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Passing Plates I - The Theory



Passing Plates I - The Theory
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.61

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    asthenosphere, convective, geologic, geologists, lithosphere, mid-ocean, perpendicular, plate-boundary, seafloor, tectonic, Tuzo, relation, original, separation, provided, theory
     content words:    Alfred Wegener, South America, Although Wegener, Arthur Holmes, Tuzo Wilson, Pacific Ocean, North America, North American Plate, Eurasian Plate, Pacific Plate


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Passing Plates I - The Theory
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     You have heard of dinner plates, dessert plates, and license plates. However, did you know that our earth has its own set of plates under its surface? In 1912, German meteorologist Alfred Wegener thought so. In fact, he was the first to propose the continental drift theory.
 
2     Wegener developed this theory after noticing that the bulge of Brazil on the eastern coast of South America appeared to match up with the dent of the southwestern coast of Africa. From his observation he argued that the two continents were once together, but they drifted apart. He also believed that our world was once a single continent called Pangea. Although Wegener stated that this continent existed throughout earlier geologic time periods, it eventually separated and drifted apart to the seven continents we have today. Wegener said that the continents were made of lighter rocks and that they rested on heavier crystal material. Wegener also pointed out that the fossils of a 270 million year old Mesosaur were found in eastern South America and western Africa. Even though other scientists used the idea of a land bridge to explain the fossils, Wegener held on to his continental drift theory.
 
3     Due to their makeup, Wegener believed that the continents were not rigidly fixed, but that they slowly moved about one yard per century. Ok, so our current continents shifted from their original positions. Was it magic? Well, this was the only point Wegener could not answer. In the area of earth science, Wegener was ahead of his time. Unfortunately, the scientific community did not take his theory seriously at first.

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