Biography of Alfred Wegener, the father of plate tectonics

Biography of Alfred Wegener, the father of plate tectonics

Today we want to honor one of the most important scientists of the 20th century, whose hypothesis of continental drift, shook the foundations of geology, geophysics, and even paleontology. Your name, Alfred Wegener (Berlin, 11/1/1880 - Greenland, 11/1/1930).

During the annual meeting of the German Geological Society, which was held in Frankfurt on January 6, 1912, a young professor of astronomy and meteorology, Alfred Wegener, timidly took the stage to share with his scientific colleagues a revolutionary idea about the earth's crust, the formation of the continents and their future.

Wegener He fiercely defended his then extravagant idea: the continents were not a fixed and immutable land formation, far from it. The continents they movedin fact, they were moving right now, albeit at such a slow pace that it was imperceptible.

The reaction of those academics was immediate, and mockery and mange took over the room. They did not even let Alfred Wegener finish his ideas about continental drift, which were rejected by geologists, geographers and geophysicists without contemplations.

Fortunately, Alfred corresponded to that caste of fighters who never give up, managing years later to publish his ideas for international dissemination. Wegener's success the First World War although, they were not universally accepted until 30 years after his death in 1930.

Thanks to the Wegener's thesis and to the Investigations in the plane of the paleomagnetism, the model of the Tectonic plates, based on Wegener's theories about the displacement of the continents on the mantle.

Wegener always affirmed that he understood this model when observing in a planisphere the congruence that occurred between the coasts of both sides of the Atlantic. That was most interesting to him, but it was not until after reading an article that he began to delve into that idea. That newspaper clipping came to point out that the comparative analysis of certain fossils raised the possibility that there might once be a land bridge between Brazil and Africa.

At that moment, the German understood that there was no bridge, the explanation was simpler, all the continents had been united in the past, forming a "great land", a Pangea. The verification of that, was the sea of ​​simple, it was enough to unite the continents together, they fit almost perfectly.

Indeed, Pangea existed and its fragmentation occurred 200 million years ago, which supposed the formation of two great terrestrial blocks, the north and the south, from which the continents that we know today originated.

The theory of continental drift also helped explain different geological phenomena such as earthquakes, the formation of islands and mountain ranges, the appearance and sudden activity of volcanoes, and even climate changes.

It is sad, however, that the international recognition of his studies occurred years after his death, as has become the custom. It seems that this is the fate of every great man, that his actions and ideas only transcend when he leaves this world. Perhaps that is the price for having a clear mind, that is ahead of its time.


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