On Solid Ground The Alfred Wegener Story Alfred Wegener • Alfred Wegener was a German scientist • He was trained to be an astronomer (someone who studies Outer Space). • He spent most of his life working as a meteorologist (a scientist who studies weather). A True Scientist • Alfred Wegener was: –Curious about the world around him; –Asked questions about his observations; –Systematically looked for explanations for things he saw even if it did not apply to his job (weather and climate) The Theory of Continental Drift • He was the first person to suggest (1910) that the continents of the world were moving and • The continents were all squished together as one Super-Continent. • He called this idea “The Theory of Continental Drift Evidence of Continental Drift • One of the first clues to his theory came from looking at the shape of the continents. He noted that they look like they could fit together, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Evidence of Continental Drift • Reptile Fossil found in South America & South Africa Evidence of Continental Drift • Fossils of tropical ferns found in the Arctic. • There is no way that those topical plants could ever live that far north. • Therefore, he thought that those northern areas must have been down nearer the equator at some point in history. Pangaea – The Super Continent • He named the supercontinent, Pangaea [panGEE-uh]. • Pangaea is a word that means “all the earth”. Who does he think he is? Leave geology to the big boys! Back to your glacier, Weather Boy! Continental Drift – Really! What a load of nonsense. Everyone knows about Land bridges! Scientists Gave His Theory A Rude Reception! Wegener’s Last Expedition • In 1930 Wegener returned to Greenland. • He was the expedition leader • They were there to study the great ice cap Wegener’s Last Expedition • The ships were stuck in harbour ice for 2 months! Wegener’s Last Expedition • Due to storms & terrible weather conditions, some critical supplies did not make it to Middle Camp: 1. Tent 2. Radio transmitter 3. Some food Wegener’s Last Expedition • Wegener sets out with Lowe and a big team of Greenlanders to rescue the Middle Camp team! • Conditions were too harsh and many turned back! Wegener’s Last Expedition • Only Wegener, Lowe and Villumsen (a Greenlander) made it to Middle Camp. • Wegener & Villumsen are is great condition. • Lowe is badly frostbitten! Wegener’s Last Expedition • Turns out that Middle Camp dug an Ice cave and found a way to ration their food. • They did not need Wegener’s help! Wegener’s Last Expedition • Wegener celebrated his 50th birthday and then turns around to head back to base camp! • Villumsen goes with him. Wegener’s Last Expedition • The last photo of Wegener & Villumsen before they set off into the Greenland wilds. • Wegener’s body was buried with care by Villumsen and mark by Wegener’s ski poles. • It was thought that he died of a heart attack in his tent! Wegener’s Last Expedition • A cross was put up to mark the spot where Wegener’s body was found. • Both the body and the cross have disappeared under the glacier! Wegener’s Last Expedition • Though his theory was still not believed, he died a HERO who risked his life to save those of this team. • Eventually, scientists did come to realize that his theory was correct.