A Plate Tectonic Primer
Earth Structure
Lithosphere Stru.
Tectonic Plates
Wilson Cycle Intro

Igneous Rx
Sedimentary Rx
Metamorphic Rx
Wilson Cycle
Tectonic Rock Cycle
Geologic Evolution of the Mid-Atlantic

This site is being created to help the 4th grade teachers at Kiester Elementary School, Harrisonburg, Va. and the Waynesboro, Va. schools, prepare to teach the SOL's on rocks and minerals. The site, however, is open to anyone who might find it useful. This is a work in progress and I would appreciate feedback on what is useful, not useful, and what can be added to make the site more helpful in preparing to teach the SOL's.

Lynn S. Fichter © 2000
Department of Geology and Environmental Science
James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807

This material is copyrighted, but may be used by anyone for personal or educational purposes as long as the source is acknowledged.

JMU Geology home page

College of Science and Mathematics

     The pages below develop a description of plate tectonic theory. They are in sequence, and you can pass from one page to another, or go to individual pages as you wish. They are also designed to go rather quickly so that you can probably read through the core pages in less than half an hour and get a relatively full understanding of plate tectonic theory. After that there are lots of side subjects that can be picked up at a more leisurely pace, or not, as you wish.

A Note For Teachers

Synopsis of Plate Tectonic Theory for the Beginner

The Structure of the Earth
     Igneous Rock Primer
     Plate Tectonics, Volcanos, and Igneous Rock Evolution
     The Heat History of the Earth, including:
        >   Origin of the Earth's Structure
        >   Cooling History of Planetary Bodies

Lithosphere Structure

Plate Boundaries and Interplate Relationships

Introduction to the Wilson Cycle

What Plate Tectonic Theory Encompasses,
and What this Site Does
     Plate tectonic theory encompasses several largely independent sets of ideas.
     First, is just a description of how the earth works, what plates are and their relationships to each other.
     Second, is all the evidence that led to the development of the theory, and that support and test it. This includes magnetic studies, seismic (earthquake) studies, and gravity studies.
     Third, are all the consequences of plate movement in the everyday world: earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis (giant sea waves), landform development, etc.
     Fourth, are the things the study of plate tectonics tells us about the origin and history of the earth.

     Each of these sets of ideas are subjects all their own, and can take weeks of class time just to explore in outline. Some of them also get technical fast, and ultimately mathematical. This synopsis of plate tectonic theory deals primarily with the first set of ideas: a description of what plates are and how they work, with side trips on the implications for earth history. More detailed studies are left for other sites.

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Last Update: 9/05/00

e-mail: (Fichtels@jmu.edu)