Plate Tectonics Reading Guide:

This is a list of web resources with reading materials relevant to the topic of plate tectonics.  After looking at the following information students should be able to describe earth’s interior, multiple tectonic plates and their interaction with other plates, boundary types, convection, hot spots, and paleomagnetism by answering the following questions:

1)      What is the structure of earth’s interior including the names, depths, and behavior of layers; specific boundaries between layers; and evidence explaining earth’s layers.

2)      What are some of earth’s major tectonic plates, how do plates interact, and what geologic features are associated with the different types of plate boundaries?

3)      What are some of the driving mechanisms thought to cause tectonic plates to move, and how do these mechanisms work?

4)      What is a hot spot, where are examples of hot spots, what geologic features are associated with one, and how can they be used to determine the speed of tectonic plates?

5)      What is the study of paleomagnetism, where is this study applied, and what does it tell us about earth’s past, present, and future?


This Dynamic Earth -


This Dynamic Earth web site is produced by the United States Geological Survey.  The main site listed above is then subdivided into multiple sub-links (SL) each covering specific topics related to plate tectonics which are listed on the main page under the content section.   Within each sub-link listed under content, there are more specific links labelled as sidebars (sb).  The specific readings listed below relate to the topics covered in questions 1 -5 above.


Q1) SL . Preface -

SL . Historical Perspective -

sb . Inside Earth -

sb. Alfred Wegener -

sb. Polar Dinosaurs in Australia? -

SL . Developing the Theory -


Q2) SL. Historical Perspective -

sb . What is a Tectonic Plate -


Q3) SL. Understanding Plate Motions -

SL. Some Unanswered Questions -


Q4) SL. Hot Spots: Mantle Thermal Plumes -

sb. J. Tuzo Wilson –

sb. Long Trail of Hawaii Hot Spot -



Q5) SL. Developing the Theory -

sb . Magnetic Stripes and Isotopic clocks -

sb. Harry Hammond Hess –

sb. Exploring the Deep Ocean Floor -