Tectonic plate boundaries

Tectonic plate boundaries

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Credit: GARY HINCKS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Tectonic plate boundaries. Cutaway artwork of five types of tectonic plate boundaries and the relative movements of the plates (yellow arrows). The tectonic plates of the Earth's crust (brown) move on the molten layers (red/yellow) underneath. Parallel movement (upper right) can cause massive earthquakes, as can plate collisions. Spreading (diverging) plates create new seafloor under the ocean (upper centre) and rift valleys (young plate boundaries) on land (upper left). Plate collisions create mountains on land (lower left), but when an oceanic plate is present (left-hand edge of ocean) then a subduction zone destroys oceanic plate, forming volcanic island arcs or coastal volcanoes.

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