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Questions tagged [plate-tectonics]

The theory that Earth's outer shell is divided into several plates that glide over the mantle, the rocky inner layer above the core.

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How Can Adjacent Parts of an Oceanic Plate be Subducted in Different Directions?

It is claimed by some that the reason for gaps in chains of volcanoes generated by plate subduction is that some parts of the plate dive deep into the mantle and generate magma plumes, while other ...
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Cratonization - how did the Archean cratons form?

Before the onset of modern style plate tectonics and the Wilson cycles in the late Archean, it is thought that smaller units of continental crust, called cratons, roamed the oceanic crust over a more ...
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Gaps in locations of volcanos (Peru & Chile)

The figure below is taken from Reath, K. et al. (2019) A couple of things can be seen from this representation Volcanism seems to be strongly correlated with subduction zones, in this case the Nazca ...
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What causes some plates to move faster than others?

Why do some tectonic plates move faster than others? Is it due to friction between the plates, the driving forces on the plates, or both? If it is driving forces, what makes the driving forces on ...
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How does a subduction zone form mountains?

When an oceanic plate goes under a continental plate are the resulting mountains a result of the melting and then rising of the oceanic plate or are the mountains formed by the continental plate being ...
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Migration Routes for Animals from Asia to America [closed]

The jaguar is a close relative of the Asiatic leopard and must have had a common ancestor within the last 5 million years. The South American tapir is obviously closely related to the Malayan tapir ...
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Does erosion make mountains become higher?

Recently at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, I saw a display set that claimed erosion makes mountains rise higher, counterintuitively. The explanation was that the material removed ...
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Do tectonic plates “float” over the mantle and “collide” like icebergs?

I'm always hearing about tectonic plates as large chunks of crust floating on the mantle just like boats. In timescales of millions of years they move and even collide. But I'm starting to think this ...
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What is the impact of divergent tectonic plates on old mountain ranges?

I found this question, which is similar to what I'm wondering, but my question is slightly different: What happens if a new divergent boundary forms in a way that bisects a mountain range, especially ...
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where are the poles of rotation of the tectonic plates located?

Euler's "fixed point" theorem ... can be stated as: The most general displacement of a rigid body over the surface of a sphere can be regarded as a rotation about a suitable axis which passes ...
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How have Farallon plates's remnants stayed as they were inside the mantle?

Why hasn't the subduced Farallon Plate's materials been recycled? Why do they appear to be flowing in a molten state?
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If two adjacent tectonic plates are moving in the same direction, is there significant interaction at the boundary?

If two adjacent tectonic plates are moving in the same direction, is there significant interaction at the boundary? Is it just a convergent boundary if one moves faster and "catches up" with the other?...
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Does subduction of continental crust happen at continental-continental convergent boundaries?

What exactly happens at a continental-continental (cc) convergent boundary? I read myself through the web for the last few days and what I came up with is that such a boundary will start as an oceanic-...
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How is the difference in crust and mantle composition explained?

We know that the composition of the crust is SiAl and SiMa and the one of mantle is mostly ophiolites, but why? Which are the geological processes that make this difference exist?
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Is there a place where the sea floor descends into the mantle of the earth?

My understanding of plate tectonics is that in the middle of the oceans magma rises from the mantle of the earth, cools and then spreads out, building up the sea floor. These places are pretty obvious ...
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How can linear oceanic ridges (like the East Pacific Rise) be explained by single point mantle plumes?

I'm a bit confused about how divergent boundaries between tectonic plates work, or just why plates move. I've read that these ridges that are in the place of divergent boundaries are created when ...
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Which ocean is going to be swallowed by the Supercontinent Cycle, Atlantic or Pacific?

The register shows several supercontinents have been formed on Earth's History: "The most recent supercontinent, Pangaea, formed about 300 million years ago (0.3 Ga). There are two different ...
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Why do ophiolites obduce upon Continental Crust?

Oceanic Crust is more dense than continental one. The margin between both types of materials can be passive or develop a subduction zone, where Oceanic Crust sinks under continental one. I know there ...
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Is there a name for subduction boundaries at the North of Australia?

I know the ridge at the South of Australia is named Southeast Indian Ridge. I would like to know if there is a geological name for the three subduction branches that cross indonesian zone, at the ...
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Has biology's influence in CO2/Phanerozoic variations been decisive?

I must say I always as geologist have explained myself CO2 changes at Earth's History in terms of Wilson Cycle. And I always thought biosphere is adapted to geology. But from two questions I link at ...
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Might continental drift ever stabilize?

Is it possible that, one day in the distant future, it might be true that continental drift would stabilize? For the sake of discussion, we could suppose "stability" would mean less than a meter of ...
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Do Tectonic Plates Merge?

I had a question concerning the nature of continental plates. When looking at the Eurasian Plate today, for the most part, there is one solid fragment of the Earth's crust. However, having had a look ...
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Fissure Energy/Force Equation

For this, I am trying to understand if it is a measure of force (Newtons) or energy (Joules ) of when fissures are created, Fissures are where the ground is being torn up either by volcanic ...
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Why is the Lithosphere-Asthenosphere Boundary an Isotherm?

My understanding of the LAB is that it represents the point in the earth where the mantle undergoes a temperature activated mechanical change. The temperature of the boundary depends on the melting ...
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Why Do Supercontinents Form? [duplicate]

It would seem, on the face of it, improbable that the continental land-masses would accumulate into a single composite, yet it has happened numerous times, and is expected to again in the future. ...
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What is diffuse plate rifting?

For example in the Philippine Sea Plate the West Marianas Ridge has formed due to diffuse rifting in the south of the Marianas trough. What does it mean?
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What formations are to be expected to develop between the transform boundaries of oceanic and continental plates?

This could be needed in the Worldbuilding stack exchange instead of here, but when I was mapping out the movements of the tectonic plates, then there's a few locations where oceanic and continental ...
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Is it ever possible for an continental plate to subduct under an oceanic plate?

It is well known that oceanic plates subduct under continental plates. This may be attributed to the plate's age and density, plus the water on top of it. So I was wondering if it is ever possible for ...
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Will the oceans swallow all of the land?

I am wondering why, since the oceans could feasibly hold all of the dry land, they in fact do not. For example, the Mariana Trench drops to -10.9km, while Mount Everest only reaches to +8.8km. ...
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Minimum Surface Water for Plate Tectonics?

There is good evidence that the presence of water on a planet's surface is necessary for that planet to have plate tectonics. My question is this: Do we know if there is a minimum amount of surface ...
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How likely is that next big earthquake (and tsunami) will hit Philippines again?

We recently had an earthquake in Bali (August 5th 2018), then in Palu, Indonesia (October 1st 2018). Considering the distance and time between Bali and Palu, is it more likely that it will be near ...
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How do scientists reconstruct pre Cretaceous continent if all plates that are currently left are younger than Cretaceous?

I have read that the oldest oceanic plate that we see today is from the Cretaceous period. If so, how do scientists reconstruct plate movements and continental structure pre Cretaceous? And aren't all ...
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Could glacial melt alter plate tectonic movement?

Let's say some event caused runaway glacial melt, and removed half of the ice currently locked away in specific areas of the planet. Would the significant weight changes on various plates and fault ...
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What was the percentage of land mass in prehistoric times when temperatures were high enough that we had no ice caps?

I grew curious after watching a presentation about the large creatures of prehistoric times. One of the theories cited about why creatures were so big was the increased oxygen in the atmosphere due to ...
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Plate Tectonics vs Gravity for Creating Highs and Lows

I have a question that I thought of when discussing a Worldbuilding scenario here. In that question, a super earth with gravity 1.35 times that of earth's is discussed, and is assumed to have shallow ...
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Why are the latest additions to the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain the highest?

The Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain stretches from Russia to the Hawaiian islands. When I look at them on a map, it seems that the oldest seamounts by Russia are shorter and smaller than the newer ...
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Plate boundary lon/lat data

I'm working on a map in GMT and am having trouble finding lon/lat data for the minor plate boundaries (specifically the adriatic). Is there a database I can refer to?
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Why does the lithosphere thickness vary within a short distance?

Can someone explain why the lithosphere thickness varies within a short distance (30-100km) at the same upper mantle viscosity around the polar region? And what is the behaviour of a thin (20-70km) ...
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Do ocean level rise estimates account for mantle elasticity and plate mass changes?

In the mainstream media the problem of ocean level rise is presented rather... over-simplistically - ice melts -> more water flows into the oceans -> water level rises -> continents sink. But it is ...
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Number of tectonic plates

I came across a question asking what's the number of tectonic plates in this illustration: I don't know on which basis we count the tectonic plates. And I'm confused because I think they are 5 but ...
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How many times in total has Earth formed a super continent?

I know there was a Pangaea at one point in history that broke into the continents of today, but I could have sworn there was another instance in Earth's history that there was a super continent, maybe ...
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Is there a correlation between the underwater geological activity and topology of the mid Atlantic ridge/ South American plate and the Gulf Stream?

I just had a little eureka moment! I was looking again at this mid atlantic ridge along the western edge of the Eurasian plate. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_volcanoes How it and the way it ...
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How did New Zealand's continental crust get split between two plates?

In New Zealand today, the Alpine fault features two pieces of continental crust sliding past each other, with the whole Eastern side of the South Island falling on the Pacific plate. But when New ...
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How, exactly, do scientists know location of earliest continents?

How can scientists know where the earliest continents were located? Supposedly, Pangaea has formed, re-formed, moved all around, etc. Do paleogeologists primarily rely on paleomagnetism, ...
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Can the process of subduction flatten the shape of a subducting plate relative to the plate it's going under?

There's something I’m still not quite getting about why island arcs are arcs. In the examples I’ve seen, the subducting plate is compared to a knife slicing across the surface of an orange - but it ...
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Has our understanding of the East African Rift significantly changed recently?

I've noticed many reports in the media about the East African Rift Valley recently, apparently because some large fissures opened up. Washington Post: A huge crack provides evidence that Africa is ...
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Movements of the tectonic plates - collison between Indian Plate & Eurasian Plate

I am a high school student, my question is about the collision between the Indian Plate and the Eurasian Plate. When this happens what happens to the area of the Asian continent. Does it increase or ...
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How much heat flow is needed to maintain plate tectonics?

The Earth is emitting about 47 terawatts of heat energy, producing a heat flow of 0.0921 W/m$^2$ due to radiogenic and primordial heat energy. The heat flow drives mantle convection which in turn ...
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Volcanoes in the Alps and Himalayas and the subduction of Tethys Sea

Geologist have theorized that the Tethys Sea subducted under Eurasian plates. But where are the volcanoes that would have resulted due to this? Where are the volcanoes in the Alps and the Himalayas?
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Can a shock wave travel around the Earth's curvature?

Can an explosion be felt in the ground on the opposite side of the Earth like from an asteroid? Would planes in the air on that side of the Earth be able to survive? Does the shock waive follow the ...