They Didn't Believe It! Plate Tectonics, Foundation of Earth Systems

This video is the fourth in our “They DIdn’t Believe It!” series.

In Europe, as early as the 1500s a notion of drifting continents circulated, but until the beginning of a geological science it was difficult to develop the concept. In the nineteenth century, serious investigations of geology, natural history, and evolution all suggested that present continents must have been a single mass in the remote past. The continental drift theory was not accepted until the 1960s when the technology necessary for deep-sea scientific investigation became available. The data revealed unquestionable evidence that the Earth’s crust was made up of tectonic plates. The movement of these plates caused deep fissures (rifts) in the ocean floor, regular shifts of the planet’s magnetic polarity, volcanoes and earthquakes. With the established evidence for tectonic plates, scientists at last could explain the distribution –and continued drift– of the continents.