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.
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
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.Full Answer >
Convection currents move tectonic plates when there is heat inside the mantle that is rising and falling. The radioactive decay in the core is responsible for the convection currents.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 >
According to the Theory of Plate Tectonics, the Earth has seven major or primary plates: the North American, South American, African, Antarctic, Indo-Australian, Eurasian and Pacific. There are also several secondary plates including the Arabian, Caribbean, Indian and Philippine Sea plates, and tertiary plates which make up sub-sections of the major plates of the Earth.Full Answer >