Continental Collisions; The Geology of Nova Scotia

The Earth’s surface is not as stable as it seems. It is actually made up of huge plates of continental crust that are between five and 35 kilometres thick that are floating on oceanic crust. Scientists have discovered that, encircling the globe, there are a dozen large plates as well as a number of smaller ones. These plates move imperceptibly, at a rate of a few centimetres each year, and over the course of millions of years continents and oceans move and change shape. The plates pulling apart cause fractures or deep rifts in the Earth’s crust, both on land and under the sea, and plates colliding with each other form mountain ranges and new islands as the rock is forced upwards. We call this movement plate tectonics. The continents that existed millions of years ago look very different from the ones that are familiar to us today.

Even though we can’t feel it, these massive plates are still moving and colliding with each other, for example, in the Himalayas. Eventually, millions of years from now, continents will again be colliding with each other!
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Dian Day, Susan Sellers, Rita Wilson

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans