Plate Tectonics Button for link to Chinese version of this page

Plate tectonics is a theory that suggests pieces of the earth's crust (pieces called “plates”) float around upon the molten mantle, something like the way plates of ice float around on top of rivers or the ocean when ice is first forming or melting and re-freezing. Where the plates of the crust rub up against each other they create earthquakes as one plate goes under or piles on top of another. The crumpling of the plates and the lifting and sinking that takes place as they collide creates mountains. This process of crust folding and rising that builds up mountains is called orogeny. Where plates pull apart from each other the mantle seeps up through the space between the plates to form vents, volcanos, and mid-oceanic ridges. This is known as “Sea Floor Spreading” and this explains the creation of some volcanic islands such as Hawaii and Iceland.

Links about Plate Tectonics:
  1. U Cal. Berkeley page on plate tectonics written for a general audience without too much geology jargon.
  2. An entire website devoted to the explanation and discussion of plate tectonics.
  3. The United States Geological Survey's web version of This Dynamic Earth describing the story of plate tectonics. This was written by W. Jacquelyne Kious and Robert I. Tilling.
  4. The USGS page on plate tectonics and people from This Dynamic Earth.
  5. A strightforward discussion of types of movement of the Earth's floor for teachers titled Earth Floor: Plate Tectonics.
  6. A page from Volcano World giving a brief description of plate tectonics.

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