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Tectonic Plates Definition

Tectonic plates are slowly moving pieces of Earth's crust. For example, there are oceanic and continental plates.

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Tectonic Plates

Fun Facts

  • Tectonic plates move at about the speed that fingernails grow.
  • Scientists believe tectonic plates move from 2-15 cm a year.
  • Pangea was a supercontinent formed by tectonic plates being connected.

Why Do We Need To Know About Tectonic Plates

Studying tectonic plates helps us understand natural disasters better and why it’s important to try and predict them. Tectonic plates are big pieces of the Earth’s crust that move around. When they move, they can cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Scientists like geologists, seismologists, and volcanologists study these movements to help protect people by predicting when and where these disasters might happen.

This knowledge isn’t just useful for understanding Earth. Scientists studying other planets, like Mars, also use what we know about tectonic plates. The movement of these plates is caused by heat deep inside the Earth, and studying this can help us in many ways, from being better prepared for disasters to learning about the Earth’s past. This shows how important and useful it is to study tectonic plates for different kinds of science.

Frequently Asked Questions

Describe the layers of the Earth.
The Earth’s crust is the top layer. Next comes the mantle which is made of hot solid rock that can move very slowly over years. The inner-most layer is the core. The core is the hottest but is a solid due to being made mostly of iron and nickel under intense pressure from all the rock above it.
Describe the 3 main kinds of plate boundaries.
Convergent boundaries are where boundaries move towards each other. Divergent boundaries are when plates move apart. Transform boundaries are when plates slide past each other.
What is Pangea?
Pangea is a super continent predicted by the theory of continental drift. Scientists believe that about 240 million years ago all the continents were one large one called Pangea. The land of Pangea then broke apart due to tectonic plate movement and moved over millions of years. This idea is well supported by multiple lines of evidence.
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