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USGS CMG InfoBank: Scientific Method In Action

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Comment: 20:57 - 21:58 (01:01)
Source: Annenberg/CPB Resources - Earth Revealed - 5. The Birth of a Theory
Keywords: "Gary Ernst", "plate tectonics", "scientific method", mountain, volcanism, "continental margin"

Our transcription: I guess you could say that the emergence of the concept of plate tectonics is an example of the "Scientific Method" in action.
We use a great number of kinds of observations, all different, all seemingly unrelated, and bring it together in a model that explains everything.
Prior to the advent of plate tectonics, you know, we knew that we had mountain ranges.
We didn't know why we had mountain ranges. We didn't know why there was this incredible sharpening.
We knew that we had volcanism near the margin of the continents.
We didn't know why.
These things are explicable based on plate tectonics, and it is the fact that this new model, this new paradigm resolved so many divergent, seemingly unrelated geologic facts, observations that we already knew that allow us to move forward to a new level of understanding.

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