The vast majority of the United States is on the North American Plate. Hawaii is separate, on the Pacific Plate, as is a small portion of California. The North American Plate extends well east of the United States, reaching as far as Iceland.Know More
The North American Plate is bordered by several additional plates, leading to notable geological phenomena at the juncture points. The most famous of the boundaries lies along the San Andreas Fault, where the North American and Pacific Plates intersect. This boundary results in frequent earthquakes, sometimes of extreme magnitude.
Beneath the North American Plate lie several hotspots. Among these is the Yellowstone Caldera, which is a massive depository of molten rock lying just below the surface of Yellowstone National Park.Learn more about Plate Tectonics
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.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 >
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 >
The movement of tectonic plates causes earthquakes when two plates that are in contact with each other move in opposite directions and release built-up stress. For example, one plate may move north, while the other may move south. Stress can build up to a significant amount while the plates are held stationary, but trying to move, which can then be released as an earthquake.Full Answer >