Lowthian Green's Tetrahedron Hypothesis on Origin of Continents and Oceans YouTube Lecture Handouts

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Watch Video Lecture on YouTube: Lowthian Green's Tetrahedron Hypothesis - Origin of Earth - 5 Key Aspects

Lowthian Green's Tetrahedron Hypothesis - Origin of Earth - 5 Key Aspects

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  • Theory is based on geometrical principles

  • Elie de Beaumont – first attempted this - pentagonal dodecahedral hypothesis with 12 faces

Image of Hypothesis With 12 Faces

Image of Hypothesis with 12 Faces

  • Lowthian gave the hypothesis in 1875 – tetrahedral hypothesis

  • His concept was supported by Fairbrain.

  • Later RS Morgan & SW Woolridge worked on Lowthian Principles

Platonic solid is a regular, convex polyhedron constructed by congruent (identical in shape and size) regular (all angles equal and all sides equal) polygonal faces having same number of faces meeting at each vertex.

Image of Platonic Solid

Image of Platonic Solid

  • Tetrahedron: Solid body having four equal plane surfaces, each of which is an equilateral triangle

  • According to theory, process of cooling, to take the form of a tetrahedron or triangular pyramid, with four faces and four corners or coigns.

  • Depressions and faces of the pyramid would be sea while coigns (corners) would reach out along the edges to form continents.

  • In late 19th & 20th century superseded by continental drift and plate tectonics.

Hypothesis Propounded

  • A sphere is that body which contains the largest volume with respect to its surface area

  • A tetrahedron is that body which contains the least volume with respect to its surface area


  • Corners would sink to form a stable shape. Small globe can but enormous earth cannot.

  • Again, continents are made of light SIAL and oceans made of SIMA (heavier). Contraction could not account for distribution of continents without considering SIMA and SIAL.

  • Balance of the earth in the form of a tetrahedron while rotating on an apex cannot be maintained.

  • Earth rotates rapidly on its axis & spherical earth cannot be converted into a tetrahedron while contracting on cooling.

  • Hypothesis of permanency of continents and ocean basins has been rejected by plate tectonic that validated continental drift concept.

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