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Plate Tectonics

Continental Drift Versus Plate Tectonics

Based upon centuries of cartographic depictions that allowed a good fit between the Western coast of Africa and the Eastern coast of South America, in 1858, French geographer Antonio Snider-Pellegrini, published a work asserting that the two continents had once been part of larger single continent ruptured by the creation and intervention of the Atlantic Ocean. In the 1920s, German geophysicist Alfred Wegener's writings advanced the hypothesis of continental drift depicting the movement of continents through an underlying oceanic crust. Wegner's hypothesis met with wide skepticism but found support and development in the work and writings of South African geologist Alexander Du Toit who discovered a similarity in the fossils found on the coasts of Africa and South Americas that derived from a common source.

What Wegener's continental drift theory lacked was a propelling mechanism. Other scientists wanted to know what was moving these continents around. Unfortunately, Wegener could not provide a convincing answer. Therefore, other scientists heavily disputed his theory and it fell into disrepute.

The technological advances necessitated by the Second World War made possible the accumulation of significant evidence now underlying modern plate tectonic theory.

The theory of plate tectonics gained widespread acceptance only in the late 1960s to early 1970s.


Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Planck mass to PositPlate Tectonics - Continental Drift Versus Plate Tectonics, An Overview Of Tectonic Theory, Proofs Of Tectonic Theory, Rates Of Plate Movement