This unit will cover the geologic processes and fundamental properties of Earth’s ocean basins. After completing the next four modules you will (1) understand the fundamental processes that created (and still create) Earth’s ocean basins, (2) describe the shape of the seafloor in relation to the processes that created the oceans, (3) describe the materials found on the seafloor and understand the processes that create these materials, and (4) understand the physical and chemical properties of water and seawater.
IUPUI Geology students walk in a rift valley in Iceland. A rift valley forms as a result of tectonic processes. As you complete this module, think about what type of plate boundary runs through Iceland. (Source: IUPUI Earth Sciences).
By the end of this module, you should be able to:
- Define density and provide examples of both everyday and geologic materials with different densities.
- Describe the internal structure of the Earth by composition and characteristic properties.
- Apply an understanding of density to explain earth layers and describe how scientists determined that earth has layers.
- Describe the primary types of Earth crust (continental and oceanic) and differentiate between them by properties of density and composition.
- Understand isostasy and its relation to ocean basins; apply this understanding to describe why we have low-lying ocean basins and topographically higher continents on Earth.
- Distinguish between Alfred Wegener’s continental drift theory and the modern theory of plate tectonics.
- Restate the theory of plate tectonics and identify major tectonic plates on Earth’s surface.
- Know which plate North America sits upon and its general direction of motion. Identify the closest plate boundaries to Indiana.
- Give Earth examples and describe characteristic landscape features of each type of plate boundary motion.
- Describe the asthenosphere and understand why it is a critical component of the plate tectonics theory.
- Describe the types of plate boundaries and recognize examples of each.
- List the modern evidence for plate tectonics. Understand and describe how paleomagnetism, hot spots and satellites all confirm plate tectonics.
Before completing this module you should be familiar with the following concepts:
- The relative sizes and locations of ocean basins on Earth’s surface.
- The names of the major ocean basins.
- Density stratification and the formation of Earth’s layers
- The scientific method and the difference between a hypothesis and a theory.
- The major divisions of the geologic time scale.