Plate tectonics is primarily caused by Earth's cooling mechanism, which generates convection currents in the planet's mantle that trigger slow but constant tectonic plate movement. This phenomena occurs on the boundaries of adjacent plates, which are classified as divergent, convergent and transform boundaries.Know More
The Earth's outermost mechanical layer is referred to as the lithosphere. This rigid stratum comprises the planet's crust and topmost portion of the mantle. The lithosphere is broken into massive, constantly shifting blocks called plates. The two types of plates are called continental plates and oceanic plates.
Two of the sources of Earth's internal heat are the primordial thermal energy it retained during the planet's initial formation and the decay of radioisotopes. Extreme temperatures within Earth's core generate convection cells that cause the mantle to move. A convection current is produced when warm material moves up, cools and then moves down. As it sinks, the material is re-heated and it moves up again, causing the entire process to repeat. The constant movement of the mantle triggers the plates that are located on top of it to constantly move as well.
Two forces that are influenced by and also initiate mantle convection are known as "ridge push" and "slab pull," or "subduction pull." New crustal plates are formed due to a ridge push, while old plates sink down due to a slab pull. A combination of a ridge push and a slab pull causes oceanic plates to move.Learn more about Plate Tectonics
Each continent is embedded onto plates, which are made from lithospheres - Earth's outermost layer. Because this layer is stronger than the underlying layer, it is able to move. Several forces encourage it to do this, which means Earth's landmass remains the same, but the location of continents shifts slightly each year.Full Answer >
According to About.com, plate tectonics is the scientific theory that attempts to explain the movement of the Earth's lithosphere, which has formed the landscape features seen across the globe. It provides geology with a comprehensive theory that explains how the Earth works.Full Answer >
Plate tectonics theory, formerly known as the theory of continental drift, is well supported in geology, geography and biology. It has the power to explain many phenomena, such as volcanoes and earthquakes. The theory provides a working model for analyses of phenomena that scientists observe. This explanatory power is, itself, strong evidence that the theory is correct.Full Answer >
If plate tectonics stopped, the continents would stay in place rather than moving slowly around the face of the earth. This would also result in a reduction in volcanic activity and earthquakes. Lower volcanic activity causes warmer surface temperatures because particles released by volcanoes have a cooling effect.Full Answer >