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Historical Perspective
Plate tectonics is a relatively new scientific concept that has revolutionized our understanding of the dynamic planet upon which we live. This site explains that the theory has unified the study of the Earth by drawing together many branches of the earth sciences, from paleontology (the study of fossils) to seismology (the study of earthquakes). It has provided explanations to questions that scientists had speculated upon for centuries. The information covers ideas of the ancient mapmakers through the work of Wegener.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Middle (6-8)
Type of resource:
  • Text:
    • Ref. material
Subject:
  • Geological Sciences:
    • Geology
  • History and philosophy of science
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
USGS-authored or produced data and information are in the public domain. While the content of most USGS web pages is in the public domain, not all the information on our site is in the public domain. Some images/graphics are used by USGS with permission. For other uses, you may need to obtain permission from the copyright holder under the copyright law. You are welcome to make a link to any of the Web pages USGS has published on the Internet. There is no need to request permission.The USGS identifier is trademarked and must be used in accordance with the rules outlined at Visual Identity System. Information on who may use the USGS identifier and how to obtain a copy of it is available at Use of the Trademarked USGS Identifier by Outside Organizations.We will identify material we use from sources outside of USGS, and request others do the same when using information published by USGS. Credit can be provided by including on the page (or via a link to a credits page) a citation such as: Credit: U. S. Geological Survey / photo by Jane Doe (if the artist is known) USGS/Ft. Collins, CO (if originating office but not the artist is known)
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-005-390
Educational standards:
  • National Science Education Standards (NSES):
    • 5-8:
      • Unifying concepts and processes:
        • Evidence, models, and explanation
      • D - Earth and space science:
        • Earth's history
        • Structure of the earth system
      • G - History and nature of science:
        • History of science
        • Science as a human endeavor
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: United States Geological Survey