Pangea ~ Pangaea: The Earth was once a single super-continent named Pangea, or Pangaea.
Continental Drift: This refers to the movement of the Earth's continents. The land masses are hunks of Earth's crust that float on the molten core.
Plate Tectonics: This is the study of the lithosphere, the outer portion of the earth consisting of the crust and part of the upper mantle. The lithosphere is divided into about a dozen large plates which move and interact with one another to create earthquakes, mountain ranges, volcanic activity, ocean trenches and many other features. Continents and ocean basins are moved and changed in shape as a result of these plate movements.
Continental Plates: The crust of the Earth is broken into plates. The plates are enormous chunks of rock that float atop the soft mantle. The plates are moving at a speed that has been estimated at 1 to 10 cm per year. Continental plates are thicker, older, and less dense than oceanic plates. These plates are about 125 kilometers thick and are made of granite that is about 3 billion years old.
Continental Shelf: The continental shelf is the part of the ocean floor next to each of the continents. The sea floor slopes gradually from the continent to a depth of about 650 feet (200 m). Beyond the continental shelf the sea floor drops steeply.
Animated Paleogeographic Reconstruction of the Earth
*The animation is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.
**Larger & Slower Version: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TectonicReconstructionGlobal.gif
**If the images and/or text on any of the web pages do not appear evenly spaced and centered on your screen, which commonly occurs with AOL pages, maximize the individual page's window. That should resolve the problem.
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