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A Century of NatureTwenty-One Discoveries that Changed Science and the World$
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Laura Garwin and Tim Lincoln

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780226284132

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226284163.001.0001

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Seafloor magnetism and drifting continents

Seafloor magnetism and drifting continents

(p.129) (p.130) (p.131) Ten Seafloor magnetism and drifting continents
A Century of Nature

Dan McKenzie

University of Chicago Press

In 1960, almost no one believed in the idea of continental drift—that the continents move across the face of the Earth. Within a decade, a complete shift of opinion had occurred: continental drift, or plate tectonics, as it was by then called, had become almost universally accepted. Central to this revolution in the Earth sciences was a speculative proposal by two young geophysicists that explained how magnetic stripes on the sea floor are produced. The general acceptance of continental drift and plate tectonics has dominated later research in many areas; indeed, it is largely responsible for the emergence of the new discipline of Earth science from the fusion of fields such as geology, geophysics, paleontology, petrology, and geochemistry. Despite the overwhelming acceptance of plate tectonics, a number of important problems remain poorly understood.

Keywords:   continental drift, Earth science, tectonics, geochemistry, magnetism

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