The science of paleomagnetism is concerned with studies of the fossil magnetism that is retained in certain rocks. If this magnetism originated at the time the rock was formed, measurement of its direction can be used to determine the latitude at which the rock was created. If this latitude differs from the present latitude at which the rock is found, very strong evidence has been furnished that it has moved over the surface of the Earth. Moreover, if it can be shown that the pattern of movement differs from that of rocks of the same age on a different continent, relative movement must have occurred between them. In this way, paleomagnetic measurements demonstrated that continental drift has taken place, and provided the first quantitative estimates of relative continental movements. For fuller accounts of the paleomagnetic method, see Tarling (1983) and McElhinny & McFadden (2000).

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