Tectonic plates move at the rate of about 1 to 2 inches each year. Tectonic plates can move in various directions, causing them to collide at certain points on Earth and pull away at other points.Know More
When tectonic plates move away from each other, or diverge, they cause magma below the surface of the Earth to well up and create new solidified plate surface. Tectonic plates can also move closer to each other, or converge, which often results in mountain systems. Well-known mountain systems were formed through the convergence of nearby tectonic plates.
The sites at the point of converging plates are often marked by frequent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. For example, the area surrounding the Pacific Ocean, especially to the west along Asia's eastern border, is known to experience more frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. However, the eastern border of the Pacific Ocean, along the western borders of North and South America, experiences less frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. This is due to the fact that the Pacific plate is moving in a western direction, toward Asia, at the rate of 1 to 2 inches per year.
Once these plates merge, the direction of the plate movement can shift. Once this shift occurs, the areas on the leading edge of the plate will begin to experience these natural disasters.Learn more about Earthquakes
Earth has between 10 and 20 crustal plates, each moving at a different rate. The slowest is the Eurasian plate, which moves less than an inch per year, while the plate with fastest known movement is the Cocos plate, which grinds against the west coast of Central America at an estimated 8.55 inches per year.Full Answer >
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.Full 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.Full Answer >
The three primary causes for tectonic plate movement are the convection of material in the mantle, gravity and the rotation of the planet. These forces cause each of the seven major plates and numerous other microplates to move independently of the others at a rate of a few centimeters per year.Full Answer >