Q:

What is the definition of tectonic plates ?

A:

Quick Answer

According to the U.S. Geological Survey website, tectonic plates are massive, irregular-shaped slabs of solid rock, composed of oceanic and continental lithosphere. The continental crust is made up of lightweight minerals like feldspar and quartz, while the oceanic crust is made of heavier and denser basaltic rocks.

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Full Answer

The sizes of these plates vary greatly. The Antarctic and Pacific Plates have been recorded as some of the largest. The boundaries between tectonic plates are usually unseen as they lie beneath the ocean. However, the boundaries for oceanic plates are mapped out accurately by measurements known as GEOSAT satellites. Volcanic activity and earthquakes occur close to these boundaries.

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Related Questions

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    What is the upper mantle?

    A:

    The upper mantle forms part of the Earth's lithosphere, where earthquakes and volcanic activities frequently occur along plate boundaries. The upper mantle is separated from the crust by the Mohorivicic discontinuity, commonly referred to as "Moho," which derived its name from the Croatian scientist Andrija Mohorovicic.

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  • Q:

    How are ocean ridges formed?

    A:

    Mid-ocean ridges form when tectonic plates meet beneath the ocean and ridge-push, slab-pull or do both to create a subduction zone. Over time, one plate raises up. This, along with the simultaneous magma buildup, creates a submarine mountain range, or ocean ridge.

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    What causes continental drift?

    A:

    Continental drift is caused by movement of the tectonic plates that continents sit on top of. Continental drift has continuously occurred throughout time, and continues to do so today. Rough estimates say that Europe and North America are drifting away from each other 2.5 centimeters per year.

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    Where do volcanoes and earthquakes occur?

    A:

    Most volcanoes and earthquakes occur at the boundaries of tectonic plates. This means that they occur in the same places, many of which are under water.

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