Continental Drift. Alfred Wegener ( ) Proposed that all of the continents were once part of a large supercontinent - Pangaea Based on:

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1 Plate Tectonics and Continental Drift

2 Continental Drift Alfred Wegener ( ) Proposed that all of the continents were once part of a large supercontinent - Pangaea Based on: Similarities in shorelines Distinctive rock and fossil groups found in Africa & South America

3 Continental drift maps by Wegner (1915)

4 Continental Drift Wegner proposed a mechanism for drift Less dense silicic rocks plowed through more dense ocean floor Earth s rotation was driving force Although supporting evidence existed, the theory was not widely accepted

5 Evidence for Continental Drift Paleontological Similarity of fossils on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean Plants and land dwelling animals No mechanism to transport across ocean Glossopteris on all southern continents Divergence of species following break-up

6 Paleontological evidence

7 Evidence for Continental Drift Rock type & structures Distinct rock type and geologic structures on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean Cape fold belt and equivalent S.Africa & Argentina Appalachian Mtns and equivalent U.S., Canada, Scotland & Norway Only occur in rocks > 145 mya

8 Rock type & structure evidence

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10 Evidence for Continental Drift Glaciation Late Paleozoic glaciation Covered large portions of the southern continents Distinct glacial deposit Glacial striations indicate direction of movement No evidence for glaciation on northern continents at this time

11 Reconstruction from glacial deposits

12 Evidence for Continental Drift Paleoclimate Evidence of extreme changes in climate as compared to the present Coal deposits in Antarctica Evidence from evaporite deposits, eolian deposits & coral reefs Paleoclimate reconstruction shows strange patterns unless continents are moved

13 Fig Paleoclimate evidence

14 Modern Plate Tectonic Theory Original evidence for continental drift was from continental rocks Technological advances in the 1950 s and 1960 s allowed investigation of the sea floor Geophysics & paleomagnetism provided new data

15 Geology of the Ocean Floor Topography of the ocean basins Basins are divided by a large ridge system Ridge system is continuous around the entire globe Central rift valley within the ridge

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17 Geology of the Ocean Floor Physical properties Composed of basalt Younger in age than most continental rocks Oceanic crust is thinner than continental No evidence of crustal deformation folded mountains

18 Crustal Properties Crust Density Composition Thickness Age continental ~2.8 g/cm 3 Felsic Thick: km Old: up to 4 Byrs oceanic ~3.2 g/cm 3 Mafic Thin: 2-10 km Young: <200 Mys

19 Geology of the Ocean Floor Seafloor spreading proposed by Hess (1960) Considered new data on ocean floor Proposed mechanisms of: Mantle convection Rifting and volcanism along ridge system Continents pushed along w/ spreading seafloor Recycling of oceanic crust by subduction

20 Geology of the Ocean Floor Paleomagnetism Fe rich rocks are weakly magnetized by the Earth s magnetic field as minerals form Orientation of magnetic field is preserved Magnetic field orientation varies with position on Earth s surface

21 Geology of the Ocean Floor Polar wandering Earth s north magnetic pole was shown to have moved through time Systematic change in position Polar wandering paths varied by continent Multiple magnetic poles are not possible

22 Reconstruction from paleomagnetic data

23 Geology of the Ocean Floor Magnetic reversals Earth s magnetic field polarity has reversed through time Normal polarity N magnetic = N geographic Reversed polarity - N magnetic = S geographic At least 12 reversals in last 4 my Magnetic chronology is established by combining polarity chrons with radiometric age dating

24 Geology of the Ocean Floor Vine & Matthews (1963) tested Hess s hypothesis using magnetism Magnetic polarity reversals recorded in ocean floor basalt Magma cools forming new crust Polarity at time of cooling preserved Old crust pushed aside

25 Geology of the Ocean Floor Magnetic polarity stripes in ocean crust parallel ridges Symmetrical on either side of the ridge Polarity chrons give age of seafloor Increases away from ridge Rates of plate motion may be calculated

26 Fig Patterns of magnetic reversals

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30 Age of the sea floor

31 Geology of the Ocean Floor Seafloor sediments support plate tectonic theory Youngest sediments resting directly on basalt near the ridge Sediment just above the basalt gets older moving away from the ridge Accumulation rates of ~3 mm/1000 yr

32 Plate Geography Lithosphere is divided into individual plates Boundaries based on structural features, not land and ocean Plates are outlined by ridges, trenches and young mountain belts Plates are not permanent features

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34 Major tectonic boundaries

35 Divergent Plate Margins Oceanic-Oceanic Crust Mid-oceanic ridge with central rift valley Shallow earthquakes, less than 100km Basaltic lavas

36 Divergent Plate Margins Continental-Continental Crust Rift Valley Shallow earthquakes, less than 100km Basaltic and Rhyolitic volcanism New material rising from the mantle produces basaltic lavas Thinning continental crust melts to produce rhyolitic lavas & instrusions East African Rift Valley

37 Fig Divergent plate margins

38 Convergent Plate Margins Oceanic-Oceanic Seafloor Trench Shallow and deep earthquakes, km deep Andesitic volcanoes in an island arc Japan

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40 The Aleutian Island Chain

41 Seismic activity in the Aleutian Islands

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43 Convergent Plate Margins Oceanic-Continental Subduction Zone Shallow and deep earthquakes, km deep Andesitic volcanoes in a continental arc Cascade range

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45 Convergent Plate Margins Continental-Continental Intensely folded and thrust faulted mountain belts Metamorphic rocks dominate Sediments accumulated along continental margin are squeezed Igneous rocks commonly included Granitic magmas

46 Convergent plate boundaries

47 Transform Fault Margins Transform faults are large vertical fractures or faults in the crust Movement along faults is side to side May extend for long distances In oceanic crust, deep valleys are formed Transform faults may extend onto continents San Andreas fault

48 Juan de Fuca plate

49 Rates of Seafloor Spreading FAST SLOW (East Pacific Rise) (Mid Atlantic Ridge) ~10-20 cm/year ~1-2 cm/year Life of a person 100 years 10 meters 1-2 meters Civilization 10,000 years 1 km m Modern Humans 100,000 years 10 km 1-2 km Stone tools 1,000,000 years 100 km km Width of the Pacific Ocean ~ on the order of 10,000 km (16,000 miles) wide. How long would it take to create this much ocean crust.

50 Rates of Plate Motion Two ways to look at plate motion Relative velocity the movement of one plate relative to another Age of seafloor / distance from ridge Absolute velocity compares plate movement to a fixed position Use hotspots as fixed points of reference Rates vary from 1 to 20 cm/yr

51 Fig Rates of plate motion around the world

52 Where do we see deep earthquakes? What is happening there?

53 Tectonic Mechanisms Convection of heat from the core and mantle drives tectonics Convection cells bring new material to the surface Old crust is pushed away from ridges Subduction carries cool crust back into the mantle

54 Fig Models of plate tectonic motion

55 Tectonic Mechanisms Plates are active participants in the convection process Slab pull dense ocean crust descends under its own weight Ridge push gravity pulls lithosphere down & away from ridge Friction resistance to movement from various sources

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58 More evidence. Mantle Plumes and Hot Spots Mantle plumes may form hot spots of active volcanism at Earth s surface Approximately 45 known hotspots Hot spots in the interior of a plate produce volcanic chains Orientation of the volcanic chain shows direction of plate motion over time Age of volcanic rocks can be used to determine rate of plate movement Hawaiian islands are a good example

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61 The World s Hot Spots

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64 Tectonic setting Rock/sediment type Lavas and pyroclastics Basalts (Ophiolites) Marine sediments (cherts, limestones, red clays) Turbidites, clays, silts, sands Granites and Rhyolite Mafic Felsic

65 Composition of the Ocean Crust Seismic surveys suggest oceanic crust is ~7 km thick and comprised of three layers First layer is marine sediment of various composition and thickness (extensively sampled) Second layer is pillow basalt overlying basaltic dikes (extensively sampled) Third layer is thought to be composed of sill-like gabbro intrusions (not directly sampled) Ophiolites are rock sequences in mountain chains on land that are thought to represent slivers of ocean crust and uppermost mantle Composed of layers 1-3 overlying ultramafic rock

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67 Intraplate volcanism Rising mantle plumes can produce localized hotspots and volcanoes when they produce magmas that rise through oceanic or continental crust. Hawaii is an example Composition?

68 Diamonds ascend to the Earth's surface in rare molten rock, or magma, that originates at great depths. Carrying diamonds and other samples from Earth's mantle, this magma rises and erupts in small but violent volcanoes. Just beneath such volcanoes is a carrot-shaped "pipe" filled with volcanic rock, mantle fragments, and some embedded diamonds. The rock is called kimberlite after the city of Kimberley, South Africa, Ants, erosion and Namibian diamonds

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