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Continental Drift Theory - Essay Example

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Continental Drift Theory Date Abstract The essay aims to address a two-fold objective to wit: (1) to explain the continental drift theory by Alfred Wegener; and (2) to relate scientific methods and theory development to the acceptance and resistance of the continental drift theory…
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Continental Drift Theory
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Download file to see previous pages In the last part of the 20th century, modern investigations have led to the evidence of sea-floor spreading or the diversion of ocean floor from the mod-ocean ridges. Under geometric continental reconstructions evidence, Wegener proposed that the coastline geography of the continents on either side of the Atlantic Ocean have pattern and can be fitted back together like a jigsaw puzzle. Example of which are the coastlines of western Africa and eastern South America (Rogers, 2008, 93). In addition, Wegener reiterated it is the end of the submerged continental shelf that marks the line of the originally-joined continents and not the coastline-fit misconception. Geological match and continuity of structure evidence explained how there are similar rock types, succession of strata or igneous bodies which have unique characteristics were found on either side of the ocean. This evidence was observed in the similarities of the rock strata and geological structures of the Appalachian and Caledonian mountain belts of eastern USA and northwestern Europe, as well as the Precambrian rocks and geological structures similarity observed between South America and Africa (Rogers, 2008, 95). ...
The modern evidence gathered during the latter part of the 20th century which has made the continental drift theory acceptable is the sea-floor spreading evidence. Modern geologists had explained the inaccessible ocean floor in Wegener’s theory and discovered striped patterns of magnetic polarities at both sides of the ocean and on mid-ocean ridges (Frisch, Meschede & Blakey, 2011, 3). Scientists and physicists during Wegener’s time rejected his idea because the forces suggested by Wegener are too weak to explain the drift of the continents. Furthermore, the lack of strong mechanism to drive continents across the ocean basins’ questioned the credibility of the Wegener’s continental drift theory, particularly the use of scientific method. During that time, Americans believed that scientific method is empirical, inductive, modest, holding close to the object of study, and is resistant to the impulse of going further (Oreskes, 2003, 11). Derived from the former description, Americans believed that Wegener breached the scientific method because of drawing out the theory first before gathering evidence. Scientist of today accepted Wegener’s theory but used plates instead to describe the division and pattern of relative movement between regions of the Earth surface because modern physicists discovered the sea-floor spreading and the tectonic cycle (Frisch, Meschede & Blakey, 2011, 3). In addition, the process of scientific method and theory development are further improved. The scientific method starts with a question of the object/topic under investigation. Hypothesis is identified and initial experiment is done. Observation and measurement of the initial experiment took ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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