Formation of the Earth, Continental Drift, and Tectonic Plates.

By Patrick Cope 8p

The Formation of the Earth

          The earth is formed up of many different layers, including the crust, the mantle, the outer core and the inner core.

          The crust is the very outer layer of our planet. It is the thinnest layer of all four and yet it is the one which we live on. It is 0-60km wide, which makes it sound massive, being almost eight times as wide as Mount Everest is high! But it comparison to the rest of the layers of the earth it is a mere dwarf.

          The mantle is the second deepest layer of the earth but by far the widest with a colossal width of approximately 2,900km! It is also made up of semi molten rock called magma, which is almost like golden syrup in texture.

          The outer core is the third layer. It is a liquid layer, also made up of nickel and iron. It is really hot, with heat similar to the inner core.

           The inner core is the middle of the earth and the hottest with the rest of the earth insulating it. It is solid and made up of nickel and iron reaching temperatures up to 5,500 degrees. It is the engine or boiler room of the entire earth.

Tectonic Plates

          The tectonic plates are massive stone plates that make up the crust of the earth. The current continental and oceanic plates include: the Eurasian plate, Australian-Indian plate, Philippine plate, Pacific plate, Juan de Fuca plate, Nazca plate, Cocos plate, North American plate, Caribbean plate, South American plate, African plate, Arabian plate, the Antarctic plate, and the Scotia plate. These plates consist of smaller sub-plates which i will not name and control the movement of our continents and countries around the world.

Continental Drift

          Continental drift is the moving apart of continents and landmasses because of tectonic plates. Some of these are going towards each other and some away from each other. When they move away from each other they very slowly cause continental drift, (2cm each year). It does sound like 2cm each year is virtually nothing, about 1.6m in an average lifetime isn't much. But over a period of 100 million years continents could move a considerable lot.

          The first person to think about the idea of continental drift was Alfred Wegener in the very beginning of the 20th century. He realised that South America and Africa fit together like pieces in a puzzle. From there he investigated more to see that it was like that with many different continents and countries. He moved on to develop the theory of Continental Drift. At that time no one would accept the theory but as more and more people realised that it made sense it was slowly accepted as a valid theory.


           It is believed that a long time ago, all the landmasses that are around today were in one massive super continent called Pangaea. It was formed about 270 million years ago and broke apart about 200 million years ago. At this time most of the dry land on Earth was joined into one huge landmass that covered nearly a third of the planet's surface. The giant ocean that surrounded the continent is known as Panthalassa.

The movement of Earth's formed Pangaea and ultimately broke it apart.

What will the Earth Look Like in the Future?

Volcanoes and Earthquakes

          Volcanoes and earthquakes are two of the most deadly natural disasters that we, as humans, have encountered. Volcanoes and earthquakes are caused when two or more plate boundaries are rubbing or running along each other and are unstable. Volcanoes are caused when some tectonic plates get pushed up and lava can get through and dried on the surface. Once that has happened it could explode. Earthquakes are caused when plates rub or bump against and cause a large vibration.

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