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How Did the Continents Form?



How Did the Continents Form?
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   high interest, readability grades 6 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.69

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    supercontinent, billion, continental, present-day, mantle, tectonics, fused, jammed, crust, lava, earth, form, million, during, eastern, born
     content words:    Proterozoic Eon, North America, South America


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How Did the Continents Form?
By Patti Hutchison
  

1     You know that there are seven continents on earth today. But did you know that in the past, the earth looked very different? Sometimes there were more continents. Sometimes there were fewer continents.
 
2     How did the continents form? The answer is plate tectonics. During the Proterozoic Eon there were hundreds of small pieces of crust floating on the mantle. These first land masses were small continents and island arcs. They collided with each other because of plate tectonics.
 
3     The pieces of crust hit so hard, they jammed together. At the boundaries, much energy was released. The land fused together.
 
4     By 2.5 billion years ago, about one-fourth of the earth's crust was formed. These ancient land masses were known as shields. They moved all the time. Larger bodies collided with smaller ones. Mountains were formed at the edges. Lava flowed and welded these pieces together.

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