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Plate tectonics

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1 Plate tectonics on Mon Dec 13, 2010 4:11 am

Plate tectonics (from the Late Latin tectonicus, from the Greek: τεκτονικός "pertaining to building") (Little, Fowler & Coulson 1990)[1] is a scientific theory which describes the large scale motions of Earth's lithosphere. The theory builds on the older concepts of continental drift, developed during the first decades of the 20th century (one of the most famous advocates was Alfred Wegener), and was accepted by the majority of the Geoscientific community when the concepts of seafloor spreading were developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The lithosphere is broken up into what are called "tectonic plates". In the case of the Earth, there are currently seven to eight major (depending on how they are defined) and many minor plates. 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 conservative transform boundaries. Earthquakes, volcanic activity, mountain-building, and oceanic trench formation occur along these plate boundaries. The lateral relative movement of the plates varies, though it is typically 0–100 mm annually (Read & Watson 1975)[2].

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