Geography Oceanography, and Weather

Plate Tectonics

How fast does the seafloor spread?

Today, the rates of seafloor spreading vary from about 1 inch (2.54 centimeters) per year in the mid-Atlantic ridge area to about 6 inches (15 centimeters) in the mid-Pacific Ocean. Scientists believe seafloor spreading rates have varied over time. For example, during the Cretaceous Period (between 146 to 65 million years ago) seafloor spreading was extremely rapid. Some researchers believe this quick movement of the lithospheric plates may have also contributed to the demise of the dinosaurs: As the continents changed places over time, so did the climate. In addition, more plate movements might have meant more volcanic activity, releasing dust, ash, and gases into the upper atmosphere and contributing to more climate variation. This change in climate and vegetation may have cause several species of dinosaurs to die out or become diseased, contributing to the dinosaurs’ extinction.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Weather Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App