Related topics: quake · earth · earthquake · geologists · earth sciences

New clues to deep earthquake mystery

A new understanding of our planet's deepest earthquakes could help unravel one of the most mysterious geophysical processes on Earth.

A (much) earlier birth date for tectonic plates

Yale geophysicists reported that Earth's ever-shifting, underground network of tectonic plates was firmly in place more than 4 billion years ago—at least a billion years earlier than scientists generally thought.

Tectonic plates started shifting earlier than previously thought

An enduring question in geology is when Earth's tectonic plates began pushing and pulling in a process that helped the planet evolve and shaped its continents into the ones that exist today. Some researchers theorize it happened ...

Christmas Island discovery redraws map of life

The world's animal distribution map will need to be redrawn and textbooks updated, after researchers discovered the existence of "Australian' species on Christmas Island.

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Plate tectonics

Plate tectonics (from the Greek τέκτων; tektōn, meaning "builder" or "mason") describes the large scale motions of Earth's lithosphere. The theory encompasses the older concepts of continental drift, developed during the first decades of the 20th century by Alfred Wegener, and seafloor spreading, understood during the 1960s.

The lithosphere is broken up into what are called tectonic plates. In the case of Earth, there are currently eight major and many minor plates (see list below). The lithospheric plates ride on the asthenosphere. These plates move in relation to one another at one of three types of plate boundaries: convergent, or collisional boundaries; divergent boundaries, also called spreading centers; and transform boundaries. Earthquakes, volcanic activity, mountain-building, and oceanic trench formation occur along plate boundaries. The lateral movement of the plates is typically at speeds of 50–100 mm annually.

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