Earth Science Chapter 10

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Earth Science Chapter 10 Definitions Sources: Holt Earth Science textbook

Theory of Continental Drift

The theory hypothesized by scientist Alfred Wegener stating that "the continents once formed part of a single supercontinent that began breaking up into smaller continents about 200 million years ago (during the Mesozoic Era)

Mid-Ocean Ridges

Undersea mountain ranges through the center of which run steep, narrow valleys

Sea-floor spreading

The process by which new ocean lithosphere(sea floor) forms as magma and rises to Earth's surface and solidifies at a mid-ocean ridge

Paleomagnetism

The study of the magnetic properties inside rocks

Rift

a crack

Magma

Lava from within Earth

Theory of Plate Tectonics

The theory that explains why and how continents move and is the study of the formation of features in Earth's crust

Divergent boundary

The process in which two tectonic plates move away from each other

Convergent boundary

The process in which two tectonic plates move towards each other/collide with each other

Transform boundary

The process in which two tectonic plates slide towards each other horizontally

Fracture zones

Short segments of mid-ocean ridge are connected with these

Convection

The movement of heated material due to differences in density that are created by differences in temperatures

Convection cell

An area created when cooler, denser water sinks and the warmer water rises to the surface

Ridge push

A force exerted by the asthenosphere when it pushes on the rest of the plate

Slab pull

A force exerted when the lithosphere becomes dense and subducts into the asthenosphere. The edge pulls the rest of the plate with it.

Cratons

Large areas of stable rock

Shields

Rocks within cratons

Rifting

The process by which a continent breaks apart

Terrane

A piece of lithosphere that has a unique geologic history that differs from the histories of surrounding lithosphere

Accretion

The process in which a terrane becomes part of a continent

Sea-mounts

Small volcanic islands sometimes formed from terranes

Atolls

Small coral islands that may form terranes

Supercontinent cycle

The process by which supercontinents form and break apart over time

Pangaea

The supercontinent that existed about 300 million years ago (during the Paleozoic Era)

Panthalassa

The giant ocean that surrounded Pangaea

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