The plate tectonics theory, basic to oceanography and geology today, was accepted because of the work of Harry H. Hess on seafloor spreading. Once seafloor spreading was shown to occur, Hess concluded that continents drift over time, the result of continental plates of the Earth's crust moving laterally around the planet. This is the theory of plate tectonics, which was developed over a period of some fifty years.
German scientist and explorer Alfred L. Wegener first proposed continental displacement (or drift) in 1924 to explain how various parts of the continents seemed to fit into each other like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. He thought they were all connected once and drifted apart, but he could not prove his theory.
Then the midocean ridges were found. When Harry Hess was a navy captain of a Pacific attack transport, he was intrigued...
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