Geology 12 - Historical Geology
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Plate Tectonics

Handouts: Download and bring to class

Reading: Chapter 7

p. 126-129: We are not going to do much with the historical development of plate tectonic theory. BUT if you are planning to go to graduate schol in geology, this stuff is on the Geology GRE, so if you don't read it now, plan to read it later.

p. 129-132: Paleomag: we need this.

p. 133-137: Read this section for the theory rather than the history of the theory

p. 138-145: we need all of it.


Terms you should know (you may need to look some of these up in the Glossary):

oceanic crust:

continental crust:

faults - normal, reverse (thrust)and strike-slip



folds - anticlines and synclines:
forearc basin:
accretionary prism:
hot spot - mantle plume:

triple junction:

failed rift:

foreland basin:



clastic wedge:

exotic terrane:


Key Concepts and Questions:


1. What are the geologic features associated with the three kinds of plate boundaries?

Boundary type
Sketch it
What geologic features do you find there?
Spreading center (diverging boundary)






Subduction Zone



Suture Zone



Transform Fault




2. What is the evidence for the plate tectonic model?

What features of the ocean floor are evidence of plate tectonic processes?




How does paleomagnetism give evidence of plate motions?




What other kinds of evidence support plate tectonics (i.e., horizontal and vertical patterns of earthquakes, changes in seismic wave speeds, age of ocean floor, etc.)?




3. What is the driving mechanism?

What are the hypothesized mechanisms that might drive plates?





4. How do we use sedimentary rocks to recognize plate settings?

We're going to do a lot of this in class. Review Table 7-2.









1. Plate boundaries

You should be able to:

2. Evidence

You should be able to:

3. Driving mechanism

You should be able to :

4. Tectonic stratigraphy

You should be able to :