Chemicals in our Lives - Minerals in Britain

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The outer layer of the Earth has the ability to move. Scientists try to map this movement using a range of clues offered by the Earth. Many of the clues are found in the rocks themselves. 

Tectonic Plates

The outer layers of the Earth (the crust and upper part of the mantle) are divided into massive portions of rock called tectonic plates. These plates fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. These plates have the ability to move due to convection currents that exist in the mantle. The movement means that parts of ancient continents that make up the Britain we know today have moved over the surface of the Earth. 

Magnetic Data

Geologists can use magnetic clues in rocks to document the movement of continents. This movement is tracked by studying magnetic particles contained in some rocks such as certain types of lava and sediment that contain magnetite. When lava has cooled, magnetite can become magnetised in the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field at that particular time. A similar process occurs


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