[2015] Mario Manzanares (7th Period): Plate Tectonics

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by agille1
Last updated 9 months ago

Earth Sciences

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Plate Tectonics

African PlateAntarctic PlateAustralian PlateEurasian PlateNorth American PlateSouth American PlatePacific PlateArabian PlateCaribbean PlateCocos PlateNazca PlatePhilippine Sea Plate

12 Major Plates


Springs are formed in the subsurface, where infiltrating water encounters a low permeability zone and is unable to continue to move downward as fast as it is supplied at the surface; as a result, the water spreads laterally until it intersects the land surface where erosion has lowered the topography to the water's level. Larger springs usually are formed where geological structures, such as a faults and fractures, force large amounts of water to the surface. Most of the water that emerges at springs is meteoric and originally fell as rain or snow on the surface of the Earth. At hot springs near active volcanoes, some of the water may have originated from magma. As magma cools and crystallizes in the Earth's crust, it releases much of this water.

When magma from deep within the Earth rises and erupts at the surface from structurally weak zones such as Mid-ocean ridges, it forms new oceanic crust, while the old crust is destroyed in the deep canyon-like oceanic trenches. This explains why the Earth is not expanding, there is little sediment on the ocean floor, and oceanic crust is much younger than continental rocks.

Seafloor Spreading

When two tectonic plates meet at a subduction zone, one bends and slides underneath the other, curving down into the mantle. In the Ring of Fire, an area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur, subduction zones are responsible for the world's biggest earthquakes, the most terrible tsunamis, and some of the worst volcanic eruptions.

Subduction Zones

Scientists theorize that mantle convection under plate tectonics regulates the amount of water in the oceans. It is also thought to vastly expand the timeline for Earth’s water cycle. If all of the Earth’s water is on the surface, that gives us one interpretation of the water cycle, where we can think of water cycling from oceans into the atmosphere and into the groundwater over millions of years. But if mantle circulation is also part of the water cycle, the total cycle time for our planet’s water has to be billions of years.


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