The outermost layer of the earth is called the crust and it is broken into large pieces called tectonic plates. These huge pieces of Earth’s surface slowly move at about the speed that your fingernails grow. Their movement form mountains, causes earthquakes and they even rearrange the position of continents.
To better understand tectonic plates…
LET’S BREAK IT DOWN!
Movement of tectonic plates is powered by convection.
Rock in the earth is still extremely hot and it can slowly circulate inside the earth through convection, the process of warm fluids rising and cooler fluids sinking. This slow movement of hot rock inside the earth is what powers the movement of tectonic plates at the surface. Scientists believe tectonic plates move from 2-15 cm a year.
There are 3 main types of plate boundaries.
Areas where the plates meet are called boundaries. The first type of plate boundary is called a convergent boundary. This is when two plates are moving toward each other. The second type is called a divergent boundary. This is when plates are moving away from each other. The third plate boundary type is a transform boundary. This is when tectonic plates are sliding past each other.