'Polar Wandering'--One Word, Two Meanings

Based on paleoclimatic and paleomagnetic evidence, to geologists, the words 'polar wandering' have two distinctly different meanings. That's partially because 'pole' can refer to the magnetic pole or to the geographic pole. So what, if anything, moved in the past? The magnetic poles? The geographic poles? Both?


the poles stayed put but the continents shifted position


the continents stayed put but the poles shifted position

In any case, many geologists go no further than saying that it appears there was some sort of shift in the pole position. But since the magnetic poles and geographical poles are so close together, maybe it happened and maybe it didn't.

Wegener's idea was that the continents did the moving, drifing through the oceanic crust and pushing up mountain ridges ahead of them as they moved.



NOTE: Paleomagnetism is the study of ancient magnetic fields

Paleoclimatic means the study of ancient climate.


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