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Further Investigations: Continental Movement by Plate Tectonics

  1. The name of the supercontinent Pangaea means “all land.” This original supercontinent was made up of all the continents, but it broke up into two smaller supercontinents: northern Laurasia and southern Gondwanaland. Research what Pangaea, Laurasia, and Gondwanaland looked like. Which of the current continents do you think made up Laurasia and which made up Gondwanaland? What is your evidence?
  2. Investigate the term “Pacific Ring of Fire.” How does it relate to plate tectonics?
  3. Because of continental drift North America is moving closer to Asia. Imagine you live on the West Coast of the US. How much closer will you be to Japan in 100 years?
  4. Research the frequency of shallow earthquakes compared to that of deep earthquakes. What is the difference between these two types of earthquakes? Which occur more often? Which are more destructive? What is your evidence?
  5. Investigate the history of evidence that led to the theory of plate tectonics being widely accepted. Create a flow chart with a timeline of evidence.
  6. Compare the timeline of continental movement with the timeline of the evolution of life on Earth. Diagram your findings.
  7. Investigate the concept of the supercontinent cycle.
    1. Use your own words to describe this phenomenon.
    2. According to geophysicists, how might the earth’s continents look 100 million years from now? 500 million years from now?

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Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.