|MadSci Network: Earth Sciences|
You can start by researching Eduard Suess, a German geologist who wrote a massive work called The Face of The Earth.
You are referring to the idea of contractionism which was popularised by Suess. These arguments are only relevant to mountain building. Suess advocated the idea of continental drift and proposed the idea of Gondwanaland.
The website link below should provide a good starting point for you.
Geological Ideas Before Plate Tectonics
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Earth Sciences.