You are on page 1of 20

Plate Tectonics

Introduction
Prepared By:
Engr. Waseem Ali Khan

Events, hazards &


disasters
A tectonic event is an occurrence caused by tectonic
activity - examples include earthquakes and
volcanoes
A Hazard is a major natural event which threatens
both life and property. Hazards are risks to people
and property. Many natural events are made much
worse by what people do to the environment and
where they choose to locate their buildings and
activities e.g. avalanches and ski resorts.
A disaster is the realisation of this hazard. Disasters
cause great loss of life and /or property and create
severe disruption to people. They can be created by
human actions alone e.g. road/ rail accidents or be
the result of natural processes e.g. earthquake.

Earthquake hazards include:


ground shaking, displacement,
liquefaction, tsunamis and landslides
Volcanic hazards include:
lava flows, pyroclastic flows, ash and
lahars
However these are not always hazardous
and certainly do not always have
disastrous consequences
When such events occur in remote areas,
where almost nobody lives, the events are
not even hazardous let alone disastrous

Natural Hazard
Peoples perception of potential hazards
depend upon ...

Magnitude - the energy released, force or strength of


the event
Frequency - how often the event occurs
Duration - how long the event lasts
Areal extent - how widespread the event is
Speed of onset - the length of lead time from knowing
that such an event will occur and its occurrence
Future probability - this is a statistical calculation but
it should be noted that since people may have taken
action to reduce the probability of such an event
occurring again the future anticipated frequency may
be less than that in the past

What does this mean?


IF PEOPLE ARE OFTEN AFFECTED BY HIGH
MAGNITUDE EVENTS THAT OCCUR OVER A
WIDE AREA AND LAST A LONG TIME THEY
WILL BE ALERT AND WOULD PROBABLY HAVE
PREPARED THEMSELVES AS BEST THEY CAN
ON THE OTHER HAND A RARE EVENT OF
MODERATE MAGNITUDE THAT IS HIGHLY
LOCALISED AND SOON OVER IS LIKELY TO
FADE FROM PEOPLES CONSCIOUSNESS SO
THAT THEY DO NOT PREPARE AND MAY EVEN
BECOME COMPLACENT

Vulnerability

Some areas are more vulnerable than others, so that


the tectonic events that do occur are not only
hazardous but more likely to lead to disasters.
This depends upon the exposure, sensitivity and
resilience of....

Population
Economy
Land use and development
Infrastructure and critical facilities
Cultural assets
Natural resources

Areas prone to tectonic events


that are deemed hazards
will experience disasters
if they are highly vulnerable

EARTHQUAKES VENN DIAGRAM

NATURAL HAZARD

VULNERABILITY
Exposure, sensitivity
and resilience of:

Sudden events and


chronic issues
Past recurrence intervals
Future probability
Speed of onset
Magnitude
Duration
Areal extent

RISK
OF
DISASTER

Population
Economy
Land use and
development
Infrastructure and critical
facilities
Cultural assets
Natural resources

The connection between natural hazard events and locational site


vulnerability

Distribution of earthquakes & major plate


boundaries

Major plate boundaries superimposed on political


map

Detailed tectonics map

CONCLUSIONS
Tectonic events are not
evenly distributed across
the globe
But they do form distinctive
patterns
They are closely aligned to
the plate boundaries

The structure
of the Earth

The Earth is made up of


an inner core, outer core,
mantle and crust. The
crust and upper mantle
form a cold, strong layer
known as a lithosphere.

Many forces cause the surface of the Earth to change over time. However, the
largest force is the movement of Earth's outer layer through the process of
plate tectonics. This process causes mountains to push higher and oceans to
grow wider.
The rigid outer layer of the Earth, called the lithosphere, is made of plates
which fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. These solid but lightweight plates seem
to "float" on top of a more dense, fluid layer.
Motions deep within the Earth carry heat from the hot interior to the cooler
surface. These motions of material under the Earth's surface cause the plates to
move very slowly across the surface of the Earth, at a rate of about 2 inches per

Why do the plates move?


The Earths core is intensely hot at
about 5000oC. This heat causes
molten rock deep within the
mantle to rise.
As it nears the surface it cools,
becomes more dense and sinks
back down. It is again heated so
that once again it is forced to
rise.This constant circular motion is
called a convection cell.
Hot magma rises to the surface to
create spreading ridges. As new
crust is formed existing crust is
actively pushed out of the way.
This is called ridge push.

This image is a cross section through the


Earth showing the convection cells of the
mantle.
Ridge push happens at spreading centres
where plates are moving apart.

Old parts of a plate are likely to


sink down into the mantle at
subduction zones because they are Slab pull happens at subduction zones
colder, thicker and denser than the where one plate is pulled down into the
warm mantle material underneath mantle.

When plates converge as an oceanic


plate meets a continental plate for
example, the denser oceanic plate is
drawn slowly beneath the other over a
period of thousands of years - this
happens at the subduction zone and
destroys crust, hence it is often referred
to as a destructive margin. The
movement is irregular and sudden jolts
can cause tremors or earthquakes.
The friction caused as one plate
subducts beneath the other also leads
to volcanic activity.
When two continental plates collide,
rock layers are forced upwards in folds
creating mountains like the Himalayas,
the Rockies, Andes and Alps. Powerful
earthquakes are often associated with
the many fault lines that run through
these collision zones. However, volcanic
activity is far less likely.

Other plates create transform


movements, moving very slowly
alongside each other. Faults are found
at the edges of the plates where the
crust is moving in different directions.
In some places the plates become
locked together and energy builds up.
When the plates give, the stored
energy is released in the form of an
earthquake. The point of the
earthquakes origin beneath the
surface is known as the focus and the
point on the surface immediately above
it is the epicentre.

Where plates diverge, lava emerges


from the mantle and cools to form new
sections of crust. These diverging plate
boundaries are often found underwater
as mid-ocean ridges such as in the
mid Atlantic where a ridge of volcanoes
has formed. This is a constructive
margin.

Plate movements have led


to continental drift. 225
million years ago all the
land masses were fused to
form a super-continent Pangea.
200 million years ago
Pangea began to move
apart to form two great
land masses - Laurasia and
Gondwanaland.
About 135 million years
ago it was possible to
make out land masses that
looked more like those we
see today.
For example it is possible
to see how South America
and Africa were drifting
apart to form separate
continents.