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6 January 2012
Inside science

At www.physorg.com/print244918262.html … there is a piece that describes how modern Plate Tectonics has migrated from the idea originally proposed by Alfred Wegener in the early 20th century. Wegener proposed' continental drift' – he had it wrong after all, they say. In fact, since his work was published under the title, 'The Origin of Continents and Oceans', Wegener's hypothesis has been consistently under attack – and continues thus. Modern scientists are convinced they know more about everything than their predecessors – but is this true? Wegener showed that the continents may once have all fitted together, somewhat like a jig-saw, into what had once been a single conglomeration known as Pangea – but he offered no real mechanism on why it broke apart, only that it did. From a catastrophist angle this is not such a problem but in a uniformitarian perception of the past this is a very big problem because everything happened very slowly over a long period of time and if something had happened in the past it must also be happening in the present – isn't that the ultimate test of gradualism? The past can only be explained by the present. 

After WWII scientists began to investigate earthquakes in earnest and they were drilling holes in the sea bed to see how they related to the land surface, and made magnetic measurements of the ocean floor and out of this came Plate Tectonics (continental drift that was different) – especially after the topography of the Atlantic bottom revealed the nature of the Mid Ocean Ridge and its seismic origins. The continents are not moving away from each other, as such, they are moving apart, and it is at Plate boundaries this occurs. Therefore, it is not just the land that is moving across the oceans, it moves in tandem with the ocean floor. Hence, Wegener's map based redesigned land boundaries are a mirage, of sorts, as the Plates consist not only of bits of land but those bits of the ocean floor attached to the land. The Atlantic has been expanding since at least the Triassic/Jurassic, and what is now ocean floor was formerly magma that oozed out of what was the fault line or Plate boundary that became the Mid Ocean Ridges. Yet the coastline of Africa still seems to fit snugly into that of South America.

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