Questions for “Rock rising from below the Atlantic may drive continents apart”

false-color map of Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Material rising from deep below the Mid-Atlantic Ridge may widen the ocean by a few centimeters every year. The ridge is visible in this false-color map as a light blue line through the Atlantic.


To accompany “Rock rising from below the Atlantic may drive continents apart


Before Reading:

1.  Scientists describe continents as slowly moving across Earth’s surface. How might they do that?

During Reading:

1.  How far do the Americas move away from Europe and Africa each year?

2.  Where did scientists think this expansion was occurring?

3.  How did they think the extra seafloor was made to allow for this?

4.  What is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge?

5.  Why do some scientists now argue a pushing, not a pulling, is behind the Atlantic’s slow expansion?

6.  What type of measurements did Matthew Agius’ team make to come to their new conclusion? How did they make those measurements?

7.  Why does Jeroen Ritsema think it’s too early to conclude that the pushing argument explains the Atlantic’s expansion? What would satisfy him that the pushing scenario might be the real answer?

After Reading:

1.  What are some reasons why scientists might care about the movements of tectonic plates?

2.  What is one practical reason why people might care about these movements? (Hint: For whom are accurate identification of positions important?)