It was not until the 60s that a scientific explanation was put forward, as Marcos Mozetic, geologist and Repsol's Executive Director for Exploration, explains Marcos Mozetic, "It was based on plate tectonics, a theory that was as revolutionary for geologists as Darwin's theory was for biologists."
Plate tectonics explains why the earth's crust moves.
The crust, which lies on a flexible layer, called the mantle, is more rigid and is divided into tectonic plates, and these are in constant motion. When it was first introduced, the theory met with strong opposition. "We all want to live on stable ground, and we don't want to hear that the place where we live is moving every day", jokes Mozetic. Tectonic plates move at a rate of about 2.5 cm a year
, about the same length your fingernails grow in the same time.
"Suddenly, everything fell into place, and we understood how mountains and oceans came into existence, and what caused volcanoes and earthquakes. And one aspect of particular interest to those of us involved in oil exploration: why sedimentary basins exist, which is where hydrocarbons are found".