The pole could not be in two places at once, and furthermore the ocean floors all recorded either north or south, but not directions in between.
So how could lavas of the same age on different land masses show historic directions of the north pole differently from each other?
In this case we end up with what we call an apparent polar wander path.
Over time from back when to the present time the pole moved in that direction.
We can construct a path — an apparent wander path if you will — of the continent.
We can see that the continent must have gone sort of like this.
Sketch showing two possibilities for apparent polar wander paths.The concept of apparent polar wander paths was helpful in determining the speed, direction, and rotation of continents.To illustrate the idea of polar wander, imagine you have a composite volcano on a continent like the one in the sketch below.There are two possible explanations for how this could have occurred. Explanation 1 is that the poles moved around and the continent stayed in the same place. When the most recent lava formed, this green stuff, the pole was right up here, where it is today.But back when this volcano was making the yellow lava, the pole was in a slightly different place. The oldest lava flow is recording a pole that was more like in that direction.Therefore, given knowledge of your present location and a magnetometer reading of the inclination of your geologic item of interest, such as a basalt flow, you can calculate the magnetic latitude at the time of its formation, compare it to your present location, and determine how many degrees of latitude your present location has moved since that rock cooled.As glacial geologists, some of the biggest questions that we’d like to answer are not only how large former ice sheets were, but also how fast did the recede and how quickly did they thin?When this lava froze, it was pointing north toward the north pole.Back when this yellow lava formed, if the pole was in the same place then the continent would have to have been over here somewhere like this because its lava froze pointing north, but then over time when this continent moved to its present position with the lava still frozen in place it is now pointing in a different direction that isn’t where north is anymore.There were two possible explanations for this: Before plate tectonics was accepted, most geologists thought that the pole must have moved.However, once more and more measurements were made on different continents, it turned out that all the different polar wander paths could not be reconciled.