.66

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Plate Tectonics
Introductory Physical Geography
Phillip Larson
Class Notes
25 ?




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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hallie Notetaker on Friday September 16, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Geog 101 at Minnesota State University - Mankato taught by Phillip Larson in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 12 views. For similar materials see Introductory Physical Geography in Geography at Minnesota State University - Mankato.


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Date Created: 09/16/16
Plate Tectonics Early Ideas  Sir Francis Bacon o Africa and South America look like they fit together o 1620 he noted the parallelism of the shorelines across theAtlantic Ocean  Ben Franklin o 1782 the crust of the Earth must be a shell floating on a liquid interior  Thus the surface of the globe would be capable of being broken and disordered by violent movements of the liquid The Scientific Paradigm  Alfred Wegener – German meteorologist o The Pangaea Hypothesis o Fascinated by the idea that the continents drifted (continental drift) o Compiled the observations of others and his own and made a case in 1915 for moving continents  Coastlines fit  Matching fossil records  Matching rock types  Matching mountain ranges  Exotic animals inAustralia isolated by continental drift o Suggested that tidal (gravitational) forces between Moon and Sun moved them and that continental lithosphere plowed through oceanic lithosphere  No evidence for this and tidal forcing that strong would have stopped the earth from spinning  Solution later in time – plate tectonics  The vast majority of geologists were heavily prejudiced against an atmospheric scientist for holding heretical beliefs that continents moved  Was not until the 1970s that people started to accept Wegener’s hypothesis Plate Tectonics  All views involve too much heat being produced from radioactive decay o K, Ra, Th and intense pressure force convection currents  Best guess is these currents run through the mantle  What goes down eventually comes back up and completes the cycle  Plate boundaries o Convergent – comes together o Divergent – spreads apart (driving force of plate tectonics) o Transform – slides past Divergent Boundary  Driven by convection in the mantle o Hotter, less dense partially to full molten material from the mantle forces its way to the surface where it erupts  This lava then cools and is forced apart as new material arrives from the mantle  This process serves to push the plates apart over time and drives the movement of the continents  How do we know divergence is happening? o Half-lives of isotopes  Radiometric dating o Crustal age o Paleomagnetism o Not only in oceans  Started rifting 22-25 mya (EastAfrican Rift Zone)  Rifting at a rate of 6-7 mm annually  In 10 million years the Somalian plate will rift off and a new ocean basin will form  Big question o If new crust is being made at spreading/divergent plate boundaries, why isn’t earth expanding?  Crust is “recycled” at subduction zones – convergent plate boundaries (e.g. ocean trenches) Convergent Boundary  Proof – reabsorption of old rock material  Benioff-Wadati Zone  Volcanoes often rest on top of mountain chains at these boundaries o Not if two continents collide though  The bulk of mountain building is not from volcanoes, but from compression  Ocean-Continent o Examples – Andes, Cascades,Alaska, British Columbia, New Zealand o This process is observed along the entire western coast of theAmericas  Except California where it used to, creating the Sierra Nevadas, but is now a transform boundary o Creates large mountain belts that parallel the margin of continents o Oceanic crust is more dense than the continental, therefore, it subducts  Ocean-Ocean o Examples – island arcs in the Pacific and Caribbean  Continent-Continent o Examples – Himalayas,Alps Transform Boundary  No volcanoes at these boundaries  No massive mountain chains (some topography)  Strong, near surface earthquakes are very problematic o California, Turkey, Israel  Right lateral example – San Andreas Fault  Left lateral example – Levant Fault (Dead Sea Fault) Hot Spots  Other patterns that do not exactly fit the theory of continental drift  Areas of volcanism located in the interior of a tectonic plate o Do not know how they form  Hawaii island formation o Oldest islands were formed first when they passed over the hot spot  Move farther and farther away  As islands are cut off from the lava source the ocean wears them down o New island (Loihi) is being built beneath the ocean  Yellowstone Super volcano o North American plate moving over hot spot IsostacyAdjustments  Earth’s crust seeking equilibrium o Earth’s crust is elastic  Step 1 – crust is depressed by putting mas on top of it  Step 2 – mass removed and crust rises (isostatic rebound)


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