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Seafloor spreading

Seafloor spreading is a part of the theory of plate tectonics.

At the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (and other places), material from the upper mantle rises through the faults between oceanic plates to form new crust as the plates move away from each other, a phenomenon first observed as continental drift.

It is still a matter of some debate whether seafloor spreading is driven primarily by the force of rising magma at these locations, or if it is driven by the force of sinking magma elsewhere and these upwellings are merely a side effect.

This phenomenon is known to be caused by convection currents in the Earth's mantle.

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45