ScienceWhat cause the tectonic plates to move

What cause the tectonic plates to move

What are tectonic plates

In 1912 a scientist, Alfred Wegener proposed the first idea: Over time, earth’s countries have drifted.

He didn’t recognize how is it happen, but nowadays we know plate tectonics.
Plate tectonics explains a theory that the earth’s surface contains from some plates ( in general 7 or 8 main plates) that form the outer shell of earth or can call lithosphere, tectonic plates also called lithospheric plates.

These plates are solid rocks that have motion, motions are according to types of tectonic plates.

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Types of tectonic plates

There are three types of tectonic plates boundaries:

Divergent Plate Boundary: These plates are ripping apart and cause weak earthquakes and volcanic activities. Two plates move and get far from each other by divergent motion.

Convergent Plate Boundary: In this type one plate dive under another plate, this kind of motion causes earthquakes and volcanoes. One plate moves under another plate by convergent motion.

Transform Plate Boundary: Plates slide along together and cause shallow earthquakes and rarely volcanoes. The plates slide in opposite directions.


Why tectonic plates are important

We owe part of the beauty of the earth to tectonic plates and their motions. Mountains, valleys, and oceans, also cause volcanoes and earthquakes. In general geologic happening are associated with tectonic plates.

We can search roots of tectonic plates and their effects even in billion years ago, by this plates moving, carbon dioxide trapped into plates and under the ground, so the amount of carbon dioxide decreased in the atmosphere of the earth and let living things occur on earth, until now earth’s atmosphere and also it’s balanced climate backs to the tectonic plates.

Plate tectonic theory changed the face of geology and answer the hottest questions of geologists.

This theory showed a new perspective and help us to have a complete pack of information of lands that we live, travel to, swim, provide food, etc. Due to these all explanations, researchers believe that without tectonic plates life on earth doesn’t exist now.


What cause the tectonic plates to move
What causes the tectonic plates to move

Plate motion of tectonic shift are titles that are related to tectonic plate movements. Tectonic plates are formed outer shells, the solid and emotional rock. Outer shells exist on the top of the mantle of the earth, the molten, hot, and fluid-rock of the earth.

The radioactive process that happens inside the earth and under the outer shell, in the mantle part provides the heat, it causes tectonic plates to move toward or away from each other.

Billion years ago, there was just a huge continent called Pangaea and a single ocean called Panthalassa, now there’s continents, oceans, and seas or other lands, it shows that by the several heated and cooled in Earth’s mantle part large plates of a billion year before broke into many plates that we have now. These breaking down and motions are still happening.

Gravity also is one of the reasons for plate motion. In convergent plate boundary, whenever the oceanic lithosphere sinks beneath other lithospheric plates, the gravity of the earth is helpful.

Convection is another reason. As you read above, the mantle was hot and fluid, actually in high-temperature solid rocks are molten and can slowly flow. Convergence happens because of the hotness or coolness and density of the rocks.

The rocks move up and down constantly and convection is created to move the earth’s plates.

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How many primary tectonic plates make up the surface of the earth

17 tectonic plates. 7 major plates and 10 minor plates. There’s a list below by size:

Name  Type Size
Pacific Plate major 103,300,000 km
North American Plates major 75,900,000 km
Eurasian Plate major 67,800,000 km
African Plate major 61,300,000 km
Antarctic Plate major 60,900,000 km
Indo- Australia Plate major 58,900,000 km
South American Plate major 43,600,000 km
Somali Plate minor 16,700,000 km
Nazca Plate minor 15,600,000 km
Philippine Sea Plate
5,500,000 km
Arabian Plate
minor 5,000,000 km
Caribbean Plate
3,300,000 km
Cocos Plate
2,900,000 km
Caroline Plate
1,700,000 km
Scotia Plate
1,600,000 km
Burma Plate
1,100,000 km
New Hebrides Plate minor 1,100,000 km


Which tectonic plates cause earthquakes

The main type of tectonic plate that causes earthquakes to occur is Convergent Plate Boundary. This kind involves oceanic plate and continental plate. When they come near to each other and collide, the oceanic plate slides beneath of continental plate and it brings earthquakes.

Divergent Plate Boundary and Transform Plate Boundary can also cause earthquakes but these are shallow because the rock under this kind of plate is too hot and weak so they avoid long or completed deforms.


Which tectonic plates cause volcanoes

Divergent Plate Boundary causes most volcanoes. Whenever two oceanic plates or one oceanic plate and one continental plate move toward each other volcanoes occur.
Transform Plate Boundary rarely can cause very weak volcanoes. However, some other volcanoes are not associated with tectonic plates.

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Will tectonic plates stop moving

Tectonic plates started their motions billion years ago but they won’t complete forever. It will stop when the time comes and some preparations get provided. The planet’s interior will be cool near billions of years after, that time plates will sink and shift. No heat means no radioactive process and no convection, in this way tectonic plates will lose their motion and their effects.


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