Q:

What is the definition of tectonic plates ?

A:

Quick Answer

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.

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Full Answer

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 causes continental drift?

    A:

    Continental drift is caused by movement of the tectonic plates that continents sit on top of. Continental drift has continuously occurred throughout time, and continues to do so today. Rough estimates say that Europe and North America are drifting away from each other 2.5 centimeters per year.

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  • Q:

    How does continental drift happen?

    A:

    Continents rest on massive plates known as tectonic plates, which are fluid and able to move due to the mantle and magma underneath, and as the tectonic plates move about, they cause continental drift to happen. The concept of continental drift was first described in the early 20th century by German scientist Alfred Wegener, who explained that continental landmasses were actually drifting across the Earth. This is opposed to the original theory that landmasses are fixed and immobile.

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  • Q:

    What are continental plates?

    A:

    Continental plates are tectonic plates that lie under surface land masses. Tectonic plates are parts of the planet's crust that lie far below the sea around the world, and there are two types of plates: continental plates and oceanic plates. Note that some plates run under the ocean, and the continents as defined by geography.

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  • 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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