Part of Hall of Planet Earth.
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.