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2: Developing the Theory

  • Page ID
    207
  • Continental drift was hotly debated off and on for decades following Wegener's death before it was largely dismissed as being eccentric, preposterous, and improbable. However, beginning in the 1950s, a wealth of new evidence emerged to revive the debate about Wegener's provocative ideas and their implications. In particular, four major scientific developments spurred the formulation of the plate-tectonics theory: (1) demonstration of the ruggedness and youth of the ocean floor; (2) confirmation of repeated reversals of the Earth magnetic field in the geologic past; (3) emergence of the seafloor-spreading hypothesis and associated recycling of oceanic crust; and (4) precise documentation that the world's earthquake and volcanic activity is concentrated along oceanic trenches and submarine mountain ranges.

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