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Plate Tectonics Webquest KEY
In this webquest, you will be directed to a specific website or you will need to search on your
own to answer the questions. List all websites that you obtain information from (that have
not been given to you) and attach that list to this webquest. Do not use websites such as or Wikipedia to locate information.
TASK #1- Go to
Locate the following plate boundaries in North America and describe in detail their location,
which plates are involved and what land features they created.
Ancient Convergent Plate Boundary - Appalachian Mountain
Range formed by the ancient continental boundaries of North America and Africa colliding.
TRANSFORM PLATE BOUNDARY-Transform Boundary - San Andreas Fault Zone
The linear features are faults formed in the fracture zone between the Pacific and North American plates
DIVERGENT PLATE BOUNDARY-) Divergent Boundary - Mid-Atlantic Ridge
plate moving away from the North American Plate. Iceland is splitting along the ridge's center.)
Fissure marking the position of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge - lateral offsets in the Ridge caused by transform faults
Locate at least one of the following plate boundaries on the map located in other parts of the
world. Describe in detail their location and what land features they created. Additional points
given for locating and describing more than one. (use separate sheet of paper if necessary)
CONVERGENT PLATE BOUNDARY- (1) convergent Boundary - Kuril Islands - Between Kamchatka and
JapanThe Kuril Islands are part of a volcanic island chain produced by the subduction of the Pacific Plate beneath the North
American Plate (2) Convergent Boundary - Aleutian Islands Volcanic islands along the boundary between the North
American and Pacific Plates
(3) Convergent Boundary - Andes Mountain Range Volcanic activity atop of the South
American Plate, a few hundred miles east of its collision with the Nazca Plate (4) Convergent Boundary - India and Asia Himalaya Range Continents collide as India plows into Asia. The Indian Plain suddenly rises to the peaks of the Himalaya
Mountain Range (5) Convergent Boundary - Caribbean Volcanic Arc Volcanic islands on eastern margin of the
Caribbean Plate in contact with the South American Plate. (6) Convergent Boundary - Cascades Volcanoes
A north-south trending line of volcanoes atop of the North American Plate, slightly inland from its boundary with the Juan de
Fuca Plate -
TRANSFORM PLATE BOUNDARY- (1) Transform Boundary - Alpine Fault, South Island, New Zealand
The Alpine Fault is a strike slip fault between the Australian Plate and the Pacific Plate.
DIVERGENT PLATE BOUNDARY- (1) Divergent Boundary - Mid-Atlantic Ridge
plate moving away from the North American Plate. Iceland is splitting along the ridge's center.)
(1) Divergent Boundary - Red Sea A narrow sea formed where the African and Arabian Plates are diverging
Fissure marking the position of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge - lateral offsets in the Ridge caused by transform faults
Divergent Boundary - East Africa - Volcanoes and Lakes Volcanoes and linear lakes within the rift valley of a
In East Africa, spreading processes have already torn Saudi
Arabia away from the rest of the African continent, forming the Red Sea. The actively splitting plates
are the African Plate and the Arabian Plate forming the East African Rift Valley
developing divergent boundary in East Africa
TASK #3- Go to
Click Historical Perspective
1- Define plate- a plate is a large, rigid slab of solid rock
2- What is the origin of the word tectonics? The word tectonics comes from the Greek root "to build."
3- According to the continental drift theory, when did Pangaea begin to break apart? 225-200 million
years ago
4- What is the origin of the word Pangaea? "all lands" in Greek
5- What two supercontinents were formed from Pangaea in the Triassic period? Gondwanaland and
6- What three pieces of evidence did Wegener have to prove his theory? the occurrences of unusual
geologic structures and of plant and animal fossils found on the matching coastlines of South America
and Africa, which are now widely separated by the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the evidence of dramatic
climate changes on some continents.
7-What was Wegener's most compelling evidence to prove his theory? the presence of identical fossil
species along the coastal parts of Africa and South America was the most compelling evidence that the
two continents were once joined.
8- Click “rejoined continents” and provide one detailed example of this evidence.
Return to Historical perspective.
9 How and when did Alfred Wegener die? He froze to death in 1930 during an expedition crossing the
Greenland ice cap
10- What was the fundamental question raised by his critics that Wegener could not answer?
What kind of forces could be strong enough to move such large masses of solid rock over such great
Go to “developing the theory”
11- Name the four major scientific developments that contributed to the formation of the plate-tectonics
(1) demonstration of the ruggedness and youth of the ocean floor; (2) confirmation of repeated
reversals of the Earth magnetic field in the geologic past; (3) emergence of the seafloor-
spreading hypothesis and associated recycling of oceanic crust; and (4) precise documentation
that the world's earthquake and volcanic activity is concentrated along oceanic trenches and
submarine mountain ranges.
12- What do we call scientists who study Earth's ancient magnetic field? Paleomagnetists
13-What is the magnetic mineral found in rocks on the ocean floor? magnetite
14- Explain in your own words, the difference between normal and reversed polarity?
Normal polarity occurs when the polarity alignment is the same as the Earth's present day magnetic
field, therefore the north end of the rock's "compass needle" points toward magnetic north. Reversed
polarity occurs when the polarity alignment is opposite to that of the Earth's present magnetic field. In
this case, the north end of the rock's compass needle would point south.
15- What process built the mid-ocean ridge system? Sea floor spreading
16- Who first coined the term sea floor spreading? Hess and Dietz
17 -Explain how can new crust be continuously added along the oceanic ridges without increasing the
size of the Earth? The older crust is recycled at convergent plate boundaries. The older oceanic crust
eventually descends into the oceanic trenches or subducts under continental crust
18- Name the four types of plate boundaries and explain how they interact with each other.
Divergent boundaries -- where new crust is generated as the plates pull away from each other.
Convergent boundaries -- where crust is destroyed as one plate dives under another.
Transform boundaries -- where crust is neither produced nor destroyed as the plates slide horizontally
past each other.
Plate boundary zones -- broad belts in which boundaries are not well defined and the effects of plate
interaction are unclear.
19- Which divergent plate boundary is the most well known? Mid-Atlantic Ridge
20- What is the rate of spreading at this plate boundary? 2.5 cm/yr
21- Which country straddles this plate boundary? Iceland
22- What was created by the breaking off of Saudi Arabia from the rest of the African continent? The
Red Sea
23- Along what type of plate boundary does destruction of the crust take place?
Convergent plate boundaries
24- Name 2 features created by an oceanic-continental convergent plate boundary. Trenches and
volcanoes (volcanic arcs)
25-Name 2 features created by an oceanic-oceanic convergent plate boundary. Oceanic trenches and
island arcs
26- Name the 2 features created by continental-continental convergent plate boundary. Mountains and
27- Where are most transform fault boundaries found? In the ocean
28- What is the name of the transform boundary that cuts through 2/3 of the length of California?
The San Andreas Fault
29- Which two plates are grinding against each other at this boundary? The North American Plate and
the Pacific Plate
30- What is the rate of plate movement at this boundary? 5 cm/yr
31- In what direction is the land on the west side of the fault moving? North west
Click “Hot spots”
32- True or False- Hot spots are located on plate boundaries.
33- What are hot spots? A hot spot is an area of persistent volcanic activity
34- How did hot spots form the Hawaiian Islands? The magma, which is lighter than the surrounding
solid rock, then rises through the mantle and crust to erupt onto the seafloor, forming an active
seamount. Over time, countless eruptions cause the seamount to grow until it finally emerges above sea
level to form an island volcano. Continuing plate movement eventually carries the island beyond the
hotspot, cutting it off from the magma source, and volcanism ceases. As one island volcano becomes
extinct, another develops over the hotspot, and the cycle is repeated.
Click unanswered questions
35- What sources provide heat within the Earth? radioactive decay and residual heat
36- What three mechanisms help to explain plate tectonic movement on Earth?
Mantle convection, ridge push, and slab pull
37- In your own words, explain how each mechanism works.
Mantle convection- As mantle material is heated, it rises and cooler mantle material sinks. Plates ride
along this convection motion
Ridge Push- The new ocean floor at a mid ocean ridge “pushes” the older ocean plate away
Slab pull - sinking of a cold, denser oceanic slab into the subduction zone (called "slab pull") -dragging the rest of the plate along with it TASK #4
Take the online quiz and circle your answers below. (10 points)
1) Which type of plate is older?
2. Which type of plate is thicker?
3. What is it called when two oceanic plates move apart and new crust is formed?
Crustal integrating
Seafloor spreading
4. What is it called when one plate is pushed under another plate as they collide?
Mantle induction
5. What is one phenomenon that can happen when two plates slip past one another?
6. What can form when two continental plates collide?
Fold mountains
7. What do plates float on?
Upper mantle
8. New crust is created by _____?
Magma from the mantle
Magma from the core
9. What is the name of the supercontinent that formed from about 200 to 100 million years ago?
10. Who first proposed the theory of continental drift?
TASK #5 (10 points; 5 extra credit)
Use the link above to create a crossword puzzle. You must use 20 word and provide hints for each
word. Print 2 copies of your completed puzzle. Create an answer key on one copy and attach both
copies to this webquest.
Print a 3rd copy and give to a classmate to complete for an extra 5 points