Plate tectonics

  • Exhibition Text

    • Plate tectonics has emerged as one of the grand unifying theories of geology. It connects seemingly unrelated features and events of the planet — its continents and oceans, its mountains, its volcanoes and earthquakes — to a single global process. That process is the slow movement of plates on the Earth’s surface. These rigid plates are continually being formed, altered, and consumed. They move on the mantle below and carry the continents along with them.

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  • For Educators

    • Topic: Earth Science

      Subtopic: Plate Tectonics

      Keywords: Geology, Plate tectonics, Earth (Planet)--Mantle, Earth movements

      Audience: General

In This Section

Circulating Heat

Deep beneath our feet is a 2,900-kilometer-thick (1,800-mile) layer of mostly solid rock called the mantle.

The Old Red Sandstone

The Old Red Sandstone

Today, matching belts of sedimentary rock, known as the Old Red Sandstone, are found in Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, and eastern North America.

When plates move past each other

When plates move past each other

When oceanic or continental plates slide past each other in opposite directions, or move in the same direction but at different speeds, a transform fault boundary is formed.