Definition of continental drift in English:

continental drift


mass noun
  • The gradual movement of the continents across the earth's surface through geological time.

    • ‘When first proposed a generation ago, the theory of continental drift and plate tectonics was one of the most shocking scientific ideas of its day.’
    • ‘But of course, the scientists who refused to accept Wegener's continental drift hypothesis in 1912 and up to about 1950 were entirely right to do so.’
    • ‘The site clarifies the often fuzzy distinction between the older theory of continental drift and its more recent reincarnation, plate tectonics.’
    • ‘Of course, none of these conclusions could have been reached without all these workers rejecting the idea of continental drift.’
    • ‘Despite the now compelling nature of much of the geological evidence for continental drift, the most unequivocal proof of the movement of continents now surely comes from palaeomagnetism.’
    • ‘Geologists and continental drift theorists have shown that there was once one super continent named Pangea.’
    • ‘However, at the time that Wegener proposed his theory of continental drift, most scientists still believed the Earth was a solid, motionless body.’
    • ‘By the late 1960s the modern theories of continental drift and plate tectonics had become firmly established in geological thought.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, the entire thesis of continental drift was also thrown out.’
    • ‘Later theories of continental drift depended on plate tectonics; rates of movement of continents were not an integral part of those theories.’
    • ‘The theory of continental drift would become the spark that ignited a new way of viewing the Earth.’
    • ‘It is in Africa where critical data exist that spawned the theories of continental drift, the origins of life, and the emergence of humans and their subsequent migrations out of Africa.’
    • ‘Forty years ago, hardly any geologists believed in continental drift.’
    • ‘According to the theory of continental drift, Africa and South America separated from this super continent first.’
    • ‘Quite suddenly, Wegener's theory of continental drift had the mechanism that it had previously lacked.’
    • ‘For example, when Wegener proposed his theory of continental drift he could not explain how continents move.’
    • ‘Searching for evidence to further develop his theory of continental drift, Wegener came across a paleontological paper suggesting that a land bridge had once connected Africa with Brazil.’
    • ‘The groove resembled the rifts between continental blocks that Wegener's theory of continental drift predicted far too closely for comfort.’
    • ‘The Elephant Bird's Tale is a tale of Gondwana, and of continental drift or, as it is now called, plate tectonics.’
    • ‘No mechanism was known, for example for continental drift when it was proposed by Wegener.’

The reality of continental drift was confirmed in the 1960s, leading to the theory of plate tectonics. It is believed that a single supercontinent called Pangaea broke up to form Gondwana and Laurasia, which further split to form the present-day continents. Such movement continues today: South America and Africa, for example, are moving apart at a rate of a few centimetres per year


continental drift