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Continental Drift Theory


In the 1920s, Alfred Wegener proposed the continental drift theory. According to the Continental Drift Theory, one large continent known as Pangaea was covered by one large ocean named Panthalassa. Tethys Sea separated Pangaea into two enormous landmasses: Laurentian (Laurasia) to the north and Gondwanaland to the south. About 200 million years ago (Mesozoic Era, Triassic Period, Late Triassic Epoch), continents began to separate and drift apart.

Evidence Provided by Wegener

1.Jigsaw Fit and Physical Affinity

South America's Brazil seems to fit into the Gulf of Guinea (Africa).

Greenland appears to fit in well with the Canadian islands of Ellesmere and Baffin.

It seems that the west coasts of India, Madagascar, and Africa have been connected.

Along the mid-Atlantic ridge, North and South America on one side and Africa and Europe on the other fit.

The Caledonian and Hercynian mountains of Europe and the Appalachians of the United States seem to form a single, uninterrupted chain.

2.Tillite deposits

Tillite deposits are sedimentary rocks composed of glacial deposits. The Gondwana sedimentary system is located in India, Africa, the Falkland Islands, Madagascar, Antarctica, and Australia (all were previously part of Gondwana). Overall similarity indicates that the histories of these landmasses were extremely similar.

3.Placer Resources

Rich placer concentrations of gold are located on the Ghana coast (West Africa), but the source (gold-bearing veins) are in Brazil, and it is evident that the gold resources of Ghana originated from the Brazil plateau when the two continents were adjacent.

4.Distribution of Fossils

Observations of the presence of lemurs in India, Madagascar, and Africa prompted some to hypothesise the existence of a landmass called "Lemuria" connecting these three continents.

Mesosaurus was a tiny reptile suited to brackish water with shallow depths. These skeletons have only been discovered in South Africa and Brazil. Current separation between the two locations is 4,800 kilometres, with an ocean in between.

5.Age-Identical Rocks Across the Oceans

The band of 2,000 million-year-old rocks along the Brazilian coast coincides with those from western Africa.

6.Botanical evidence

Glossopteris vegetation in the Carboniferous rocks of India, Australia, South Africa, Falkland Islands (British overseas territory), Antarctica, etc. (all separated from the same landmass known as Gondwana) may be explained by the fact that the continents were formerly connected.

Forces responsible for Shift

  • Tidal Force

  • Polar Fleeing Force

This is absurd, since these forces would have to be millions of times more powerful to cause a drift of this magnitude.


Several further combinations of fitting in unconnected landforms are possible. Continental Drift Theory shifts India’s position too much to the south, distorting its relationship with the Mediterranean Sea and the Alps.

  • Coastal features are temporary and subject to change.

  • Wegener was unable to explain why the drift occurred during the Mesozoic era and not earlier.

  • The oceans are not considered by the hypothesis.

  • Proofs are strongly dependent on generalised assumptions.

  • The forces of buoyancy, tides, and gravity are insufficient to move continents.

  • Modern theories (Plate Tectonics) acknowledge the existence of Pangaea and comparable landmasses, but they provide a vastly different explanation for the reasons of drift.


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