Q:

What are some major tectonic plates in the United States?

A:

Quick Answer

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.

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Full Answer

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.

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Related Questions

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    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:

    How far do tectonic plates move each year?

    A:

    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.

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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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  • Q:

    How does the movement of tectonic plates cause earthquakes?

    A:

    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.

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