You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

Geography   >   Plate Tectonics

The Theory of Plate Tectonics

  • About
  • Transcript
  • Cite

Plate Tectonics

In this course, Dr Rebecca Bell (Imperial College London) explores plate tectonics. We begin with a module explaining how the theory of plate tectonics developed, and outlining the world’s major plates and types of plate boundary. The second module then looks at one of these types – divergent boundaries – in terms of how they develop and the hazards they generate, as well as covering fault formation. In the third module we turn to convergent margins, examining why continental and oceanic plates converge differently, and what volcanic and seismic activity takes place along them. The fourth module then considers the final main type of plate boundary, conservative margins, and mantle plumes (also referred to as volcanic hotspots). In the fifth module, we conclude by looking over the main proposed drivers of plate tectonics and their relative importance, and exploring how current plate movements might reshape the Earth’s surface in the future.

The Theory of Plate Tectonics

In this module, we think about the theory of plate tectonics and how it developed. We focus on: (i) the location of the major tectonic plates, the main types of plate boundary (convergent, divergent, and conservative), and the internal structure of the upper layers of the Earth – the lithosphere and asthenosphere; (ii) Alfred Wegener’s theory of continental drift, and his evidence that the continents once comprised a single landmass; (iii) the key discoveries which led to the eventual acceptance of Wegener’s theory, most notably seafloor spreading as a mechanism for continental movement; (iv) how the discovery of plate subduction, alongside seafloor spreading, produced the theory of plate tectonics.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Bell, R. (2023, March 07). Plate Tectonics - The Theory of Plate Tectonics [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Bell, R. "Plate Tectonics – The Theory of Plate Tectonics." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 07 Mar 2023,

Image Credits


Dr Rebecca Bell

Dr Rebecca Bell

Imperial College London