Talk:Continental drift

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There is a link stating that this is a subarticle of plate tectonics [1] but this article contains a link stating that plate tectonics is a subarticle of this article.[2] Is this article a subarticle? (SEWilco 5 July 2005 07:26 (UTC))

External links[edit]

I think the last edits (converting the http links in "External links" to citations) is ill-advised. I believe it is generally understood (?) that "links" in this context are meant to be www hyperlinks to external web sites that may be of interest to the reader. Citations of sources in support of elements of the article, which may have links to the sources, are in standard bibliographic format for purposes of documenting the source, but that is over-kill for pointing the reader to other sites. I suggest that these edits be reverted. - J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:12, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

It is important that all links on Wikipedia (internal or external) give adequate information on where you end up if you actually click the link. Most people probably understand that the links are external, but more often than not, external links on Wikipedia fail to describe what information the page actually offers. External links should not only describe the nature of the target, but also explain its relevance to the article subject. Basically, any external link section needs to make clear why external links are "reliable sources" and why they are relevant to the article. Using templates is a good way to implement that. --Fama Clamosa (talk) 22:40, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree that external links should give some indication of what the link is and possibly why it is recommended. But I do not believe that external links are expected to conform to the same level of "reliable sources" that are used in the article. Putting these links into bibliographic format is so rare as to be contrary to established practice. I think you should reconsider. - J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:11, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
You're right. No need for external links to be "reliable sources". Per WP:EL: External links should identify the link and briefly summarize the website's contents and why the website is relevant to the article. This is the relevant guideline. My use of reference templates is unorthodox and the result probably looks slightly overdone.
However, before I cleaned up the section it looked like this:
This could be four blogs. The third link,, is dead, so I removed it. In none of these cases the target is "identified", there is no information on how old the information is and who produced it. Templates make the entire section more informative and hopefully new links will be added more thoughtfully. If nothing else, these templates will hopefully remind new contributors that the links should be relevant/directly related to the article. --Fama Clamosa (talk) 17:15, 10 April 2010 (UTC)
I have no objection to the substantive changes you made. My objection is to your admittedly unorthodox use of the citation template in this context, which I say is inappropriate. (Secondarily, I would regard such a significant change of format something that should not be done without consensus of other editors.) If your changes were just formatting I would simply revert them, but I don't want to revert the substnative changes. So I ask: would you mind putting those links back into link form, not as links buried in a bibliographic citation? - J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:21, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

-Are these videos and maps of continental drift worth including this article as external links?
 Paleogeographic Views of Earth's History provided by Ron Blakey, Professor of Geology, Northern Arizona University

Jcardazzi (talk) 14:42, 23 April 2015 (UTC)jcardazzi

The relevant questions would be 1) do they significantly add to the topic? and 2) do they so better than the existing links? It seems to me they don't; there are better depictions of how plate tectonics works. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 18:47, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

Additional notable contributors.[edit]

Just had the pleasure of re-reading Tuzo Wilson's article on plate tectonic theory in the April, 1963, Scientific American. (I suspect that article alone greatly contributed to the awareness and acceptance of plate tectonics.) It did make me think (bah!) that Alex Du Toit may have had a lot more influence than we credited him. Likewise for S. K. Runcorn, who had a book on "continental drift" in 1962. Anyone feel like these should be covered? - J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:39, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

  • If u can improve it, why not? But remember...
  • Vening-Meinesz n Umbgrove knew a part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.
    • Hess admired Vening-Meinesz n could even work w him.
    • Umbgrove, J.H.F. (1947). The Pulse of the Earth (2 ed.). The Hague, NL: Martinus Nyhoff. p. 359. 
    • Vening Meinesz, F. A. (1959). "The results of the development of the Earth's topography in spherical harmonics up to the 31st order; provisional conclusions". Koninkl. Ned. Akad. van Wetenschappen Amsterdam. Proc. Ser. B., Phys. Sciences. 62: 115–136. 
  • Wegener cites Argand n Staub. Ppl who knew the Alpine Orogeny accepted nappes, thrust faults (Glarus thrust n Karwendel thrust) n continental drift.
    • Argand, E. (1924). "La Tectonique de l'Asie". Extrait du Compte-rendu du XIIIe Congrès géologique international 1922 (Liège). 1 (5): 171–372. 
    • Argand, E. (1916). "Sur l'arc des Alps Occidentales". Eclogae geologicae Helveticae. Lausanne. 14: 145–192. 
    • Staub, R. (1924). "Der Bau der Alpen". Beitr. z. geolog. Karte der Schweiz, N. F. Bern. 52: 272. 
    • Wegener, Alfred (1929). Die Entstehung der Kontinente und Ozeane (4 ed.). Braunschweig: Friedrich Vieweg & Sohn Akt. Ges. ISBN 3443010563. 
  • I got the impression that the "Ivy League" of the GSA, Germany n the Jeffreys' followers did not have the right field experience, and did not believe who had it.
    • Daly examined the rocks along a 400 miles stretch at the 49th parallel; Otto Ampferer (Geological Survey, Vienna) hiked a lot in the Alps; Wegener hiked in the Alps too w his brother n an Ordinarius for Geology n Paleontology (J. Blaas, Innsbruck); Holmes had experience in Mozanbique n Burma; n du Toit received a grant from the Carnegie Institution of Washington and used this to travel to eastern South America.
    • Insight, the physics of the arguments of the fixists were sound:
      • Continental granite does not plow through seafloor basalt like an icebreaker.
      • Polflucht n lunar gravity are secondary forces.
      • Mantle drag on the lithosphere is only relevant on back-arc basins.
      • but proving one driving force of plate tectonics wrong, does not prove continental drift wrong; n as the core generates heat, than there must be a mechanism to get this heat to the surface.
  • So slab pull n "ridge slide" r relevant.
  • --Chris.urs-o (talk) 05:29, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
That doesn't really address my question, of whether anyone feels Du Toit, and possibly Runcorn, should be mentioned. I would not simply add them (or anyone else) willy-nilly, lest the article become little more than a collection of unintegrated facts. I am thinking that any expansion should be guided by two or three secondary sources, to get the overall outline and balance right. - J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:10, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

Shouldn't there be references to Marie Tharp and Bruce C. Heezen in here somewhere? (talk) 04:16, 7 August 2016 (UTC)

I don't know. Should there be? One criterion would be how the contributions of these people rank compared to the contributions of others. This might be determined by their prominence in several books about continental drift/plate tectonics. There is also the question of an article's scope: for any reasonable length it is often not possible to mention every idea, event, or person connected with the topic. If an article is expanded to include more detail it should be done relatively evenly across all aspects of the topic. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:45, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
My perception, here, is that many (if not all) of these suggested citations to sources from about 1950 onwards belong in plate tectonics, not in continental drift. Under modern convention, CD is not considered the "theory" that applies to the Earth. PT is. We don't much need to debate this, it is, however, the convention we need to work with. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 22:04, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
I agree that CD and PT are different concepts. I mentioned PT because some (most?) books on PT have some discussion of CD, so they might be reasonable sources. If (e.g.) Heezen wasn't notable in CD, then he should not be included here regardless of how notable he might be in PT. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:17, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

Proposal to establish a consistent citation "style"[edit]

New user VexorAbVikipædia please note: you need to conform to the existing citation style (see WP:CITEVAR). Particularly, please do not manually format citations. But in light of the question I am about to raise it would be best if you temporarily suspend editing this article until we clarify just what the citation style should be.

Everyone: the citations in this article are getting inconsistent. Before attempting to "fix" anything, I propose that we establish a standard style here, and specifically as follows: full citations implemented with {{citation}} or {{cite xxx}} templates in a dedicated "References" section, with short cites implemented with {{harv}} templates in the text. If this is acceptable I will even do the conversion/cleanup. Comments? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:55, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

Well, this is very sad news indeed. I was just about to add some interesting information about Frank Bursley Taylor: in 1908, he recognized that the mid-Atlantic ridge was located atop a gigantic rift in the ocean's floor, from which the continents on either side were separating. He was 50 years ahead of his time. Anyway, about your proposal: I don't like these standardized formats because references are more varied in nature than any format can accommodate. The formats are adequate for many books and journals, but many technical books are compilations of articles that are contributed by many authors, from which only on article is cited. There's also the problem of citing Ph.D. theses. The list goes on. That's why I still manually format citations. Furthermore, I don't see why the format matters. I doubt that it matters to the reader. Anyway, that's my 2¢. VexorAbVikipædia (talk) 02:09, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Whether you like "standardized formats" (or not) is rather beside the point: it is a well established WP rule — the one we call WP:CITEVAR — that citations should be consistent within each article. While many readers do not care (because they do not check the references), yet many do care, as well as most editors. Keep in mind that fundamental to such credibility as WP has is the key principal of WP:Verifiability: that "[r]eaders must be able to check that Wikipedia articles are just made up." [Emphasis added.] This requires that citations be not merely present, but clear and error-free. Format matters, as citations (all styles) are typically informaton dense, and rely on various conventions (e.g.: italicizing titles of books, but quoting titles of articles) to convey some of that information. Consistency is necessary to avoid ambiguity and confusion. This is a settled point. The question is solely of establishing the standard or style to which this article should be consistent.
Your objections to using citation templates show a lack of awareness of just how versatile they are. I have used many odd sources, and never seen a case where manually formatting a citation was advantageous. (Ask if you need assistance for any particular case.) Using a template provides explicit information (such as identifying "first" names, surnames, and compound names), and saves you (and subsequent editors) from the hassle of having to get all of the nit-picking formatting details just right. You really should consider it. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:37, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

Recent edits and "Taylor-Wegener hypothesis"[edit]

Geoffrey.landis: I have some concern about some of your recent edits, especially those boostng Frank Taylor. And in particular your inclusion of: 'The theory of continental drift is sometimes referred to as the "Taylor-Wegener hypothesis."'

There is no question that at one time that term had some currency. But that was in the 1920s. Use of that termed declined after Taylor said (in 1932): "Since the views of the two authors differ in several respects ... it seems best to discontinue the hyphenated relation." [See New Scientist, 24 Jan. 1980, p. 254. In other words, Taylor's theory, though about the same question, was different.

Use of "Taylor-Wegener hypothesis" nowadays is minimal, and seems to arise mainly from a 1946 book ("Some considerations ...") which appears to have been written by Taylor's daughter. While his work may have contributed in some manner to understanding "continental drift", the same is true of many people. I don't believe Taylor was sufficiently notable to be mentioned at the level of detail of this article, and therefore should be removed. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:23, 22 October 2015 (UTC)

There are a lot of references to it under that name in the early to mid 20th century. I modified this to say that this was "in the early 20th century", although I don't have a good reference for when the terminology fell out of use. Geoffrey.landis (talk) 18:20, 23 October 2015 (UTC)
A quick check on Google Scholar shows there is not really "a lot of references" to it (aside from retrospective histories), something like ten. And as Taylor himself stated that his theory "of continental drift" differed from Wegener's, this detail of a disavowed association would merit noting only in a detailed history. Which this article is not. You have given him more eminence than warranted relative to others who have contributed. That would be okay if you found a couple of histories that said he was more notable than the rest, but without that this is special treatment, and unwarranted. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:39, 23 October 2015 (UTC)
Since Taylor wrote articles on continental drift, it is appropriate he be mentioned in the article. Since he did publish his theory of continental creep prior to Wegener's first publications on the subject, I think a single paragraph is not "more eminence than warranted." This is an article on continental drift, not the article on Alfred Wegener, and Taylor contributed. Geoffrey.landis (talk) 02:37, 25 October 2015 (UTC)
I mostly agree with you. (Yes.) Especially that this article is not specifically on Wegener's theory. But! neither is it about the history of the observation that the continents seem to have "drifted" (more accurately, separated), nor the various theories that have been suggested to explain that observation. I think best approach is separate sections that: 1) describe the observation, 2) describe the various theories, 3) discuss Wegener's theory (because it is the most notable of all the theories), and then 4) discuss why Wegener's theory was rejected (because that is, nowadays, its most notable aspect). I think Taylor certainly warrants mention under #2. But on the basis of reliable sources saying he ranks in that pantheon, not because someone said in an obituary that he was co-equal to Wegener. (Which is certainly not true.) My concern is that you included Taylor because you were coming from a view that he was cool (or something), that you were focusing primarily on Taylor without considering the broader view of how he ranks relative to others. Without having looked into it too closely, it appears there are sources that provide a broad perspective on this. So I certainly do not object to mentioning Taylor, and perhaps not even to the extent of a whole paragraph (provided it is warranted relative to the other theorists). The "more eminence than warranted" is the implication that "continental drift" was "first proposed" by Taylor, to the extent that the theory should be co-named. You have made some adjustments on that (good), but I think some more are warranted. I would do such myself, but these really need to be done from the broader perspective, and require looking into some of the sources, and currently I am only half-enthused at doing. Meanwhile, feel free to keep whacking at it. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:52, 25 October 2015 (UTC)