This Dynamic Earth: The Story of Plate Tectonics

Since ancient times, the name Terra Firma (meaning “solid ground” in Latin) sometimes has been and occasionally still is used for planet Earth. While our planet is for the most part “solid” and firm, its outermost layer is everywhere in ceaseless motion, shifting at measurable average rates of several centimeters per year. This ever-moving layer upon which we live is a thin skin of solid crust and the rigid uppermost mantle making up Earth’s lithosphere. The lithosphere is broken up into slabs that geologists call lithospheric plates or tectonic plates. During the 20th century, a major scientific concept—the Theory of Plate Tectonics—emerged to explain why and how these plates move about and interact. This theory has unified the study of the Earth and proven to be as relevant to the earth sciences as was the discovery of the structure of the atom to physics and chemistry. The U.S. Geological Survey published an online edition of a book, complete with illustrations, that gives a brief introduction to the concept of plate tectonics. Contents include: Preface, Historical Perspective, Developing the Theory, Understanding Plate Motions, Hotspots, Some Unanswered Questions, Plate Tectonics and People. Click on the link below:

This Dynamic Earth: The Story of Plate Tectonics

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