What is a divergent continental boundary?

What is a divergent continental boundary?

A divergent plate boundary on land pushes continents apart (Figure below). Magma rises beneath the continent during continental rifting, causing it to thin, crack, and eventually split apart. In the vacuum, new ocean crust emerges, eventually forming an ocean between continents. Rifting can continue indefinitely until all the rock that makes up a continent has been stretched enough that further movement becomes impossible.

Continental drift is a process by which all or part of a continent breaks off from its original location and drifts to a new one. The term was coined in 1866 by Charles Lyell, who proposed it as an explanation for changes he saw in the fossil record. Today, it is known that continents move slowly compared to the speed at which they are formed; thus, any two points on a continent will be separated by more than one place at some time in the past.

The continuing separation of continents creates new topographies, which have important implications for life on Earth. Land bridges may form between separated continents allowing for genetic exchange between previously isolated populations. But if the distance grows too large, then there is no way for these organisms to migrate back and forth between them--a barrier is created to prevent them from escaping the effect of local environmental conditions.

Continents also influence climate because they act as shields against heat-producing sunlight and moisture as they pass across the equator.

What is the process of continental pulling apart?

This section will look at the process of continental 'pushing apart,' also known as rifting. If this trend continues, the continents will be stretched so thin that seafloor spreading mechanisms will take control and an oceanic basin will form. This is referred regarded as the "rift to drift" shift.

Continental rifting occurs when two continental plates push against each other, causing their outer edges to lift up and split away from the inner core. The resulting empty space or rift valley is often very deep, reaching down for thousands of feet beneath the surface of the earth. As the two pieces of crust continue to pull away from one another, more and more room is made available for water to fill the gap. Over time, enough water may accumulate in these valleys to cover them completely. Once this happens, the area becomes a new ocean floor called a micro-continent.

The process of continental splitting has been happening since the Earth's earliest days but it became noticeable only many years after its formation. Today, there are six major continental fragments: Africa, South America, India, Australia, Antarctica and Greenland.

Most scientists believe that continental splitting is one of the main reasons why our planet has such a diverse environment. By dividing themselves into several smaller parts, all of the continents have created space for different types of animals and plants to live.

How are mountain ranges formed from continental to continental?

When tectonic plates converge, forcing slabs of thick continental crust to meet, a whole ocean can close. As the crust is squeezed, folded, and thickened even more, a collisional mountain range arises. The Alps were probably once part of such a colliding block. They now lie in what was once an inland sea.

Mountain ranges can also form when two continents collide. Here the force comes from below ground as well as above. When two continental plates collide, they push against each other with great force. This pressure causes deep cracks in the rock between them, and if the pressure is great enough, it will cause some of the rock to break away and form a new continent or island. An example of this is the Himalaya Range in Asia. There are many others including the Andes in South America and the Rocky Mountains in North America.

Finally, some continental mountain ranges are created by volcanic activity. If hot fluids rise through cracks in rocks caused by tectonics or by erosion, they can burst out of these openings like water from a pipe. These fluids are called "lava" and they make up most of the islands of Hawaii and parts of New Zealand.

These are just some of the ways that mountains can be formed.

About Article Author

Doris Greer

Doris Greer has been in the teaching field for over 30 years. She has been an educator for both public and private schools. Doris loves working with students as they are growing and learning new things every day!

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