Our Earth As We Know It
The Continental Drift plays a major part in the features of the Earth's continents. The continental drift has been dated back to as early as the Ice Age. It is currently causing new formations due to an increase of tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. Some scientists believe our solar system is a part of an ever growing dark nebula. A dark nebula contains a mixture of ice particles, dust, and other carbon based debris. It can grow to be large enough to block out the sun's rays that heats the Earth's atmosphere.
Over 220 million years ago all the continents were once joined together as a super continent named Pangaea. Over a period of time, this super continent shifted apart and transformed in to the continents that we are familiar with today. The Continental Drift theory was originally believed to have been caused by the change of the Earth's rotation, which caused the continents to shift towards and away from each other. Later, studies showed the Continental Drift is caused by a process called plate tectonics. Continents have been found to rest on large moveable rocks on the Earth's crust called tectonic plate. These plates are constantly shifting and moving to make up the process called plate tectonics.
Seafloor spreading zones and rift valleys are two popular areas of tectonic activity. Seafloor spreading is known as a divide of the underwater mountain range where new oceanic crust is formed. This process occurs as molten rock rises from the Earth's crust and makes a new oceanic floor. As the seafloor grows wider by these new formations, the continents that are located on either side of the ridge drift further away as the seafloor grows wider by these new formations. Eventually, new continents will be formed as a result of seafloor spreading.
Another active site is rift valleys. Rift valleys are areas where continental landmasses are ripping themselves apart. They are usually linear shaped lowlands located between several mountain ranges. Rift valleys can occur at all levels of elevation, from the bottom of the ocean to the tops of mountain ranges. They can form in continental crusts, which refer to the layer of rocks that forms the continents, or the oceanic crusts, which refers to a part of the uppermost surface of the oceans' basin. For example, the Great Rift Valley System is a series of faults due to tectonic activity. This specific area stretches from southwest Asia to the horn of Africa. Studies have shown that Africa will eventually split in to two individual continents, with a sea forming between them. One of the continents will mainly consist of Africa while the smaller continent will consist of Somali and the horn of Africa. It is believed the smaller continent will mostly be made up of water with the horn of Africa and Madagascar being the two largest landmasses.
The processes of seafloor spreading and rift valleys are all a part of the Continental Drift Theory. As the Earth continues to changes, new continents will be formed. Scientists are constantly collecting data to help predict these changes, and predict the climate of the Earth.
About the Author
Lubomir Cizek studied Mining Engineering and Geology at the Mining Academy in Ostrava, Czech Republic. He has also spent a lot of time at a telescope and a lot of time studying astronomy. For more information, please visit http://iceagetheory.com/
Submitted on: 2015-07-21 18:07:41