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continental drift

theory that states that there was a supercontinent that split into the continents of today


(plate tectonics) a hypothetical continent including all the landmass of the earth prior to the Triassic period ~ 300 mya, when it split into Laurasia and Gondwanaland (LOL GONDWANALAND)


German geophysicist who proposed the theory of continental drift (1880-1930)

plate tectonics

the study of large scale movement and deformation of the earth's outer layers in terms of rigid plates over a partly molten layer of the upper mantle

oceanic crust

material that makes up the ocean floor

continental crust

material that makes up landmasses


A circular movement in a liquid that carries heat from one place to another. In the earth it occurs in the mantle.

sea floor spreading

the theory that states that the sea floor moves apart and then at mid ocean ridges and causes continents to move, is evidence for continental drif

subduction zones

places where plates are pushed down into the upper mantle

mid-ocean ridge

an underwater moutain chain where new ocean floor is formed


a long steep-sided depression in the ocean floor

rift valley

A long trough at the top of an oceanic ridge

convergent boundaries

places where two plates collide

divergent boundaries

places where two plates pull apart

transform fault

where two plates slide past each other, the san andreas fault is a


an upward fold in rock.


a downward fold in rock.

reverse fault

hanging wall slides up

normal fault

hanging wall slides down

thrust fault

a reverse fault where the hanging wall slides over the top of the foot wall

hanging wall

the upper wall of an inclined fault ; you can hang from it

foot wall

The block of rock below a fault ; you can walk by foot down it

strike-slip fault

break in rock caused by shear forces


forces pushing together


forces pulling apart


forces sliding by each other

mountain range

series of mountains together

mountain system

series of mountain ranges

mountain belts

group of two mountain systems


Large area of high flat or gently rolling land

folded mountains

This is the result of a continental-continental collision. The Himalaya Mountains are a good example of this.

fault-block mountains

sharp, jagged mountains made of huge, tilted blocks of rock that are separated form surrounding rock by faults and form because of the pulling forces


Long, narrow valleys formed by the process of fault-blocking.

volcanic mountains

mountains that form when molten rock erupts onto the earth's surface

dome mountains

Magma pushes up through the ground molten rock then cools and hardens creating this kind of mountains

isostatic adjustment

up-and-down movements of the earth's crust to reach isostasy


the point on the Earth's surface directly above the focus of an earthquake


the point inside the Earth where an earthquake begins

elastic-rebound theory

states that as tectonic plates move relative to each other, elastic strain energy builds up along their edges in the rocks along fault planes. Since fault planes are not usually very smooth, great amounts of energy can be stored (if the rock is strong enough) as movement is restricted due to interlock along the fault. When the shearing stresses induced in the rocks on the fault planes exceed the shear strength of the rock, an earthquake occurs


a measuring instrument for detecting and measuring the intensity and direction and duration of movements of the ground (as an earthquake)

richter scale

a logarithmic scale of 1 to 10 used to express the energy released by an earthquake

shield cones

volcanic deposit of hardened lava with a broad base and gentle slopes

composite cones

Large, step volcanoes that erupt violently.

cinder cones

Small mountains with steep sides that blow cinders and rock particles into the air when they erupt.

hot spots

When tecontic plates meet directly below a mantle plume, it forms these.


solid material ejected from a volcano during an eruption


rock that in its molten form (as magma) issues from volcanos

pyroclastic flows

scalding avalanche of ash and hot, toxic expanding gas, traveling very fast down the flank of a volcano


mudflows (water mixed with ash)


(geology) the mechanical process of wearing or grinding something down (as by particles washing over it)


the decompocition and disintegration of rocks and minerals at the earth's surface by a mechanical and chemical process

mechanical weathering

the process of physically breaking down rock. For example, plant growth can split rock apart

chemical weathering

the process in which rock is broken down by changes in its chemical makeup

ice wedging

cracks in rocks filled with water that freezes and causes rock to crack


CO2+H20 -> CH2O3 (Carbonic Acid). water reacts with minerals in rocks and breaks them down.


the reaction that happens when iron rusts is an example of ....

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