Learning about Plate Tectonics

Learning about Plate Tectonics


This week is all about plate tectonics, the foundation of both modern geology and the surface of our planet! The idea of plate tectonics was a long time coming but in the late twentieth century it became clear that every part of geology and our world’s ecology was tied, at least partly, to the movement of the planet’s many tectonic plates.

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Animals on the Move – How did geologists develop the theory of plate tectonics—the theory that describes the movement and interaction of Earth’s seven major plates and several smaller plates? One key line of evidence is the distribution of fossilized plants and animals, as well as organisms’ present-day distributions. In this activity, students will explore how different plants and animals may have evolved with the movement and interaction of the plates.

Chocolate Bark Plate Tectonics – Part of figuring out plate tectonics involved lining up the plates where they used to be. Some guesswork can be involved but a big clue comes from matching fossils and rock deposits separated by oceans that used to be joined together when the plates were together in a supercontinent. This activity is about just that concept… but using delicious chocolate!

Plate Tectonics Simulation – Plate tectonics is an important concept but it can be hard to visualize. Use this powerful simulator to learn about it and see the impact of plate tectonics on your very own planet!

Feature Image –  San Andreas Fault in the Carrizo Plain, aerial view from 8500 feet altitude, by Ian Kluft from Wikimedia Commons.