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De Wegener à la tectonique des plaques : sept fois sept ans de réflexion

Abstract : As early as 1913, using interdisciplinary arguments, Alfred Wegener showed that, from disruption of Pangaea (the singlecontinent existing at the end of the Palaeozoic), continental drift occurred (e.g. as South America and Africa becameseparated by the South Atlantic ocean). This disturbing innovation was strongly fought by prominent geophysiciians andgeologists ( Harold Jeffreys, Bailey Willis). It was therefore refused by a great majority of geoscientists, notwithstanding theeffective support of a few of them (e.g. Emile Argand and Arthur Holmes). Half a century later, continental drift wasunanimously accepted at the dawn of plate tectonics. This paper analyses the reasons of a so late acceptance: belief inoceans-continents permanency, influence of senior scientists, nationality of Wegener, and overall, fear of the Unknown,deriving from the search of an intellectual comfort.
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Marcel Lemoine. De Wegener à la tectonique des plaques : sept fois sept ans de réflexion. Travaux du Comité français d'Histoire de la Géologie, Comité français d'Histoire de la Géologie, 2004, 3ème série (tome 18), pp.103-131. ⟨hal-00914288⟩



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