Geology : Plate Tectonics

Atlantic and Indian Ocean seafloor spreading centers

The progress of the earth sciences and the advancement of technologies associated with the understanding of our planet during the 1940's and 50's have led geologists to develop a new way of looking at the world and how it works. This exhibit explains the history of our new understanding of the Earth and provides a brief overview of the theories behind it.

The history behind Plate Tectonics

The mechanisms driving Plate Tectonics

Plate tectonics animations

Quicktime version
AVI version

Animated gifs

Last 750 million years: [1.04 MB] [506 KB] [261 KB]

Last 750 million years in reverse: [1.04 MB] [506 KB]

From 750 mya to the beginning of the Paleozoic: [294 KB] [166 KB]

From 750 mya to the beginning of the Mesozoic: [532 KB] [284 KB] [156 KB]

From the beginning of the Mesozoic to Recent: [301 KB] [163 KB] [96 KB]

All animations built from maps used with the permission of C.R. Scotese, PALEOMAP Project.


There are a number of excellent sites dealing with the modern theory of plate tectonics. Here is a modest sample:

Finally, it seems appropriate to mention the Alfred Wegener Institute, the German national research center for polar and marine research, carrying on Wegener's tradition of interdisciplinary earth science.


  • S. Uyeda. 1978. The New View of the Earth. W.H. Freeman and Co.
  • W.K. Hamblin. 1975. The Earth's Dynamic Systems. Burgess Publishing Co.
  • P. Kearey, and J.V. Frederick. 1996. Global Tectonics. Blackwell Sciences Ltd.
  • C.W. Montgomery. 1987. Physical Geology. Wm. C. Brown Publishers.

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