Q:

What are the two types of tectonic plates?

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Quick Answer

Continental and oceanic are the two types of tectonic plates. Continental plates tend to be larger than oceanic and bear the majority of a continent's mass. Continental plates tend to be much thicker on average, but less dense.

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What are the two types of tectonic plates?
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Full Answer

Tectonic plates are enormous sections of rock that make up the Earth's crust. They are propelled over the surface of the planet during millions of years by currents of magma far below. Oceanic plates are thinner and denser than continental plates as the enormous weight of the oceans compress them into smaller volumes. Continental plates contain large masses of rock that project above ocean level and suffer less from this compression effect.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is an area in which an oceanic plate descends into the mantle called?

    A:

    The area where an oceanic plate descends into the mantle is called a subduction zone. Oceanic plates are denser than continental plates, so when they meet and collide, the oceanic plate slides under the continental plate into the mantle.

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  • Q:

    What happens at a divergent boundary?

    A:

    At divergent boundaries, the Earth's tectonic plates pull apart from each other. This contrasts with convergent boundaries, where the plates are colliding, or converging, with each other. Divergent boundaries exist both on the ocean floor and on land.

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  • Q:

    What are the eight minor plates?

    A:

    The earth's surface is divided up into seven major and eight minor tectonic plates. The minor plates consist of the Caribbean plate, the Arabian plate, the Juan de Fuca plate, the Nazca plate, the Scotia plate, the Philippine plate, the Cocos plate and the Indian plate. Due to its size and the significant amount of land on it, some scientists consider the Indian a major plate instead.

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  • Q:

    Where does subduction take place?

    A:

    Subduction is a geological process that takes place at the boundaries between tectonic plates in which one plate is forced underneath another. Subduction occurs when the massive pressures of entire continental or oceanic tectonic plates collide, over the course of millennia, and one slowly is subsumed underneath the other.

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