What causes the continental plates to move?

What causes the continental plates to move?

The heat from radioactive processes within the planet’s interior causes the plates to move, sometimes toward and sometimes away from each other. This movement is called plate motion, or tectonic shift.

What force moves continental plates?

The main driving force of plate tectonics is gravity. If a plate with oceanic lithosphere meets another plate, the dense oceanic lithosphere dives beneath the other plate and sinks into the mantle: this process is called subduction.

What is causing the Australian plate to move?

Australia’s movement is caused by the shifting tectonic plates that make up the earth’s surface. The North American plate, by contrast, travels roughly one inch per year. GPS coordinates are calculated based on models of the earth. And so as Australia moves, our GPS gets increasingly inaccurate.

Which way are the plates moving?

The Pacific Plate is moving to the northwest at a speed of between 7 and 11 centimeters (cm) or ~3-4 inches a year. The North American plate is moving to the west-southwest at about 2.3 cm (~1 inch) per year driven by the spreading center that created the Atlantic Ocean, the Mid Atlantic Ridge.

What will happen if two plates move toward each other?

When two plate move towards each other they converge or come together. The collision between two plates that are moving towards each other is called a convergent boundary. When two continental plates converge the result is the formation of large folded mountains.

What will happen if the plates continue to move?

Plate tectonics moves the continents around on a scale of 100s of millions of year. Plate tectonics also has an impact on longer-term climate patterns and these will change over time. It also changes ocean current patterns, heat distribution over the planet, and the evolution and speciation of animals.

What are the two main types of tectonic plates?

Tectonic plates are pieces of Earth’s crust and uppermost mantle, together referred to as the lithosphere. The plates are around 100 km (62 mi) thick and consist of two principal types of material: oceanic crust (also called sima from silicon and magnesium) and continental crust (sial from silicon and aluminium).

Why is there no subduction when two continental plates collide?

When two continental plates collide neither plate can be subducted due to their high bouyancy. With this type of collision there are no features such as a subduction zone, trench or acretionary wedge. After collision the oceanic lithosphere breaks off and sinks into the mantle.

What happens when two plates rub against each other as they move in opposite directions?

Plates Slide Past One Another Plates grinding past each other in opposite directions create faults called transform faults. Powerful earthquakes often strike along these boundaries.

What is the difference between oceanic plates and continental plates?

Oceanic plates are much thinner than the continental plates. At the convergent boundaries the continental plates are pushed upward and gain thickness. The rocks and geological layers are much older on continental plates than in the oceanic plates. The Continental plates are much less dense than the Oceanic plates.

What happens to the plate once it Submerages under another plate?

A convergent plate boundary is where one of the tectonic plates submerge under the other. This could happen with multiple plates but in the diagrams shown there are only two. When an ocean plate is pushed under another ocean plates it goes right into the mantle and also has a subduction zone.

What forms when two continental plates pull apart?


Geologists have hypothesized that the movement of tectonic plates is related to convection currents in the earth’s mantle. Tremendous heat and pressure within the earth cause the hot magma to flow in convection currents. These currents cause the movement of the tectonic plates that make up the earth’s crust.

What do Oceanic Oceanic divergent boundaries form?

Most divergent plate boundaries are underwater and form submarine mountain ranges called oceanic spreading ridges. While the process of forming these mountain ranges is volcanic, volcanoes and earthquakes along oceanic spreading ridges are not as violent as they are at convergent plate boundaries.