Q:

What is the definition of tectonic plates ?

A:

According to the U.S. Geological Survey website, tectonic plates are massive, irregular-shaped slabs of solid rock, composed of oceanic and continental lithosphere. The continental crust is made up of lightweight minerals like feldspar and quartz, while the oceanic crust is made of heavier and denser basaltic rocks.

The sizes of these plates vary greatly. The Antarctic and Pacific Plates have been recorded as some of the largest. The boundaries between tectonic plates are usually unseen as they lie beneath the ocean. However, the boundaries for oceanic plates are mapped out accurately by measurements known as GEOSAT satellites. Volcanic activity and earthquakes occur close to these boundaries.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are the eight minor plates?

    A:

    The earth's surface is divided up into seven major and eight minor tectonic plates. The minor plates consist of the Caribbean plate, the Arabian plate, the Juan de Fuca plate, the Nazca plate, the Scotia plate, the Philippine plate, the Cocos plate and the Indian plate. Due to its size and the significant amount of land on it, some scientists consider the Indian a major plate instead.

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  • Q:

    How many tectonic plates are there?

    A:

    There are seven major tectonic plates on the planet that are further subdivided into dozens of smaller plates. Geologists do not always agree on how to subdivide the minor plates. Each plate is in motion relative to the other plates.

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  • Q:

    How do tectonic plates move?

    A:

    Earth's tectonic plates move due to the movement of magma in the mantle underneath the crust. Extreme temperatures inside the planet's core cause a convection cycle in which hot magma rises to the surface and eventually sinks back toward the core as it cools.

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  • Q:

    What are the two types of tectonic plates?

    A:

    Continental and oceanic are the two types of tectonic plates. Continental plates tend to be larger than oceanic and bear the majority of a continent's mass. Continental plates tend to be much thicker on average, but less dense.

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