Why are there ocean basins, continents, and mountains? main content.

Why are there ocean basins, continents, and mountains?

Exhibition hall with rock samples and explanation screens. The "Why are there ocean basins, continents, and mountains?" section of the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth
AMNH / R. Mickens

Exhibition Text

Over millions of years, ocean basins open and close, continents move and change shape, and mountains are pushed up and eroded away. Such dynamic processes continually reshape the surface of the Earth. The movement of rigid plates on the Earth’s surface, known as plate tectonics, is the cause of these changes. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are dramatic hints of the great movements that take place over the vastness of geological time.

For Educators

Topic: Earth Science

Subtopic: Earth Formation/Evolution

Keywords: Earth (Planet)--Surface, Plate tectonics, Landforms, Geological time, Geology, Structural

Audience: General