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THE THEORY OF PLATE TECTONICS

• The “lithosphere” is divided into several large and smaller


plates.
• The plate which are rigid floats like raft on the underlying
semi- molten mantle called “asthenosphere”, and are moved
by currents which form convectional cells.
Primary plates
 African Plate.
 Antarctic Plate.
 Eurasian Plate.
 Indo-Australian Plate.
 North American Plate.
 Pacific Plate.
 South
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SECONDARY PLATES
Arabian Plate
Caribbean Plate
Cocos Plate
Juan de Fuca Plate
Indian Plate
Nazca Plate
Philippine Sea Plate
Scotia Plate

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• Plate tectonic; is the study of the movement of the
plates and their resultant landforms.
• The word TECTONICS is of Greek origin and it
means―to build.
• The word ―tectonism;‖refers to the deformation of
the lithosphere. This deformation most notably
includes mountain building.
• Asthenosphere: Partially molten part of upper mantle
(Greek: weak). Tectonic plates are able to move about
on top of the softer, partially molten asthenosphere.
• There are two types of the plate materials.:
i. continental crust.
Ii. Oceanic
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The outermost layers of the earth. McGraw Hill/ Glencoe, 1st ed., pg.142.
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 The Earth‘s crust consists of about a dozen large slabs
of rock, or PLATES, that the continents and oceans rest
on.
 These tectonic plates can move centimeters per year—
about as fast as your fingernails grow up to 15cm/yr in
some places.
 Tectonic plates are also called lithospheric plates
because the crust and the upper-most mantle make up
a sub-layer of the earth called the lithosphere.
 The plates can move about because the uppermost
mantle, or the asthenosphere, is partially molten and
possesses a physical property called plasticity, allowing
the strong, rigid plates of the crust to move over the
weaker,
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Plates and relative plate motion.

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Tectonic plates, or lithospheric plates, are constantly
moving, being created, and consumed simultaneously.
 The motion sometimes results in earthquakes, volcanoes,
and mountain ranges at the plate boundaries.
Plate motion is driven by heat escaping from the mantle.
 The constant movement of heat in the mantle leads to
circular convection currents.
 These hot convective cells are similar to the rolling boil
that occurs when water is heated on a stovetop.
 The flowing mantle has also been compared to a
―conveyor belt,‖ moving the rigid plates in different
directions.
Fundamentally, convection occurs due to uneven heating
and different densities within the liquid.
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Convection currents within the mantle.
Subduction zone
Spreading ridge

Upwelling

Downwelling

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Categories of Plate Boundaries
Convergent boundary
Divergent boundary
Transform boundary
When plates collide with each other = Convergent
boundary
When plates separate from each other =
Divergent boundary
When plates slide along side each other =
Transform boundary.

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The tectonic plates and plate boundaries. (McGraw Hill/Glencoe, 1st ed., pg 143)
Convergent Boundary:
This refers to when two plate move towards each other.
 Ocean-Continent Collision.
Occurs when oceanic crust collide with continental crust;
Because the oceanic crust is more dense than continental
crust, when these two collide, the continental crust rides
up over the oceanic crust and the oceanic crust is bent
down and subducted beneath the continental crust.
This is called a subduction zone, where the old oceanic
crust is dragged downward and ―recycled.
Deep-sea trenches are created at subduction zones.
 Trenches; are narrow, deep troughs parallel to the edge
of a continent or island arc.
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They typically have slopes of 4-5 degrees, and they
are often 8-10 km deep. The deepest spots on earth
are found in oceanic trenches. The Mariana Trench
is the deepest ocean depth at 11 km (35,798 ft)
below sea level.

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OCEANIC CONTINENTAL CONVERGENT

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 Convergent Boundary:
 Continent-Continent Collision
 occur when two continental plates collide,
mountain building usually takes place because they
are both relatively low in density.
 Earthquake activity at these boundaries is common;
however, because igneous activity is different from
ocean-continent collisions, volcanoes are rare.
 Examples: The Himalayan and the Appalachian
mountain chains.

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Constructive mountain building during continent-continent collision.

The Himalaya mountains are


still forming today as the Ind-
Australian Plate collides with
the Eurasian Plate

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Convergent Boundary:
 Oceanic-Oceanic plate Collision
 This occur when two oceanic plates collide, the older, denser one
is subducted downward into the mantle and a chain of volcanic
islands can form, called a volcanic arc.
 Example: Mariana Islands (Mariana Trench).
 It is deeper than the earth‘s tallest mountain is tall. Mariana
Trench: 11,000 meters deep, more than Mt. Everest of 8850
meters high.
 The interaction of the descending oceanic plate causes incredible
amounts of stress between the plates.
 This usually causes frequent Earthquakes along the top of the
descending plate known as the ―Benioff Zone.
 The focii of Benioff earthquakes can be as deep as 700 km below
sea
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Oceanic-Oceanic plate Collision resulting in a chain of island
arcs.

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 Most volcanoes form above subduction zones
because as one slab is subducted beneath the
other, the interaction of fluids and geothermal
heat form new magma.
 The new magma then rises upward through the
overlying plate to create volcanoes at the surface.
 The Andes Mountains are home to many
volcanoes that were formed at the convergent
boundary of the Nazca and South American
Plates.

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Lef: Image of the Nazca Plate Subducting beneath the South
American Plate.

Right: Red dots indicate general locations of volcanoes


along western coast of South America.
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Divergent Boundary
• This occur when plates move away from each other.
• Divergent plate boundaries are locations where plates are moving
away from one another.
• This occurs above rising convection currents.
• The rising current pushes up on the bottom of the lithosphere,
lifting it and flowing laterally beneath it.
• This lateral flow causes the plate material above to be dragged
along in the direction of flow.
• At the crest of the uplift, the overlying plate is stretched thin, breaks
and pulls apart.
• There are two kind of the plate movement under divergence
movement.
• i. Continental divergence
• Ii.1/5/18
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 Continental Divergence
 This occur at the middle of the continental and leads to
rupturing of the continents.
 When a divergent boundary occurs beneath a thick
continental plate, the pull-apart is not vigorous enough to
create a clean, single break through the thick plate
material.
 Here the thick continental plate is arched upwards from the
convection current's lift, pulled thin by extensional forces,
and fractured into a rift-shaped structure.
 As the two plates pull apart, normal faults develop on both
sides of the rift, and the central blocks slide downwards.
 Earthquakes occur as a result of this fracturing and
movement
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• Early in the rift-forming process, streams and
rivers will flow into the sinking rift valley to form
a long linear lake.
• As the rift grows deeper it might drop below sea
level, allowing ocean waters to flow in.
• This will produce a narrow, shallow sea within
the rift. This rift can then grow deeper and wider.
If rifting continues, a new ocean basin could be
produced.

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• The East Africa Rift Valley is a classic example of this
type of plate boundary. The East Africa Rift is in a
very early stage of development.
• The plate has not been completely rifted, and the
rift valley is still above sea level but occupied by
lakes at several locations.
• The Red Sea is an example of a more completely
developed rift. There the plates have fully
separated, and the central rift valley has dropped
below sea level.
The splitting can lead to the formation of features like
the rifting valley (grabens), block mountains (horst)
and volcanic eruption.
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Continental Divergence

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OCEANIC - OCEANIC DIVERGENCE
When a divergent boundary occurs beneath
oceanic lithosphere, the rising convection current
below lifts the lithosphere, producing a mid-ocean
ridge.
 Extensional forces stretch the lithosphere and
produce a deep fissure. When the fissure opens,
pressure is reduced on the super-heated mantle
material below.
It responds by melting, and the new magma flows
into the fissure. The magma then solidifies and the
process repeats itself.
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• The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a classic example of this type of
plate boundary.
• The Ridge is a high area compared to the surrounding
seafloor because of the lift from the convection current
below.
• A frequent misconception is that the Ridge is a build-up of
volcanic materials; however, the magma that fills the
fissure does not flood extensively over the ocean floor
and stack up to form a topographic high.
• Instead, it fills the fissure and solidifies.
• When the next eruption occurs, the fissure most likely
develops down the center of the cooling magma plug with
half of the newly solidified material being attached to the
end
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Transform Boundary
 When two plates slide past each other moving in
different directions or the same direction, it is
termed a transform boundary and is characterized
by a transform fault and earthquake activity.
 An example of a transform fault is the San
Andreas Fault in California. Here the North
American Plate joins the Pacific Plate.
 The difference in plate motion along the contact
(fault) leads to a build up of strain energy that
sometimes slips releasing a huge amount of
energy and causing an earthquake.
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Transform Boundary

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