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Evidence of Plate Tectonics

By now, you’ve heard that the upper layer of the Earth is broken up into massive bits of rock.These bits of rock are known as tectonic plates. But where is the evidence of plate tectonics?

Map of the tectonic plates across the world.


If you look at a map of the world, you can see that the continents fit together like the pieces of a puzzle.  You can see how the western tip of South America fits into the crest in Africa. This tells us that Earth used to be one huge landmass. We called this landmass Pangaea. But some force caused this landmass to break up. It split into different tectonic continents.

Evidence in Rock

Alfred Wegener is the scientist who first made the claim on continental drift. He supported his points by looking at rocks. Scientists began to accept his ideas after carefully sorting through the evidence. He found identical rocks on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean.This meant that they had once been together. Then they had separated as the land grew apart.
Rocks on different continents can be very similar.

Wegener found similar rocks on continents separated by whole oceans.

He also discovered similar mountain ranges on opposite sides of the world. The Appalachian mountains are in eastern North America. However, they look a lot like the ranges in Northern Europe.


Wegener also used evidence from ancient fossils to support his theory. He found fossils from the same species of animals in very different places. He claimed that after the remains had fossilized, the land had moved apart. This had caused the fossils to end up far away from one another.
A dinosaur fossil in stone.

Like rocks, Wegener found fossils from the same species in different areas.


Coal forms near tropical climates and swampy areas. The creation of coal is most commonly seen in warm climate zones. Yet, Wegener found large quantities of coal in areas that are far too cold to form coal. This led to the idea that the coal had drifted to new locations since it was formed. He said this was due to the moving tectonic plates.

Coal is another example that supports plate tectonics.

Other Great Resources:

Cal Academy on the Evidence of Plate Tectonics: 
Khan Academy on the Same Subject: 
More on Alfred Wegener’s Proof for Plate Tectonics: 
Written by: Varsha Rammohan.