Plate Tectonics (General Outline)

This topic submitted by Scott A. Porter ( at 12:32 PM on 3/14/06.

Rick and company hold (then release!) a green sea turtle from Snow Bay on San Salvador, Bahamas. See other beautiful phenomena from the Bahamas.

Tropical Field Courses -Western Program-Miami University

I. History of Theory Development
A. Continental drift first proposed by Alfred Wegener in 1912
1. Pangaea, Laurasia, and Gondwanaland
2. evidence includes:
a. jigsaw puzzle fit of Africa and South America
b. matching mountain belts
c. similar rocks
d. fossils and structure in now widely separated continents
e. evidence of an ancient ice age in current tropical regions
f. tropical swamps in now cool climates.
B. WegnerÕs theory supported by the discovery of major rifts in the ocean floors along the mid-ocean ridges. (Sea floor spreading)
1. Volcanoes and earthquake activity along the ridge suggest the seafloor was spreading as basaltic lava flowed out of a rift in the ridge
2. Seafloor spreading theory supported by paleomagnatism studies

II. Basics of Plate tectonics
A. What is continental drift and what drives it?
1. Thermal Convection
B. Plate Boundaries
1. Divergent
2. Convergent
a. Ocean-Ocean
b. Ocean-Continent
c. Continent- Continent
3. Transform

III. Plate tectonics as a cause for Volcanoes and Earth quakes
A. Spreading zone volcanism
B. Convergence zone volcanism
C. Intraplate volcanism
D. Earthquake belts at plate boundaries
1. Deep quakes
2. Shallow quakes
3. Intraplate quakes

IV. Costa Rica tectonics
A. Cocos Plate
B. Arenal Volcano

Incomplete list of possible resources

Moon Handbooks. The land of Costa Rica. in [database online]. 2005 [cited March 14 2006]. Available from (accessed March 14, 2006).
Press, Frank, and Raymond Siever, eds. 1998. Understanding earth. Second Edition ed. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company.
Prothero, Donald R., and Dott, Robert H. Jr., eds. 2002. Evolution of the earth. Sixth Edition ed. Boston: McGraw Hill Higher Education.

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