- Geology. the lateral movement of continents resulting from the motion of crustal plates.
Compare plate tectonics.
Origin of continental drift
First recorded in 1925–30
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- geology the theory that the earth's continents move gradually over the surface of the planet on a substratum of magma. The present-day configuration of the continents is thought to be the result of the fragmentation of a single landmass, Pangaea, that existed 200 million years agoSee also plate tectonics
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for continental drift
1925, a translation of German Kontinentalverschiebung, proposed 1912 by German scientist Alfred Wegener (1880-1930); the theory was not widely accepted until after c.1950.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- A theory stating that the Earth's continents have been joined together and have moved away from each other at different times in the Earth's history. The theory was first proposed by Alfred Wegener in 1912. While his general idea of continental movement eventually became widely accepted, his explanation for the mechanism of the movement has been supplanted by the theory of plant tectonics. See more at plate tectonics.
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