Vocabulary for Plate Tectonics
• Wegener published this theory in his 1915 book, On the Origin of
Continents and Oceans. In it he also proposed the existence of the
supercontinent, and named it Pangaea(Pangaea means "all the land"
in Greek). Since then we have developed modern technology to help
us keep track of the movements of the continental plates.
4.1 Tracking Plate Movement
• Scientists have substantial evidence to support the idea that the Earth’s
crust is divided into numerous plates, which are constantly moving or
floating on a river of molten magma.
• Geologists and Seismologists monitor plate movement by using numerous
technological advancements. Some of the tools used by these scientists
• GPS (Global Positioning Systems) and SLR (Satellite Laser Ranging).
• Please watch the following video to learn more about how GPS works and
some of the uses:
• Navigational Uses for Global Positioning Systems (Source: NASA video)
• Navigation Global Uses
Geologists and Seismologists monitor plate
movement by using numerous technological
advancements. Some of the tools used by
these scientists are:
GPS (Global Positioning Systems) and SLR
(Satellite Laser Ranging).
Please watch the following video to learn
more about how GPS works and some of the
• Navigational Uses for Global Positioning Systems (Source: NASA
• Navigation Global Uses
A crack or fracture in Earth's crust where two
tectonic plates grind past each other in a
The innermost layer of the earth, an
extremely hot, solid sphere of mostly iron
and nickel. The inner core is 3,200 to 3,960
miles (5,150 to 6,378 km) below the surface
and about 750 miles (1,200 km) thick.
Made up of the crust and a tiny bit of the
upper mantle, this zone is divided into
several constantly (very slowly) moving
plates of solid rock that hold the continents
Molten rock that flows beneath the earth's
surface and is made up of gases, liquids, and
crystals. When magma reaches the surface, it
is called lava.
This dense layer of the earth is made of hot,
semisolid rock and is located directly below
the crust. It is about 1,800 miles (2,900 km)
The type of crust lying under the oceans of
the world. It is only 4 to 6 miles (7 to 10 km)
thick and usually younger than continental
Below: a section of ancient oceanic crust that
has been uplifted by shifting tectonic plates.
This layer of the earth lies between the
mantle and the solid inner core. It is the only
liquid layer, a sea of mostly iron and nickel
about 1,400 miles (2,300 km) thick.
In 1915, the German geologist and
meteorologist Alfred Wegener (1880-1930)
first proposed the theory of continental drift,
which states that parts of the Earth's crust
slowly drift atop a liquid core. The fossil
record supports and gives credence to the
theories of continental drift and plate
Wegener published this theory in his 1915
book, On the Origin of Continents and
Oceans. In it he also proposed the existence
of the supercontinent Pangaea, and named it
(Pangaea means "all the land" in Greek).
Several large slabs of the lithosphere that
hold the continents and oceans and are
slowly but constantly moving around the
The name given to the supercontinent that
existed more than 225 million years ago, in
which the present-day continents were
joined together in one large landmass.
A now extinct swimming reptile. Fossils
found in South America and in Africa
A dropped zone where two tectonic plates
are pulling apart.
The process that forms new ocean floor and
oceanic crust. Magma oozes up from the
mantle through a crack in the ocean floor,
filling in the space between the plates and
spreading out from the plate boundary.
The place where one plate is getting bent
and pulled under the edge of another plate.
A raised area or mountain range under the
oceans formed when magma fills the space
between two tectonic plates that are
deepest spot in any ocean, an example of
converging oceanic plates
A deep valley that forms at the edge of a
continent when an oceanic plate sinks
underneath a continental plate.
A huge ocean wave caused by a sudden,
powerful shift on the ocean floor, like an
undersea earthquake, landslide, or volcanic
ocean created when the super continent
San Andreas Fault
example of a transform fault boundary
The boundary that occurs where two plates
slide past each other.
Great Rift Valley in
example of divergent boundary in
example of boundary where continental
cycle of heating, rising, cooling and sinking