AGeographical Process: Continental Drift
AGeographical Process: Continental Drift
Thereare many theories that have been developed to explain how the earth`ssurface got its current shape. All available perspectives aresupported by scientific data, which implies that they have a lot oftruth. The term “continental drift” refers to a theory claimingthat the current shape of the earth’s surface resulted from themovement of different plates (National Geography Society, 2017). Itholds that the world was made up of a single block of dry land, butit has been disintegrating into slabs that vary in size. These platesare found within the lithosphere and they have been constantly movingaway from each other, which has resulted in the establishment of themodern continents and islands. The slabs have been sliding throughthe process of mantle convection for millions of years. The movementshave reshaped the earth’s surface via convergence and divergence inits entire geological history. The role played by the process ofplate tectonics is confirmed by ocean expansion, rising of mountains,volcanoes, and striking earthquakes (NGS, 2017). Divergence occurswhen the slaps move apart while convergence takes place when theyslide towards each other. This paper discusses how the process ofcontinental drift has shaped the surface of the earth.
Thedivergent and convergent movements shaped the earth’s surface indifferent ways. The two types of process affect the boundaries ofslabs. The convergence process creates a scenario in which one plateslides on top of the other one, forming a raised landmass. It mayalso result in the emergence of volcanoes or the occurrence ofearthquakes (NGS, 2017). The formation of the Himalayas is an exampleof the outcome of the convergence of plates. It took place in about50 million years ago (NGS, 2017). However, it is an ongoing process,with studies indicating that the plates forming the largest mountainon earth move at a rate of 9 m in every 100 years (U.S. GeographicalSurvey, 2015). The process of convergence of plates resulted in thedevelopment of ranges and mountains that are visible on the surfaceof the earth. In some instances, the pillow lava is pushed from theocean’s bottom to a place where it is visible. This has been thecase for Mediterranean islands. The convergence between Eurasian andthe African plates moved the hardened lava to a level where it can beseen on the surface of the sea.
Thecontinental drift also affected the earth`s surface through thedivergence of the plates. The process took place as slabs moved awayfrom each other. The divergence resulted in the formation of rifts.The molten rock moved up and solidified to form the basalt that thendeveloped into a new crust. The entire process resulted in theformation of mid-ocean ridges. For example, the divergence of theEurasia and North American slabs resulted in the development of theMid-Atlantic Ridge in Iceland (NGS, 2017). The new crust rises abovethe sea level, which confirms the impact of the process on thesurface of the earth. Scientists have identified that continentaldrift is a continuous process that is still shaping the world today.Its impact on the earth’s surface is confirmed by frequentearthquakes that take place as edges of slabs collide against eachother (University of Buffalo, 2016). The Oceanic tsunami thatoccurred in India in 2004 following the sliding of the Indian plateunder the Burma slab is a confirmation of the fact that continentaldrift is still taking place and shaping the earth’s surface to-date(University of Buffalo, 2016). This process eroded soil in differentregions and deposited soil as well as other solid materials inothers. Some parts of the earth’s surface get raised while othersare forced to form ditches or valleys. Therefore, continental driftis an ongoing process that no one knows when it will stop reshapingthe surface of the earth.
NationalGeography Society (2017). Plate Tectonics: The changing shape of theearth. NGS.Retrieved January 14, 2017, fromhttp://nationalgeographic.org/media/plate-tectonics/
Universityof Buffalo (2016). Indian Ocean Tsunami disaster: Home. Universityof Buffalo.Retrieved January 14, 2016, fromhttp://research.lib.buffalo.edu/indian-ocean-tsunami
U.S.Geographical Survey (2015). The Himalayas: Two continental collide.U.S.Geographical Survey.Retrieved January 14, 2015, fromhttps://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/dynamic/himalaya.html