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ZingPath: Plate Tectonics and Earth's Dynamics

Plate Tectonics: The Atlantic Ocean

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Plate Tectonics and Earth's Dynamics

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Plate Tectonics: The Atlantic Ocean

Earth & Space Science

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Learners discover how the Atlantic Ocean was formed and how continents have drifted over time.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Define Pangaea as “all earth” or a super-continent.
  • Explain how the Atlantic Ocean was formed.
  • Describe at least two pieces of evidence that support continental drift.

Everything You'll Have Covered

Plate Tectonics

Less than 100 years ago, many scientists thought the continents always had been the same shape and were in the same place. A few scientists noted that the eastern coastline of South America and the western coastline of Africa looked as if they could fit together. You can see with a little imagination, all the continents could be joined together like giant puzzle. These puzzle pieces can connect to create one large continent surrounded by one huge ocean.

Lands now far apart and with very different climates contain the same kinds of fossil plants and animals. For example, certain dinosaur fossils have been found across central South America and western Central Africa, and nowhere else. Identical fossil plants have been found in southern South America, South Africa, India, Antarctica, and Australia. Evidence of an ancient glacier that was once one large ice cap can be found in South America, Africa, India, and Australia. This evidence supports the theory that these continents were connected and drifted apart (continental drift).

The edges of some plates are moving apart, like a diverging boundary, and the space between them is being filled in by new rock from deep within Earth. Other plate edges are smashing together these are called converging boundaries. Sometimes when this occurs, one plate is pushed under the edge of another plate. The lower plate is forced into the very hot interior of Earth where it is destroyed. Other times the plates slide past each other, one moving in one direction and the other in the opposite direction. These plates are called transform boundaries.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 20 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts earthquakes, mountain belt, volcano, fault
Course Earth & Space Science
Type of Tutorial Concept Development
Key Vocabulary 3D, Andes, Atlantic Ocean