About the Theory of Plate Tectonics
A plate is a very large, rough surfaced piece of solid rock. The word tectonics originates from the Greek meaning "to build". Plate Tectonics is an example that the earth is made of plates. Some people say the earth started out with one large "supercontinent" known as Pangaea, meaning "all lands." According to the theory of continental drift, that Alfred Wegener proposed, the continents we live on presently are the fragmented pieces of the supercontinent, Pangaea. The fact that we can fit the seven continents, roughly, back together is evidence of plate tectonics. Other evidence includes how the species living at the time of Pangaea, or 255 million years ago, spread to other present-day continents that we live on now. We in turn find fossil remains of the same species spread over many different continents. Alfred Wegener could not explain how the plates moved though.
How Plate Tectonics Affect Us
Over a long period of time, plate movement combined with other geology oriented events, such as glacier movement and stream erosion, have made some of nature's most beautiful scenery. Some good examples are the Himalayas, the Swiss Alps, and the Andes. On the other hand, violent earthquakes that are related to plate tectonics have caused some of the world's most horrible disasters. One example is the 7.7 magnitude earthquake that struck Hebei province of China in 1976, killing 800,000+ people.
Much of the Earth's natural resources such as energy, minerals and fertile soil are found near past or present plate boundaries. Past and present civilizations have utilized them to sustain themselves. Without these vital resources we could not live as we do today.