Continental drift

drifteddriftingcontinental drift theorybreakupTheory of Continental Driftdriftcontinentcontinental configurationcontinents might have 'driftedcontinents moved on the Earth's surface
Continental drift is the theory that the Earth's continents have moved over geologic time relative to each other, thus appearing to have "drifted" across the ocean bed.wikipedia
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Alfred Wegener

WegenerAlfred Lothar WegenerAlfred L. Wegener
The concept was independently and more fully developed by Alfred Wegener in 1912, but his theory was rejected by many for lack of any motive mechanism.
During his lifetime he was primarily known for his achievements in meteorology and as a pioneer of polar research, but today he is most remembered as the originator of the theory of continental drift by hypothesizing in 1912 that the continents are slowly drifting around the Earth (German: Kontinentalverschiebung).

Plate tectonics

tectonic platesplate tectonictectonic
The idea of continental drift has since been subsumed by the theory of plate tectonics, which explains that the continents move by riding on plates of the Earth's lithosphere.
The model builds on the concept of continental drift, an idea developed during the first decades of the 20th century.

Abraham Ortelius

OrteliusOrtelius, AbrahamOrtellius family
The speculation that continents might have 'drifted' was first put forward by Abraham Ortelius in 1596. Abraham Ortelius, Theodor Christoph Lilienthal (1756), Alexander von Humboldt (1801 and 1845), Antonio Snider-Pellegrini, and others had noted earlier that the shapes of continents on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean (most notably, Africa and South America) seem to fit together.
He is also believed to be the first person to imagine that the continents were joined before drifting to their present positions.

Antonio Snider-Pellegrini

Abraham Ortelius, Theodor Christoph Lilienthal (1756), Alexander von Humboldt (1801 and 1845), Antonio Snider-Pellegrini, and others had noted earlier that the shapes of continents on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean (most notably, Africa and South America) seem to fit together.
Antonio Snider-Pellegrini (1802–1885) was a French geographer and scientist who theorized about the possibility of continental drift, anticipating Wegener's theories concerning Pangaea by several decades.

Pangaea

PangeaOpening of the South AtlanticAmexem
His hypothesis was that the continents had once formed a single landmass, called Pangaea, before breaking apart and drifting to their present locations.
The concept that the continents once formed a contiguous land mass was first proposed by Alfred Wegener, the originator of the scientific theory of continental drift, in his 1912 publication The Origin of Continents (Die Entstehung der Kontinente).

Seafloor spreading

sea floor spreadingsea-floor spreadingspreading centers
Oceanic crust is created at spreading centers, and this, along with subduction, drives the system of plates in a chaotic manner, resulting in continuous orogeny and areas of isostatic imbalance.
Earlier theories by Alfred Wegener and Alexander du Toit of continental drift postulated that continents in motion "plowed" through the fixed and immovable seafloor.

Arthur Holmes

Holmes, ArthurProfessor Arthur Holmes
Arthur Holmes later proposed mantle convection for that mechanism.
Holmes championed the theory of continental drift promoted by Alfred Wegener at a time when it was deeply unfashionable with his more conservative peers.

Expanding Earth

Expanding Earth theoryExpanding Earth hypothesisEarth is growing
This led Mantovani to propose an Expanding Earth theory which has since been shown to be incorrect.
Although Alfred Wegener noticed some similarities to his own hypothesis of continental drift, he did not mention Earth expansion as the cause of drift in Mantovani's hypothesis.

Polflucht

Pole-fleeing force
The Polflucht hypothesis was also studied by Paul Sophus Epstein in 1920 and found to be implausible.
Polflucht (from German, flight from the poles) is a geophysical concept invoked in 1915 by Alfred Wegener to explain his ideas of continental drift.

Frank Bursley Taylor

Franklin Coxworthy (between 1848 and 1890), Roberto Mantovani (between 1889 and 1909), William Henry Pickering (1907) and Frank Bursley Taylor (1908).
He became a specialist in the glacial geology of the Great Lakes, and proposed to the Geological Society of America on December 29, 1908 that the continents moved on the Earth's surface, that a shallow region in the Atlantic marks where Africa and South America were once joined, and that the collisions of continents could uplift mountains.

William Henry Pickering

W. H. PickeringWilliam H. PickeringWilliam Pickering
Franklin Coxworthy (between 1848 and 1890), Roberto Mantovani (between 1889 and 1909), William Henry Pickering (1907) and Frank Bursley Taylor (1908).
He also proposed a version of continental drift before Alfred Wegener where America, Asia, Africa, and Europe once formed a single continent, which broke up because of the separation of the moon.

Geosyncline

geosyncline theorygeosynclinalgeosynclinal theory
In addition, Eduard Suess had proposed a supercontinent Gondwana in 1885 and the Tethys Ocean in 1893, assuming a land-bridge between the present continents submerged in the form of a geosyncline, and John Perry had written an 1895 paper proposing that the earth's interior was fluid, and disagreeing with Lord Kelvin on the age of the earth. Hans Stille and Leopold Kober opposed the idea of continental drift and worked on a "fixist" geosyncline model with Earth contraction playing a key role in the formation of orogens.
This competing view rejected Earth contraction and argued for continental drift.

Roberto Mantovani

Franklin Coxworthy (between 1848 and 1890), Roberto Mantovani (between 1889 and 1909), William Henry Pickering (1907) and Frank Bursley Taylor (1908). For example: the similarity of southern continent geological formations had led Roberto Mantovani to conjecture in 1889 and 1909 that all the continents had once been joined into a supercontinent; Wegener noted the similarity of Mantovani's and his own maps of the former positions of the southern continents.
In 1889 and 1909 Mantovani published a hypothesis of an expanding earth and continental drift.

Tethys Ocean

Tethys SeaTethysTethys domain
In addition, Eduard Suess had proposed a supercontinent Gondwana in 1885 and the Tethys Ocean in 1893, assuming a land-bridge between the present continents submerged in the form of a geosyncline, and John Perry had written an 1895 paper proposing that the earth's interior was fluid, and disagreeing with Lord Kelvin on the age of the earth.
Around the same time, Laurasia and Gondwana began drifting apart, opening an extension of the Tethys Sea between them which today is the part of the Atlantic Ocean between the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.

Hans Stille

Hans Stille and Leopold Kober opposed the idea of continental drift and worked on a "fixist" geosyncline model with Earth contraction playing a key role in the formation of orogens.
This competing view rejected Earth contraction and argued for continental drift.

Biogeography

biogeographicbiogeographicalbiogeographically
The few drifters and mobilists at the conference appealed to biogeography (Kirsch, Wittmann), paleoclimatology (Wegener, K), paleontology (Gerth) and geodetic measurements (Wegener, K).
The patterns of species distribution across geographical areas can usually be explained through a combination of historical factors such as: speciation, extinction, continental drift, and glaciation.

Felix Andries Vening Meinesz

F.A. Vening MeineszDr. Felix Vening MeineszFelix A. Vening Meinesz
From the 1930s to the late 1950s, works by Vening-Meinesz, Holmes, Umbgrove, and numerous others outlined concepts that were close or nearly identical to modern plate tectonics theory.
He later attributed these anomalies to continental drift.

Land bridge

dry landland-bridgelandbridge
In addition, Eduard Suess had proposed a supercontinent Gondwana in 1885 and the Tethys Ocean in 1893, assuming a land-bridge between the present continents submerged in the form of a geosyncline, and John Perry had written an 1895 paper proposing that the earth's interior was fluid, and disagreeing with Lord Kelvin on the age of the earth.
The concept became obsolete with the gradual acceptance of continental drift and the development of plate tectonics by the mid-20th century.

Émile Argand

Emile Argand
The mobilist theory of Émile Argand for the Alpine orogeny was criticized by Kurt Leuchs.
He was an early proponent of Alfred Wegener's theory of continental drift, viewing plate tectonics and continental collisions as the best explanation for the formation of the Alps.

Samuel Warren Carey

S. Warren CareyCareyS. W. Carey
He was an early advocate of the theory of continental drift.

John Perry (engineer)

John PerryPerry, JohnProf. John Perry
In addition, Eduard Suess had proposed a supercontinent Gondwana in 1885 and the Tethys Ocean in 1893, assuming a land-bridge between the present continents submerged in the form of a geosyncline, and John Perry had written an 1895 paper proposing that the earth's interior was fluid, and disagreeing with Lord Kelvin on the age of the earth.
The failure of the scientific community to accept a fluid interior to the Earth held back ideas in geology until the concept was revived by proponents of continental drift, and even in the 1960s geophysical models were still being constructed on the basis that the Earth was solid.

Supercontinent

supercontinentspaleocontinentssuper continent
For example: the similarity of southern continent geological formations had led Roberto Mantovani to conjecture in 1889 and 1909 that all the continents had once been joined into a supercontinent; Wegener noted the similarity of Mantovani's and his own maps of the former positions of the southern continents.
Continental drift influences both cold and warm climatic episodes.

Sea

maritimemarineat sea
In particular, the English geologist Arthur Holmes proposed in 1920 that plate junctions might lie beneath the sea, and in 1928 that convection currents within the mantle might be the driving force.
Marine and maritime geography charts the shape and shaping of the sea, while marine geology (geological oceanography) has provided evidence of continental drift and the composition and structure of the Earth, clarified the process of sedimentation, and assisted the study of volcanism and earthquakes.

Gondwana

GondwanalandGondwanansouthern continents
In addition, Eduard Suess had proposed a supercontinent Gondwana in 1885 and the Tethys Ocean in 1893, assuming a land-bridge between the present continents submerged in the form of a geosyncline, and John Perry had written an 1895 paper proposing that the earth's interior was fluid, and disagreeing with Lord Kelvin on the age of the earth.
New Caledonia and New Zealand became separated from Australia by continental drift 85 million years ago.

Paul Sophus Epstein

Paul EpsteinPaul S. EpsteinEpstein
The Polflucht hypothesis was also studied by Paul Sophus Epstein in 1920 and found to be implausible.
In 1920 Epstein calculated the effect of Polflucht as a possible causing force of Wegener's continental drift.