50 years ago, continental drift began to gain acceptance | Science News

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50 Years Ago

50 years ago, continental drift began to gain acceptance

Excerpt from the April 29, 1967, issue of Science News

By
9:00am, April 20, 2017
map of Earth

FULL OF PLATES  Earth’s outer crust is composed of more than a dozen large pieces, known as tectonic plates, which bump or slide against each other.

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Science News cover from April 29, 1967Drifting theories shake up geology

Continental drift, a theory often considered amusing but rarely important, seems about to become the focus of a revolution in geology. At the least, it has already split the geological community into those who find the evidence for it “formidable” and those who think it is not yet formidable enough to constitute a proof. — Science News, April 29, 1967

Update

That continents shift is now widely accepted and explained by plate tectonics. Plenty of evidence supports the idea that the Earth’s outer layer is divided into large slabs that gradually move over the mantle. But researchers don’t agree on when the plates first began shifting. New evidence from ancient rocks found in Canada suggests the slipping and sliding didn’t get going until Earth was at least a billion years old (SN: 4/15/17, p. 8). In about 250 million years from now, the continents may drift together into a supercontinent called Amasia (SN: 1/21/17, p. 18).

Citations

Drifting theories shake up geologyScience News. Vol. 91,  April 29, 1967, p. 399. 

Further Reading

T. Sumner. Remnants of Earth’s original crust preserve time before plate tectonics. Science News Online, March 16, 2017.

A. Witze. Evidence falls into place for once and future supercontinents. Science News. Vol. 191, January 21, 2017, p. 18.

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