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North Cascades Geology: Sea-Floor Spreading
This site contains information about discoveries made after World War II when ocean-going geologists adapted sensitive magnetometers developed for antisubmarine warfare for use in seafloor research. This modern technology gave geologists their greatest boost in more than a century of field work and led to the idea of sea floor spreading. This site has animations showing sea-floor spreading and a magnetometer discovering magnetic strips. There are also diagrams showing the magnetic pattern on the ocean floor at the Juan de Fuca Ridge, Benioff-Wadati zones at continental margins, and an idealized representation of divergent plates with a resulting subduction zone.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Middle (6-8)
  • High (9-12)
Type of resource:
  • Visual:
    • Illustration - scientific
  • Text:
    • Ref. material
  • Geological Sciences:
    • Geology
  • Ocean Sciences:
    • Physical oceanography
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
United States Geological Survey (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// 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-000-000-006-053
Educational standards:
  • National Science Education Standards (NSES):
    • 5-8:
      • D - Earth and space science:
        • Structure of the earth system
      • E - Science and technology:
        • Abilities of technological design
        • Understandings about sci. / tech.
    • 9-12:
      • D - Earth and space science:
        • Energy in the earth system
        • Origin and evolution of the earth system
      • E - Science and technology:
        • Abilities of technological design
        • Understandings about science and technology
Related resources:
This resource is part of 'North Cascades Geology: The Basic Pattern Emerges'
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: United States Geological Survey
Western Earth Surface Processes Team