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The Theory of Plate Tectonics
Theory of Plate Tectonics
1. Continents appear to “drift” with time
2. Lithosphere is broken up into rigid
“plates”, that are moving
3. There are three types of plate boundaries:
1. Divergent
2. Convergent
3. Transform
3 types of plate boundaries:
1. Divergent – such as a mid ocean ridge where
sea floor spreading occurs
2. Transform boundary – where 2 plates slide
along side of one another
3. Convergent – where 2 plates collide
A transform plate
Transform plate boundary
Transform Boundary in California
Close up of
San Andreas
Transform boundaries also exist at offsets
along the mid ocean ridge
There are 3 types of convergent plate boundaries
1. Ocean plate and another ocean plate
Example: the Aleutian trench
2. Ocean plate and a continental plate
Example: Peru-Chile Trench
3. Continental plate and another continental plate
Himalayan Mountains
2 oceanic plates
Oceanic plate
and a continental
plate collide
Ocean-continent convergent
plate boundary
Convergent Plate
Ocean plate and
continental plate
Subduction is forming the
Andes Mountains
Two continental
Plates collide
Continent- continent convergent
plate boundary
India colliding
with Asia
Name this plate boundary
Match the labels to the letters
Oceanic plate
The oceanic crust sinks under
the less dense continental crust
Continental crust
Explosive volcanoes
The oceanic crust
melts and rises
Hot Spot
Another Hot Spot
Yellowstone National Park
In Summary:
1. The Earth’s surface is broken up into plates
2. The plates move a few centimeters per
year in different directions
3. The plate boundaries may be
classified into convergent or divergent
or transform
4. Divergent plate boundaries are rift
zones usually associated with a mid
ocean ridge
Convergent Plate Boundaries may
be the following types
1. Two oceanic plates- resulting in a subduction zone
and an island arc. Ex. Aleutian Islands and trench
2. An oceanic plate and a continental plate –
resulting in a subduction zone and coastal mountains
– ex. Andes Mtns.
3. Two continental plates – resulting in severe
uplifting of the earth’s crust and a very large
mountains like the Himalayas, or the Alps