GY 111: Physical Geology

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1 UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH ALABAMA GY 111: Physical Geology Lecture 2: Introduction to Plate Tectonics Instructor: Dr. Douglas W. Haywick

2 Last Time 1. Introductions and class policy 2. What do geologists do 3. Why you should consider geology

3 So what exactly do geologists do? Mining and mineral exploration Fossil fuel exploration Engineering geology Environmental geology Hydrology Volcanology Seismology Remote sensing/gis Teaching Landfill design Military Planning Urban Planning Hazards mitigation Planetary geology Hydrology Planetary geology Predicting future events Police & legal work State/Federal government

4 Is a career in the geosciences for you? 1998 Physical Sciences Employment within the United States Biologists 118,000 Chemists 97,000 Geologists 46,000 Physicists 20, Average Physical Sciences Salaries within the United States (BS degrees) Chemists $29,300 Geologists $27,900 Biologists $22,900 Physicists N/A* Reference: Holbrook, John, 1998, Career Potential in the sciences, PALAIOS, Volume 13, No. 2

5 The ever important jobs to graduates ratio* Biology: 1: 5.6 Physics 1: 4.7 Chemistry 1: 2.5 Geology 1: 1.9 * The lower the better

6 Holbrook drop dead replacement rate Time to replace all jobs in the event that all physical scientists suddenly died Geology Chemistry Physics Biology 17.2 years 10.3 years 5 years 5 semesters Reference: Holbrook, John, 1998, Career Potential in the sciences, PALAIOS, Volume 13, No. 2

7 Today s Agenda 1) Alfred Wegener and Drifting Continents 2) The Plate Tectonic Revolution 3) Plate Tectonics Mechanisms Web notes 2

8 The Earth

9 The Earth Even back in the 1700 s, mariners commented on the apparent jigsaw puzzle fit of South American and Africa.

10 Enter a very clever thinker: Alfred Wegener: first proposed the concepts of continental drift and super continents

11 Wegener s hypothesis: 300 million years ago, the continents were all grouped together into a supercontinent he called Pangaea

12 His supporting evidence? Matching rock types and fossils* * types and ages

13 And the reaction?

14 And the reaction? widespread rejection

15 But redemption would eventually occur

16 But redemption would eventually occur after World War II

17 The Plate Tectonics Revolution Technological developments during the war increased our understanding of the world s oceans.

18 The Plate Tectonics Revolution Radar, sonar, and depth sounding revealed that the ocean bottoms were not flat planes

19 The Plate Tectonics Revolution And the single most important piece of evidence for plate tectonics was also discovered around the end of WWII

20 The Plate Tectonics Revolution And the single most important piece of evidence for plate tectonics was also discovered around the end of WWII. Paleomagnetism

21 The Plate Tectonics Revolution Earth has a magnetic field (and it isn t constant)

22 The Plate Tectonics Revolution 1669 lava flow magnetic field Mt Etna eruption of 1669 Source: (same as today +/- declination shifts)

23 The Plate Tectonics Revolution Older lava flows (1 million years) magnetic field Mt Etna eruption of 1669 Source: Reversed compared to today

24 The Plate Tectonics Revolution Paleomagnetism shows that the ocean floor youngest near the ridges and oldest near the continents

25 Paleomagnetism

26 The Plate Tectonics Revolution The outer part of the Earth is broken up into several large tectonic plates

27 The Plate Tectonics Revolution And where they rub against one another, you get Earthquakes

28 The Plate Tectonics Revolution Volcanoes (active, dormant and extinct)

29 The Plate Tectonics Revolution and mountain belts

30 And one last thing

31 And one last thing Wegener got it right about Pangaea

32 So how does it all work?

33 The Earth

34 Internal guts of the Earth

35 Internal guts of the Earth Four Major Geophysical Layers

36 Internal guts of the Earth Four Major Geophysical Layers 1) The Crust (5-35 km thick; rigid rock)

37 Internal guts of the Earth Four Major Geophysical Layers 1) The Crust 2) The Mantle (2865 km; rigid to ductile rock)

38 Internal guts of the Earth Four Major Geophysical Layers 1) The Crust 2) The Mantle 3) The Outer Core (2200 km; liquid metal)

39 Internal guts of the Earth Four Major Geophysical Layers 1) The Crust 2) The Mantle 3) The Outer Core 4) The Inner Core (1270 km; solid metal)

40 Deep Earth Seismology Question: How do we know about the interior of the Earth when the deepest we have ever drilled is only 12 km?

41 Deep Earth Seismology Question: How do we know about the interior of the Earth when the deepest we have ever drilled is only 12 km? Answer: Seismic waves

42 Deep Earth Seismology Question: How do we know about the interior of the Earth when the deepest we have ever drilled is only 12 km? Answer: Seismic waves P and S-waves are called body waves because they travel through the Earth. P waves: Primary waves S waves: Secondary waves

43 Deep Earth Seismology Question: How do we know about the interior of the Earth when the deepest we have ever drilled is only 12 km? Answer: Seismic waves Primary waves move via compression Secondary waves move via shear

44 Deep Earth Seismology P-waves travel through all media and are the fastest (4+ km/s) S-waves cannot pass through liquids and are slower (3+ km/s) Moreover, the waves refract due to density differences

45 Deep Earth Seismology So. the science of Seismology uses the speed of seismic waves to resolve rock density/state P and S waves can be used to infer the state and density of the Earth s interior (BTW; this is an old technique, first done almost 100 years ago) More on seismology in upcoming lectures dealing with earthquakes

46 The Plate Tectonics Mechanism Heat exchange gives rise to Convection Currents

47 The Plate Tectonics Mechanism Rising convection currents stress the rigid outer layer of the Earth. Cooler Hotter

48 The Plate Tectonics Mechanism Rising convection currents stress the rigid outer layer of the Earth. This layer consists of the crust and the outer most mantle Geophysical layers Cooler Mantle Hotter

49 The Plate Tectonics Mechanism Collectively, the rigid outer most part of the Earth (about 100 km thick) is called the Lithosphere Tectonic layers Lithosphere: Geophysical layers Cooler Athenosphere: Mantle Hotter

50 The Plate Tectonics Mechanism It is postulated that the convection currents can eventually break up the lithosphere into separate plates Tension Cooler Mantle Hotter

51 The Plate Tectonics Mechanism Hence the term plate tectonics Tension Asthenosphere To be continued in our next lecture

52 Today s Homework 1) Download and read web notes 2 2) Start organizing your notes Next Time 3) The Rock Cycle (web notes 3)

53 GY 111: Physical Geology Lecture 2: Introduction to Plate Tectonics Instructor: Dr. Doug Haywick This is a free open access lecture, but not for commercial purposes. For personal use only.

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