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What are the boundaries of the lithospheric plate?

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Quick Answer

Three types of boundaries, divergent, convergent and transform fault boundaries, occur in the lithosphere plate. As the plates diverge or pull apart from each other and converge or come together, tremendous amounts of energy are released, resulting in the transformation of the Earth's surface.

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Divergent boundaries are where new crust is created and where oceans are born or grow wider as plates diverge or pull apart. Diverging boundaries, which occur on land, create a separation, and over time, the mass of land breaks apart further, and the surrounding water fills the space between the lands.

Where the plates come together, or converge, is where convergent boundaries occur and also is where crust is destroyed and recycled back into the interior of the Earth. Known as subduction zones, convergent boundaries are also where mountains and volcanoes are often found. Convergent boundaries can occur in three different types of ways. The oceanic to continental convergence is where an oceanic plate has met with the continental plate, resulting in the plate subducting under the continental plate, which lifts the continental plate and creates a mountain range. The oceanic to oceanic convergence is when two oceanic plates converge, and usually one is forced under the other, creating a deep ocean trench. The Marianas Trench is an example of a deep trench that was created when the Philippine plate subducted under the pacific plate. Volcanoes can also be a result of oceanic to oceanic convergence. With continental to continental convergence, two continental plates collide and are both pushed upwards, creating mountains. The collision of India and Asia is what formed the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau.

A transform fault boundary occurs when two plates slide past each other horizontally. Most occur on the ocean floor but some, like the San Andreas fault, occur on land. The San Andreas fault is the most famous fault boundary and is a result of the Pacific plate moving against the North American plate. This has been happening for the last 10 million years at a rate of 2 inches per year.

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