Courtesy Archive of Alfred Wegener Institute via WikipediaWhere would modern geology be without Alfred Wegener? This remarkable scientist's theory of continental drift (which he first proposed in 1912) is the very basis for the current groundbreaking (pun intended) theory of plate tectonics. Wegener was born November 1, 1880 in Berlin, and although he earned a doctorate in astronomy, his main interests were meteorology and climate.
When he noticed how Earth's large land masses seemed to fit together like puzzle pieces (e.g. South America fits with Africa), and how some fossils and rock types on different continents also seemed to match up with each other, it occurred to Wegener that continental drift could be the only reasonable explanation. His new theory also better explained earthquakes, volcanism, and mountain-building. But because he wasn't a trained geologist, Wegener's hypothesis was not at all well-received by the geologists of his day. It wasn't until the 1950s, after ocean floor mapping (by the naval military during World War II) and data from paleomagnetism and paleoclimate studies became available that Wegener's theory finally began to be embraced. Unfortunately, Wegener wasn't able to enjoy his vindication, since he had died decades before during a meteorological expedition to Greenland.
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