An easy activity to show how plate tectonics interact

Plate tectonics allow the top layer of the earth (the lithosphere) to move, resulting the land formations and current oceans that we have today. There are numerous ways in which you could display how plate tectonics interact. However, I think the way represented in the picture is one of the easiest.  I have provided a breif explanation of each interaction below (the description was take from wikipedia as I couldn’t be bothered typing it out myself :D)

  1. Transform boundaries (Conservative) occur where plates slide or, perhaps more accurately, grind past each other along transform faults. The relative motion of the two plates is either sinistral (left side toward the observer) or dextral (right side toward the observer). The San Andreas Fault in California is an example of a transform boundary exhibiting dextral motion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plate_tectonics)
  2. Divergent boundaries (Constructive) occur where two plates slide apart from each other. Mid-ocean ridges (e.g., Mid-Atlantic Ridge) and active zones of rifting (such as Africa’s East African Rift) are both examples of divergent boundaries (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plate_tectonics)
  3. Convergent boundaries (Destructive) (or active margins) occur where two plates slide towards each other commonly forming either a subduction zone (if one plate moves underneath the other) or a continental collision (if the two plates contain continental crust). Deep marine trenches are typically associated with subduction zones, and the basins that develop along the active boundary are often called “foreland basins”. The subducting slab contains many hydrous minerals, which release their water on heating; this water then causes the mantle to melt, producing volcanism. Examples of this are the Andes mountain range in South America and the Japanese island arc. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plate_tectonics)

4. Sliding – Plates grinding past each other in opposite directions create faults called transform faults. Powerful earthquakes often strike along these boundaries. The San Andreas Fault is a transform plate boundary that separates the North American Plate from the Pacific Plate. This fault system is largely responsible for the devastating earthquakes in Los Angeles and San Francisco (http://www.divediscover.whoi.edu/tectonics/tectonics-slide.html)

Sources of Reference

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (2005) http://www.divediscover.whoi.edu/tectonics/tectonics-slide.html. Accessed 23rd April 2013.

Numerous Authors (2013). Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Accessed 23rd April 2013.

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