Continental Drift Tropics in Alaska and Glaciers in Africa
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Continental Drift Tropics in Alaska and Glaciers in Africa

Continental drift,magnetism and science. There were once tropic plants at the North Pole and Glaciers in Central Africa. Why?

Alfred Lothar Wegener (1880 to 1930) came up with a scientific theory in 1915 which made him the laughing stock of the scientific world. Although he was a biologist and astronomer, his real interest was in meteorology and climatology.

The German meteorologist put forward the idea that all the continents on the earth have actually moved from their original positions on the face of the Earth, and he called this theory ‘continental drift’ but other scientists more or less ignored him. They thought that the idea that something as rock steady and huge as a continent could move around was fanciful and even laughable. The reason for their non-acceptance and ridicule was that Wegener theorized about moving continents but could not explain how they moved, or what force caused them to do so. However, it turned out that Wegener was correct in his discoveries.

It was more than forty years later and about twenty five years after Wegener died during a scientific expedition to Greenland, that his theory became accepted as being correct.

According to Wegener, his theory explained a number of different geological puzzles. For instance, he knew for certain from fossil evidence that tropical plants once covered the land mass in icy regions of Alaska. He also found evidence that the rock formations in parts of tropical Africa also proved that glaciers had once covered this region.

Apart from this the English scientist Francis Bacon (1561 to 1626) has already noticed way back in 1620 that there was a kind of jig-saw puzzle fit between the western coast of Africa and the eastern coast of South America.

The German scientist did have some early supporters for his theory including Alexander Du Toit from South Africa and English scientist Arthur Holmes but most were highly skeptical about his theory. What really clinched Wegener’s theory was evidence that arose from the study of magnetism in rocks in the early 1950’s and 1960’s. Scientists discovered that magnetic deposits in rocks formed at different times in a single continent were lined up in different directions, just as though the North Pole had once been near the Equator and had moved over the years to its present position.

Science already knew that the Poles had always been roughly aligned with the Earth’s axis of rotation, so the only explanation was that the rocks themselves had moved after they were formed and that the continents had also moved with them.

At last Alfred Lothar Wegener’s theory of continental drift had been proved and accepted by the scientific community. The missing bit of his theory was that magnetism is the force behind continental drift.


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Great article