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 mineral... More »

Very slow currents in the relatively plastic lower mantle, or aesthenosphere, are thought to push the crustal plates along and drive the process of plate tectonics. These currents are caused by convection, with the mantl... More » Science Earth Science Plate Tectonics

Tectonic plates shift as a result of the intense heat at the Earth's core, which causes molten rock in the mantle layer to rise, while cooler rock near the surface sinks back down. This is a process referred to as therma... More » Science Earth Science Plate Tectonics
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Geological plates are enormous slabs of solid rock that make up the earth's crust and outermost layer, the lithosphere. They are more commonly referred to as tectonic plates. More » Science Earth Science Plate Tectonics

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... More »

The most common rocks on top of oceanic plates are basaltic rocks, which are denser than ones found on continents; these are found on top of the oceanic plates because they are pieces of the oceanic plates that have been... More » Science Earth Science Layers of the Earth

According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, seafloor spreading is caused by the flow of plastic mantle rock beneath the Earth's oceanic crust. These flows force the seafloor apart, allowing pr... More »